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Outdoor adventures in Europe

Ballooning in Luxembourg, sailing in Valencia, bicycling in Holland, and kayaking in Croatia are just a few of the ideas VisitEurope.com offers in its outdoor adventure roundup. It's nice to see information like this all in one place so you can pick and choose from the options and craft a trip that includes natural beauty in addition to cultural riches.

With good reason, most travelers to Europe focus on urban centers. But taking to rural back roads, national parks, and rivers and seas offers a whole other way to get to know the countries you're visiting, a way that highlights lesser-known destinations, a slower pace, and often, far fewer tourists.

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For instance, hiking in Provence really heightened my appreciation of the region. When I was walking instead of zooming past it in a car, I could take the time to savor the landscape and take in the warm summer air heavy with lavender and cherry scents (and even stop to pick a few cherries off a wayward tree on the side of the road). And my memories of camping on the Isle of Skye are far more vivid than the recollections of the nights spent inside, and not just because "inside" was often the crowded little pub along the water in Kyleakin.

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