Europe is renowned for its rich history, diverse culture, and mouth-watering cuisine, but there’s an entire hidden world beneath its waters. Many great shipwrecks, ancient artifacts, crystal-clear lakes, and lively reefs await discovery by scuba divers. Whether you’re already a seasoned diver or just dreaming about your Open Water Diver course, Europe’s magical waters are calling. Below, in no particular order, we explore the top ten diving destinations in Europe you must see for yourself.

Divers close to the surface looking at the camera at a dive in the lake with a bridge on background

1. Germany, Austria & Switzerland

Germany, Austria and Switzerland (also known as the DACH Region) offer serene spots and numerous diving adventures. From exploring historic WWII wrecks in Germany’s Baltic Sea and diving into Austria’s “Caribbean of the Alps” to mystical dives in Switzerland’s alpine lakes, an unforgettable adventure awaits scuba divers. Switzerland’s Lake Lucerne and Austria’s Weissensee offer a magical experience reminiscent of a fairy tale filled with underwater forests and mountain views. Lake Constance, straddling all three countries, and the picturesque lakes of Austria’s Salzkammergut region are must-sees. Whether navigating underwater forests, exploring wrecks, or discovering hidden treasures, the DACH region promises unique and exciting diving opportunities for everyone.

Diver next to a colorful reef decorated with sponges

2. Greece

With more than 240 inhabited islands and a vast coastline, Greece is a diver’s paradise, offering a diverse range of underwater experiences including wall, wreck, cavern, and reef diving. The caldera of Santorini calls out with its historical richness, and the safeguarded waters of Zakynthos offer an invitation to swim alongside loggerhead sea turtles. Exploring the legendary Peloponnese Wreck near Mykonos, a shipwreck from the 1930s, or the Arado 196 seaplane wreck on Naxos offers a great adventure. For those with the right training, Crete’s El Greco Cave offers an expansive channel and a unique air pocket where you can surface, adding to the allure of each dive being a new adventure through ancient ruins and vibrant marine environments.

Divers swimming through Silfra canyon

3. Iceland

Silfra in Iceland’s Thingvellir National Park is the destination for an unparalleled diving adventure in crystal-clear glacial waters. This relatively small geological marvel, where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet, offers divers the unique opportunity to glide between continents. Marvel at the geological wonders with visibility stretching over 300 meters (1000 feet) in water that comes directly from Iceland’s second-largest glacier. Divers can literally touch both tectonic plates. Just a thirty-minute journey from Reykjavík, another scuba diving experience awaits at Kleifarvatn Lake within a geothermal hot spring. Here, the scent of sulphur welcomes divers, and during the dive, they may feel the vibration of air bubbles if geothermal activity is strong enough.

Colorful reef photo at a night dive with soft corals

4. Sicily, Italy

Italy is home to a wide range of diving destinations, including Sicily, an underwater marvel rich in history. Sicily is a paradise for divers with its stunning pinnacles, enigmatic caves, lively reefs, ancient shipwrecks, and archaeological treasures. Dive sites dotting this magical island, particularly in volcanic regions, like Pantelleria, or the Aeolian Islands, are decorated with lava-shaped walls, gorgonian sea fans, and vivid sponges, showcasing a unique tapestry of marine life. For those in pursuit of adventure beyond the natural marvels, the waters near Palermo, Siracusa, Messina, and Catania present shipwrecks, caves, and ancient relics, establishing Sicily as a must-visit for divers in Italy.

Beautiful sunset at a unique scenery in Ireland

5. Ireland

Ireland‘s Atlantic waters are not just cool; they’re filled with treasures! From the playful dolphins near the Inishkea Islands to ancient castles along its shorelines, Ireland offers a range of diving experiences for all skill levels. If you’re searching for that quintessential, wild Atlantic dive, head to the Skelligs. Rising from the Atlantic, these rocks are a natural and historical spectacle, home to ancient monastic ruins and thousands of gannets diving for mackerel. Here, you can dive into a world of dramatic drop-offs adorned with brightly colored anemones and sponges. You might even be lucky enough to spot basking sharks. When visiting Ireland, don’t miss the chance to experience Ireland’s wild maritime beauty fully.

Divers swimming underwater with a beautiful shade of blue on the background

6. Malta

This Mediterranean gem, teeming with caves, reefs, and wrecks, has been a focal point throughout history. It offers divers the chance to explore shipwrecks dating back to World War II. Malta‘s underwater landscape is easily accessible from the shore or by boat, making it perfect for beginners, advanced, and technical divers. One of Malta’s most iconic dive sites is the Blue Hole in Gozo. Furthermore, for those keen on wreck diving, Malta is an ideal place to start or advance your skills, with its warm waters and easily reachable islands enhancing its charm. Whether you’re taking your first dive or you’re a dive pro, Malta’s diving scene is a dream come true.

Photo of two whale fins at the sea surface with a boat and snowy mountain view at the background

7. Norway

Norway’s fjords, a breathtaking natural spectacle, become even more majestic beneath the surface. The country’s extensive coastline, with thousands of islands, deep fjords, wrecks, and vibrant marine life, ranks among the top cold-water diving destinations globally. Imagine the thrill of drift diving in Norway, where the powerful currents, especially in Saltstraumen near Bodø, allow you to “fly” over the seabed in an unparalleled display of marine exhilaration. Beyond the thrill of currents, the Norwegian waters are a treasure trove of history, with hundreds of wrecks, like the German steamship Frankenwald, perfectly poised for exploration. This exciting underwater world, set against the towering fjord walls, offers an unforgettable diving experience, blending the adrenaline of adventure with the tranquility of Norway’s natural beauty.

Photographer taking picture of a manta ray

8. Azores, Portugal

The Azores promise dives you’ll never forget with their dramatic volcanic landscapes, vibrant marine life, and crystal-clear waters with visibility exceeding 30 meters (100 feet). Here, you can glide alongside graceful mobula rays, marvel at sea-floor hot springs that echo the islands’ fiery spirit, and explore unique geological formations. Thermal vents around these volcanic islands create a rare opportunity to witness ecosystems adapted to extreme conditions. The varied seafloor topography of the islands nurtures an abundant and diverse underwater fauna, from tiny invertebrates to majestic pelagic fish, marine mammals, various shark species, including the rare blue shark, and over 12 species of whales!

canary islands dolphin watching

9. The Canary Islands, Spain

Tenerife, part of the Canary Islands, dazzles with dives that rival the island’s stunning sunsets in terms of colorful sea life. Its beaches feature unique black sand set against blue skies and majestic mountains. The island’s volcanic landscapes, shaped by erosion into caves, tunnels, and truly unique environments, offer an unforgettable backdrop for diving adventures. Diving in Tenerife means exploring sandy bottoms and rocky cliffs, and beneath the waves, aquatic life flourishes, including species unique to the Canary Islands and visiting migrants. The diving here caters to all levels of divers, from beginners and experts to technical divers.

Photo of a diver from inside a cavern

10. Turkey

Turkey‘s shores, where the Aegean meets the Mediterranean, are a wonderland of ancient marvels and natural beauty. Let’s talk about Kaş, the diving capital of Turkey. It’s not just a spot on the map but a sanctuary for divers worldwide. It’s ranked among the top 100 dive sites globally, captivating with its vibrant marine life and historical artifacts. Then there’s Çanakkale, known to many as Gallipoli, home to WWI wrecks that lie deep and untouched, inviting technical divers. But that’s not all – places like Bodrum, Fethiye, Antalya, and Ayvalik are must-visits for those looking to dive into the beauty of Turkey. Beyond diving, Turkey offers plenty to entertain families, adventurers, and those curious about culture. Each dive site in Turkey tells its unique story, brimming with biodiversity and history, making every dive an exploration and a journey through time.

Europe’s lakes and seas offer a vast canvas for divers, providing the thrill of exploring a World War-era wrecks, swimming with diverse marine life, or discovering beautiful underwater scenery. Ready for your next underwater adventure? Visit PADI Travel to plan your scuba diving trip to Europe’s underwater treasures.

Share This

Related Posts