Kayaking and Canoeing in Germany

eibsee germany

Canoeing enjoys a great tradition and popularity in Germany. And that’s quite obvious, because the country with its numerous waters has a lot to offer. From north to south, different paddling areas attract many recreational paddlers to the water every year. So there is something for every taste. Whether impressive mountain lakes in Bavaria, the Spreewald with its labyrinth of waterways or urban paddling in big cities like Berlin or Hamburg. With this variety, everyone should find what they are looking for.

In this article we would like to present you our most beautiful paddling tours in Germany, which we have done in the past years. In addition, there are of course many other destinations that are at least as beautiful. A list of all these possibilities would be almost impossible and therefore this article should serve as inspiration for your next canoe or kayak trip and convince you of the beautiful paddling spots that you can find in Germany.

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Canoe trips in Germany for several days

Many waters in Germany offer the possibility to extend a day trip to a tour of several days. It is mainly the large lakes and chains of lakes, but also rivers, which invite you to canoe tours lasting several days. Especially the lakes and lake chains have a good infrastructure of campsites and many of them are even located directly on the shore. Due to the dense population in Germany, there is often no need to carry provisions for several days, as you have supermarkets and restaurants nearby almost everywhere.

As in many other countries, wild camping is not allowed in Germany. While it may be tolerated in some regions, you should not try your luck in nature reserves in particular, as it can get quite expensive. If you are looking for a canoe trip of several days in secluded nature and love wild camping, Scandinavia (e.g. Sweden as a canoe destination or Lake Saimaa in Finland) is recommended, because there the Everyman’s Right applies.

South Bavaria – Kayaking between Mountains

If you love the mountains, you will quickly fall in love with the lakes in Bavaria. Here there is not just the one beautiful lake to discover, but a dozen. The lakes impress with crystal clear water, impressive mountain scenery and Bavarian culture on the shores.

We have already paddled numerous lakes in Bavaria and if we had to name our 3 favorite lakes, it would probably be the Staffelsee, the Chiemsee and the Eibsee.

The Staffelsee is actually a moor lake and therefore always warmer for swimming than all the other lakes. In addition, the small lake impresses with its numerous islands to discover. If you want to go island hopping for a day as a little adventure, the lake is just the right choice for you.

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Lake Chiemsee is the third largest lake in Germany and we also love this lake because of its islands. The islands Herreninsel and Fraueninsel are like two worlds apart. One is home to a large forest with walking paths and a replica of Versaille Castle. The other island is basically an idyllic Bavarian village with a women’s monastery. Both islands can be explored extensively on a long summer day.

Eibsee is a fairly small lake with numerous islands as well. But it’s not the islands here that fascinate us so much as its location and water. Lying at the foot of the mountain Zugspitze (the highest mountain in Germany), you can not only see the mountains in the distance, but directly on the shore the imposing mountain massifs pile up with a view of the Zugspitze. In addition, the turquoise-blue water color conveys Caribbean flair.

North Bavaria – A destination for river paddlers

Not only South Bavaria has a lot to offer paddlers, but also the rest of the state, e.g. the hiking rivers in Franconia. The Altmühl Valley, for example, with its numerous shelters for paddlers, is also a popular address for canoe tours lasting several days. The river Altmühl rises in Franconia and slowly seeks its course to Old Bavaria. The emphasis is on slow, because the Altmühl is one of the slowest flowing rivers in Germany. So endurance is also required here when paddling. On the other hand, you will find many beautiful little villages along the banks that are worth discovering. Due to its many shelters for paddlers and very calm current, the Altmühl is especially popular among families.

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Pegnitz near Vorra
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Regnitz at Bamberg
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Altmühl river near Solnhofen

Another beautiful river in north Bavaria is the Pegnitz. The over 100 km (62 miles) long river Pegnitz has its origin in the Franconian Switzerland, flows through Nuremberg and unites in Fürth with the left Rednitz to the so-called Regnitz. Common paddling routes run between Neuhaus an der Pegnitz and Hohenstadt, although paddling between Neuhaus and Artelshofen is only permitted above a certain minimum water level. On the Nürnberger-Land website, a traffic light system shows whether the sections are currently navigable. In addition, the river is not allowed to be paddled with a SUP, raft or inflatable boat until Hohenstadt. Only canoes, kayaks and inflatable kayaks for a maximum of 3 persons and max. 6 m (19’7”) length are allowed. We paddled the section from Vorra (entry point Pegnitzinsel with nice refreshment stop) to Hohenstadt.

Another nice canoe tour in north Bavaria is a 9 km (5.6 miles) long canoe tour through Bamberg, where you paddle on the right and left arm of the river Regnitz. In the meantime you have to portage your boat into the Hollergraben in front of the Chance-Jugend-Fähre in the city center. Shortly afterwards you will get back to the left arm of the Regnitz. There you will also see the Old Town Hall of Bamberg. In addition to the portage into the Hollergraben, the round trip includes a transfer at the Jahnwehr and at the Friedensbrücke (to get back from the left arm of the Regnitz to the right arm).

Lake Constance – Germany’s 2nd largest Lake

Lake Constance is the second largest lake in Germany and is located in the border triangle with Switzerland and Austria. Geographically, it can be divided into three parts, Upper Lake Constance (Obersee), Lower Lake Constance (Untersee) and Lake Überlingen.

The charm of the lake is mainly its size, the mountains in the background and the beautiful towns on the shores. If you are looking for more nature, Lake Überlingen is the right place. Here, the shores are not so much built up and there is a great view of the mountains from here.

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Wasserburg at Lake Constance
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View of the Alps from Wasserburg
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Lake Constance, near the mouth of the Schussen river

Spree Forest – A Labyrinth of Channels

From our point of view, the Spree Forest (german: Spreewald) is unique. It is a green oasis of forest and moorland, characterized by its numerous natural and man-made river arms of the Spree. Paddling here feels like a walk through the forest. And in between you come across a few idyllic villages. This feeling of walking through the forest on the water is what gives the Spreewald its special flair for us.

Especially the villages of Lübben and Lübbenau with their good train connections to Berlin are ideal starting points for a canoe tour. But also the village of Burg, which is less well connected by public transport, is worthwhile as a starting point for a paddling trip. Thanks to its size, the Spree Forest also offers ideal conditions for a canoe trip of several days. Campsites but also nice small guesthouses and hotels offer every paddler the right accommodation. Thanks to the small canals, the calm waters and the absence of motorboats, this paddling area is also a very good address for families with children.

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Paddling in Spree Forest
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Village Lehde
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Restaurant at Lehde

Berlin – Urban Paddling

As the capital of Germany, Berlin not only has a lot to offer historically and culturally, but is also more than worth a visit as a paddling destination. With the Spree and Havel rivers, two large rivers flow through the city. In addition, there are small rivers, canals and lakes.

Of course, some parts, especially in the city center, are closed to recreational paddlers, but the opportunities that are still available are enormous. Theoretically, you can cross Berlin once by kayak and thus experience sightseeing from the water.

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Spree at Berlin
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Metro in Berlin
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Landwehr Canal

Mecklenburg Lakeland – The Land of a thousand Lakes

In the south of Mecklenburg and in the north of Brandenburg stretches the Mecklenburg Lakeland. The center of this area is Germany’s largest lake, the Müritz. In addition to the Müritz, however, there are other large and small lakes, with many of them connected by canals. This gives endless possibilities for a canoe trip.

This lake district is the right place for you if you want to go on a canoe tour and not just discover one lake. In addition, small towns and villages as well as a rural area characterize the canoeing area. Many campsites have specialized in canoeing and therefore the Mecklenburg Lakeland is also a paradise for canoe tours lasting several days. Depending on the lake and canal where you are paddling, you will encounter quite a bit of motorboat traffic. This lake area is also a popular address among boaters and sailors.

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Mecklenburg Lakeland near Fleether Mühle, near Mürow
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Rheinsberg castle
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Lake Rätzsee

Dresden – National Park and Urban Paddling

How does it sound to you when you start your paddling tour in a national park and end it in the city center of Dresden, the capital of Saxony? That’s exactly the kind of tour we did. First we hiked in Saxon Switzerland and then we paddled from Schmilka near the Czech border to Dresden by packraft.

At the beginning, Saxon Switzerland shapes the banks of the Elbe River and at the end, the beautiful Dresden. Since there are not as many opportunities for paddling in Saxony as in some other states, we would like to mention this Elbe tour here, because it is definitely a very special paddling tour.

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Saxon Switzerland
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Dresden city center
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Pillnitz castle

Saale near Jena – Beautiful river landscapes

The Saale Valley is one of the most beautiful river landscapes in Germany and with its location in Central Germany it is also easily accessible for many. The 413 km (257 miles) long river meanders through parts of Saxony Anhalt, Thuringia and Bavaria. In addition to the beautiful nature, there are numerous cities such as Jena, Saalburg, Naumburg or even the large city of Halle as well as numerous castles and palaces to discover.

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Beautiful river landscapes can be found at the river Saale
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Paddling the Saale river
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Rural areas make paddling tours very peaceful

We hope you enjoyed our small selection of canoe and kayak tours in Germany. We will definitely expand the list in the future. And if you know of any other paddling spots in Germany that shouldn’t be missed, feel free to let us know in the comments.

Kayaking and Canoeing in Sweden

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A canoe trip in Sweden is a dream for many paddling enthusiasts. The country offers endless possibilities, so that the choice is quite difficult. Many regions are so thinly populated that canoe trips are also possible, on which you can enjoy nature as good as all alone. Traffic noise is almost never present, because either often no roads pass nearby or only small roads that are not busy. So Sweden is a canoe destination that satisfies the longing for untouched nature and isolation.

In this article we would like to introduce you to the most exciting regions for canoeing and kayaking in Sweden. From lake landscapes with canals and countless islands, to natural rivers and urban paddling regions, there is something for everyone. It is also possible to discover the coastal regions in the west and east with its archipelago. We do not provide any routes here, but would like to inspire you for your next canoeing vacation and support you in your research.

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Sweden as a destination for canoe and kayak trips

Besides region for canoeing that promises absolute solitude and tranquility, it is also the nature that attracts us paddlers to Sweden. The country has almost 96000 lakes, breathtaking coasts with archipelagos, endless forests and white sandy beaches.

The south of Sweden is quite densely populated by Scandinavian standards. Accordingly, the accessibility by public transport is good here. The paddling areas have numerous canoe rentals and small villages and towns are never far away to fill up your own provisions. Due to the Everyman’s Right, wild camping is no problem and makes most paddling tours a lot less complicated, if you are equipped accordingly. Nevertheless, campsites can be found in many places.

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Sweden offers endless possibilities for paddling tours

The north with Lapland offers opportunities for canoe trips in extreme remoteness, which are also then more difficult to reach. Here are for the tours not only a particularly good preparation of need, but also plenty of paddling experience. In general, the further north you travel in Sweden, the more you will have to deal with mosquitoes. The main season for mosquitoes is from mid-July to mid-August. From then on, the first night frosts set in and the number and mobility of mosquitoes decreases significantly.

Swedes also love to explore the nature by kayak or canoe. Therefore, you will often have no problem to find a boat rental especially in the popular and well visited areas. But of course you can also come with your own boat. For tours on lakes lasting several days, inflatable canoes or folding canoes are very practical, as they not only offer a lot of space, but are also easy to transport. For adventurers, the use of packrafts is also a good idea, with which you can combine hiking and paddling.

Best time for a canoeing vacation in Sweden

Especially in southern Sweden you should try to avoid the vacation season in summer. Many Swedes like to travel in their country at this time and use the surrounding lakes and nature reserves for their summer vacations. You can check the exact dates of the school vacations in Sweden on the internet before. In Scandinavia, good weather is often a gamble. Lots of sun and warm temperatures are not guaranteed in any month. However, the best chances are in July and August. In these months you also benefit from the long days and the fact that it does not get really dark. In any case, you should be equipped for a canoe trip for changeable weather, because the weather can change incredibly quickly.

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In good weather, nature and villages look like in a picture book

Packing list for several days paddling trip in Sweden

To make your canoeing vacation successful and fun, you should have the right equipment with you. If you want to make your tour independent of a canoe rental company, then an inflatable canoe or a folding canoe as a boat is recommended, especially for the long journey. For outdoor enthusiasts, packrafts are also suitable, which can be used to combine paddling with hiking and biking. We would recommend a canoe or a packraft.

Since the weather in Sweden can be quite changeable, you should definitely take rainproof and warm clothes. In addition, there is some camping equipment, such as tent and sleeping bag, which should also be designed for bad and cold weather. The further north you travel, the more mosquitoes accompany you during a canoe trip. We have come to appreciate anti-mosquito coils, as they are pretty good at keeping mosquitoes away. But and also a mosquito net for the head should not be missing especially in Lapland in the packing list. So that the things also remain dry if it rains times on the tour, you should not forget in no case a few good dry bags. In our opinion, water shoes are also indispensable for canoe tours lasting several days

  • Tent
  • Sleeping bag
  • Camping mat
  • Hammock
  • Camping chair
  • Camping tableware
  • Camping Stove
  • Tarp
  • Anti-mosquito coils
  • Mosquito net for head
  • Sun hat
  • Water shoes
  • various dry bags

Dalsland – The perfect destination for paddling beginners

For canoe beginners, Dalsland is an ideal introduction to the Swedish wilderness. The region is characterized by its narrow and long lakes. Thus, there is hardly ever a swell worth mentioning and the way to the next shore is always nearby.

Dalsland is located about 200 km north of Gothenburg and stretches along the Norwegian border. The journey from Gothenburg or Oslo is therefore easy. Civilization with its asphalt roads, supermarkets and restaurants is never too far away and yet here you have the feeling of loneliness and vastness. The great danger that you are on your own here in secluded wilderness is therefore not given here.

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Lake Västra Silen in Dalsland (Photo from 2342639 of Pixabay).

With over 400 lakes and numerous rivers, canals and locks, surrounded by a slightly hilly landscape, the region is unique in Sweden. Thus, Dalsland gives paddlers in particular endless possibilities for a canoe trip. Numerous islands also invite you to take a break or spend the night. Between the lakes there are hills with beautiful forests. From time to time, small villages with the typical red wooden houses can be found near the shore. The region has adapted to canoeists, and campsites with fireplaces and wood as well as toilet and shelters await paddlers at many shore points and small islands. For the equivalent of three euros a day, there is a nature care card that allows the use of these designated places. It is also good to know that all lakes in Dalsland have drinking water quality.

However, due to the fact that the region is so easily accessible, offers a nature as you would expect from Sweden and offers paddling conditions even for beginners, you have to share the beautiful nature with numerous paddling friends, especially in the high season. This should not be a big problem, but it is said that canoe tourism in Dalsland has become mass tourism. There are for example German tour operators through which you can book your complete tour with travel and all equipment. By bus it goes then from Germany to Dalsland and also the food is transported directly from Germany, in order to reduce the costs. This also meets with displeasure in parts of the population, since the local tourism industry only gets a little of it. In the evenings, for example, one is often left out when the shelters are already occupied by other paddlers.

A good idea in the high season is not to choose the typical routes on the lakes Le Stora and Foxen to avoid all the groups of tour operators. Coupled with the Swedish vacation season, there can be up to 5000 canoes on the lakes every day. Also, be aware that some lakes are open to motor traffic. Therefore, you should put your route on less popular lakes and by the numerous watercourses that connect the lakes, especially also offers a round trip.

Vänern – The Swedish Inland Sea

Lake Vänern is located in the southwest of Sweden and is the largest lake in the country and the European Union, and still the third largest in Europe. With a width of 75 km and a length of 140 km, it can rightly be called the Swedish inland sea. At first glance on the map, it is almost impossible to imagine, but Lake Vänern has about 22,000 large and small islands, as well as archipelagos (bare rock islands), which are located mainly near the shore.

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View on the lake Vänern from Halleberg

However, some archipelagos are nature reserves under special protection, which has allowed to preserve a fascinating natural landscape. Here you should pay attention to where you can land with your kayak and where not.

Especially for sea kayak fans, Vänern is very suitable, but also generally for paddling beginners, because many small towns and other activities are waiting for you on the shores of the lake. However, for most of the paddling tours you need to have a good basic condition.

Numerous small towns and villages are located around the lake. Karlstad with over 60,000 inhabitants is the largest one and is located on the northern shore of the lake. Vänersborg is the largest town at the southern tip. The easiest way to get there is from Gothenburg or Oslo. From Oslo there are direct bus connections to Karlstad several times a day, e.g. with the provider nettbuss. From Gothenburg, you can reach the town of Vänersborg within 40 minutes with a direct train connection.

Glaskogen – A dream for canoeing

Glaskogen is also located in southwestern Sweden and is a nature reserve with winding rivers, small and large lakes, and vast forests, some of which are untouched. Unlike the other canoeing areas in southern Sweden, the Glaskogen Swedish Nature Reserve is well developed, but still allows for true solitude. In total, the area includes about 80 lakes. In addition to moose and badgers, there are also numerous animal species that are rare for Sweden, such as lynx and wolves. In forests there are numerous overnight accommodations for both hikers and paddlers in the form of wooden shelters, equipped with fireplaces and firewood, as well as outhouses. There are also many other bays that are perfect for camping.

Really wild and lonely is the larger lake Stora Gla, which can also quickly become uncomfortable when the weather changes.

The village of Lenungshammar with about 30 inhabitants, located in the heart of the reserve, has a campsite, a small grocery store, café and canoe rental. Canoe rentals are also available in Arvika or Glava Glasbruk. If you want to stay in Glaskogen, you have to buy a visitor’s card. The proceeds are used for the care and maintenance of the nature reserve.

The easiest way to get there is from Oslo. Trains run directly from Oslo to Arvika with a journey time of just under two hours. Alternatively, it is possible to travel via Gothenburg, also by train, but with a change of trains and a travel time of about 3 hours.

Swedish Lapland – The rough and lonely wilderness

Lapland is a landscape in Northern Europe, but it can refer to a different size of the region depending on the context. There is no clear geographical definition of the region. Most often, it refers to the part of Scandinavia that lies north of the Arctic Circle. We consider only the Swedish part, which is Swedish Lapland.

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Swedish Lapland (Photo from Steen Jepsen of Pixabay)

In Swedish Lapland, there is an average of 2 inhabitants per square kilometer. In the USA, on the other hand, there are 37 per square kilometer. In addition, most people in Lapland tend to live in the larger towns. This means that we find large parts of the region that are completely unpopulated. Lapland in Sweden also has numerous lakes and rivers that can be explored by canoe. In addition, the landscape is very much characterized by mountain ranges. So it is the right destination for every experienced paddler who wants to have the great adventure as well as really enjoy the nature and solitude.

Kalixälven is with 461 km the longest natural river in Sweden and a popular destination for river paddlers. The river Torne älv is also a popular destination for paddling enthusiasts.

A very elongated and narrow lake in the south of Lapland is Storvindeln.

Bohuslän – The Wild West of Sweden

Bohuslän is located on the western Swedish coast north of Gothenburg. To the north, the Swedish province borders directly on Norway and to the east on the also popular paddling area of Dalsland. Bohuslän is mainly known for its rocky coastline with offshore islands and skerries. It is also home to Gullmaesfjorden, Sweden’s only fjord. What is a paradise for experienced sea kayakers can quickly become stressful or even dangerous for the beginner paddler. Paddling on the west Swedish coast is quite demanding and wind and wave conditions can change quickly.

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Small harbor Hunnebostrand in Bohuslän (Photo from Marie Sjödin of Pixabay).

In the north, by the way, is Kosterhavet, Sweden’s only marine national park. Since the archipelago is located a bit further from land, it is best to take the ferry from Strömstad. Especially paddling on the open sea should not be underestimated here and participation in one of the tours of the local kayak providers is recommended. Please always make sure that the island where you want to land is not under bird or seal protection. Especially in a national park there are quite a few of them.

The section between the coastal towns of Grebbestad and Fjällbacka is also very popular. The large islands of Pinnön and Otterön offer shelter for paddlers and also good camping opportunities. Fäjällbacka is also a well-known tourist destination on the Swedish west coast, with the steep walls of Vettenberg rising almost vertically behind the village. Numerous islands around Fjällbacka have beautiful sandy beaches and the water here is crystal clear.

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View over Fjällbacka

About 13 km (8.1 miles) from Fjällbacka are the Väderröarna islands or weather islands. Most of the 365 islands are small and hilly. On one of the islands there is even a small hotel (Väderröarnas värdshus). The islands are also known for the large number of seals living there, and the lighthouses. Again, if you are not an experienced paddler, you should take a guided tour.

There are so many more beautiful spots on the West Swedish coast that make the paddler’s heart beat faster.

Stockholm and its archipelago – A sea of thousands of islands

Stockholm is also a really good spot for paddling. The Swedish capital is spread over 14 islands and just outside the city is the country’s largest archipelago and the second largest group of islands in the Baltic Sea after the Archipelago Sea, which belongs to Finland.

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Transport bag, which also serves as a inflation and dry bag

Djurgarden and Langholmen are particularly suitable for urban paddling. On both islands, which are part of downtown Stockholm, there are also rental stations where you can rent a kayak. On Djurgarden there is a huge park and it is very quiet to paddle. We have already paddled this tour and in our report on kayaking in Stockholm you can find the map for paddling and many photo impressions of the tour. But if you want to go around Djurgarden completely by kayak, you have to be prepared for a rougher and more busy south side. Because ferries and large ships also go along here and can cause quite a swell.

The smaller island of Langholmen is quieter. The island was once the site of a prison. Today Langholmen is a green oasis and on warm summer days city residents like to stay here for a picnic or swim. On the website of the rental station of Langholmen there is even an overview of some paddling tours in Stockholm describes and has also drawn them on the map.

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Stockholm Archipelago near Ingarö

The Stockholm Archipelago with its 24,000 islands offers so many paddling opportunities that you could spend several summer months here. From large islands with villages to small rocky islands for camping, you can find everything here. Important for a tour in the archipelago is above all good and stable weather. Especially a tour with an overnight stay on a small island is something very special. Many canoe stations also rent camping equipment. Most of them also offer guided tours and take care of the equipment and food. If you are not a big camping fan, you can also plan your tour in such a way that you stay in a cabin on one of the islands in the evening.

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View in Björnö nature reserve

Mälaren – Sweden’s third largest lake

In addition to the archipelago to the east of Stockholm, there is Lake Malären (also called Lake Malär) to the west. It is the third largest lake in Sweden. Similar to the Stockholm archipelago, the lake is characterized by many bays, islands and peninsulas. The lake is also home to famous sights such as Gripsholm Castle in Mariefred, Drottningholm Castle and the most important trading center in Scandinavia called Birka, which dates back to the 10th century. It is possible to make day trips to the sights as well as multi-day trips to discover the lake and its beauty.

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Mälaren with Mariefred in the background

Dalarna is a popular travel region for Swedes. Because here in the middle of the country not too far from Stockholm and Gothenburg there is rough and lonely nature as we know it from the far north. The name Dalarna means “the valleys” and refers to the hilly and wooded landscape of the region. With its numerous large and small lakes and rivers, Dalarna is also the ideal place for kayakers who want to find secluded nature and natural islands on the lakes.

Dalarna – Lonely nature in the heart of Sweden

Dalarna is a popular travel region for Swedes. Because here in the middle of the country not too far from Stockholm and Gothenburg there is rough and lonely nature as we know it from the far north. The name Dalarna means “the valleys” and refers to the hilly and wooded landscape of the region. With its numerous large and small lakes and rivers, Dalarna is also the ideal place for kayakers who want to find secluded nature and natural islands on the lakes.

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Small lake called Rämmasjön

Lake Siljan as the seventh largest lake in Sweden the center of tourism for the region. The south is mainly characterized by its mining tradition and it is rather the north and center of Dalarna that attracts the real outdoor enthusiasts. It is almost impossible to list all the canoeing and kayaking possibilities. Also smaller and very unknown lakes like Rammasjön or Stor-uppdjusen with their small islands offer beautiful nature and full Sweden feeling.

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Stor-uppdjusen with its numerous islands

Gothenburg – Cozy urban paddling

Urban paddling is also possible in the Swedish harbor city of Gothenburg. There are small lakes, such as Lilla Delsjön or Stora in the east of the city with surrounding forests, which invite you to quiet tours with picnic breaks. But you can also paddle through downtown Gothenburg.

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The Älvsborgsbron bridge to the harbor entrance in Gothenburg (Photo from Peter H of Pixabay)

Like Stockholm, Gothenburg also has an archipelago just outside the city that is ideal for sea kayaking. There are several canoe and kayak rental stations in Gothenburg and guided tours are also offered.

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Styrsö island in the archipelago near Gothenburg (Photo from Marie Sjödin of Pixabay).

Have we forgotten a paddling region in Sweden that you think should be mentioned? Then write us in the comments and we will gladly include it!

The best Kayak and Canoe Tours in France

France is considered one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Many tourists are attracted by the culture, the good food, the beautiful cities and the diverse regions with their castles and fortresses for a vacation. In addition to numerous trips to France, we ourselves have explored several paddling destinations there in recent years and can now say that France is a real paddler’s paradise. In the following we would like to introduce you to the most beautiful regions of the country where it’s worth going kayaking or canoeing. Some of them we have paddled ourselves and tour reports with maps will help you with your planning. Other paddling regions should serve as inspiration.

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Kayaking and Canoeing in France

Canoeing enjoys great popularity in France and attracts not only its own citizens but also many tourists who want to explore the country’s beautiful waters during a vacation in nature. It is mainly the beautiful rivers that make the country so attractive among paddling enthusiasts. Compared to the rivers in other countries like Germany, they are often left in their natural state, making a canoe trip a lot more relaxed (less portages ) and natural. Many of the popular rivers are located in the south of the country. Thus, you often have the good weather on a canoe trip also on the side. In Provence, whitewater rivers are waiting, flowing through gorges rarely found in Europe.

Lake chains are rather not found in France. Likewise, the largest lakes in the country cannot compete with other big lakes in Europe. The only candidate here is Lake Geneva (Lac Léman in French), which the French share with Switzerland. There are also plenty of opportunities for coastal paddling. Especially the Mediterranean Sea in the south is a true paradise for sea kayakers. Beautiful bays, azure waters and steep cliffs, such as those found near Marseille, definitely make for a unique paddling experience in good weather conditions.

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For river paddlers, France has some of the best canoeing spots in Europe

Multi-day canoe trips in France

Especially on the popular rivers, numerous campsites have settled, which also specialize in canoe tourism. Canoe rental stations also often offer camping equipment and it is very typical that at the end of a tour you are brought back to the starting point by a shuttle bus.

Wild camping is generally not allowed in most parts of France, but is often tolerated in the wilderness. Thus, it is common to see canoeists pitching their tents on the riverbanks. Of course, you should always leave the place as you found it.

Even those who do not like camping are well served in France. Idyllic accommodations with equally beautiful hotels and guesthouses await you along many stretches of river. A tour like this is really fun if you round off the evening with a visit to a restaurant to enjoy French cuisine.

Paddling with kids in France

For families with children, the country offers the best conditions. Good weather in the south allows swimming fun for the little ones and the numerous campsites have also adapted to families. Thus, most campsites have playgrounds, swimming pools, restaurants and a small grocery stores. Especially in the rural areas you can also find many affordable accommodations.

In addition, the country is quite densely populated and you are never really in isolated wilderness. If the worst comes to the worst, the next town or village is never too far away. Another big advantage are the mostly natural rivers. Especially the annoying portage for families can be completely avoided here.

Best time to go kayaking in France

In the south of the country, thanks to the Mediterranean climate, summer comes early and goes late. Above all, you should try to avoid the French school vacations, because the French also like to be on the rivers with their families for a canoe trip. In the south of France, the rivers often have very little water in high summer, which makes canoeing easier for inexperienced paddlers due to the lower currents. On the other hand, you will have to tow or carry your canoe in places where the water is too shallow. We recommend May and September as ideal travel months for the south of France. For the rest of the country, paddling is most fun in the summer outside the vacation season.

Ardèche – One of the most popular white water spots in Europe

The 27 km (16.8 miles) long Ardeche Gorge is the spot for whitewater sports par excellence in France. The river is also ideal for beginners in whitewater sports and sporty touring paddlers. That’s why there are numerous boat rentals at different places in the gorge.

At vacation times and in high summer, when the water level is quite low, the region is crowded with tourists. In spring until the end of May you can still travel relatively quietly by kayak. The highlight of this tour is without a doubt the famous Pont d’Arc rock passage.

canoeing ardeche
The passage through the Pont d’Arc is the highlight of a canoe trip in Ardèche
hiking ardeche
Not only for canoeing, but also for hiking invites the Ardèche gorge
ardeche kayaking
In the summer and during the vacations there are many day tourists with rental boats

We have already kayaked through the Ardeche Gorge twice and we are sure that it was not the last time. We did the first tour in May and there were some wild spots that were really fun. The second tour we did in July and the river had a nice current to go fast but there were no wild passages. Therefore, anyone who does not like it so wild, but still wants to marvel at the beautiful scenery from a kayak, should rather plan a tour later in the summer.

If you want to have the river for yourself a little bit, you should ideally use your own boat or see if a rental company gives out a boat very early in the morning. Because the masses come only in the later morning.

Dordogne – Paddling along picturesque villages, chateaux and castles

The Dordogne is a 490 km (305 miles) long river in the southwest of France. For paddling, the 150 km (93 miles) long section between Argentat and Limeuil is particularly interesting. The river is largely natural there and you don’t have to portage the boat at any point, as there are boat slides at weirs for this purpose. Especially for families with children the Dordogne valley is an excellent paddling region. There are numerous campsites along the route, the water is quite tame in summer and early autumn and there is really a lot to discover along the banks. Besides really beautiful villages, countless castles and chateaus await and there is even a cave or two.

dordogne valley
High rock walls characterize parts of the Dordogne Valley
dordogne village
Picturesque villages in medieval style invite you to stop
france castles
Countless castles line the banks of the Dordogne

The Dordogne is highly recommended for canoe trips lasting several days. It is so varied that one can never get bored. But if you have only one day for a paddle, you should paddle the section between Vitrac and Beynac. Here you can discover beautiful nature, idyllic villages and the most famous castles of the region within a short time. For such a day trip, however, it is better to avoid the vacations and weekends, as this route is very popular and accordingly very busy.

In our tour article on the canoe trip on the Dordogne we report on our 6-day trip.

Gard – In the footsteps of the Romans

Nature is actually in the foreground of every paddling tour, but it is different on a tour on the Gardon. The highlight of this tour is the Roman aqueduct Pont du Gard, one of the best preserved bridges of the Roman Empire. The Pont du Gard is one of the most popular destinations in the south of France and there is nothing more beautiful to explore this historic structure from the water.

Since canoeing is a favorite pastime of many French people, there are many rental kayaks and canoes on the river during the vacations, which preferably head for the Pont du Gard. With your own inflatable canoe or folding boat, you can paddle to the historic bridge even after the rush hours and thus take in the surroundings at your leisure. Similar to the Ardeche Gorge, the water level is also quite low in high and late summer.

pont du gard france
The Pont du Gard is one of the most popular sights in the south of France
pont gu gard view
The banks of the Gardon are little developed and mostly natural
canoe tour pont du gard
In the summer, the water is fairly shallow and you can also paddle most of the way back

The canoe trip can be ideally combined with visits to some beautiful French cities. Nîmes, Avignon and Arles are in the immediate vicinity, all of which have their own charm and are well worth a visit.

Read the tour report about our canoe trip on the Gard.

Les Calanques – Mediterranean Coastal Paddling

For many French people, Les Calanques National Park is one of the most beautiful coastal regions in the country. High chalk cliffs, narrow bays and azure waters paint a picture of a paradisiacal landscape, which one associates with the Mediterranean.

Most tourists come to the national park for a hiking tour. We have also made numerous hiking tours in the national park and can only recommend a hike there to you. It is simply a unique experience to hike along such a beautiful coast and to rest in one of the beautiful bays.

calanque en vau
Some bays look simply paradisiacal
calanque sugiton
When the weather is nice, many use the bays to go swimming
Excellent hiking trails let you explore the national park on foot as well

In ideal weather conditions, which means no waves and stable weather conditions, the coast is suitable for wonderful sea kayak tours. The many small bays with their beaches invite you to stay.

If you are ambitious, you can paddle the entire national park from the coast, as we did. You start in the small harbor town of Cassis and head towards Marseille. We ended our tour directly in the old harbor “Vieux Port” of Marseille. On the way there are imposing rock formations and numerous bays, which entice you to stop and swim. In Cassis and Marseille there are also kayak rental stations. If you don’t want to paddle the whole route from Cassis to Marseille, you can also do only a part of it. However, it is recommended to start in Cassis, because from there you can reach the more impressive bays faster. A comfortable day trip in this case would be the route Cassis to Calanque d’en Vau.

Learn more about our tour in the article Kayaking in the Calanques.

Verdon – The Grand Canyon of France

The Verdon is an alpine river in southern France and is also called the Grand Canyon of France. No wonder, with chalk cliffs, which are up to 700 m (2300 feet) high, the gorge offers impressive scenery. Five dams have already been built here for energy production and flood protection, which means that nowadays some parts of the gorge have been “swallowed up” by these reservoirs.

Nevertheless, the region is a popular destination for many tourists, who use the reservoirs for summer bathing and go hiking and climbing in the gorge. The lakes are just as inviting for a leisurely canoe trip and parts of the Verdon Gorge are also easily navigable. In addition to good weather that you should bring, it is important that you find out in advance when from the hydroelectric power the flood wave is sent into the Verdon.

verdon river paddling
The Lac d’Esparron reservoir is a good starting point for a canoe trip
kayaking tour verdon
Entrance to the Verdon Gorge between Lac d’Esparron and Lac de Sainte-Croix
holiday france verdon
In the region you can find many idyllic villages

Lac d’Annecy – A mountain lake with alpine scenery

Among paddling enthusiasts, it is mainly the rivers that the country has to offer. Nevertheless, there are also some beautiful lakes that invite you to a day trip. The alpine lake Lac d’Annecy is a very good example here and is one of our favorite lakes in France. Since the lake is fed by mountain rivers with drinking water quality and no runoff is discharged into the lake, the lake is one of the cleanest waters in Europe.

On the north shore is the town of Annecy, which can be easily reached by train. The place is famous for paragliding. But it is equally worthwhile to explore the area by kayak from the water. The 14.6 km (9.1 miles) long lake offers beautiful views of the southern mountain panorama. Since it is an alpine lake, you should pay attention to good weather conditions, because it can also quickly become wavy and uncomfortable on the lake in wind and storm.

lac anncey france
Lac d’Annecy is a mountain lake like something out of a picture book
anncey lake
With a kayak you can make beautiful day trips on the lake
anncey paddling destination
It is also nice to hike around the lake

Around the lake there are very beautiful hiking trails that you can also explore. So you can hike up one of the mountains to admire the lake from a height. A bike ride along the lake is also a lot of fun, which you can rent at one of the many rental shops in Annecy.

Sorgue – canoe trip near the source

The Sorgue is known for its emerald waters in large parts of France. Ideally, you start your tour from the Fontaine de Vaucluse, where the river rises. It is about 8 km (5 miles) to the small town of L’Isle sur la Sorgue, so it is also perfect for families. Depending on the season and the amount of rain, the water level can vary greatly. Especially during dry periods in summer it is possible that the river has water only further downstream.

canoeing la sorgue
La Sorgue is popular destinations for family paddling tours
kayaking fontaine de valcluse
You will see some interesting and beautiful bridges
la sourge france
It’s very calm to paddle on the river

There are kayak stations near the Fontaine de Vaucluse, which also receive the boats back at the destination point and organize the return transport to the starting point.

The water is so crystal clear in many places that you can see right down to the bottom even in very deep places and observe the fish life. The river is mostly overgrown with trees and wild bushes and therefore offers enough shade on the water even on hot summer days.

Loire – An endless natural river

With a length of more than 1000 km (620 miles), the Loire is the longest river in France. The beautiful and special thing about this hiking river is that it is largely natural. Thus, the Loire divides at various points in several river arms, thus forming beautiful islands that are very popular with paddlers as a place to rest and spend the night. On the banks, sandy beaches, forests, fields and, of course, numerous castles await.

loire france paddling
The Loire near Tours (Image from blitzmaerker of Pixabay).
canoeing tour loire
Kayaker on the Loire (Image from manfred Kindlinger of  Pixabay).
canoeing france
Retournac (Image from Gabriel De Siam of Pixabay).

The upper course of the Loire is a real white water with class III-V and originates in the Massif Central. The middle course with class WW II is no problem for experienced river paddlers and the current ensures fast progress. The lower course of the river is characterized by a calm current and is also ideal for paddling beginners and families. The Loire is the ideal river for camping enthusiasts, because here you can paddle several weeks without any problems.

Kayak tour in San Francisco

Kayaking is quite popular in the USA. Americans are not only drawn to the lakes and rivers of the country’s beautiful national parks, but urban paddling in the big cities is also very trendy in many parts of the country. The last time we were in San Francisco during a vacation in the USA, we took advantage of the good weather to get to know San Francisco a little better as a paddling destination. In this tour report you will learn everything about our little tour in Richardson Bay and other tips for tours in and around San Francisco.

Key facts about the paddling tour


2 hours


Public transport


Traffic noise

no traffic noise


houseboats, sea lions, sea birds

Table of Contents

Kayaking in San Francisco

San Francisco has a special charm thanks to its location on the coast, the sunny weather and of course the world famous Golden Gate Bridge. Many people dream of paddling with a kayak under the Golden Gate Bridge. But you should not be too hasty, because the waves and especially the currents in the area around the Golden Gate Bridge can quickly be a danger for inexperienced paddlers.

Therefore, it is not surprising that you will see almost no kayak or canoe during your walk over the Golden Gate Bridge. In San Francisco, the wind often whips directly from the sea, making the waters along the coast seem very rough. Nevertheless, if you want to take a kayak tour to the Golden Gate Bridge when conditions are good, you should join a guided tour. Sea Trek Kayak is a local kayak rental company that offers such tours on a regular basis.

golden gate bridge san francisco
Paddling under and around the Golden Gate Bridge is considered dangerous

We rented a kayak from Sea Trek and explored part of Richardson Bay on our own. This very beautiful bay is well protected and the paddling conditions are actually very good most days. If you prefer to paddle close to the San Francisco skyline, you should rent a boat from the City Kayak rental station. In the end, it’s a decision between a tour with skyline views or a tour with a focus on a bay full of sea lions, water birds and stylish houseboats.

When planning your trip, you should consider that it is considerably more expensive to rent a kayak in the USA than in Europe for example. For a single kayak you pay $30 per hours, for a double kayak $50 per hour. If you want to do a lot of paddling on your USA trip, you might be better off with your own inflatable kayak. If you don’t want to carry that much luggage because you don’t have a car, you might want to take a look at the ultra-light and compact packrafts that are also very popular in urban paddling.

Our Richardson Bay paddling tour

The rental station is located directly in Richardson Bay and is easily accessible both by car and by bus. The staff there also gives very good tips on where exactly to paddle, for example to see sea lions, water birds or to go through a small area with houseboats. Besides recreational kayaks, there are also sports kayaks and SUP board for rent.

kayak rental san francisco
Sea Trek kayak rental is located directly in Richardson Bay

These suggestions we have also oriented for our tour. The tour is ideal for those who only want to make a small morning trip on the water. With 2 hours you are comfortably on the way and discover sides of San Fancisco that most tourists do not see.

Already when leaving the rental station, the bay conveys an incredible tranquility far away from the noise of the big city. This is really a good change from sightseeing in San Francisco. The shores are lined with numerous docks for sailboats and motorboats.

birds richardson bay
In the morning, Richardson Bay conveys a sense of tranquility far from the hustle and bustle of the big city

Once you are in the middle of the bay by boat, you have a great view of the surrounding landscape. Richardson Bay covers an area 5 km (3.1 miles) long and 3 km (1.9 miles) wide. Although the shore is heavily developed with docks for boats and houseboats, the surrounding land areas are still an important breeding and migratory area for water and shore birds. For this reason, the bay is also classified as an Important Bird Area.

canoe tour california sea
The bay is pretty big and has a lot to discover

While paddling, you notice that this is a popular area for birds. Everywhere you look, you see different species. Equally noticeable is the presence of sea lions, which can be seen either in the water or sunning themselves on the shore. In general, sea lions are very peaceful animals, but nevertheless you should keep enough distance to them so that they do not feel threatened by the kayak.

birds richardson bay
The best way to watch birds is to perch on one of the many wooden piers in the water
richardson bay san francisco paddling
In some places, especially many animals gather to enjoy the sun
sea lions san francisco
Even though the sea lions seem very peaceful and playful, you should not approach them too closely

After a short time you can also see a houseboat district. Many of them give the impression that it is rather a villa on the water than a small houseboat. You should definitely turn in the small “alleys” and go on a discovery tour.

richardson bay san francisco
The shore resembles its own neighborhood with numerous houseboats. Most of them are pretty impressive.
houseboat richardson bay
Also very small houseboats join the big ones
paddling san francisco
Also in the middle of the bay is one or the other interesting houseboat

For the way back to the kayak rental we took the same route as for the outward tour. If you have more time, you can extend the tour and discover other corners of Richardson Bay. For kayak fanatics it would also be an interesting idea to rent a kayak in the afternoon at the downtown harbor and explore the city again from a different perspective. Unfortunately, on the day we paddled, this rental station was closed.

kayaking san francisco
Kayaking back to the rental station

Overall, we liked the tour very much. Within a short time we saw numerous animals and got to know an interesting side of the city with the houseboats. Especially the peace from the big city bustle has done us good.

Other activities in and around San Francisco

If you come to Richardson Bay for paddling, you will also want to discover San Francisco and its surroundings. Here we have listed 3 activities that you should not miss.

Sightseeing in San Francisco

Sightseeing tips for San Francisco are a dime a dozen. We especially liked the beach at the Golden Gate Bridge to relax. We would have loved to go to Alcatraz, but you have to book your tickets at least a week in advance. Our favorite restaurant was Tommy’s Joynt, which offers hearty food at fair prices in a cozy atmosphere.

san francisco

Redwood Nationalpark

Our nature highlight in California was the Redwood National Park. With its gigantic redwood trees, it invites you to hikes where you can’t get out of your amazement. The trees here are among the oldest and tallest in the world. By the way, a part of Jurassic Park was filmed in Fern Canyon.

redwood national park

Yosemite Nationalpark

Yosemite National Park is considered one of the most popular parks among Americans. Especially for mountaineers it is a paradise. But also for hikers it offers endless possibilities. In spring and early summer hikes to one of the numerous waterfalls are worthwhile. The starting point is often Yosemite Valley, which can also be easily explored by bike.

yosemite national park

Canoeing on Moraine Lake

lake moraine kayaking

Moraine Lake, with its Ten Peaks mountains, is one of the most photographed landscapes in Canada. Although this mountain lake is not big at all, the color of the lake and the surrounding landscape is overwhelming. We were more in awe than paddling. The azure water, the picturesque mountains with their snow peaks, the lush green pine forests create a unique experience on the water. This canoeing and kayaking tour report is not only about the route on the lake, but above all about important tips that you should consider.

Key facts about the paddling tour


1 – 4 hours


Public transport

Traffic noise

no traffic noise


azure water, stunning mountain scenery, surrounded by forests

Table of Contents

The best time for kayaking and canoeing on Moraine Lake

It’s normally possible to paddle on Moraine Lake from mid-June to mid-September . At that time the canoe rental is also open. Out of season, the lake may freeze over or the weather may be too inconsistent. We paddled the lake at the end of June and had perfect conditions. Especially between June and early July, the water is supposed to be particularly azure blue, as the meltwater is fresh from the mountains and still crystal clear.

The canoe rental shop is open from 8:30 AM to 6:30 PM. We recommend paddling early or late, as at other times of the day there are a lot of tourists. Even at 8:30 AM, if the weather forecast is good during the summer months, the lake will be very busy. The problem with Moraine Lake, first and foremost, is getting a parking spot. There are not many parking spaces and if it is completely overcrowded, the 12 km (7.5 miles) access road will be closed or the road will be completely jammed.

We recommend to paddle in the late afternoon, because then many tourists start their drive to the hotel. Also, the light conditions for photos are better in the late afternoon or evening than in the morning. The morning sun shines very strongly on the mountains and then makes them look a bit too bright. In the evening sun, the whole landscape looks beautifully warm-exposed.

Canoe rental at Moraine Lake and prices

Renting a canoe is very expensive, starting from $130.00 CAD plus tax per canoe for a one-hour rental. A canoe can take up to 2 to 3 people. Is this price worth it? In good weather, definitely. It is a unique way to experience the lake and get away from the crowds for a bit. Since the lake is not big, an hour is usually enough. However, we must confess that we spent several hours on the lake because the lake and the landscape fascinated us so much.

We were in the comfortable situation to explore the lake with our own inflatable kayak. So we were able to start our tour in the evening when there were only a few people out. We arrived at about 5:30 PM and after a little exploring on foot and setting up the boat, we were on the water from 6:30 PM to 9 PM. Apart from another inflatable canoe, we were the only boat on the water and could enjoy the silence as well as beauty of nature completely for ourselves. There are already inflatable kayaks for around $150 (e.g. Intex Explorer K2 or Challenger K2), which costs slightly more than the rent. You can stay longer on the water, start at a late hour and have the lake to yourself as well as use the boat afterwards for other tours. Also in our inflatable kayak or inflatable canoe guide you will learn more useful information if you want to buy your own boat.


intex challenger k1

for 1 person

pump and paddle incl.

front deck


intex challenger k2

for 2 persons

pump and paddles incl.

front deck


intex explorer k2

for 2 persons

pump and paddle incl.

easy access

lake moraine kayaking
The water of Moraine Lake was really clear and azure
lake moraine ten peaks
Especially the evening sun shines a very nice warm light on the Ten Peaks

Our kayaking tour on Moraine Lake

Let’s get to our actual route on Moraine Lake. Since Moraine Lake is very small, it is not necessary to plan the route in advance. You can paddle as you like without missing anything. Nevertheless, we would like to present our route to you and mark some spots that we found particularly interesting.

If you go from the parking lot towards the lake and walk along the right side of the lake, after a few minutes you will see the canoe rental. There or just around the canoe rental there are good opportunities to assembly your own boat and get it in the water. In the middle of the lake you have the best view of the mountain panorama. Nevertheless, you should also paddle along near the shore, not only to get an impression of the lake and the massive mountains, but also to get a look at the beautiful shore.

lake moraine paddling tour
At the end of the lake there is a landing place, which you would otherwise reach on foot as well
canoeing lake moraine
Back we went a bit faster before it gets dark. The sun is already behind the mountains

We recommend paddling along both the west and east shore sides for a bit. Moraine Lake then narrows at the end, from a distance it looks like a bend. But here it really ends unfortunately, the lake is blocked and it is a shallow tributary that you cannot paddle. At the western end of the lake there is still the possibility to dock with the boat to be able to look at the lake and its tributary from the land.

lake moraine canada paddling
A tributary at the end of the lake

Many wonder whether to rent a canoe for one or two hours. In general, one hour is enough to explore the lake for the most part. However, we think that you can and should enjoy it longer than one hour. With two hours you simply have more time and you can enjoy the really unique nature without time pressure. In the end, however, it is a matter of taste and a question of budget. Here it would be advantageous to take your own boat. We had met a couple from the U.S., which had taken among other things for this lake their inflatable kayak, because it came cheaper than to rent a canoe. We had done it that way too and compared to high rental costs it was definitely worth it. So you can paddle in the evening and you have the lake almost for yourself.

More information about the lake can be found on the page of Banff National Park.

Lake Moraine canoe rental
After a short time the canoe station was in sight, where we had started our paddle tour

Other Activities in Banff

Banff National Park offers countless other opportunities for hiking and paddling enthusiasts. We would like to briefly introduce you to other activities we have done in the region.

Paddling Lake Louise

Only 20 km (12.5 miles) away is Lake Louise, probably the most famous lake in Canada. We paddled Lake Louise the next morning. Especially how the cloud cover opened up and the mountains came out was spectacular. In size, it is similar to Moraine Lake. Again, there are canoe rentals or you can paddle your own boat. Learn more about our paddling trip on Lake Louise in our article.

lake louise canoe tour

Icefield Parkway

A few miles north begins the Icefield Parkway, which connects the Banff and Jasper National Parks. The highway is considered one of the most beautiful roads in North America. We drove the Icefield Parkway in both directions and would not want to miss the experience. We were even lucky enough to see several black bears along the way.

Icefield Parkway

Hiking the Sunshine Meadows Trail

The Sunshine Meadows Trail is said to be one of the most beautiful trails in Banff. Depending on the day, you can get to the trail either by gondola or by bus from Sunshine Village. On the website of Sunshine Meadows Banff you will find the exact departure information. At the top you will find small pretty lakes and well laid out hiking trails, which can be hiked in 3-4 hours. We can only recommend the hike, because it gives another insight into the mountains of Banff.

sunshine meadows trail

Kayaking on the Lake Louise

banff lake louise boat

Next to Lake Moraine, Lake Louise is one of the most famous lakes in Canada. The lake is located in Banff National Park in the Canadian province of Alberta and is surrounded by the Rocky Mountains. With a size of 2 (1.24 miles) km long and 1 km (0.62 miles) wide, the lake is quite small. Depending on the weather and season, Lake Louise is sometimes deep blue and sometimes greenish turquoise. Thus, the appearance of the lake can change within a very short time. The lake gets its unique color from the so-called rock flour, which gets into the lake from the melt water of the surrounding glaciers. We were paddling on Lake Louise at the end of June and would like to give you the most important information if you are also planning a kayak tour on Lake Louise.

Key facts about the paddling tour


1 – 3 hours


no sights

Public transport


Traffic noise

no traffic noise


azure water, stunning mountain scenery, surrounded by forests

Table of Contents

The best time for kayaking and canoeing on Lake Louise

Between mid-June and mid-September, kayaking or canoeing on the Lake Louise should be possible and the weather should also be suitable. Don’t forget that Lake Louise is a glacier lake at 1600 m (5250 feet) altitude and is often still frozen in May. We recommend to start your tour either in the early morning or in the late afternoon, or better in the early evening. This is especially recommended in the summer as the days are long and the sunrise and sunset create a particularly beautiful atmosphere. If you want to visit Lake Louise in the morning on a weekend, then it is better to be there between 7 and 8 AM., so that you can get a parking space or do not have to wait long for it. If there is no other time, you should plan more time and be prepared to find masses of tourists at the lake. Because during the high season, Lake Louise is very heavily visited by tourists on all days.

Canoe rental at Lake Louise and prices

If you want to rent a canoe, canoe rental is available from mid-June and depending on the weather until the end of September or beginning of October. The rental is open from 11 AM to 7 PM., with the last rental of boats at 6 PM. In the high season, the rental station sometimes opens earlier. The rental price for a canoe is outrageously high, $145 per hour / $135 per half hour (+tax). Hotel guests at the Chateau Lake Louise Hotel get a small discount, bypass the rental queues and can even rent canoes in the evening at 8:15 PM, thus bypassing the large crowds. This is not surprising though, as the hotel is the operator of the canoe rental. The canoe rental is the only canoe rental on the lake. Boats can also not be reserved in advance.

lake louise canoe kayak rental
At Lake Louise there is only one canoe rental

Is it even worth renting a canoe? If the weather is good, it is an unforgettable experience to explore the lake and escape the crowds on the shore. A canoe can accommodate up to 3 adults, which then significantly reduces the price per person. We definitely recommend renting a canoe for at least an hour to avoid possible rush. Once you are on the water, you will immediately notice that the lake has something magical and invites you to relax.

We had the luxury of exploring Lake Louise with our own inflatable kayak. So we started early in the morning and were completely alone on the water. There are already inflatable kayaks around $150(e.g. Intex Explorer K2 or Challenger K2), which costs slightly more than the rent. The advantage is that you can start your tour earlier or later in the day, stay longer on the water and thus really explore the lake in peace and enjoy it to the fullest. There is more information in our inflatable kayak guide if you are interested in owning an inflatable kayak.


intex challenger k1

for 1 person

pump and paddle incl.

front deck


intex challenger k2

for 2 persons

pump and paddles incl.

front deck


intex explorer k2

for 2 persons

pump and paddle incl.

easy access

Our kayaking tour on Lake Louise

Let’s get to the actual route or tour on Lake Louise. Due to the small size of the lake, a route planning is not necessary. Nevertheless, we would like to share our route with you with numerous pictures, so that you get a small impression in advance, what to expect.

From the parking lot it is only a few 100 meters (300 feet) to the lake. The shore at the hotel is very well laid out with walkways. This walkway leads to the canoe station on the left side. At the front part of the walkway are most of the tourists to take a picture of themselves and Lake Louise. At this walkway you can also ideally start the paddling tour with your own kayak or canoe.

lake louse best time
At the beginning of the tour the cloud cover was still very low over the lake
lake louise kayaking
Nevertheless, we decided to paddle off
lake louise canoe tour
Mountain Big Beehive

We arrived at Lake Louise at 7 AM. It was on a Monday in June and there were very few people. We had spent the night before at the Lake Louise campground. We had left the tent set up and had breakfast at Lake Louise. From 8 AM it began gradually that more and more people came to the lake. Shortly after that it started to rain. Therefore we could start our tour only at 10 AM.

Camping at Lake Louise

There is a large campground on the outside the town Lake Louise. In the high season you should book a site in advance. There is one campground for RVs and one for tents and cars. Camping is relatively cheap compared to the hotels and lodges there. In addition, you are within a few minutes by car at the lake and can visit Lake Louise in the evening or early morning comfortably.

Shortly after the rain, there was no one else on the lake again. We decided to set up the boat and were within 15 min on the water. For many tourists we were a kind of attraction, because we were the only ones with our own kayak and then even the only ones paddling on Lake Louise. After not even 10 min we were far away from the shore and paddled along the left shore. We were lucky and the cloud cover broke. Even in the cloudy weather the lake had still had an incredibly beautiful atmosphere. Nevertheless, we could now see more and more of the mountains and they were immense. The passing of the clouds on the mountains was also unique to watch.

lake louise canada
Impressive mountains at Lake Louise

We continued paddling along the left bank and the forest thinned out. The shore was now covered by an avalanche of boulders that looked like small stones from a distance. We stopped often while paddling to enjoy the mountain scenery.

lake louise banff paddling tour
We paddled to the end of the lake
lake louise canoeing
In some places on the shore there was even snow at the end of June

At the end of the lake there was even snow on the shore. For the way back we took the shortest way. We recommend you to take more time for the first half of the tour, because we felt the landscape from the perspective much more beautiful. On the way back, the large hotel catches the eye. The forests and the distant mountains seem a bit monotonous compared to the scenic diversity enjoyed on the first part there. So the first half took us 1.5 h, the second part 30 min.

lake louise paddling
We found the first part more scenic
banff lake louise boat
There are very few with their own boat on Lake Louise

Many wonder how long you should rent a canoe. Generally, one hour is enough to explore most of Lake Louise. Half an hour would definitely be too little. If you have the time and the budget, we recommend two hours. This is where having your own inflatable boat is an advantage. We had met a couple who also started a tour on Lake Louise after us with their own inflatable kayak (Intex Explorer K2). More information about the lake can be found on the page of the Banff National Park.

Other Activities in Banff

Banff National Park offers countless other opportunities for hiking and paddling enthusiasts. We would like to briefly introduce you to other activities we have done in the region.

Paddling Lake Moraine

Just 20 km (12.5 miles) away is Lake Moraine, one of Canada’s most famous lakes. With its small size, it can also be paddled in a morning or afternoon. We paddled Lake Moraine on a summer evening and it was one of the best experiences of our Canadian trip. Read more in our tour report about Lake Moraine.

lake moraine kayaking

Icefield Parkway

A few miles north begins the Icefield Parkway, which connects the Banff and Jasper National Parks. The highway is considered one of the most beautiful roads in North America. We drove the Icefield Parkway in both directions and would not want to miss the experience. We were even lucky enough to see several black bears along the way.

Icefield Parkway

Hiking the Sunshine Meadows Trail

The Sunshine Meadows Trail is said to be one of the most beautiful trails in Banff. Depending on the day, you can get to the trail either by gondola or by bus from Sunshine Village. On the website of Sunshine Meadows Banff you will find the exact departure information. At the top you will find small pretty lakes and well laid out hiking trails, which can be hiked in 3-4 hours. We can only recommend the hike, because it gives another insight into the mountains of Banff.

sunshine meadows trail

Kayaking in Stockholm

stockholm kayaking sweden

Sweden is considered the paddling destination par excellence. Endless lakes, surrounded by beautiful forests on rocks and small wooden cottages, which invite you to dream in lonely seclusion. But what about paddling in and around the big Swedish cities? We have been to the Swedish capital Stockholm and went out for a kayaking tour. We can already tell you that Stockholm really offers a lot of possibilities for paddling, which we liked so much that we definitely want to return there.

Key facts about the paddling tour


2 – 3 hours


Museums, historical buildings, monuments

Public transport

City center transportation

Traffic noise

little traffic noise


urban paddling environment, islands, parks

Table of Contents

Kayaking in the Swedish capital Stockholm

We have only done our kayak tour around the island of Djurgarden, but it’s not the only spot where can do kayaking in Stockholm. So let’s take a look where you can go paddling in and around Stockholm. Most passionate paddlers are drawn to Stockholm for a tour in the Stockholm archipelago. The archipelago consists of about 30,000 islands that stretch from the city centre into the Baltic Sea. The numerous islands protect youquite well from the open sea and thanks to the everyman’s right you can simply pitch your tent for the night on many islands.

The archipelago is therefore ideal for kayakers who like to go on multi-day trips and want to spend the night on a different island every day. Local kayak rentals not only provide you with the right paddling equipment, but also with complete camping equipment if required. If you are not a fan of wild camping, but still want to do a tour of several days, we recommend stopping at one of the many private accommodations on the islands. Rooms or entire holiday homes of private persons can be found on AirBnB, for example.  If you are planning a tour to the Stockholm archipelago, we also recommend the website of the Archipelago Foundation, which not only provides general information about the region, but also has a lot of detailed information about the individual island areas.

Stockholm Archipelago
Stockholm archipelago

So you could go on endless canoe trips in the archipelago. But the city of Stockholm is at least as interesting for a day trip. The biggest city of Scandinavia extends over 14 islands and can be explored from the water. But during a single day you will not be able to explore all parts of the city by kayak. The city is simply too big for that.

stockholm sightseeing
View on the city center of Stockholm

In addition, some parts are closed for recreational and sports paddlers and other parts are rather unsuitable for a tour due to the high ship and boat traffic. We can recommend the following tours in Stockholm, where we paddled the tour around the Djurgarden ourselves:

  • Långholmen and Reimersholme (6km/ 2h)
  • Kungsholmen (10km/ 3-4h)
  • Årstaviken (6km/ 2h)
  • Djurgarden (10km/ 2-3h)

Our kayaking tour around Djurgarden in Stockholm

Djurgarden is an island in Stockholm with the largest city park. There are also numerous historical buildings, monuments, museums, an amusement park and a large open-air museum. For the Stockholmers Djurgarden with its meadows and forests is above all a recreation area. We highly recommend a walk on the island after your kayak tour.

In the map above, you see our route around Djurgarden. It’s pretty easy to in terms of orientation because you kayak just around the island. You can download an offline map on your mobile phone and check with the GPS functionality where you are.

Stockholm Djurgarden
The island of Djurgarden is the home to the largest city park.

We wanted to do a tour that combines urban paddling with lots of green and tranquility. A round trip around Djurgarden seemed to meet exactly these requirements for us. Right at the bridge Djurgardsbron there is the Café Sjöcafeet, which runs also a nice kayak rental. Thus, here we rent our kayak and paddle in eastern direction to the canal Djurgårdsbrunnskanalen.

stockholm kayaking sweden
View from the bridge Djurgardsbron in direction of the city centre.
kayak rental stockholm
Café Sjöcafeet with rental of boats, including kayaks

The first half of the tour is characterized by calm waters and is ideal for paddling beginners or families. Furthermore, only few boats pass through this section. The further we go, the narrower the channel gets and the deeper we dive into the green and leave the big city bustle behind us. There are enough possibilities to land on with the kayak on the right or left bank. Especially on sunny days it is worth looking for a good place for a picnic.

kayaking djurgarden
The water to the east is very calm and one gets only little of the big city bustle

But we continue paddling, because the weather forecast for the early afternoon predicts some rain. Thus, before it starts to rain, we want to finish the tour. We approach the canal Djurgårdsbrunnskanalen, which we enjoy very much, because it feels like paddling through a park. At the left and the right bank, people walk on the park paths or sit on the benches. Since it’s so nice and quiet here, we often let ourselves drift and stay on the water in order to enjoy the sun.

urban kayaking in stockholm
The canal Djurgårdsbrunnskanalen offers a lot of nature and we feel far away from the big city

At the end of the canal we have the feeling that we would paddle out onto a large lake. The water becomes rougher and we notice now that we were well protected from the wind so far. Those who prefer the calm water and comfortable paddling should not go around the whole island. As from here, you cross more boats, ferrys and even big vessels. So, you should not only watch out for the traffic on the water but also for the waves that they make. You will also have a great paddling tour if you take the same way back.

Stockholm archipelago
After Djurgardenbrunnskanal we get a first impression of the archipelago

It’ss worth paddling out a little beyond the end of the canal to admire the landscape in the distance. In front of us, a picture builds up of the archipelago at the gates of the city. Small islands, with rocky shores and little houses as far as the eye can see. This is a sight where we really feel like paddling further into the archipelago to discover its infinite beauty. But for this tour the goal is to paddle the island Djurgarden.

We decide to do the whole tour around the island. But when looking back, we have to admit that we especially enjoyed the first part of the tour. It was so calm and green there. However, we enjoy to discover the other side of the island. It’s just a bit less relaxing because you have to watch out for the ferrys that are crossing.

A small highlight of this tour was an old sailing ship that comes towards us and reminds us on the Vasa warship that we visited the day before in a museum. This ship already sank shortly after the beginning of its maiden voyage in the year 1628 due to a serious constructive instability at the gates of Stockholm. Only more than 300 years later, the ship was recovered and restored at great expense and is now a museum. We can only warmly recommend a visit to the Vasa Museum, which is also located on Djurgarden.

vasa museum stockholm
The warship Vasa in the museum on Djurgarden
canoe tour stockholm
Not quite as impressive as the warship Vasa, but still impressive to meet an old sailing ship at sea

On the way we meet a few docking points for sailboats and smaller yachts and soon we see the small island of Beckholmen in front of us. In order to avoid more ferry traffic and to get into calm waters, we pass the island on the right. Here, we also paddle straight next to the amusement park Gröna Lund, which is pretty impressive to see from the water. Not later than now, we also see some of the city centre from a distance, as for example the citadel Kastellet.

stockholm activities
Amusement park Gröna Lund on the island of Djurgarden
stockholm sweden holiday
Especially near the city centre you have to watch out for ferry traffic
stockholm paddling tour
At the end the sun comes out again and we stop for lunch at Sjöcafeet.

But after Beckholmen the ferry traffic suddenly increases really strongly. There are constantly small and bigger boats going from one shore to the other. They make plenty of waves and here you need to be careful not to get in each other’s way. That’s why we wait in some places to find the right moment to pass. But this is really only the last few hundred meters of our paddle tour. There we just reach the kayak rental where we started our tour.

After a little more than 2 hours of paddling, we are happy to have lunch right there at the café. Here we enjoy the last sunrays of the day on the terrace of the café and finish the day with a very extensive walk in the park Djurgarden.

Kayaking in Waterland near Amsterdam

broek waterland kayaking tour

Kayaking in Amsterdam, is that even possible? Of course it is, but it is not very popular to go kayaking or canoeing in the heart of Amsterdam. The canals are just too busy. So most Dutch people prefer the countryside for a relaxed tour. Those who have once paddled in Waterland will not regret having moved their tour outside the city. Nature lovers who make a city trip to Amsterdam should plan at least one day for Waterland. This area is also ideal for leisurely canoe trips with children. Waterland is characterised by pastures and moors. Because of the flat grass and the few trees and bushes, the animal life can be observed here particularly well. From cows and geese lingering on the pastures to numerous sea birds such as grey herons, there is always something to observe on the trip.

Key facts about the paddling tour


2 – 3 hours


Typical dutch villages

Public transport

Bus from Amsterdam Centraal

Traffic noise

no traffic noise


Pasture and moorland landscapes with numerous animals

Table of Contents

Tour preparation and getting there

As Waterland is located not far north of Amsterdam, access by public transport is easy. An ideal starting point for the tour is the village of Watergang. From the train station Amsterdam Centraal it takes only 10 minutes by bus to reach this village.

kayaking amsterdam
Kayaking in downtown Amsterdam is possible, but not very relaxing

Right at the bus stop Watergang there used to be a hotel called “Hotel Watergang”, which rented out kayaks and canoes. Although the rental was not signposted, as it is primarily aimed at the hotel guests, they also rented to all other tourists. Unfortunately, this hotel doesn’t exist anymore. However, there is a tour operator for canoe trips in Watergang called Wetlands Safari, which organizes canoe trips in the same area where we have done our paddling tour

So, if you like to join a guided tour you should book your tour in advance. But those who prefer to explore the canals on their own in peace and quiet can try to contact them to see if they also rent their boats. Due to the many canals, you can quickly get the impression that you can simply lose the orientation, but this is not the case. When renting a kayak or a canoe you gets a map and due to the flat landscape, most of the times, you can see the starting point relatively well from a distance. Moreover, in some places, the channels are signposted.

hotel watergang
Hotel Watergang where we rented our boat

On hot and sunny days, you should in any case remember to take enough to drink, sun cream and ideally also a hat. Due to the pasture landscapes that characterize the area, there are practically no trees that could provide some shade during the tour. Instead of staying overnight in Amsterdam, we decided to stay in Watergang. The village is simply very idyllic and thanks to the good and fast connection to Amsterdam, you don’t have to make any compromises during your holiday in Amsterdam.

Our kayaking tour from Waterland to Broek and back

watergang netherlands
Starting point of our tour is the idyllic village Watergang
netherlands nature sheeps
Watergang is a village far away from the hustle and bustle of the big city with lots of nature and animals.

We started our tour already early in the morning at 7 am. The light and the silence on the canals is just magical at this early morning. You could also do the tour in the evening in order to paddle during the sunset.

Starting point of the tour is directly at the Hotel Watergang. We paddle north to the end of the village and pass numerous small bridges. Some bridges areso low that during the passage, you have to bend very flatly forward in order to get through. But those who are agile enough will not mind these little challenges but will even have fun with that.

watergang hotel canoe
Starting point of our tour is at Hotel Watergang

After leaving the village and soon after a short canal section, a small lake called Nonksloot follows. Even if you haven’t paddled much yet, it’s worth a stopover here. Because on the right side there is a landing stage with a bench where you can perfectly land on with your canoe. We used this stop to have a small breakfast picnic. The landscape that surrounds you is how you imagine the Netherlands to be. Flat green grassland with animals as far as the eye can see and even a small windmill that is located on the meadow.

kayaking netherlands
The system of canals is like a labyrinth but you can easily see the church in the distance to find back to your starting point
canoe trip amsterdam
Breakfast picnic at lake Nonksloot
holland windmill
Small windmill at the shore of lake Nonksloot

After this stop, we leave the lake via the canal on the right and follow the path to Broek. Already from a distance you can see the village and its church tower. It is also worth staying attentive during the trip. There are not only many ducks and geese to watch, but also cows grazing directly on the shore. During our tour at the end of May, the fishes also mated and were constantly jumping around wildly in the water.

Broek is at least as idyllic as Watergang. Already during the entrance to the village there are beautiful houseboats on the banks and you have a view into one or the other nice garden of the houses. The canal finally ends on the small lake Het Havenrak. Here you should also stop with your boat and have a walk through the village. Depending on the time of day, you can pass by the restaurant Het Broeker Huis, where you can enjoy a delicious meal in the courtyard.

waterland amsterdam paddling tour
The entrance of the village is very idyllic with the beautiful houses and gardens
broek netherlands
There is a small lake in the center of Broek
Het Broeker Huis
The small village is perfect for a little walk

For the way back it is possible to take the same route, but we recommend you to take a parallel channel for a little more variety. From the distance, you can orientate very well to the church tower in Watergang, whereby it is actually impossible to get lost.

canoe trip netherlands
The flat meadows offer wide views of the landscape
holland meadow
Cows graze on many pastures
house boats amsterdam
There are numerous houseboats not only in Amsterdam, but also in the surrounding area

The tour was without doubt the highlight of our Amsterdam trip and that should mean a lot, as the city itself has a lot to offer. It is simply the landscape that yo find there, how one imagines the Netherlands to be. The two villages Watergang and Broek also had a lot of charm and we had the possibility to have a picnic in the green on the way. Not to forget the fact that we were almost alone in the canals, although we did the tour on a Sunday.

Kayaking in the Dordogne

canoe trip dordogne beynac

The Dordogne is considered one of the most beautiful rivers for paddling in Europe. The natural course of the river alone, with its ever-changing character of hills, meadows and steep cliffs, makes every paddler’s heart beat faster. In addition, castles, fortresses, medieval villages and caves characterise the Dordogne Valley and make a canoe trip a cultural experience. We have been on the Dordogne for 6 days and in this article we would like to take you with us back on the river and share our adventure with you.

Key facts about the paddling tour


6 – 7 days


castles, medieval villages

Public transport

car needed

Traffic noise

rarely and little traffic noise


cliffs, meadows, hills

Table of Contents

The Dordogne as a paddle region

The Dordogne is a 305 miles (490 km) long river in the southwest of France. The region is considered an Eldorado for paddlers thanks to its diverse nature with picturesque valleys and rocks, its well-preserved and restored villages and castles. The shallow course of the river (max. white water class II) and the mild climate attract numerous paddle beginners and families to the region every year.

The 93 miles (150 km) long section between Argentat and Limeuil is particularly interesting for river paddling. The section is mostly natural and only limited by two weirs, which can be easily circumnavigated with a boat slide. The highlight of every Dordogne tour is without doubt the section between Vitrac and Beynac-et-Cazenac with its distinctive castle landscape. After Beynac-et-Cazenac the landscape becomes less exciting, but on this section up to Limeuil you can end the tour in peace even in high summer. Behind Limeuil the river becomes wide and sluggish and is characterized by many weirs, which makes the trip less interesting for most paddlers.

carennac village france
river autumn

The Dordogne is ideal for paddling tours lasting several days. It is varied and does not get boring. The numerous villages on the banks of the Dordogne offer the opportunity to replenish your own provisions or to stop off in a restaurant. Due to the numerous campsites and the accommodations in the villages, you will find a suitable stay every evening. In the high season, however, you have to be prepared for the fact that many hotels and popular campsites are already fully booked.

Those who are not a big fan of longer paddle tours can also do a day trip. There are several possibilities, but the most popular section is the one between Vitrac and Beynac-et-Cazennac. However, this section is strongly frequented by many day tourists. Canoe rentals pick you up at the end of the paddle tour with a minibus and take you back where you started your tour.

Getting to the Dordogne in France

Toulouse and Bordeaux, where numerous flight connections exist, are the closest big cities. From these two cities you are within 3.5 hours by car in the Dordogne region. We recommend that you take a rental car, which can be rented at the airport or in the city centre. The journey with the public transport is possible, but unfortunately from the two cities mentioned above quite time-consuming and complicated. This is mainly due to the fact that the region is economically underdeveloped and dominated by agriculture. Train connections to the larger cities do exist, but there are only a few and no direct connections.

If you don’t want to travel by car, you could also start the canoe tour in Souillac. Souillac is the biggest city in the region and has a direct train connection to Paris. For the departure you should organize a transport to Souillac. If you hire a boat from a canoe rental company, they will usually return you to your starting point. If you are travelling with your own inflatable canoe, you can still contact a canoe rental company in order to ask them for a return transport. If they have space in their minibuses on their tours, they will usually take you with them for a fee.


Best time to visit the Dordogne

If you want to benefit from the Mediterranean climate, the months from June to September are the best. In midsummer from July to August there are many tourists on the river. Many beautiful gravel banks for wild camping or campsites near the river are quickly occupied. In the months of June and September, the advantage is that there are considerably fewer tourists in the region and the weather is still very stable. Temperatures above 68°F (20°C) are very common in September and offer actually the best paddling conditions. Only at night it can get colder in September. May and October could also be an option for weatherproof paddlers and campers, but most campsites have already closed.

Autumn in the region is characterized by mild temperatures and many sunny days.

We did our canoe trip on the Dordogne in September and can only recommend this period. The weather was very good. We had rain only once during the night and the temperatures were between 68°F and 79°F (20°C and 26°C) during the day. At night the temperatures sometimes went down to 45°F (7°C) and good camping equipment was therefore very important. But we really enjoyed the autumn colours and the silence on the river. Of course, you should also consider that the days in autumn become shorter.

Accommodation in the Dordogne

Even if you are out in nature for several days, camping is not a must. The possibilities range from wild camping on a gravel bank to an upscale hotel.

Wild Camping

wild camping france
Wild camping at the river bank

Wild camping is not allowed in France, but one-time overnight stays on the riverbank is tolerated in the Dordogne. You should be careful not to pitch your tent on a private property or too close to a village. Free and flat areas on islands and gravel banks indicate suitable places. Do not camp too close to the water or just a bit above the water level of the river, as the water level can rise quickly, especially on the upper course of the river, due to the regulation at the weir in Argentat. In the high season, however, you should not rely on free spots for wild camping, as these are very popular and therefore quickly occupied.


dordogne campsite
One of the many campsites in the Dordogne

Most paddlers on a multi-day trip stay overnight at one of the many campsites along the river. Since there are so many campsites, it is easy to find a campsite every night.  Most of them are right on the shore, where you can leave your canoe. But same here, in the high season the popular campsites are quickly full and you will not always have free place choice. In addition to hot shower, most campsites also have a small restaurant, a swimming pool and even a small grocery store.


dordogne hotel
Hotels in villages are also an option

Those who are not a big fan of camping but prefer to sleep in bed, can take a Bed&Breakfast or hotel in the many villages for a reasonable price. As these are often smaller accommodations with few rooms, an early reservation is recommended. You only have to check if you can leave your canoe on the property of the hotel or if you can let it safely on the shore. Most accommodations are in idyllic villages and in lovingly furnished country houses, which convey the charm and character of the region very well.

We were out in the low season and camped 5 nights on the river bank. This gave us complete flexibility in planning our tour, as we were able to stop at any time. Due to the few paddlers on the Dordogne in September, we had almost always free choice of place and the little islands or gravel banks for us alone. This was definitely a highlight of the Dordogne tour for us, because you could enjoy the wonderful views on the river in complete peace. Only on the last evening in Beynac-et-Cazenac we stayed overnight on a campsite, as wild camping close to villages is not really tolerated.

Canoe rentals at the Dordogne river

There are countless canoe rentals on the Dordogne. Some are more specialized in day trips and others in multi-day trips. For multi-day tours in high season you should book your canoe in advance. With most canoe rental companies, the car can be parked on their property. The return transport after the tour takes place in minibuses back to the canoe rental.

Explorando – Canoe rental

On this tour we didn’t take our own boats with us, but rented a canoe from the rental called Explorando. In addition to the numerous other rentals in the region, this one convinced us above all with a friendly and flexible service as well as the high-quality boats.

Usually you will also get dry bags and containers. Some rentals also have camping equipment. We have chosen the smaller company Explorando, which specializes in tours lasting several days. Thanks to the good equipment, the flexible and friendly service we can also recommend this canoe rental company.

canoe rental dordogne
Canoe and kayak rental Explorando in Groléjac

Our canoe tour from Argentat to Beynac-et-Cazenac

We have devided this canoe tour in the following sections:

Day 1 – Argentant to Brivezac
Day 2 – Brivezac to Reingues
Day 3 – Reingues to Montvalent
Day 4 – Montvalent to Le Treil
Day 5 – Le Treil to Monfort
Day 6 – Montfort to Beynac-et-Cazenac

Day 1 – Argentat to Brivezac

The evening before we arrived in Groléjac by car and spent the night in a small hotel. The next morning at 9:30 am we met at the base camp of the canoe rental company Explorando. We loaded our things and provisions for the next days into the minibus and went for an approximately two-hour trip in the minibus to Argentat. We also got a small river map from the canoe rental company, which was very helpful by the way. All important places and spots were marked, e.g. strong rapids and how to avoid them best, some campsites, restaurants and castles.

canoe trip preparation
Loading the canoe at the campsite “Camping Europe”

Starting point of our tour was then at the camping site “Camping Europe”, just before the rapid Malpas (the term “mal passage” means bad passage). Here we loaded our boat and put it into the water.

The rapid Malpas was quite challenging. An island divides the passage, whereby both sides are passable. The passage on the left side is easier, but also this can be quite bumpy and lively. Due to the lower water levels in September, the current was less fast than in summer. But when the water is low, it is not easy to find the way through because some rocks are blocking the course.

So we catch a rock quite badly and the boat swayed and runs full of water. We already have the capsizing before our eyes, but in the end we can just save ourselves with the full boat to the shore. Since the water level is very low at that time, capsizing at this level would not have been a dangerous undertaking. Paddle beginners should rather start their tour after this rapid. In summer, when the water levels are higher, there is even the volunteer fire brigade here to help capsized paddlers.

argentat dordogne
Riverbank near Argentat after the rapid Malpas
old town canoe
We paddled a canoe from Old Town
france nature holiday
The mild weather, the autumn colors and fewer tourists make the shoulder season particularly attractive

After the rapid Malpas we continue through parts with fast currents. Most of them can be passed without any problems and are more likely to make for rapid progress and are quite fun to drive through. A few places, however, require a little more attention, as rocks or stones sometimes block the course of the river and have to be avoided. Especially when the water level is low, ground contact with a fully loaded Canadian is not uncommon. Here you should always follow the main current, where most of the passages are best. After some time the course of the river becomes quite calm. However, the basic current is sufficient to drift and still make good progress.

Numerous anglers standing in the water and grey herons characterize this section. On this day we meet only two more paddle boats and can therefore enjoy the river hike in the best weather. Already during the first longer break at the river bank we realize how good the purchase of the folding camping chairs in Bordeaux was. There is nothing better than to put up your camping chair in the sunshine on a beautiful gravel bank. Once you’ve sat down, you sink into your chair at the sight of the beautiful nature and would like to linger for an eternity.

At Brivezac we meet a rather strong rapids again, where we decide to look at it beforehand in order to find the best way for the passage. If you hear a strong noise from a distance and you are not sure how to get there, it is always a good idea to dock in advance and take a look. Shortly after the passage, the first day of our tour comes to an end and we head for a beautiful shore where we finally pitch our tent.

canoe tour camping
Camping spot for the first night

Day 2 – Brivezac to Reingues

After the first night’s stay, we continue our journey towards Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne, the first major village, where it is definitely worth stopping to explore and to have a coffee. But before we reach this place we discover such a beautiful shore where we simply have to take another break. It is located on the right bank as soon as you see the first house of the village from a distance. From here you also have a really good view of the river. The place is also perfect for swimming. Unfortunately, we didn’t reach this spot the night before. Because we would have pitched our tent here in any case. Anyway, we use the warm midday sun to cool down in the river and prepare our lunch.

dordogne white water
Depending on the water level, the river can get quite wild at some spots
carrying canoe
Sometimes it’s just easier to carry the canoe around some white water spots
beaulieu dordogne
A perfect spot for a break and for camping can be found just before the village Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne

At Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne you find a weir, which can’t be passed by canoes. But it can be bypassed on the left via a branch that can be reached by a water slide. Those who want to have a look at the village should first land on the right bank close to the church. Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne is indeed not as spectacular as other idyllic villages that will still be waiting for us, but it already gives a nice first impression what the region has to offer. Moreover, there is a small supermarket where you can also refill your provisions or buy something that you might have forgotten before. Beside a walk, also small restaurants and cafés invite to a pleasant break.

Tourist boat on the Dordogne river
dordogne village france
Chapelle des Pénitents in Bealieu-sur-Dordogne
dordogne hotel
An idyllic village that’s worth visiting.

After Beaulieu, the Dordogne flows mainly through pasture land and the next thing we notice is a big old wall on the right bank of the river. Behind this wall there is a castle called Château d’Estresse, which is not visible from the river. By chance we see that there is a big ladder on the river bank. The curiosity persuades us to dare a view over the wall in order to catch some glimpses of the castle. The idea with the ladder worked well, but unfortunately we didn’t see the castle from there either. Thus, we are not able to view the first castle on our canoe tour. But this should change soon.

dordogne trip
Not visible from the river but behind the wall is the castle Château d’Estresse

Because not much later, what a canoe trip in the Dordogne is so famous and popular for follows: the first castle which is placed in the landscape like in a fairy tale book. The castle of Castelnau-Bretenoux is a few miles from the river.  If you have a little more time, you can land on the riverbank and walk there to visit it. We decide not to visit the castle. But as it is enthroned on a hill, it can be seen quite well from the water for some time and we enjoy the views.

Château de Castelnau-Bretenoux
The first castle we see from the river is Castelnau-Bretenoux

Then follows a larger island, which offers numerous gravel banks with good resting places. After this island we land on the left bank near the small village of Reingues and set up our camp. Since the river makes a bend at this point, we had a really good view of the river course in the evening.

dordogne river wild camping
Relaxing with a great view over the Dordogne river after our second 2nd day.

Day 3 – From Reingues to Montvalent

The next morning we continue along small villages with the destination Carennac. This village was awarded as one of the most beautiful villages in France. If you want to visit this medieval village, you should keep to the left before the village and follow the tributary of the river, because this is the only way to get directly to Carennac. We find the trip through the canal particularly varied. This small section, which is very narrow and covered with many trees, strongly reminds us of our paddle tour in the Spreewald in Germany.

After about 1 mile on the side arm we reach the city centre. Here we enjoy the walk through the village in wonderful sunshine and summery temperatures. Carennac is indeed a picturesque village with a lot of charm. A detached tower in the centre of the village is a popular photo motif. Today it does not fulfil a great function anymore, since it’s used to be a stair tower of a former building. We then stop for lunch at the Priearé Restaurant. Here we had a very good meal and can highly recommend it.

By the way, those who want to exchange the camping in wild nature with a soft bed in a romantic village for one night are right in this village. Looking back we have to say that Carennac was one of the highlights of the Dordogne tour for us. So, it’s definitely worth spending some more time at  this beautiful place.

Local market in Carennac
carennac traveling france
The church Saint-Pierre
carennac village france
This tower is kind of a symbol of the village.

To get back from the side arm to the Dordogne you have to use a water slide. But the water level is so low that we have to pull the boat down. On the main river there are a few rapids shortly afterwards where you have to be careful to get through safely. Since the sun is so nice and warm that day and we still feel full of midday, we soon find a spot on the bank to put up our hammocks. With so little hustle and bustle on the river and such good weather, the camping chair and the hammock become one of our best friends on this trip to simply relax and unwind.

During the low season you have almost every nice spot just for yourself

As we continue our journey we notice how slowly huge rock faces are piling up, which will determine the river landscape for the next few miles. The view point “Belvédère de Copeyre” offers the possibility to gaze at the Dordogne valley from above. So, we land on the gravel banks below the view point. Unfortunately, there is no footpath up to the view point but only the path on the road. But here, you have to pay attention very well, as the road is quite busy. The curves and the gradient of the road make it difficult for car drivers to see it in some places. We would not recommend this side trip to families with children. But once arrived at the view point, you have a really excellent view that takes one’s breath away.

dordogne valley
View from Belvédère de Copeyre
dordogne river tour
Steep calk rocks characterize this part of the tour
dordogne copeyre
Thanks to the changing rock formations the tour never gets boring

With just as much astonishment we finally paddle on, because the exciting rock formations create a very special scenery in the evening light play. At the curve of Le Port de Gluges we have another break, as the view of the rock walls is very impressive. Then we continue paddling and at dusk we find our perfect camping spot at a curve close to the village Montvalent. With the last rays of the sun and the lonely silence, the autumn colors of the trees on the shore seem really magical. The gravel bank is very long and numerous fireplaces show that many canoeists regularly stay overnight here. We have the whole gravel bank to ourselves that evening, sitting with campfire on the riverbank until late.

dordogne fall
A beautiful fall evening finishes our 3rd day.

Day 4 – From Montvalent to Le Treil

When we open the tent the next morning, we quickly notice that the warm autumn atmosphere of the previous evening has changed into a morning autumn cold. The temperature is still far below 50°F. We decide to quickly take down our tent and stow our equipment in the boat. Off we go with strong paddle strokes to warm up and soon we catch the first sunrays.

At the latest when it gets warmer the hunger and the appetite for a really good breakfast seizes us. A look at the map tells us that the village Saint-Soizy is not far away and there is supposed to be a shop with fresh French baguettes. We decide to land on below the motorway bridge and then buy our well-deserved breakfast in the nearby town centre.

Saint-Soizy dordodgne
View from the bridge near Saint-Soizy

Back at the boat, we paddle a few hundred metres further on, then leave the motorway bridge behind us and have breakfast on the bank. The small breakfast break turns into a quite extended break with cooling in the river at meanwhile summerly temperatures.

Then we continue to the village of Lacave, where we want to take a break to visit the stalactite cave there. Either our map on the mobile phone and our river maps show us the wrong way or we clearly got the wrong way. At the end, we meet two donkeys on a meadow that want to tell us that surely there is no stalactite cave to be found there. So we leave the shore again without having found the cave, knowing that soon another one is waiting for us.

A donkey telling us that this property belongs to him
dordogne caves
Entrance to a cave
dordogne canoe cave
When the water level is low, you can walk in there

Because if we continue paddling from Lacave, we only have to keep left at the rock face and keep our eyes open for a cave. Shortly before a house lying on the slope the entrance to a cave finally appears in the rock wall. If the water level is sufficient, you can even go in by canoe for a few meters. At our place the water level is too low and we have to get out to continue on foot. At the end there is a water basin where you would only get further with diving equipment. Nevertheless the cave is worth seeing and gives a little adventure feeling.

After we finally got our little cave experience, we continue paddling and as next, the Château de la Treyne tempts us to take a break again. It is located on a rock and really nestles into the landscape. We grab our camping chairs and take a refreshment break. By the way, there is not much to visit at the Château de la Treyne, as it is nowadays a luxury hotel.

Finally, the Dordogne gets a little further and the shore regions flatten. We already see the next castle from a distance, the Château de Lanzac, which is also privately owned. With the grazing cows in front of the lonely castle and the absence of any modernity, we almost feel like being taken back a few centuries ago.

Château de Lanzac
Château de la Treyne
Château de la Treyne
Château de Lanzac
chateau Cieurac
Caslte in Cieurac

Soon the only real town on the Dordogne follows: Souillac. The town with its 4000 inhabitants does not have the same charm as the many other medieval villages we have seen before. Souillac is rather a traffic junction and the modern life dominates the townscape. But the city is ideal for refilling your provisions or going out for a meal. As we still have plenty of provisions, we do not stop at Souillac and continue paddling.

At Cieurac we see a castle again, which is also privately owned and has no official name. Nevertheless, we land on and walk on the hill of the castle, which is located in the middle of the village of Cieurac. The castle is also easy to visit from the outside and its architecture and location is really impressive. The silence in the village and around the castle almost creates a mystical atmosphere, which is perfect for a cloudy evening walk.

As the day is coming to an end, we are looking for a suitable place to pitch our tent. For the first time we pass a place that we like so much that we would have loved to pitch our tent there. But two other canoeists were faster and have already taken the place. Therefore we decide to paddle a few more miles for the next day ahead and finally we find what we are looking for on the island after the camping site “Camping La Borgne” in Le Treil. In the night it rained a lot, but this was also the only time during the whole tour.

Day 5 – From Le Treil to Monfort

canoe tour france
At some spots the civilization seems far and the nature untouched and you feel a bit like in Canada

The next morning is quite cloudy at first and we can see everyhwere the wetness from the rain of the night. We set off towards Groléjac and paddle through almost without any break. We like the cliffs in front of Groléjac, which are really stunning.

dordogne bridge
One of the many bridges that we are passing during our canoe tour

After we have refilled our provisions in the afternoon, we continue and soon, the Château de Montfort follows. The bend where the castle becomes visible is also very beautiful from the nature and we decide to have another break. Here, you can’t just paddle by but you have to stop. Finally, the break turns into an overnight stay at the same place, as we are sure that we can’t find a nicer place for camping. A small sand beach, a direct view on the castle and a protected area for the tent. It could not be better. Instead of pitching our tent, we finally put up our hammocks. Sleeping at least once in out hammock was one of our goals for the canoe trip.

canoe camping
A small island in the middle of the river
chateau de montfort
Château de Montfort
canoe trips france
One of the best spots for camping near Montfort

So we sit this evening again very long in the camping chairs and enjoy the beautiful view and look forward to the atmosphere the next morning when we go to bed.

Day 6 – From Montfort to Beynac

camping hammock
We spent the night in our hammocks

The night in the hammock was already quite fresh as the temperature dropped below 50°F. Without a good sleeping bag and a hammock in which you can insert a sleeping pad, this would probably not have been possible. Despite the cold we feel like in a paradise. The veil of mist that lies over the river, the sun that slowly rises and the castle on the rock that is touched by the first warm sunrays create a very special atmosphere. We got up early for our last paddling day, because we know that the last day of our tour will be waiting for us again with some highlights.

By passing Château de Montfort it is worthwhile to look back once again, as from the back, you can see some other parts of the castle and it looks much more imposing but also a little more built up and playful. Soon, we cross the bridge of Vitrac and from now on we notice that the real Dordogne-tourism begins. Big canoe rentals with their countless boats are waiting on the banks for the day tourists. We paddled the popular section between Vitrac and Beynac-et-Cazennac below weekdays in the low season and still there were a lot more people on the river than on the previous section. On summer weekends this section is without doubt very busy.

vitrac canoe rental
Big canoe rental in Vitrac

Not far from Vitrac, the village of Domme soon appears on the horizon on a rocky outcrop. A detour in this village is worthwhile in any case, because you find there many nice little shops, cafés and restaurants. We decide to have our lunch break in this village. As the village is located on a rocky outcrop, the view to the valley of the Dordogne is really impressive. But for this side trip you should already plan some hours, as from the shore, you have to walk up to the old town and this way is not really short.

domme france
There is a steep walk up to the old town
Many restaurants and shops characterize the village.
dordogne holiday
Domme is located on a rock and offers a great view

After the lunch break we continue in the direction of La Roque-Gageac. Also this village is really picturesque and those who did not make a side trip to Domme or wanted to spare themselves the hike up the mountain should stop at La Roque-Gageac. We land with our boat at the opposite side of the shore of the village and enjoy the view at the French village that appears to us as from a fairy-tale book. Between La Roque-Gageac and Château de Castelnaud there are excursion boats, but they are not very disturbing when canoeing, as the river is quite wide.

dordogne village
Here again some tourist boats operate on a short distance
La Roque-Gageac
The village of La Roque-Gageac is very charming

The Château de Castelnaut is a highlight of every Dordogne tour and is considered the most visited castle in the south of France.  It not only has an interesting history to tell, but also houses a museum of medieval war machines. We visited it and were very fascinated by both the castle and the exhibition.

This castle was considered difficult to conquer due to its location and was looted and set on fire during the French Revolution. It was later used as a quarry to build bank fortifications on the Dordogne river. It was only in 1967 that it was elaborately rebuilt and since 2002 the castle has been shining in new splendour.

Château de Castelnaud
It is a short steep walk to the castle
canoe tour castelnaud dordogne
In front of us we already see Castelnaut on the hill
castle castelnaud
We highly recommend to visit the castle

From the castle of Castelnaud it is really not far to Beynach-et-Cazenac. If you visit Castelnaud, you can already see the castle of Beynac from a distance. And not only this one, but also other castles that give this part of the Dordogne the nickname “castle section”.

france castles
This one is Castelnaud-Fayrac between Castelnaud and Beynac, which is in private ownership

In Beynach-et-Cazenac our canoe tour finally ends after 6 days.  On the last day we spend the night at the campsite “Camping le Capeyrou”. In summer it is said to be fully booked very quickly, but before and after the holiday season you can easily get a place spontaneously on the same evening. Unfortunately there is no direct access to the river from the campsite and so we have to leave our boat on the shore for the night.

canoe trip dordogne beynac
Our canoe tour ends in Beynac-et-Cazennac

Since we arrived not too late and out tent is already pitched up, we take the opportunity to explore the village and walk up to the castle Beynac. For us the walk was a perfect end of the day. During the week in the low season there are very few people in the village in the evening and you can enjoy the medieval village as well as the beautiful views. But of course, during this time many restaurants are already closed. But we still find some places to stop at the river bank in order to finish the tour with a great dinner.

Beynac-et-Cazenac dordogne
On the way up to the castle Beynac
beynac dordogne
The campground is not far away from the center
Beynac-et-Cazenac dordogne holiday
Walk through the little alleys of Beynac-et-Cazennac

For the next morning we arranged our pick up with the canoe rental Explorando to get back to Groléjac where we had parked the rental car. Thus ends our Dordogne tour and we look back on eventful and relaxing days in a beautiful region between picturesque castles and villages and lots of nature.

These canoe tours in France might interest you too!

Did that report make you want to go on a canoe trip? Then inspire yourself by other tour reports from France. By the way, in our tours section you will find all the tour reports published so far as well as researched articles on selected paddling regions.

Kayaking in the Calanques National Park


The French national park Les Calanques is considered a hiker’s paradise in France, combining mountains and dream beaches. For paddle fans this national park is a spectacular place for sea kayaking.

Tour report of the kayak tour in the Calanques

Kayaking to the Pont du Gard

pont du gard france

The Pont du Gard is a Roman aqueduct in the south of France and one of the most important sights in this region. A canoe trip to this historical monument is a very special experience.

Tour report of the canoe tour to the Pont du Gard

Historical Kayak Tour to the Pont du Gard

pont du gard france

The Roman aqueduct is not only one of the most visited tourist attractions in France but also one of the best preserved bridges from the Roman Empire. The aqueduct crosses the the Gardon river and beside the impressive monument you find there a beautiful nature to discover. This kayak tour is perfect for everybody who likes the combination of exciting paddle tours on rivers and some sightseeing.

This tour leads us from a camping site near Callois to the Pont du Gard. The slim river with its countless windings and the flat rock formations on the banks makes this tour something very special. Especially in spring and in the beginning of summer white water beginners will love this route thanks to the strong current. The highlight of this tour is without doubt the aqueduct from the Roman Empire. We will not only go through this bridge with our kayak but we will also land on the bank and cross the bridge by foot.

With a total distance of 5.6 km (3.5 miles) the tour is very comfortable to paddle and gives you plenty of time for breaks and relaxing near the water. Be aware that going back with the kayak against the current is only possible during the hot season in summer. All in all, this tour is a perfect fit for people who love nature and history but don’t like to do a physical demanding tour.

Key facts about the paddling tour


2 – 3 hours


Ancient Roman aqueduct bridge

Public transport

car needed

Traffic noise

no traffic noise


hilly river landscape

Table of Contents

Planning the tour

The basis of every good paddle tour is a good planning in advance. You should know which are the best months for the tour, where to find exit points on the river and if there are any kayak rental stations nearby. In the following, we are going to tell you why we have done this tour in the late summer and why we used an inflatable kayak.

Right conditions for the paddling tour

In general, it’s possible to do the tour between Callois and Pont du Gard between March and October. A big impact on your tour preparation has the month when you want to do this tour. In late summer and autumn the water level is quite low and consequently the current is much weaker. That’s the perfect time for everybody who doesn’t like white water paddling at all. And it’s also the perfect condition to paddle all the way back from Pont du Gard to Callois.

In spring and early summer the water level is quite high and the current quite strong. You won’t be able to paddle against the current but you are able to enjoy the fun of some white water paddling. We have made this tour in beginning of September and could easily paddle back to our start point, which is definitely a big advantage when going with your own boat.

Avoiding mass tourism

Especially during the summer months we recommend you to start the tour in the late afternoon because before there are many guided kayak and canoe tours on the same way heading to the Pont du Gard.

Kayak rental or your own inflatable

There are some kayak rental stations near Pont du Gard. So, if you can’t bring your own boat, then renting one is a good way to go. Most of them offer also guided tours. Starting point of most tours are Callois. So, it’s a 7 km (4.5 miles) distance to the Pont du Gard. When arriving at Pont du Gard they will manage the transport with the boats and get you back to Callois. So, it’s quite comfortable and for starting from 24€ per person quite affordable at the same time. Canoe Collais and Kayak Vert are two stations to check out when you want to rent a kayak.

We have done this tour with our inflatable kayak from Gumotex, the Swing 2. The big advantage of an inflatable is the flexibility. You can start your tour whenever you want and you can just take your time without worrying about openings. In this way, we were able to start this tour around 6 PM when all paddle tourists from the rental stations have already finished the tour. We had literally the complete river and the bank near the Pont du Gard just for us.

In the summer there are some spots where the water level is really low and you possibly touch the ground with the boat. Of course, with a hard-shell boat it’s not a problem but you may get worried when paddling with an inflatable. That’s why you should use a high quality inflatable kayak with a resistant boat skin, like from Advanced Elements or Sea Eagle. Cheap entry level kayaks may take easily damage because they are not made for river paddling.

canoe tour pont du gard
We used our Gumotex Swing 2

Camping sites near Pont du Gard

If you like camping, then you will love this trip. Most of the camp sites are directly on the river bank. We can highly recommend the camp site called Campfun where we stayed the night. It’s family friendly, clean and modern and has got even a little restaurant. The closeness to the river makes it a perfect base camp for a paddle tour.

But for everybody who prefers having a proper bed and doesn’t want to stay too far away from the Pont du Gard, we would suggest staying at the village Callois. You don’t find only some hotels there but also a few shopping possibilities, a bakery and a post office. Since it’s only a day tour, you could stay also at Nîmes. Nîmes is the city that was supplied with water from the Pont du Gard. But nature and camping fans should rather stay at least one night in this beautiful spot around the bridge.

Getting to Gardon

If you arrive at Paris by plane the easiest way is to take a direct high speed trains to Avignon. Another possibility is to arrive at the airport of Marseille, where you could get a rental car and then it takes you only 1h 15 mins to the Pont du Gard. From Avignon it’s even closer by car and it takes approximately 30 mins to the paddle destination.

For everybody who doesn’t like driving should take a coach. From Marseille you go with Ouibus or Flixbus to Nîmes. In Nîmes you have to change and take the local bus line 21 to the Pont du Gard. For everybody who travels from Avignon takes the local bus line A15.

Our tour to the Pont du Gard

We started the tour at the campsite Campfun from you can easily get into the water with your board because there is just like a little beach. At the beginning of the course there are some stronger currents but it’s not even a problem for beginners.

It doesn’t take even a few minutes and you have the feeling being cut off of the civilization and right in some untouched nature. The way to the Pont du Gard is quite exciting because the river is not monotonous at all. The flat rock formations, the windings and the river that gets sometimes wider or smaller makes the course quite exciting. When you are going in the late noon or early evening there are also a lot of water birds to observe.

kayaking tour pont du gard
On the Gardon River heading to Pont du Gard

After one hour of paddling you will already the aqueduct from the distance. Depending on the water level there are some really good possibilities to land on the left or right bank. These rocky banks are quite good for taking a bath in the river. From the river banks you have also the perfect spot to take some really good photos.

pont du gard
The Pont du Gard from the distance

The Pont du Gard is the best preserved bridge from the Roman Empire. In English it names means “Bridge of the Gard”. The Gard is the river crossed by this bridge and is nowadays called Gardon. It’s 275 m (160 feet) high and contains of three levels. Die lowest level is the actual bridge where tourists are allowed to walk on. The bridge belongs to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites. When getting closer to the bridge you should pay attention at the protruding stones of the masonry. They were used to support the scaffoldings when the bridge has been built. They remained there for eventual restoration work. But another theory says that they were just not removed because they didn’t have the money for it at the end. On Wikipedia, you can read more about the history of this bridge.

pont du gard history
Protruding stones were used to scaffoldings

Normally, there is an entrance fee starting from 8€. You get the detailed prices on the official website. But if you are landing with a boat on the bank just next to the bridge, you don’t pay any entrance fee. It’s a must to go up to the first level of the bridge and to enjoy the stunning view from in both directions during the sunset.

pont gu gard view
View from the first level of the aqueduct

Before going back to the campsite, you could do a picknick at the river bank. The way back with the kayak is a bit harder because you have to paddle a bit stronger when there is a current. However, at most of these spots you have also the possibility to get out of your boat at the bank and to carry your boat around these currents. Especially when the water level is very low, this is sometimes even the only possibility to get through it. For this case, think about getting some neoprene shoes because there are many little rocks and stones at the river bank. At the camp site we had all the time to clean up our boat. Since we stayed just next to the river, we had the chance to have our breakfast on the bank the next day, which was the perfect ending of this amazing kayak tour.

Other activities in the region

You are not going on this trip to do this short kayak tour for sure. That’s why we would like to give you some inspirations for further activities in this region. And trust us, you could spend weeks in the Provence and you wouldn’t get bored. There are plenty things to do and to see.

Kayaking or Hiking in the Calanques National Park

If you liked to tour to Pont du Gard and you are excited about another great tour, then maybe the Calanques National Park is the next paddle sport for you. It’s definitely one of the best sea kayak tours I have made so far. If you have good weather conditions you will enjoy a great coastlines of beautiful bays with beaches and azure blue water. Read more about this spot in our tour article about the calanques kayak tour.


Picturesque villages in the Provence

If you rent a car then it’s a must to go to some of many beautiful villages in the Provence. My favorite village in this region is Gordes, which is situated on a hill and from where you will enjoy a impressive view over the landscape. Nice little cozy restaurants will make you stay longer than just for a walk.

provence france

Sightseeing in Marseille and Avignon

For getting to Pont du Gard, you are probably passing by Avignon or Marseille. Don’t miss to visit one of these two cities. Both are very different from each other but worth at least a day trip. Avignon is a very charming city with a flair from the Provence. Marseille is a big vibrant city with a Mediterranean flair. The mix of different cultures and its long history makes a visit to something very special.