Canoeing & kayaking lakes in Wales 

Leave whitewater rafting to teenagers. A canoe is the craft for a family adventure afloat. You won’t need experience – these paddles on mountain lakes, shady canals and clean rivers are accessible to all. Just share a canoe and enjoy the glide.

Canoeing on Snowdonia’s lakes

Group canoeing on lake

Llyn Geirionydd, Snowdonia

Canoe on lakes to remember how to relax. With no winds or currents, you can take your time to sit and stare, and in Snowdonia that means gazing at the highest mountains south of Scotland. On Llyn Padarn near Llanberis you’re paddling beneath steep cliffs of old slate mines and nudging onto gentle beaches. The scenery at Llyn Gwynant beneath Snowdon is so startling it featured in Hollywood blockbuster Tombraider II. For grander scale choose Bala Lake - Llyn Tegid; less Wales’s largest natural lake than a miniature sea with steam trains chuffing along the bank in summer. Settle back and enjoy the glide.

Search for canoeing and kayaking operators in Snowdonia, Mountains and Coast

Another great lake paddle? Llangorse Lake: legend has it a drowned city lies beneath this Brecon Beacons lake. Who cares when the scenery above is so gorgeous?

Search for canoeing and kayaking operators in Mid Wales and Brecon Beacons

Canoeing on Llangollen and Montgomery canals

For a safe family adventure choose a canal. A shared canoe plus still water and depths so shallow you can stand (if you don’t mind mud between your toes) equals a brilliant adventure for younger kids; they can even get out to cycle alongside on the towpath. Not that the experience is dull. 

British canoe legend Ray Goodwin rates the Llangollen Canal aqueduct over the River Dee as one of the greatest paddling adventures in the world. 

Both it and the Montgomery Canal thread out through the North Wales countryside. Together in a Canadian open canoe, you’ll drift past floating plants, diving beetles and kingfishers. It’s an experience that’s part adventure-lite, part floating classroom. Education has never been such fun.

Search for canoeing and kayaking operators in Llangollen, North Wales

Another great canal paddle? Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal: this shady canal runs from Brecon into the lovely Usk Valley. Expect beautiful scenery in the national park, ice creams in pretty villages and friendly ducks.

Canoeing on the River Wye

Two people canoeing down the River Wye

Canoeing on calm waters, River Wye by Team Black Hawk

Three-quarters of a million paddlers each year can’t be wrong. Britain’s favourite river reveals its best side by canoe. For under £40 a day, you’ll discover meadows and woods that no path reveals. Hire at Glasbury then drift downstream past waterbirds and over gentle rapids for lunch and book-browsing in Hay-on-Wye. Or go overnight. Some operators provide adventures into the southern Wye, where the river unfolds views like stage sets and a tipi or B&B lies at the end of each day on the river. On full days afloat, dawns burn brighter, evenings are stiller. And cups of teas are tastier.

Search for canoeing and kayaking operators in the Wye Valley and Vale of Usk

Another great river paddle? Cilgerran gorge, River Teifi: a magical family paddle past Cilgerran Castle, through a gorge then into wetlands where water buffalo graze.

Search for canoeing and kayaking operators in Pembrokeshire