The incredible cities in Europe often steal the spotlight when visiting. Limiting yourself to urban areas will deprive you of the breathtaking scenery that spans the entire continent with national parks.
Europe is home to various national parks, each offering a chance to explore and admire its distinctive landscapes. From the picturesque Lake District in England to the breathtaking Gran Paradiso National Park in the Italian Alps, these natural wonders provide an ideal opportunity to immerse oneself in the continent’s beauty. Make sure to include a visit to one of Europe’s most stunning national parks on your itinerary for your upcoming European vacation.
1. The Lake District National Park
The Lake District National Park is a stunning and serene destination in England. The park is filled with numerous lakes, and the landscape is adorned with beautiful mountains known as fells. Visitors enjoy long walks among the fells and soak up the views, with plenty of accommodation within the park.
2. The Caldera de Taburiente National Park
When thinking about the Canary Islands, especially the island of La Palma, many people often associate it with beaches and resorts. Yet, the Caldera de Taburiente National Park is a stunning feature of the Spanish island. A mountainous arch stands at the park’s heart, resembling a giant crater.
While in the Caldera de Taburiente National Park, you can hike along the mountain’s edge, soaking in breathtaking views of green valleys and even the ocean’s blue waters in the distance.
3. The Oulanka National Park
The Oulanka National Park in Northern Finland showcases a vast expanse of lush greenery and breathtaking beauty. The land of the Sami people was protected by the park, where they lived, hunted, and fished until the 17th century.
Today, you can explore the Oulanka National Park by hiking along the Karhunkierros, Finland’s most popular trekking route. You can also enjoy picking berries, mountain biking, canoeing on the many rivers, and staying overnight at the wooden cabins that dot the park.
4. The Saxon Switzerland National Park
Despite its somewhat misleading name, the Saxon Switzerland National Park is located entirely within German borders near Dresden. This European national park offers breathtaking views and unique stone formations, making it a perfect destination for climbers and hikers.
Visit iconic sights like the spectacular Bastei Bridge and the lofty Königstein Fortress that rises 245 meters (800 feet) above the Elbe River, even if you don’t have climbing experience.
5. The Gran Paradiso National Park
The Gran Paradiso National Park is located in the middle of the Graian Alps in Northern Italy. The park was initially established to safeguard the ibex from poachers, as the region was designated as the exclusive hunting grounds of a monarch. The park contains a forested area and is home to several glaciers.
Many people enjoy hiking in the park, especially to the summit of Gran Paradiso Mountain. The park also offers breathtaking views of nearby Alpine peaks such as Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn.
6. The Durmitor National Park
The Durmitor National Park is located in Žabljak, Montenegro. Durmitor boasts enormous peaks that rise at sharp angles, creating a surreal landscape of contrasts, all surrounded by river canyons.
Many people are drawn to Durmitor National Park for its opportunities to summit mountains, admire glacial lakes, ski, or snowboard.
7. The Ordesa National Park
Located on the border between France and Spain, the Ordesa National Park is nestled within the Pyrenees Mountain Range. You’ll find a lush green valley in the heart of mountain peaks at the park, offering an unforgettable view and incredible hiking trails shaded by the towering Pyrenees.
Hawks, owls, mountain goats, and marmots are among the wildlife frequently seen in the Ordesa National Park.
8. The Vatnajokull National Park
The magnificent Vatnajökull National Park is found in Iceland, and at its center is the Vatnajökull glacier. The park bursts with contrasts, from snowy mountain peaks to deep blue rivers and even some geothermal areas that are currently active.
The park boasts the stunning glacier lagoon of Jökulsárlón, adorned with majestic icebergs and the captivating waterfalls known as Svartifoss and Dettifosis. Hiking is the preferred method for exploring the Vatnajökull National Park, with numerous campgrounds available for overnight stays.
9. The Triglav National Park
The highest peak in Slovenia is Mount Triglav, surrounded by Triglav National Park, the country’s only national park. The Julian Alps house Triglav National Park, showcasing majestic mountains and vibrant valleys.
Water greatly influences the park, which significantly impacts its geography and tourism. The park’s lakes are a major attraction for Slovenian residents and visitors worldwide, as the Soča and Sava Rivers flow from the park to the Adriatic and Black Seas.
10. The Hohe Tauern National Park
The mountain range known as the Hohe Tauern in the Central Eastern Alps in Austria is surrounded by the Hohe Tauern National Park. The Hohe Tauern National Park, located in the heart of the Alps, boasts an impressive array of natural wonders. This park has everything from expansive tundras to lush forests and majestic glaciers to cascading waterfalls.
Many enjoy hiking through the park or conquering major peaks like Großglockner and Großvenediger. Driving through the park and cutting through the mountains via exceptional tunnels or along the scenic Grossglockner High Alpine Road is also incredibly appealing.