6 European destinations thrill-seekers will love
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Editor’s note: As the travel industry reopens following COVID-19 shutdowns, TPG suggests that you talk to your doctor, follow health officials’ guidance and research local travel restrictions before booking that next trip. We will be here to help you prepare, whether it is next month or next year.
Working at home or being furloughed may have you feeling a bit unfit or keen for something a little different than just lying on a beach — so why not try a vacation with some exciting outdoor activities when the time is right? Below we have a round-up of the top spots with a bit of an adrenaline kick.
1. Hot air ballooning -– Cappadocia, Turkey
Cappadocia is known as the hot air ballooning capital of the world with almost half a million balloon flights per year. You just have to search the hashtag #cappadocia and you’ll find beautiful landscapes filled with hot air balloons.
Rides take off around sunrise and you’ll float over orchards, vineyards and valleys. Rest assured, as you will definitely get the perfect selfie.
There are organized tours with Hot Air Balloon Cappadocia offering the choice of one-hour or 1.5-hour flights or a private journey with a hotel pick up at 4 a.m. The deluxe packages include a breakfast with Champagne. The capacity of balloons are around 16 to 24, but this could be less at the moment due to social distancing measures. Prices are from $94 each for a standard flight or $189 for deluxe flights.
How to get there: It takes about one hour and 20 mins to fly to Cappadocia from Istanbul (IST). Cappadocia has two airports — Nevsehir Kapadokya (NAV) and Kayseri Erkilet (ASR).
2. White water rafting — Verdon Gorge, France
France never fails to disappoint with stunning scenery, vineyards, beaches, boulangeries and home to what is considered to be one of Europe’s most beautiful canyons, Verdon Gorge — the perfect place for a canoeing or white water rafting trip.
There are organized canoeing and white water rafting experiences with Raft Session. Grab a wet suit and helmet and arm yourself with a paddle before a guide briefs you on how to handle the raft. They will then pilot the vessel while you take on the water rapids and get soaked from the waves.
For white water rafting, you either have the choice of a private raft, which fits up to four people or a normal raft which fits up to eight. Prices are from $41 per person.
How to get there: Like a lot of places in France, it’s not easy to get to if you don’t have your own vehicle so it’s recommended to hire a car. Verdon Gorge is located about 50 miles from Nice Airport (NCE).
3. Horse riding — Reykjavik, Iceland
Iceland is famous for its amazing scenery, which includes massive waterfalls, geysers, hot springs and more. What better way to experience the sights of Reykjavik than on horseback? Hop onto a gentle Icelandic horse and ride through lava fields and past mountains and lakes and moors. Ishestar’s treks are not to be missed and it has horses suitable for all levels.
Boots, helmets, jackets, horses and experienced staff are all included, so you just need to saddle up and enjoy. Choose between a morning or afternoon tour with coffee and hot chocolate provided after. Rides are from $100 for two hours of riding time per person. See the website for availability and booking.
How to get there: Fly to Reykjavik (KEF), Iceland’s main airport.
Please note, as of July 31, passengers arriving in Iceland who intend to stay in Iceland for 10 days or more have to undergo two COVID tests. The first is at the border on arrival and the second by the primary healthcare service four to six days later, according to Icelandair’s website.
4. Hot springs — Saturnia, Italy
When you think of hot springs, you probably think of Iceland but in fact, Tuscany is home to some glorious bubbling thermal baths too. Saturnia is a spa town in Tuscany with amazing 37-degree Celsius baths that may be one of Italy’s best-kept secrets.
There are a few hot springs in Saturnia so you don’t need to worry about being too close to strangers — plenty to go round. It is however quite rustic and you will have to change in the parking lot. But — it’s free to enter and they are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Make sure you pack a picnic though as there are limited food outlets and bring flip flops as the springs can be quite rocky and sharp on your feet.
How to get there: Saturnia is a two-hour drive from Rome Leonardo da Vinci International Airport (FCO).
5. Walking trail — First Cliff Walk, Grindelwald, Switzerland
The First Cliff Walk in Grindelwald is an elevated walkway on the side of a mountain that’s more than 6,500 feet in height. A thrilling experience with some mind-blowing scenery. The First Cliff Walk is located at the mountain summit station of Grindelwald–First — reached by a 25-minute gondola ride which takes you to the lower entrance of the First Cliff Walk. We recommend not rushing straight to the viewing platform as everyone does this and it can feel a tad overcrowded — and you may end up lining up for a photo opportunity. Instead, do the 20-minute walk first with photo stops on the way.
You need to buy a gondola ticket to get to Grindelwald which costs $65 but the First Cliff Wall experience is free. You can also choose to hike there which takes about half a day but maybe more for experienced hikers as it’s quite steep.
How to get there: Grindelwald is about 100 miles from Zurich (ZRH) and we recommend getting the train there — parking is limited and the Swiss railway system is super convenient.
6. Paragliding — Voss, Norway
Perhaps daring to try a bit of paragliding is in order — and the perfect place to do it is Voss, Norway. After being briefed, fitted with a harness and helmet, you float off Mount Hanguren with your pilot, who will show you the majestic scenery, known as “paragliders’ paradise”.
Paragliding is suitable for everyone and you don’t need any experience to have a go. Prices with Voss Tandem Paragliding start from $260, which includes equipment, insurance, instruction and flight then transport back to Voss town center later. You will need to pay for a one-way gondola ticket the top of the mountain for takeoff.
How to get there: Bergen Airport, Flesland, (BGO) is the closest airport to Voss.
Whilst there are fewer people traveling than usual, these outdoor activity hotspots can still draw in a crowd, especially at weekends — so it might be an idea to travel on weekdays. The good thing is that flights are very reasonable at the moment to some of these destinations and you don’t need to take any equipment with you. Whilst these experiences are adapted for COVID-19, remember to check local advice on travel guidelines, wear a mask and respect social distancing measures — then, you might have the trip of a lifetime.
Featured photo by Gabriela Bianchini/EyeEm/Getty Images.
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