National Parks in Europe Everyone Should Consider Visiting at Least Once in Their Lifetime
Thundering waterfalls, ancient forests and lush landscapes present the opportunity to have a holiday, while getting back to nature. This time of year is perfect for hiking and exploring some of Europe’s most stunning national parks, with the crisp air to accompany you on long walks through the wilderness.
Here’s a look at national parks in Europe everyone should consider visiting, at least once in their lifetime.
Saxon Switzerland National Park, Germany
Often touted as one of the most beautiful hiking spots in the world, the National Park of Saxon is situated in eastern Germany, between Pirna and the Czech border. It’s renowned for rock climbing, with more than 700 summits to conquer. Marked hiking trails and cycle routes take you through sandstone cliffs, rock formations, gorges and lush valleys, with the possibility of seeing rare species, such as the eagle owl and otters. Don’t miss the spectacular sight of the famous Bastei Bridge. To get there, the closest airport is Dresden, with fast rail links to Saxon Switzerland.
North York Moors, England
Blending history, nature, landscapes, wildlife and the rugged coastline of the North Sea, North York Moors is a treat for outdoor enthusiasts. Hike along the ocean on the Cleveland Way National Trail, explore sweeping expanses of heather moorland, delve into mysterious, native forests and discover incredible archaeological remains. Stay in the market towns of Pickering and Helmsley or choose from a wide range of B&Bs farmhouses and cottages.
Cévennes National Park, France
The mountainous area of Cévennes is where you can see the unspoiled beauty of rural France. With river gorges, charming villages, stalagmite-filled caves and rugged terrain for cycling and hiking, you can revel in nature while getting your fix of outdoor adventures. The town of Florac offers a visitor’s centre, to guide you on your way.
Triglav National Park, Slovenia
Within the Julian Alps, the Triglav National Park is a striking landscape of mountain peaks, valleys and lakes. Try water sports at Lake Bohini, admire the waterfalls of Savica and Peričnik or hike the paths along the rushing rapids of Vintgar Gorge. If you stay in Bled or Bovec, you can walk or take a bus into the park, to start your adventure.
Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
The UNESCO World Heritage site of Plitvice Lakes National Park is one of Croatia’s most beloved attractions. The fairy tale park consists of 16 lakes interconnected by sparkling waterfalls, on a backdrop of deep woodland that’s home to deer, bears, wolves and rare birds. Flying into Zagreb puts you in the perfect spot to visit the park, with public transport and organised tours available for day trips.
Bialowieza National Park, Poland
Poland’s oldest national park used to be the hunting ground for Polish monarchs and now plays host to travellers who love to hike, cycle and spot the European bison. As much of the area is protected, you can take a guided tour into the heart of the primeval forest or follow designated bike paths. From Warsaw, you can take a train or bus to Bialystok, then a bus to the village of Bialowieza.
Gargano National Park, Italy
The Gargano National Park beautifully covers the spur of Italy’s heel, with exposed cliffs above the Adriatic, forests, seaside towns and snorkelling opportunities through secret sea caves. To explore the area, a hire car is the easiest option, with plenty of charming accommodation choices along the way.
Sarek National Park, Sweden
To experience the remote drama of nature at its best, visit Sarek, in Swedish Lapland. Here, you’ll discover rushing rapids, majestic alpine peaks and challenging terrain for hiking and climbing. This is a park for serious adventure enthusiasts, so you’ll need a compass, a map and a tent for longer journeys. Early autumn is one of the best times to go and, unless you’re a competent hiker, it’s best to join an expedition to visit.
Jotunheimen National Park, Norway
If you love cycling, cross-country skiing, white water rafting or climbing, Jotunheimen National Park is the spot for you. In undisturbed peace, you can discover glaciers, lakes, rivers, waterfalls and inspirational views. You can reach the Jotunheimen area via buses from Oslo and Bergen and stay, eat and drink in the surrounding towns.
Pick your favourite, gear up and get ready for your adventure into nature, in Europe’s incredible national parks!