Are you looking for an off-the-beaten-path outdoor adventure? Europe's national parks are your best bet. There is something for every kind of traveler to enjoy, from visiting castle ruins in Portugal to climbing fjords in Norway.
Join us as we travel across 12 of Europe's top national parks. Take advantage of these parks' magnificent waterfalls, distinctive rock formations, and varied ecosystems. Each park offers a distinctive experience, from Croatia's Plitvice Lakes National Park to Norway's Jotunheimen National Park.
Jotunheimen National Park, Norway
The highest peak in Norway, Galdhopiggen, may be found in this national park, which is a hundred kilometers southwest of Norway's first national park. There are several outdoor pursuits available there, including hiking, skiing, river rafting, and glacier walking. It also has a variety of water features, including rivers, lakes, glaciers, and waterfalls. Additionally, visitors can hike along the renowned Besseggen Ridge and see the biggest glacier in all of continental Europe.
Saxon Switzerland National Park (Germany)/Bohemian Switzerland National Park (Czech Republic)
The sandstone summits and breathtaking beauty of this national park, which spans the border between Germany and the Czech Republic, are well-known. Rock climbers can pick from more than 700 sandstone summits, making it a sanctuary for them. The 150 square miles of paths, which offer views of the rocky terrain, flower-filled valleys, chalky cliffs, and adjacent castles and fortifications, are also accessible to hikers and bikers. The Elbe river, which has its home in the park, shaped the landscape over millions of years.
Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
Only 1% of Plitvice Lakes National Park's total area is taken up by its network of connected lakes and waterfalls. Visitors can explore the park's steep canyons, sinkholes, and caverns in addition to taking in the stunning landscape from boardwalk-style hiking routes. The park is a well-liked destination for tourists due to its natural beauty and the diversity of activities it provides, and UNESCO has recognized it for its geological and biological worth.
With a land area of 13%, Vatnajokull is Iceland's biggest national park. The former national parks of Skaftafell and Jokulsarglijufur, as well as the Vatnajokull glacier, are all located within the park. Hikers enjoy the park because they may climb the highest peak in the nation, Hvannadalshnjukur, as well as explore the glaciers and volcanoes in the region. In addition, visitors can take a trip along a canyon from Asbyrgi to Dettifoss, Europe's most potent waterfall. Visitors to the park can enjoy witness Iceland's exceptional natural beauty and the Northern Lights.
Ecrins National Park, France
The French Alps are home to the more than 400 square mile Ecrins National Park. This park is renowned for its wide variety of natural environments, which range from forests and alpine meadows to craggy peaks and glaciers. With more than 1000 miles of clearly marked routes to explore, hiking is a well-liked activity in the park. Additionally, mountaineering, paragliding, and rock climbing are all available to visitors. Ibex, chamois, and marmots are just a few of the numerous animals that call the park home. A number of lodging choices are available in the town of Briancon, which is close to the park and a fantastic place to start your exploration.
Cinque Terre National Park, Italy
The Liguria region of the Italian Riviera is home to the Cinque Terre National Park. The Cinque Terre, a group of five lovely coastal towns, are located in this area and are connected by hiking routes. Visitors can stroll around the charming towns, take in the breathtaking Mediterranean scenery, and savor the fresh seafood and wine produced nearby. The park is particularly well-known for the famed Cinque Terre wine that is made in its terraced vines. The park is a well-liked vacation spot for travelers and hikers because it is quite compact and simple to explore.
Sarek National Park, Sweden
Sarek National Park, which is situated in Swedish Lapland, is regarded as one of Europe's wildest and remotest national parks. This park is renowned for its wild, untamed landscape, which includes icy glaciers, high mountains, and clear rivers. Elk, reindeer, and the endangered Arctic fox are just a few of the many animals that call Sarek home. The Sámi, an Arctic native people, reside in the park as well. With more than 100 miles of clearly marked paths to explore, hiking is the primary activity in the park. However, because the area is only accessible on foot during the summer, visitors must be well-prepared and knowledgeable.
Rila National Park, Bulgaria
The biggest national park in the nation is called Rila National Park, and it is situated in Bulgaria's Rila Mountains. With peaks rising to a maximum of 9,596 feet in height, this park is renowned for its stunning alpine beauty. Numerous outdoor activities, including as hiking, skiing, and rock climbing, are available to visitors. Along with a variety of other animals, the park is also home to bears, wolves, and eagles. The Rila Monastery, one of the nation's most significant cultural and historical landmarks, is also located in the park. A range of lodging alternatives are available in the town of Bansko, which is close to the park and a fantastic place to start your exploration.
Dolomiti Bellunesi National Park, Italy
Dolomiti Bellunesi National Park, a place of wild peaks and alpine meadows, lies in northeastern Italy. The Dolomites, a mountain range renowned for its unusual geological formations and natural beauty, are the source of the park's name. The park's kilometers of paths wind through the breathtaking scenery, making it a haven for hikers and mountain climbers. Ibex, chamois, and golden eagles are just a few of the numerous animals that may be seen in the park.
Ordesa and Monte Perdido National Park, Spain
Ordesa and Monte Perdido National Park, which is situated in the Pyrenees Mountains in northeastern Spain, is a hiking enthusiast's dream. It bears the names of Monte Perdido, the park's tallest peak, and the Ordesa Valley, one of the Pyrenees' most stunning valleys. The park is home to a variety of wildlife, including the Griffon and Bearded Vultures and numerous butterfly species. The park is renowned for its exceptional biodiversity and diverse flora, which includes numerous varieties of orchids and endangered Pyrenean plants.
Cairngorms National Park, Scotland
The largest UK national park, Cairngorms, is situated in the Scottish Highlands. Mountains, woods, rivers, and lochs are just a few of the many landscapes and habitats that may be found in the park. Other types of animals that can be found in the park include ospreys, golden eagles, and red deer. Outdoor recreation options for visitors include mountain biking, skiing, and hiking. One of Scotland's top ski resorts, the Cairngorm Ski Centre, is located in the park.
Rondane National Park, Norway
Norway's first national park, Rondane National Park, was created in 1962. The park spans more than 200 square kilometers and is situated in Central Norway, not far from the Swedish border. Reindeer, mountain hares, and the endangered arctic fox are just a few of the many plants and animals that call the park home. Numerous outdoor pursuits are available to visitors, including skiing, hiking, and camping. Photographers of wildlife and lovers of nature frequently visit the park.
There are numerous stunning and interesting national parks throughout Europe that provide tourists with a wide range of experiences. These national parks offer the ideal environment for an outstanding trip, whether you're a hiker, rock climber, skier, or just someone who enjoys the outdoors. Therefore, keep these incredible national parks and everything they have to offer in mind the next time you're planning a trip to Europe.