Take a kayak to your cabin: 10 of the best riverside stays in Europe

<span>Gut Üselitz off Germany’s Baltic coast.</span><span>Photograph: Ulrike Meutzner/PR</span>
Gut Üselitz off Germany’s Baltic coast.Photograph: Ulrike Meutzner/PR

An island on an island, Germany

Gut Üselitz, a 16th-century manor house on a river-like inlet on Rügen island off the Baltic coast, now houses seven modern, minimalist holiday apartments. The house is on an isolated island within Rügen, surrounded by water. The apartments, which sleep two to six, can be rented separately, or the whole house can be hired, including the main kitchen, dining room, lounge and library. The six-hectare (14-acre) grounds include an orchard and are visited by herons, egrets, cranes and other birds (there are binoculars in each apartment). The nearest beach is Streler Sund, a 10-minute drive away, and guests can go kayaking and sailing nearby.
From €140 a night, sleeps two, welcomebeyond.com

Gorgeous gorge, Le Marche, Italy

Villa Poderina in Le Marche, east-central Italy, is a four-bedroom, four-bathroom farmhouse with terracotta floors and exposed beams set in three hectares of parkland with poplars, olives, holm oaks and cypresses. Guests can drink and dine alfresco on the veranda, which has a dining table and a double hammock, and views of the Furlo Pass, one of Italy’s most spectacular gorges. A dip in the L-shaped pool is a great way to cool off, but an even better place to swim is in the slow-moving Candigliano River at the bottom of the garden, where there is a private beach. The farmhouse is about two miles from the truffle capital of Acqualagna.
From €300 a night, sleeps eight, emmavillas.com

Water world, the Netherlands

Anna Biesbosch is an off-grid cabin in De Biesbosch national park, a tidal wetland near Dordrecht in the western Netherlands. The cabin has sliding glass and wooden inner and outer walls. There’s a wood-burning stove for heating, cooking and hot water, and electricity from solar panels. As well as an open-plan living/sleeping area, there’s a mezzanine bed, a kitchen and a bathroom with sunken bath. The park is a network of rivers, creeks and reed beds, and the cabin stands on one of its forested peninsulas. Guests have use of a canoe moored at a jetty opposite, and can follow marked paddling routes to spot birdlife and the pride of De Biesbosch: beavers. Swimming is prohibited in front of the cabin because of the beavers, but there is a swimming spot a short walk away.
From €257 a night for two adults and two children, holenberg.com

Row your boat from Spain to Portugal

Guests arrive by boat at cosy Peel Cabin in Huelva, Andalucía – it has its own jetty on the Guadiana River, the border between Spain and Portugal. A Moroccan-style bedroom opens on to a covered deck with kitchen area, sofabed and table. There is a compost loo in a separate hut and an outdoor, solar-powered shower. The cabin is off-grid but has a wood-burner, barbecue, gas camping cooker and solar lanterns, and all stays include a welcome hamper with homemade bread, homegrown fruit and veg and a bottle of wine. Guests can swim in the river or take out the rowing boat. It’s a 25-minute walk to the village, Sanlúcar de Guadiana – but more fun to go by boat – and the beaches of Spain’s Costa de la Luz and Portugal’s eastern Algarve are less than an hour’s drive.
From £75 for two, plus £10 each for up to two extra guests, canopyandstars.co.uk

Family fun, Algarve, Portugal

This Portuguese farmhouse is in hills close to the Funcho River. There are five double bedrooms, two of them en suite, and a family bathroom. It is child-friendly, with stair gates, a baby den, cots, high chairs and toys. The decks and terraces have views of the Funcho Dam and come with a pizza oven and barbecue; the waterfront deck, under carob trees, is an atmospheric spot for dinner; and there is an infinity pool and birding areas. The property is on the Via Algarviana walking trail, and you can go paddleboarding and kayaking. It is a five-minute taxi ride from Messines-Alte train station.
From €500 a night, sleeps 10, responsibletravel.com

Private river pier, Croatia

The Old Oak House is a restored farmhouse on the banks of the Korana River, on an estate near the town of Karlovac in central Croatia. The three-storey house has three bedrooms, a bathroom on each floor, a living room and a kitchen-diner. There is a balcony with two barbecues, a natural spring, orchard, veg garden and woodland in the grounds. The pièce de résistance is the private river pier next to a waterfall, which creates a natural whirlpool bath. There are mountains and the towns of Ogulin and Slunj are a short drive away.
From €1,050 a week, sleeps six, oneoffplaces.co.uk

A raft of adventures, Austria

A 500-year-old farmhouse in Palfau, in central Austria’s Salza valley, became a rafting camp in 1979 and is still run by the same family. The main activity is a half-day whitewater rafting tour on the Salza River, and the camp also offers canyoning trips and whitewater kayaking courses. Accommodation includes tent pitches, dorms, double rooms, a shepherd’s hut and two apartments. There is an orchard, a campfire pit, an archery area and resident goats.
Camping €14 adult/€8 child, rafting package €121pp for two sharing a double room, additional nights €50pp, raftingcamp.at

Kayak to your cabin, Finland

Viikinsaari Island near Tampere has five new cabins. Strictly speaking, the island is on a lake, but Finnish Lakeland is a patchwork of lakes, rivers and canals – this one, Lake Pyhäjärvi, is connected to Lake Näsijärvi via the Tammerkoski rapids. Guests arrive by ferry (the 20-minute return crossing from Tampere included) or can row from the nearest spot on the mainland, 500 metres away. Two cabins are close to the beach and have lake views, and three are on a nearby ridge overlooking the forest. They are simple wooden A-frame structures with beds, a hob, a radiator and a fan; guests are the island’s only overnight inhabitants. Viikinsaari has swimming platforms and a sauna, and guests can rent canoes, kayaks and paddleboards. The island’s other attractions include a nature trail and the region’s oldest restaurant.
From €167 a night, sleeps two adults and two children, nollacabins.com

Family treehouse, Norway

River Eye is a hand-built, off-grid treehouse perched above the water in southern Norway’s Telemark forest. Huge windows offer views over the river, trees and mountains. You can go swimming, kayaking and rafting, and bathe in a heated riverside tub. The treehouse suits large families or small groups, with one queen bed, two doubles and three mattresses – one bed is beneath a skylight for stargazing. There’s a kitchen, wood-burning stove, terrace and communal campfire. The treehouse is one of just three properties at the family-run A Camp, which promises “a close encounter with untouched nature”.
From £170 a night, sleeps nine, hostunusual.com

A watermill in a wildlife haven, Dordogne, France

The 13th-century Moulin de Latreille was built by Cistercian monks on the banks of the Ouysse, known as the Emerald River, a tributary of the Dordogne. Today, the watermill is family-owned and has three light-filled bedrooms, with sitting rooms and balconies overlooking the water. The property is off-grid – the mill generates its own hydropower – and the grounds are a haven for wildlife. Guests can relax in a hammock, rent kayaks and canoes in nearby Souillac to explore the river, and walk the wildflower meadows and cliffs. There are great swimming spots right by the weir or a short walk along the riverbank.
Doubles from €145 B&B, moulindelatreille.com