The art of nature defines the true spirit of enchantment. One of the simpliest ways to get so much beauty within one blink of the eye is visiting the treasures of colours. One of them are the canyons that just pull you to search for more. If you’re in Europe, look no further- the magic is all around. Just let yourself be enchanted.
That’s why I collaborated with almost 20 travel bloggers to bring you such beauties of nature closer. But I’m sure more of them should be added to this list.
Canyons of Zrmanja river, Croatia contributed by Gabi from Under Flowery Sky
Nestled along the majestic Velebit mountain near the Obrovac town and only 1h from the seaside town of Zadar, canyons of river Zrmanja shine in amazement. This is the place where the film Winnetou was shot.
Six amazing canyons create the stunning views.
Special charm adds the Kudin bridge where you can see above one of the most stunning views of Zrmanja river. Kudin bridge brings the love story created 200 years ago. It was about young man that needed to cross the river to his lady. This charming stone bridge is made of 12 arches.
Probably the most amazing canyon or river Zrmanja is located at the village Muškovci where the waterfall Berberov kuk is placed. Raftings and canoeing usually take place near Kaštel Žegarski bearing in mind that this is the protected area of the Velebit Nature Park.
Canyons of the river Zrmanja just amaze with the colours, true gem among the canyons of Europe.
Elbe Canyon in Czech Republic by Samantha Barbagallo from The Wandering Wanderluster
Straddling both Germany and the Czech Republic, the Elbe Sandstone Canyon is the deepest sandstone canyon in Europe. Formed by the Elbe River, it flows through one of the Czech Republic’s most beautiful national parks, Bohemian Switzerland. Located just a two hour drive north of Prague or a 1 hour half train journey to Decin, you can easily visit the canyon as a day trip from Prague.
At 300m in depth, the canyon is a rock climbers paradise with a vast range of climbing routes suitable for all climbing abilities. The Bohemian Switzerland National Park is also a great destination for adventure seekers. Hikers can enjoy a number of nature trails that run amongst the sandstone formations and gorges and its labyrinth of bike trails are suitable for everyone, from modest day cyclists to experienced cyclists who like a challenge. Photographers will also be in awe of the breathtaking views over the Elbe River from the many viewpoints along the ridges and sandstone stacks.
You can also admire the depth of the canyon from the Elbe River below by taking a cruise along the gentle river from the nearby town of Decin or by hiring a canoe or kayak for the day.
Danube Gorge, Romania contributed by Raluca Silvia from Travel With A Spin
Danube Gorges is one of the most spectacular segments on the Danube, created as the mighty river makes its way between the Balkans and the Carpathians. Its total length is 155 km, between Baziaș and the Iron Gates dam. However, the most impressive part is the one called the Danube Boilers.
This is the place where the Danube narrows the most, flanked by huge stone walls that get only 230 m apart from each other. Before the Iron Gates power plant was built, Danube was much more turbulent and produced surface vortices, making navigation difficult. Often the water seemed to boil, hence the nickname.
In order to see the Danube Gorges, one has to drive or take the train from Bucharest to Orșova and then take a tour of the Gorges. The main attraction is the bas-relief of King Decebalus, the largest sculpture in Europe inspired by Mount Rushmore. Other nearby interesting sites are Mraconia Monastery, Ponicova Cave, the ruins of Tricule and Golubac citadel.
Rugova Canyon, Kosovo- contributed by Emily from Wander-Lush
Located just outside the city of Peja in western Kosovo, Rugova Canyon is one of the most stunning yet lesser-visited canyons in Europe.
The river gorge runs for 25 kilometres and reaches a depth of 1,000 metres at some points, making it one of the longest and deepest canyons in Europe. Despite this, the area sees relatively few visitors, making it a perfect place for trekking or adventure activities without the crowds.
Rugova is an easy addition to your Kosovo itinerary when travelling by bus between Pristina and Prizren. Base yourself in Peja, where there are lots of guesthouses, restaurants, and a charming old bazaar. The entrance to the canyon is walking distance from the centre of town, or you can opt for a day tour that includes transfers.
The canyon and its surrounding forest features waterfalls and caves, white water rafting in spring and summer, rock climbing, and hiking trails. It even has its own Via Ferrata (protected climbing route): The Iron Trail is the only one of its kind in the Balkans region.
For something fun, ride the Zip Line Marimangat. Running for 650 metres above the tree line, it’s the only licensed zip line in the region – and a wonderful way to see the canyon and backdrop of the Accursed Mountains from above.
Tara Canyon, Montenegro- contributed by Nicole from Go Far Grow Close
The Tara River Canyon is primarily located in Northern Montenegro and is the largest and deepest canyon in Europe and one of the deepest in the world. Tara River Canyon is a 3 hour drive from Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro and where one of two international airports is located. It is also a little over 4 hours from Kotor on the coast and Tivat international airport nearby.
The drive from either spot is spectacular. You see enormous majestic mountains, and sweeping vistas down valleys or over lakes and rivers the whole way. You will be hard pressed not to stop the car every few minutes to take that once-in-a-lifetime shot. Tara Canyon is an outdoor enthusiasts mecca. There is zip-lining across the gorge.
In addition, white water rafting along the Tara River is widely viewed as a “must-do” activity. Parts of the mountain range are located in Durmitor National Park which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the location of epic hikes and other outdoor pursuits.
Sigmund Thun Gorge, Austria- contributed by Martina from Places of Juma
The picturesque Sigmund Thun Gorge is certainly one of the most beautiful hidden gorges in Europe. Located in Austria, near Zell am See and Kaprun, this natural gem is a popular destination for hikers and nature lovers.
Although the Sigmund Thun Gorge, with a walkable length of only 320 meters, is relatively short compared to other Austrian gorges, it is no less spectacular and really well worth seeing. A hike is an amazing experience! Over wooden walkways, a path leads past the imposing rock walls, you marvel at foaming waterfalls, and the striking rock formations that the so-called Kapruner Ache has cut into the stone over thousands of years.
At the top, a beautiful little lake awaits you with several places to take a break and a very good regional restaurant that makes its own cheese. Perfect for a break in nature.
The journey is uncomplicated either by car or by public bus from Zell am See. The entrance is located near the bus station, at the ticket office of the hydroelectric power plant.
Verdon Gorge, France- contributed by Nadine Maffre from Le Long Weekend
At over 700m deep (in places), and spanning an incredible 50km, France’s Verdon Gorge is the largest canyon in Europe. Running between the village of Rougon and Lac de Sainte Croix in the Provence region, the gorge varies in width, with some areas being as narrow as 6m, and others as wide as 100m. It’s a remarkable sight, and one of the most impressive landmarks in France.
To experience it for yourself, you can hike, paddle, or drive parts of the gorge. To see it from the bottom, head to the northernmost point of the Lac de Sainte Croix, near Moustiers Sainte Marie, and near the Pont du Galetas you’ll find a nautical centre where you can hire kayaks, electric boats or pedalos. You can only paddle a little way up the gorge from this end, but it’s enough to get a great introduction.
There are also several hikes throughout the Gorge, of varying difficulty, some suitable for families, and others best reserved for the experts. Finally, to drive the gorge, head along the D71 or D952 roads – both provide breathtaking scenery and several viewing platforms to take in the expansive views.
Samaria Gorge, Crete- contributed by Tjaša Pele from The Travel Momento
The second-largest canyon in Europe in located in the National park of Samaria in Crete. Rugged between the White Mountains, the 16 km long trail starts at the top of the gorge near the village of Omalos at 1230 meter of altitude and descent down to the Mediterranean sea in the village of Agia Roumeli.
You will pass the unique rock walls, observe Cretan flora and fauna, visit the bonded settlement of Samaria from 1962 and witness the important resource of drinkable water for the island. No wonder this part of Crete is declared as UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and as such an important sight to include on your visit to Crete. The most impressive part is the 4 m wide and 300 m tall passage named ‘the Iron Gates’.
The gorge is open to visitors from May to October. Depending on the weather conditions, it can be also closed during this period. You can reached the hiking trail by bus or organised tour. Once you complete the hike, you need to take the ferry to the coastal town of Chora Sfakia (one hour drive) where the busses already wait to take you back. You should put aside at least 3-5 hours to complete the trail.
Cheddar Gorge, England- contributed by Suzanne from Meandering Wild
Cheddar Gorge is in the south-west of England and is one of the deepest gorges in the UK.
At the bottom of the gorge is Cheddar Village. This has a number of small shops and the old mill pond runs alongside the road. On the edge of the village is the entrance to the famous Cheddar Caves. These deep limestone caves are steeped in history and beautiful.
The road runs up the gorge, following the twists and turns carved by ancient glaciers. At its deepest point the gorge rises 130metres above the narrow road. A path from the village takes you up above the road and it is possible to walk the full length of the gorge. If you are more adventurous then it is possible to climb the cliff walls with instructors.
Public transport to cheddar village and the gorge is slow and complicated. Cheddar can be reached from the main M5 motorway heading south from Bristol or across the Mendip Hills from Bath. It is about 3 hours drive from London. Cheddar is also included on some Stonehenge and west country tours if you are limited for time or need transport.
Los Gigantes, Tenerife- contributed by Paulina from Paulina On The Road
Los Gigantes is a pretty village situated on the west coast of Tenerife. Travelers can reach there by taking a flight to Tenerife South Airport. The village is approximately 40 minutes drive from there.
The stunning mountain range and sheltered location make it special. Its majestic cliffs and the charming seaside surrounding make this village special. The place enjoys beautiful weather throughout the year. The town has become recently popular. It once used to be a place known just for its cliffs. Now it has become a tourist destination where people love to spend their holidays.
Los Gigantes is ideal for a relaxing holiday as it offers a lot of things to explore. Before you start exploring, know where to stay in Tenerife. Barcelo Santiago and Be Live Family Costa Los Gigantes are among the best places to stay.
After settling in, you can start by visiting Los Guios beach, popular for its black sand and views of the cliffs. After that, you can grab a meal at one of the restaurants in Marina Los Gigantes. Other popular things to do include whale watching trips, spending a day at one of the heated pools, and witnessing the view from Mirador Archipenque.
Caminito del Rey, Spain- contributed by Victoria from Guide Your Travel
The Caminito del Rey was once called the most dangerous hike in the world. Luckily it was completely updated and renovated recently so you can explore it safely now. Located in southern Spain not too far away from the city of Malaga the Caminito del Rey is easily accessible. You can even take a train to the canyon where the hike begins. Keep in mind that you need to pre-book your tickets to visit the canyon. You cannot simply go and book tickets on arrival. While the Caminito del Rey looks impressive and even a bit frightening the hike itself is very manageable. All the walkways are secure and if you don’t have a fear of heights you’ll be fine. The hike can even be done with children. It only takes around 2 hours and there are shuttle buses available which will take you back to your car or the train station. Enjoy the beautiful landscape of Andalucia and its stunning white villages while you are in the area.
Los Cahorros, Spain- contributed by Joanna from The World In My Pocket
Ruta de Los Cahorros is one of the most spectacular places to go hiking in the South of Spain. Located in the Sierra Nevada mountains, this hiking path starts in Monachil and includes hanging bridges, waterfalls and a beautiful canyon which you can explore from one side to the other. The River Monachil comes down from the mountains, carving the narrow but tall canyon where extreme sports lovers often go rock climbing.
To get to the canyon you have to first arrive in Monachil and then follow the signs to the Los Cahorros route. The path follows the river through the forest, before crossing it a few times over hanging bridges. The most spectacular hanging bridge is the one that leads to the canyon. It is 55 meters long, suspended at a height of 15 meters above the ground.
The canyon is not very long, but it’s pretty spectacular because of the obstacles on the way. Sometimes you will need to hold on to the metal bars in the rocks in order to go further. Other times, you will need to duck underneath to pass. Halfway through, the canyon closes into a cave – Cueva de Las Palomas.
El Tajo de Ronda is a 120-meter gorge that cuts dramatically through the Andalusian town of Ronda. The gorge divides Ronda in two. The town is perched right on the edge of the gorge. On side is “La Ciudad” (the Old Town) and on the other is “El Mercadillo” (the New Town). Connecting them is the incredibly beautiful “Puente Nuevo”. Built in 1793, it’s that “new” anymore!
In addition to enjoying views of the canyon, bridge and town from lookouts along the edge, you can hike down into the gorge itself. A path just near the Parador de Ronda on the north side of the bridge heads to the bottom of the gorge, where you get spectacular views of the cliffs and bridge.
You can also visit the Puente Nuevo Interpretation Museum, a small museum located inside the bridge itself, with displays on its history as a prison, hotel, bar and now museum. You can get up-close photos of the bridge and even get a great shot of the gorge and mountains beyond through an arch in the bridge.
Ronda is in the Andalusian hills. It’s a one-hour drive on steep and winding roads from Marbella on the coast.
Cares Gorge, Spain- comtributed by Megan Anderson from Packing Up The Pieces
Located in the north of Spain is the truly underrated Picos de Europa National Park. Here, lies one of the best canyons in Europe: the Cares Gorge. The canyon is found between the two tiny hamlets of Caín de Valdeón in Leòn and Poncebos in Asturias and can be accessed via the Senda del Cares hiking route. This popular day hike is mostly flat and twists through the rugged limestone peaks of the Picos. The out and back trail is 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) and follows along one of the most scenic sections of the Cares canyon.
Appreciate the epic viewpoints of the mountains while walking along a dirt path. The canyon walk includes a few sections through some small cut out caves. Expect to encounter trickling waterfalls, sturdy bridges, small ruins, and plenty of goats to keep you entertained. Be mindful, some sections of the path can be steep and there are quite a few sections of the trail with no guardrails.
During the summer months, there are some buses that infrequently run to the park. However, the best way to reach the Cares Gorge is to rent a car in the port city of Santander.
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