The most beautiful rivers in the world



Slide 1 of 34: From gushing glacial torrents and raging mountain rivers to trickling tributaries meandering through pretty countryside, we look at some ravishing but little-known rivers around the world.
Slide 2 of 34: With its rugged beauty, cascades and healthy fish population, this wild river – a tributary of the Deschutes River – in central Oregon attracts hikers, rafters and fishermen to its powerful waters. One of the best ways to admire its spectacular geologic formations and waterfalls is on two wheels by following its course on the Crooked River Canyon Scenic Bikeway. The spectacular Crooked River Canyon is also popular with rock climbers.
Slide 3 of 34: The pretty River Itchen is straight out of the pages of children's book The Wind in the Willows. People stroll along its bucolic banks keeping an eye out for Ratty as they go – water voles are one of the protected species that live here. You’re also likely to spot dragonflies dancing above the surface and fat trout gliding through the crystal-clear waters. The beautiful chalk “stream” flows from mid-Hampshire to Southampton and has been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest. It’s also home to otters and white-clawed crayfish.
Slide 4 of 34: Towering peaks, azure lakes, ancient forests, vast glaciers and rushing rivers – the wild beauty of Patagonia's landscape is extraordinary. And the Serrano River flows past some of its most spectacular scenery until it reaches the Seno Ultima Esperanza. The river is popular with kayakers and fly fishers with some pretty waterfalls along its course. But be sure to take a boat out into the inlet to see the startlingly beautiful Serrano glacier, looking out for sea lions en route.

Slide 5 of 34: Surrounded by the gorgeous Julian Alps and with a striking aquamarine color, the Soča River is an absolute beauty. The fast-flowing river attracts outdoor adventurers looking to conquer its cascades and waterfalls on rafts and kayaks. While hikers follow the Soča Trail from its source to the town of Bovec, avid fishermen try to snare its highly-prized Soča trout.
Slide 6 of 34: Starting in the Komovi mountains near the Albanian border, the Tara River wends its way through some of the country’s most dramatic mountainous scenery. In Durmitor National Park, the waterway creates Europe’s deepest and longest canyon. Nicknamed the “the Grand Canyon of Europe”, it's 4,300 feet (1,300m) deep at its peak and a brilliant spot for white water rafting. The Tara, the longest river in Montenegro, goes onto meet the Piva River near the Bosnia and Herzegovina border to become the Drina River. Discover eight reasons to love Montenegro.
Slide 7 of 34: One of the Isle of Skye’s many scenic rivers, the Lealt meanders through the island’s northeast, passing some of its most beautiful scenery. As with many of Skye’s rivers, it’s possible to fish for salmon and sea trout in its clear waters. But the main reason most people visit the river is to see its waters tumble dramatically down into the gorge at the spectacular Lealt waterfall. Discover other amazing spots in the Scottish Highlands and Islands. 
Slide 8 of 34: Rising at the foot of the Zelengora Mountains, the Neretva River flows 140 miles (225km) through Bosnia and Herzegovina and into Croatia. Its upper reaches are characterized by spectacular canyons and deep gorges. It carries on to meander through the beautiful historic Ottoman town of Mostar in the country's south. Here the pretty waterway is crossed by the famous Stari Most (old bridge), which gave the town its name. The Neretva finally flows into Croatia and out into the Adriatic, creating an incredible swampland at its delta.
Slide 9 of 34: With its red sandstone cliffs, dense mangroves and blazing blue waters, the Hunter River region is renowned for its wild beauty. But the spectacular river system off Western Australia’s remote Kimberley coast has a deadly side too. The wetlands have the highest proportion of saltwater crocodiles of any other river in the area. High-end small cruise ships usually charter the waters, taking passengers to see the striking rock formation at the river’s mouth and its waterfalls, as they spot the stealth-like salties.

Slide 10 of 34: Stunning scenery, white-water rapids and wildlife abound on the Kenai River, which surges from the Chugach Mountains to the Cook Inlet near the town of Kenai. People can take a boat trip through the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge to glide through majestic mountainous landscapes, watching for moose, bears, beavers and salmon as they go. The Kenai has one of the greatest salmon runs of southern Alaska too – its waters are home to four species of salmon including sockeye and king salmon.
Slide 11 of 34: Coursing through Andalusia's undulating mountains, past historic cities and out to the Atlantic Ocean, the Guadalquivir river is the second longest and the only navigable river in Spain. It begins its 408-mile (656km) stretch in the eastern Cazorla mountain range and ends at the port of Cádiz on the west coast. It's been an important route to numerous civilizations, dating back to the Phoenicians.
Slide 12 of 34: The Green River flows west out of the Cascade Range through the state of Washington for 65 miles (104km) down to Elliott Bay in Seattle. It turns into the Duwamish River at Tukwila. Its upper section goes through thick forest, once home to logging towns. Today parts of the river are typically popular spots for tubing in the warmer months and, when the conditions are right, white-water rafting expeditions, which set off from the Flaming Geyser State Park.
Slide 13 of 34: The source of this Snowdonian tributary has mystical routes – according to local folklore the Glaslyn Lake is where Bedivere threw King Arthur's sword Excalibur into the water and where the king's body was later carried away to Avalon. The scenery is certainly magical where the stream flows from Lake Glaslyn on the western slopes of Mount Snowdon before charging down towards the sea at Porthmadog. One of the most spectacular sections of river can be seen at the Aberglaslyn Pass, pictured. Take a look at more of the world's magical places here.
Slide 14 of 34: The only river that begins and ends in Latvia, the Gauja is a popular place for boating, swimming and hiking in the country's daylight-filled summers. A large stretch of the pretty river flows through the thickly forested Gauja National Park, which is named after the waterway and is Latvia’s largest national park.

Slide 15 of 34: Carved out by the mighty Blyde River, the Blyde River Canyon is one of South Africa's most amazing natural wonders and one of the world’s largest canyons. The gaping chasm follows the Blyde River as it cuts its way through the dramatic Drakensberg escarpment and plummets over 3,280 feet (1,000m) to the Lowveld below. Strange cylindrical sculptures, known as ‘Bourke’s Luck Potholes’, mark the start of the canyon and are where the Blyde meets the Treur River.
Slide 16 of 34: This dramatic gorge cuts through the Great Namaqualand plateau and is the second largest canyon in the world after the Grand Canyon. It was formed by the Fish River, which flows around 375 miles (603km) from the Naukluft Mountains in central Namibia until it joins the Orange River on the southern border. The intermittent river can dry up in the hot season.
Slide 17 of 34: With its source in the awe-inspiring Rocky Mountains, the scenic river flows 365 miles (587km) south through the province of Alberta. Beginning in the glacial Bow Lake in Banff National Park, it flows on through cowboy capital Calgary and the rolling prairies to join the Oldman River. Here, the two rivers form the South Saskatchewan River, which eventually flows into Hudson's Bay. The river is so called because the Cree First Nations people used to make bows from the Douglas firs that grow along its banks.
Slide 18 of 34: Forget Croatia’s Dalmatian coast, take a look at this beautiful waterway instead. The River Krka flows for 45 miles (72km) into the Dalmatia region from its source near the Bosnia and Herzegovina border. It’s known for its series of dreamy waterfalls. Two-thirds of the river lies within the Krka River National Park which includes the small island of Visovac, home to Franciscan monks since the 15th century.
Slide 19 of 34: Home to caiman (an alligator-like reptile), giant river otters, piranha, giant catfish and myriad other species, the Miranda River – a tributary of the Paraguay River – flows through the world's largest tropical wetland area. The Pantanal, 70,000 square miles (181,299sqkm) of biodiverse wilderness, is located mostly within the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul, but also extends into Bolivia and Paraguay. The extraordinary wetlands are prime jaguar spotting territory too.
Slide 20 of 34: The Provo River is formed of the North Fork Provo River and the South Fork Provo River. The two branches are split into upper, middle and lower sections and the river is affectionately called "Utah's home water". It's said to have some of the best trout fishing in the state. Take a look at America's most stunning natural wonders.
Slide 21 of 34: Astonishing scenery from all angles is guaranteed along the dreamy Li River, especially on the super-scenic stretch from pretty Guilin to Yangshuo. The river, in south China’s Guangxi Province, snakes past towering karst mountains, lush fields and ancient villages. You’re likely to see water buffalo wading and local fishermen float by on bamboo rafts. Some still practice the ancient tradition of fishing with cormorant birds.
Slide 22 of 34: Rising in the Sivagiri hills of the Western Ghats, this vital river is the longest in the lush state of Kerala, flowing for 140 miles (225km). It goes into the Periyar National Park, where it was damned to make the Periyar Lake, then continues its course to the Arabian Sea just north of Kochi. It’s known as the lifeline of Kerala as it provides the region with drinking and agricultural water, supports a fishing industry and is an important source of hydroelectricity. It's also stunningly beautiful.
Slide 23 of 34: Surging through the northeast of Iceland, the Jökulsá á Fjöllum is a glacial river whose roaring waters create some of the country’s most thunderous falls. Formed by Europe’s largest glacier, Vatnajökull, it runs for 128 miles (206km) until it meets the Greenland Sea. The icy-cold waterway flows through one of the biggest canyons in Iceland, the startling Jökulsárgljúfur canyon. It has a series of waterfalls, including the horseshoe-shaped Selfoss waterfall, and surreal rock formations. Check out the world's most stunning waterfalls.
Slide 24 of 34: The tangle of the Rapa River Delta amid the mountains, glaciers and deep valleys is an extraordinary sight. The stunning alpine delta in the remote Sarek National Park is fed by meltwater from glaciers that flow into the Ráhpaaädno river. The raging river flows through the equally extraordinary Laponia, a vast UNESCO World Heritage Centre in northern Sweden that is the largest protected natural area in Europe.
Slide 25 of 34: One of many beautiful natural assets in Québec's Charlevoix region, La Malbaie winds a southeasterly course through glorious glacial valleys from its source, the Malbaie Lake, high in the Laurentian Massif. Part of the river lies within the Parc des Hautes-Gorges-de-la-Rivière-Malbaie, included in the Charlevoix Biosphere Reserve. Here it's possible to kayak, stand-up paddleboard and take a riverboat cruise on its waters. Osprey, the great blue heron and beavers are likely sightings. Now check out 50 amazing places in Canada.
Slide 26 of 34: A tributary of the Indus, this powerful waterway is a lifeline for India’s remote Zanskar valley in more ways than one. For centuries it has been used as a pathway between Ladakh and Zanskar from January until March when the extreme temperatures make the valley totally inaccessible except along its frozen upper layers. The arduous route, known as the Chadar hike, is 40 miles (64km) long and now attracts adventurers to tackle it. Little caves along the edge of the river canyon are used as shelters.
Slide 27 of 34: A 145-mile-long (233km) tributary of the San Joaquin River, the Merced flows from the Sierra Nevada into the San Joaquin Valley. As the main waterway in Yosemite National Park, a trip along its waters promises scenic sights and squeals aplenty as it flows past alpine meadows, pine forests and into the steep-sided Merced River Canyon, where the rapids are a hit with rafters. It’s also usually possible to go gold-panning along some parts of the river, although not in Yosemite.
Slide 28 of 34: The Upper Delaware river flows between the Pocono mountains in Pennsylvania and the shale beds in the Catskills. It then winds its way through the rural countryside along the Pennsylvania/New York border before reaching the Shawangunk mountains. America’s native bald eagles can often be spotted flying overhead as small riverside villages appear between the rolling hills. The beautiful river is popular with canoeists in the summer while there are lots of snowshoeing routes in winter.
Slide 29 of 34: One of Montana’s most celebrated fly-fishing rivers, the Smith – a tributary of the Missouri – flows north out of the Big Belt, Little Belt and Castle Mountains through some of the state’s most incredible scenery. Towering limestone cliffs overhang the rushing waters in the Smith River State Park. Access is heavily restricted in the scenic 60-mile (96km) stretch from Camp Baker to Eden Bridge, with permits only given out after an annual lottery. The Smith goes on to merge with the Missouri River. Now check out America's most stunning lakes.
Slide 30 of 34: With its rugged mountains, craggy gorges, thick forests and gushing rivers, the southwest corner of Tasmania is a glorious patch of wilderness. The Gordon River stretches from Strahan on the west coast into the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park, part of an UNESCO World Heritage area. The river winds through untouched temperate rainforest and past the island state’s oldest convict ruins on Sarah Island. These are Australia's most eerie abandoned buildings.
Slide 31 of 34: The fertile grasslands surrounding the Orkhon River were a sacred homeland of ancient steppe people and the valley later became the site of one of the most important cities in the history of the Silk Road, Karakorum. Genghis Khan founded the city just near the river in 1220 and it went on to become capital of the Mongol Empire under his son Ögedei. Today the picturesque and archaeologically rich Orkhon Valley is inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List and is still used as a summer pasture by herdsmen.
Slide 32 of 34: One of America’s most stunning rivers, Florida’s Weeki Wachee is famous for its beautiful spring. The name Weeki Wachee means "little spring" or "winding river" in the language of the indigenous Seminole people. Weeki Wachee spring is one of the deepest naturally occurring springs in the USA at 150 feet (45.7m) wide and 250 feet (76.2m) long. The Weeki Wachee Springs state park was opened in 1947 and is best known for its underwater mermaid shows. Discover more places you won't believe are in the USA.
Slide 33 of 34: Snaking through southeast Bulgaria’s pretty Rhodopes mountains, the Arda River is one of the region's bountiful natural assets. With its beguiling peaks, striking rock formations, lush valleys and traditional villages, the mountainous region is popular with hikers and cyclists in summer and skiers in winter, when the coursing river often turns to ice. One of the Arda’s most famous sights is the old stone bridge, known as Devil's Bridge, which spans the water near Ardino.
Slide 34 of 34: Surging through scenic central Otago, this fast-flowing artery is the longest river on New Zealand’s South Island and the second longest in the country after the Waikato River. Various walking and cycle tracks follow the Clutha Mata-au's path and cruises usually traverse its mighty waters, taking passengers past historic gold mining settlements and on to the remote and ravishing Roxburgh Gorge. Discover 50 more reasons to love New Zealand here.

Wonderful waterways

Crooked River, Oregon, USA

River Itchen, Hampshire, UK

The pretty River Itchen is straight out of the pages of children’s book The Wind in the Willows. People stroll along its bucolic banks keeping an eye out for Ratty as they go – water voles are one of the protected species that live here. You’re also likely to spot dragonflies dancing above the surface and fat trout gliding through the crystal-clear waters. The beautiful chalk “stream” flows from mid-Hampshire to Southampton and has been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest. It’s also home to otters and white-clawed crayfish.

Serrano River, Patagonia, Chile

Towering peaks, azure lakes, ancient forests, vast glaciers and rushing rivers – the wild beauty of Patagonia’s landscape is extraordinary. And the Serrano River flows past some of its most spectacular scenery until it reaches the Seno Ultima Esperanza. The river is popular with kayakers and fly fishers with some pretty waterfalls along its course. But be sure to take a boat out into the inlet to see the startlingly beautiful Serrano glacier, looking out for sea lions en route.

Soča River, Slovenia

Tara River, Montenegro

Starting in the Komovi mountains near the Albanian border, the Tara River wends its way through some of the country’s most dramatic mountainous scenery. In Durmitor National Park, the waterway creates Europe’s deepest and longest canyon. Nicknamed the “the Grand Canyon of Europe”, it’s 4,300 feet (1,300m) deep at its peak and a brilliant spot for white water rafting. The Tara, the longest river in Montenegro, goes onto meet the Piva River near the Bosnia and Herzegovina border to become the Drina River. Discover eight reasons to love Montenegro.

River Lealt, Isle of Skye, Scotland

One of the Isle of Skye’s many scenic rivers, the Lealt meanders through the island’s northeast, passing some of its most beautiful scenery. As with many of Skye’s rivers, it’s possible to fish for salmon and sea trout in its clear waters. But the main reason most people visit the river is to see its waters tumble dramatically down into the gorge at the spectacular Lealt waterfall. Discover other amazing spots in the Scottish Highlands and Islands. 

Neretva River, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Rising at the foot of the Zelengora Mountains, the Neretva River flows 140 miles (225km) through Bosnia and Herzegovina and into Croatia. Its upper reaches are characterized by spectacular canyons and deep gorges. It carries on to meander through the beautiful historic Ottoman town of Mostar in the country’s south. Here the pretty waterway is crossed by the famous Stari Most (old bridge), which gave the town its name. The Neretva finally flows into Croatia and out into the Adriatic, creating an incredible swampland at its delta.

Hunter River, Western Australia, Australia

With its red sandstone cliffs, dense mangroves and blazing blue waters, the Hunter River region is renowned for its wild beauty. But the spectacular river system off Western Australia’s remote Kimberley coast has a deadly side too. The wetlands have the highest proportion of saltwater crocodiles of any other river in the area. High-end small cruise ships usually charter the waters, taking passengers to see the striking rock formation at the river’s mouth and its waterfalls, as they spot the stealth-like salties.

Kenai River, Alaska, USA

Guadalquivir, Andalusia, Spain

Coursing through Andalusia’s undulating mountains, past historic cities and out to the Atlantic Ocean, the Guadalquivir river is the second longest and the only navigable river in Spain. It begins its 408-mile (656km) stretch in the eastern Cazorla mountain range and ends at the port of Cádiz on the west coast. It’s been an important route to numerous civilizations, dating back to the Phoenicians.

Green River, Washington, USA

The Green River flows west out of the Cascade Range through the state of Washington for 65 miles (104km) down to Elliott Bay in Seattle. It turns into the Duwamish River at Tukwila. Its upper section goes through thick forest, once home to logging towns. Today parts of the river are typically popular spots for tubing in the warmer months and, when the conditions are right, white-water rafting expeditions, which set off from the Flaming Geyser State Park.

Glaslyn River, Gwynedd, UK

The source of this Snowdonian tributary has mystical routes – according to local folklore the Glaslyn Lake is where Bedivere threw King Arthur’s sword Excalibur into the water and where the king’s body was later carried away to Avalon. The scenery is certainly magical where the stream flows from Lake Glaslyn on the western slopes of Mount Snowdon before charging down towards the sea at Porthmadog. One of the most spectacular sections of river can be seen at the Aberglaslyn Pass, pictured. Take a look at more of the world’s magical places here.

Gauja River, Latvia

The only river that begins and ends in Latvia, the Gauja is a popular place for boating, swimming and hiking in the country’s daylight-filled summers. A large stretch of the pretty river flows through the thickly forested Gauja National Park, which is named after the waterway and is Latvia’s largest national park.

Blyde River, South Africa

Fish River, Namibia

Bow River, Alberta, Canada

With its source in the awe-inspiring Rocky Mountains, the scenic river flows 365 miles (587km) south through the province of Alberta. Beginning in the glacial Bow Lake in Banff National Park, it flows on through cowboy capital Calgary and the rolling prairies to join the Oldman River. Here, the two rivers form the South Saskatchewan River, which eventually flows into Hudson’s Bay. The river is so called because the Cree First Nations people used to make bows from the Douglas firs that grow along its banks.

River Krka, Croatia

Miranda River, Brazil

Provo River, Utah, USA

The Provo River is formed of the North Fork Provo River and the South Fork Provo River. The two branches are split into upper, middle and lower sections and the river is affectionately called “Utah’s home water”. It’s said to have some of the best trout fishing in the state. Take a look at America’s most stunning natural wonders.

Li River, China

Periyar River, Kerala, India

Rising in the Sivagiri hills of the Western Ghats, this vital river is the longest in the lush state of Kerala, flowing for 140 miles (225km). It goes into the Periyar National Park, where it was damned to make the Periyar Lake, then continues its course to the Arabian Sea just north of Kochi. It’s known as the lifeline of Kerala as it provides the region with drinking and agricultural water, supports a fishing industry and is an important source of hydroelectricity. It’s also stunningly beautiful.

River Jökulsá á Fjöllum, Iceland

Surging through the northeast of Iceland, the Jökulsá á Fjöllum is a glacial river whose roaring waters create some of the country’s most thunderous falls. Formed by Europe’s largest glacier, Vatnajökull, it runs for 128 miles (206km) until it meets the Greenland Sea. The icy-cold waterway flows through one of the biggest canyons in Iceland, the startling Jökulsárgljúfur canyon. It has a series of waterfalls, including the horseshoe-shaped Selfoss waterfall, and surreal rock formations. Check out the world’s most stunning waterfalls.

Rapa River, Laponia, Sweden

La Malbaie River, Québec, Canada

One of many beautiful natural assets in Québec’s Charlevoix region, La Malbaie winds a southeasterly course through glorious glacial valleys from its source, the Malbaie Lake, high in the Laurentian Massif. Part of the river lies within the Parc des Hautes-Gorges-de-la-Rivière-Malbaie, included in the Charlevoix Biosphere Reserve. Here it’s possible to kayak, stand-up paddleboard and take a riverboat cruise on its waters. Osprey, the great blue heron and beavers are likely sightings. Now check out 50 amazing places in Canada.

Zanskar River, Jammu and Kashmir, India

A tributary of the Indus, this powerful waterway is a lifeline for India’s remote Zanskar valley in more ways than one. For centuries it has been used as a pathway between Ladakh and Zanskar from January until March when the extreme temperatures make the valley totally inaccessible except along its frozen upper layers. The arduous route, known as the Chadar hike, is 40 miles (64km) long and now attracts adventurers to tackle it. Little caves along the edge of the river canyon are used as shelters.

Merced River, California, USA

A 145-mile-long (233km) tributary of the San Joaquin River, the Merced flows from the Sierra Nevada into the San Joaquin Valley. As the main waterway in Yosemite National Park, a trip along its waters promises scenic sights and squeals aplenty as it flows past alpine meadows, pine forests and into the steep-sided Merced River Canyon, where the rapids are a hit with rafters. It’s also usually possible to go gold-panning along some parts of the river, although not in Yosemite.

Upper Delaware River, New York, USA

The Smith River, Montana, USA

One of Montana’s most celebrated fly-fishing rivers, the Smith – a tributary of the Missouri – flows north out of the Big Belt, Little Belt and Castle Mountains through some of the state’s most incredible scenery. Towering limestone cliffs overhang the rushing waters in the Smith River State Park. Access is heavily restricted in the scenic 60-mile (96km) stretch from Camp Baker to Eden Bridge, with permits only given out after an annual lottery. The Smith goes on to merge with the Missouri River. Now check out America’s most stunning lakes.

Gordon River, Tasmania, Australia

With its rugged mountains, craggy gorges, thick forests and gushing rivers, the southwest corner of Tasmania is a glorious patch of wilderness. The Gordon River stretches from Strahan on the west coast into the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park, part of an UNESCO World Heritage area. The river winds through untouched temperate rainforest and past the island state’s oldest convict ruins on Sarah Island. These are Australia’s most eerie abandoned buildings.

Orkhon River, Mongolia

The fertile grasslands surrounding the Orkhon River were a sacred homeland of ancient steppe people and the valley later became the site of one of the most important cities in the history of the Silk Road, Karakorum. Genghis Khan founded the city just near the river in 1220 and it went on to become capital of the Mongol Empire under his son Ögedei. Today the picturesque and archaeologically rich Orkhon Valley is inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List and is still used as a summer pasture by herdsmen.

Weeki Wachee River, Florida, USA

One of America’s most stunning rivers, Florida’s Weeki Wachee is famous for its beautiful spring. The name Weeki Wachee means “little spring” or “winding river” in the language of the indigenous Seminole people. Weeki Wachee spring is one of the deepest naturally occurring springs in the USA at 150 feet (45.7m) wide and 250 feet (76.2m) long. The Weeki Wachee Springs state park was opened in 1947 and is best known for its underwater mermaid shows. Discover more places you won’t believe are in the USA.

Arda River, Bulgaria

Clutha Mata-au River, Otago, New Zealand

Surging through scenic central Otago, this fast-flowing artery is the longest river on New Zealand’s South Island and the second longest in the country after the Waikato River. Various walking and cycle tracks follow the Clutha Mata-au’s path and cruises usually traverse its mighty waters, taking passengers past historic gold mining settlements and on to the remote and ravishing Roxburgh Gorge. Discover 50 more reasons to love New Zealand here.

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