The Campervan Man’s Top 5 SUP Spots in Europe

Matt Head, A.K.A “The Campervan Man”, is living his best life. When he’s not tooting around in his retro V.W. bus, he’s swashbuckling down far away slopes one ski season at a time. Lucky for us, his Bluefin iSUP gets plenty of play in these adventures at least part of the year. This weekend Matt spent a little après-ski time jotting down his top 5 SUP spots in Europe.  You can check out more of his adventures on Instagram @the_campervan_man. We’ll let Matt take it from here so keep reading for man-in-a-van style inspiration on where to SUP in Europe.

Take it away Matt:

Over the past summer I had the pleasure of travelling around Europe in my 1979 VW campervan, which on this trip had my Bluefin stand up paddleboard dutifully strapped to the roof rack. From the lakes of the Alps to the beaches of the Arctic Circle this inflatable bundle of joy was hauled from its nest on my van, blown up and splashed about in a variety of epic locations. Here are my top five…

SUP Spot #1- Eibsee – Bavaria

Sitting at the base of Germany’s highest mountain, Eibsee climbs its way to the highest spot on my list of top five SUP destinations. It’s a hard place to beat with a stunning combination of crystal-clear water, multiple islands and coves to explore. All of this set against the breath-taking backdrop of the German Alps, dominated by the colossal Zugspitze.

The array of blues filtering through from the dark depths up to the shallow tropics would make even the Dulux dog want to jump in and play.

Meanwhile the surrounding forests galvanise the heavenly ambience of one of Europe’s most naturally stunning settings. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, I would recommend braving the waters at night for an incredible experience under the stars. Cruising around a lake with only the moon and a billion distant stars for illumination is an experience you will never forget. Worried that the tantalising memory will escape you? Stash a dry bag on the front of your SUP with a sleeping bag, roll mat and a few snacks and spend the night enjoying a pristine view of the Milky Way from the shores after a twilight paddle. I did my fair share of cool things this summer, but the night I spent counting shooting stars whilst lying on my board in the middle of this lake stakes a very strong claim for the coolest.

SUP Spot #2- Lofoten Islands – Norway

This string of islands branching off from Northern Norway is one of the most staggeringly beautiful settings in the world. The dramatic mountains rising out from the sea are a breathtaking hotbed for outdoor activities from skiing in winter to hiking in summer. Getting out on the water on a stand-up-paddleboard is a great way to take in unique scenery whether it be in the mesmerizingly reclusive waters of Haukland Beach or in the bay of the picturesque town on Reine at the tip of the final island. In addition to the satisfaction of cruising around this exquisite setting you can also tick off paddling in the Arctic Circle from your bucket list. There’s also a good chance that you can tick off seeing the northern lights if you visit between September and April. Do note that there may be a few jellyfish floating about. I say this now because when I discovered this information I was out at sea.

The realisation that I was surrounded by a swarm of gelatinous distributors of pain almost scared me off my board and into their cold, stinging trap. Other than that, pure beauty up in Norway.

SUP Spot #3 – Prague

Prague is best known for its enthralling history, astounding architecture and incomparable nightlife. What many people don’t consider is that right in the heart of the city is an extraordinary urban SUP destination. The Vltava River flows through the centre of Prague and is lined by some of the city’s biggest attractions. What better way to beat the heat and enjoy them than from your board? Check out everything from the iconic Charles Bridge to the mind-bending Dancing House and all around the relaxing park of Shooter’s Island by SUP. You can meander through the water whilst gaining a fresh perspective of the sights and best of all you can do it without getting stuck behind the dawdling crowds of people. The challenge of staying upright may also be a much needed hangover cure after a night on the native pilsners.  

SUP Spot #4 – Alpsee

This corner of Bavaria is better known for its iconic castles, but at the base of Hohenschwangau castle is this stunning lake. The residence where the ‘mad king’ Ludwig II grew up overlooks the mountains and the gorgeous lake and is one of the most visited German attractions.

Getting out on the water is the best way to peacefully admire the Gothic architecture. You’ll get away from the hoards of tour groups and have a great chance to cool down if you visit on a baking hot summer’s day.

Looking past the lakeside castle there is also great view of the bigger, more extravagant Neuschwanstein castle which inspired Disney’s logo and features in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. If the two royal residences don’t interest you there is some amazing schnitzel on offer to refuel you after a day paddling around.

SUP Spot #5 – Lake Bled

Lake Bled is the glistening jewel in the crown of Slovenian natural beauty and is a fantastic place to have a SUP session. A popular stop on the European inter-railing trail, the stunning lake offers a multitude of activities both on and off the water. The overlooking castle and the nationally symbolic church which stands gloriously on the central island are both must-sees. You can paddle your SUP up to the island before climbing the steps up to the church itself as well as exploring the rest of the lake before stopping off at one of the many cafes which sit on the shore on the edge of the town.

If you happen to be seeing the world from the comforts of a homely van, the train station is one of few places you can park up for a few nights. The freedom does come at the price of an occasional loud rumble past the back doors. I still can’t work out what it was. Bears maybe.

It was tough to whittle the list down to just five places but they are all incredible destinations.  Each has their own special charms and unique opportunities. When viewed from the vantage point of a SUP these can be appreciated in a new and exciting way. Getting out on the water is the perfect way to escape from the busy crowds or feel closer to nature though it does come with some caveats. I do prefer to stay away from the threat of jellyfish and bears, apparently.

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