Kayaking in Formentera (Balearic Islands)

Canoeing and kayaking in Spain


If you're looking for the perfect combination of tourism, sport, fun and nature, why not go canoeing in some of the most beautiful landscapes in Spain? You can choose between paddling down inland rivers, in areas near the coast or in reservoirs where you're guaranteed to enjoy total oneness with your natural surroundings. An adventure-packed journey of discovery to a whole host of unique places.


Spain offers a wide variety of rivers, reservoirs and lakes where you can go canoeing or kayaking. You can enjoy this sport both inland and along the almost 8,000 kilometres of Spain's coastline, while you explore its unique and beautifully conserved landscapes.Thanks to the extensive network of waterways to be found throughout Spain, you'll be able to descend rivers, enjoy a quiet outing on a lake, challenge yourself by navigating white waters, or make your way to various unique and secluded sites and locations. You'll find a large number of navigable areas suitable for all levels, either for those wanting to try the sport for the first time, and for those looking to improve their technique. What's more, Spain has marine reserves and specialised companies that will supply you with all the equipment you need and advise you on the best routes.

Kayaking with the family


The best months to go canoeing in Spain are in spring and summer, the time of the rains and the thaw when the river flows are at their maximum. Some rivers in the north are also navigable in autumn and winter thanks to the abundant rainfall they receive at this time of year.


In Spain you'll find a wide variety of rivers with fast-flowing rapids and others with calmer waters that are ideal for making a whole range of different types of outings. Or if you prefer coastal waters, you can also navigate in the open sea.White waters are among the most exciting and surprising canoeing experiences. Thrill-seekers will find some of the most famous rapids in the area of the Pyrenees, like the ones on the Noguera Pallaresa river.If on the other hand you prefer to enjoy a leisurely cruise and do a little sightseeing, we suggest choosing a route along a river with calmer waters. These rivers allow you to paddle considerable distances without encountering any significant obstacles, and are perfect for people wanting to started out in this sport. Some of the best-known navigable rivers and areas in Spain are:Ulla river (Galicia): alternates rapids with stretches of calm waters.Bidasoa (Navarra): a short route amid spectacular landscapes.

Canoeing in Asturias

Alto Tajo (Guadalajara): 100 kilometres of unspoilt river with numerous navigable stretches and one area with white waters. Declared a Nature Reserve. Gállego river (Aragón): it has a very consistent flow, and canoeing is possible almost all year round. Northern Spain: you can make canoeing descents on the upper stretch of the Ebro river, and on the Navia and Eo rivers. Central Spain: come and explore the Embalse del Burguillo reservoir, the Tiétar river (Avila), the Tormes river (Salamanca) and the gorges of the Hoces del Río Duratón Nature ReserveHoces del Río Duratón Nature Reserve (Segovia). One of the best-known activities in Spain is the descent of the Sella river, which has been declared a Festivity of International Tourist Interest. Each year on the first Saturday in August, these beautiful green landscapes become the destination chosen by hordes of canoeists from Spain and all over the world. This fun-filled competition takes place over 20 kilometres and attracts thousands of visitors. For the rest of the year you can enjoy the descent with any of the companies located along the course of the river. 

Canoeing at sunset in Formentera (Balearic Islands)

Tips and recommendations


  • Wear a life jacket, bring some dry clothing, a wetsuit with reflective bands, and a thermal vest to protect you from the cold and damp. You'll also need to wear a regulation helmet if you're going to be canoeing in white waters.
  • Your equipment should include a torch, a compass, a bottle of water, a first aid kit and lots of sunscreen.
  • Check the weather forecast, and avoid canoeing in bad weather or when there's low visibility. What's more, don't set out to sea with your canoe in the evening or at night. We recommend straying no further than six miles from the shore.
  • In order to go canoeing or kayaking in Spain, you'll need the necessary navigation permits. To navigate at sea you don't need to obtain a permit beforehand, but you do for certain lakes, reservoirs and rivers such as the Júcar, Ebro, Duero, Guadalquivir, Tajo and Guadiana. We recommend you check with each Water Confederation to see if you need to present a prior Liability Declaration for that river basin. You can do it through the Ministry for the Ecological Transition.
  • What's more, some sections of rivers or protected areas may have different regulations or requirements. Enquire before you set out.
  • Each river has its own characteristics, so we recommend you find out beforehand which are its difficult stretches and its more navigable sections.
  • If you're going to do this sport on your own and are planning to go on long and difficult routes, we recommend joining the federation in your country and asking them to extend your insurance coverage to Spain, or taking out travel insurance that includes medical assistance and civil liability.
  • You can go canoeing and kayaking on your own, but –as with any water sport– we recommend doing so in a group of at least three kayaks or canoes.
  • In the event of an accident, you can contact the emergency service by calling 112.
  • For more information on canoeing, visit the tourist offices in each area or contact their respective canoeing federations. You can also visit the website of the Spanish Royal Canoeing Federation.
  • We recommend you read our practical health and safety tips.
  • Given that the recommendations and regulations provided may change, we advise you always to check the requirements before starting out on your journey.

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