This adventure vacations travel guide is not just for those who are merely seeking an adrenaline hit on vacation, but also for those simply seeking some fun. Be it on the water, climbing mountains, close to home or on the other side of the world. Adventure is for everyone – whether you want to climb mountains, sail the seven seas or cycle every European byway and highway.
Top 10 active short breaks
Short on time, but with a never ending adventurous spirit? We’ve picked our top 10 active short breaks to get you sailing and sea kayaking, hiking and horse riding without exhausting vacation allowances. You’ll be wolf tracking in Poland and driving a team of huskies in Lapland, or spiking adrenaline levels coasteering along the extraordinary Pembrokeshire coastline. These are big trips, offering big adventures, but in bite-sized portions of five days or so.
1. Sailing & sea kayaking in Croatia
Croatia’s coastline could have been created just for water loving wanderers. Jump in a kayak and you’ll find coves and caves tucked away on rocky islands. Sailing trips take you between tiny fishing ports and to quiet beaches away from Croatia’s main tourist hotspots. Help to heave up the sails, or dive in and snorkel in the crystal clear water to up the adventure levels.
2. Arctic adventures in LaplandSpot the Northern Lights on a nighttime snowshoeing safari into the Finnish forest, or drive your own team of sled dogs across a vast, snow covered Arctic lake. Lapland, spanning the northernmost regions of Finland, Sweden and Norway is a spectacularly beautiful winter playground. Don your thermals and discover traditional Sami culture alongside cross country skiing, snowmobiling and ice fishing.
When to go: December to April
Our top trip: Northern Lights short break, Finland
See all our trips: Winter activity vacations
Read more: Winter multi activity vacations travel guide
3. Coastal adrenaline in Pembrokeshire, WalesDiscover the breathtaking Pembrokeshire Coast National Park on a short break that proves you don’t need to travel far for a big adventure. Dotted with sandy bays and vertiginous cliffs, the rocks here are home to a plethora of wildflowers and sea birds. You’ll be kayaking, hiking and coasteering, keeping your eyes peeled for the porpoises and dolphins playing in the deep waters of Cardigan Bay.
When to go: May to October
Our top trip: Sea kayaking vacation in Wales
See all our trips: Pembrokeshire vacations
Read more: Wales travel guide
4. Multi activities in Romania
Gorgeous Transylvania is a living fairytale, with steep-roofed houses in higgledy-piggeldy villages, creepy castles and sweeping mountains. It’s also a living adventure playground. Head to the western Carpathian Mountains and you’ll be hiking, cycling and caving, enjoying flower filled Alpine meadows and crystal filled underground caverns. All the while you’ll experience warm local hospitality and an insight into rural Romanian life, unchanged for centuries.
5. Adventures on horse backRemote, gloriously green and yet easily accessible, the Wye Valley is perfectly suited to a short adventure break. Let your horse – and local guide - take you further than your feet ever could into remote hills and wild valleys, along unmarked paths littered with legends from as far back as the First Century.
When to go: April to September
Our top trip: Short break riding vacation, Wales
See all our trips: Horse riding vacations
Read more: Horse riding travel guide
6. Wilderness adventure in SwedenHike, paddle and pedal between local guesthouses in Sörmland, a swathe of forested countryside just outside Stockholm, dotted with lakes. Head north to the pine forests of central Sweden for a magical stay in a fairytale woodland camp, with guided hikes in search of moose and beavers, or wild camp and kayak your way through the Saint Anna Archipelago for a really remote wilderness adventure.
When to go: June to September
Our top trip: Sweden kayaking short break
See all our trips: Sweden short break vacations
Read more: Sweden travel guide
7. Fire & ice in Iceland
Enjoy the gastronomy and galleries of Reykjavik, before exploring roaring waterfalls, volcanic black-sand beaches and ice-capped glaciers. Everything can be tailored to your adventurous spirit, whether that’s snorkelling between tectonic plates or going on a whale watching voyage. Plus, in winter, every night is a new opportunity to see the dancing Northern Lights.
8. Hiking in the High Atlas, MoroccoSo close to Europe you can almost touch it, yet a world away in terms of culture and exoticism, Morocco makes for an exhilarating, beguiling and accessible short break. Head into the High Atlas mountains and you’ll enjoy traditional Berber hospitality (glass after glass of mint tea is par for the course) after hikes along a myriad of mountain trails. Guided or self-guided, you choose.
When to go: All year round
Our top trip: Kasbah du Toubkal in the Atlas Mountains
See all our trips: Atlas Mountains short break vacations
Read more: Atlas Mountains travel guide
9. Wildlife tracking in EuropeEurope’s distinctive, yet often overlooked, wildlife is accessible on a short break. Strap on your walking boots and join an expert local guide to track wolves in Poland, Slovakia or Sweden, or travel deep into the Finland’s northeastern wilderness, hiking and canoeing, to reach remote wildlife hides. Your aim? Up close encounters with brown bears, one of Europe’s most powerful predators.
When to go: May to September
Our top trip: Watch brown bears in Finland
See all our trips: Short break wildlife vacations
Read more: Short break wildlife travel guide
10. Cycling in Portugal
Cycling at your own pace over three days, exploring the small towns and beautiful beaches of the eastern Algarve. Relax at the cafes and restaurants along the way, soaking up the atmosphere of the Portuguese lifestyle. Add in a glass or two of Vinho Verde and Portugal becomes a perfect choice for cyclists short on time.
More about Short adventure tours
Most people don’t want to spend hours looking through a short break adventure vacations travel guide.
Be it Lapland, the Lycian Way or Croatia’s Lopud Island, adventure shorties all have great locations.
Welcome to the Saint Anna archipelago, wild and pristine, the most renowned destination for sea kayaking in Sweden.
Take to the water around Croatia’s islands for a few days and you’ll be so chilled it’ll feel like a few weeks.
The beast, the giant, call it what you will; the ascent of Mont Ventoux has been firmly cemented in cycling lore.