Top 9 National Parks in Europe
Travellers enjoy Europe for its historic cities and cultural sights, yet this cradle of civilization also boasts breathtaking natural beauty.
Attractions such as alpine lakes and breathtaking mountain ranges make Europe home to 9 incredible national parks that make up its list. Here are the top 9 national parks.
1. Sarek National Park
European cities offer much to enjoy when visiting, but taking time out to visit its breathtaking national parks will offer even greater experiences of natural wonder and wilderness immersion.
Sarek National Park in Northern Sweden is a treasure that deserves to be explored by every visitor to Sweden, boasting nearly 100 glaciers and six of Sweden?s highest peaks. However, be warned: it may not be suitable for novice travellers; therefore the Swedish Tourism Board advises adventurous visitors with good map-reading skills and knowledge of this type of terrain before undertaking this adventure.
Mountaineering, climbing and hiking are all activities available here that provide plenty of excitement, as is exploring wildlife. You may want to visit one of Europe’s prettiest river deltas – Rapa River delta; or ascend Mount Skierfe for stunning panoramic views across this glacial trough valley.
2. Cheile Nerei Beusnita National Park
European travel is famously celebrated for its spectacular cities, but Europe offers stunning national parks as well. These breathtaking natural areas are packed with lush flora and fauna that will take your breath away.
Cheile Nerei Beusnita National Park can feel like an exquisite hidden treasure when located in remote corners of Romania. Protecting the middle course of the Nera River and boasting wild gorges as well as high levels of biodiversity among amphibians and birds, it also preserves lakes, waterfalls and meadows – perfect places for hikers!
Beyond hiking and other outdoor activities, visitors to Nera River State Park can also marvel at its deep gorges and lofty peaks that rise majestically above the clouds. Furthermore, this park is home to various rare species of plants and animals that have been carefully preserved over years in their original environments.
3. Massif des Ecrins National Park
The Ecrins Mountains offer hikers and mountaineers a paradise for hiking and mountaineering. Each year, around 850,000 visitors come to explore different outdoor activities at this national park; its diversity was the initial driving force for its creation in 1973.
This national park, covering two departments (Isere and Haute-Alpes), boasts France’s second-largest national park: it straddles both Ibex-rich Isere and rugged Haute-Alpes regions. Boasting jagged peaks, deep valleys and shimmering mountain lakes; as well as wildlife such as its iconic resident the ibex; it makes up one of its two hallmarks in France.
More than 100 peaks rise to more than 3,000m and the Barre des Ecrins contains some of Europe’s southernmost glaciers. Rainwater and snowmelt from these jagged peaks runoff into rivers such as Romanche, Guisane, Durance and Drac, where their waters flow into rivers such as Romanche, Guisane Durance Drac. From there the rivers gently erode gorges and gullies to create distinct landscape features; just a short distance away are traditional villages that contribute their charms.
4. Pyrenees National Parks
One of France’s first national parks, Vanoise is an expansive alpine landscape where wildflowers abound and rare fauna thrives. Visit during summer for Le Festival de Gavarnie – an amazing and spectacular natural event described by Victor Hugo as “the Colosseum of Nature”.
Hikers love this region thanks to its high-altitude lakes and epic cirques with cascading waterfalls, including Pic de Neouvielle with three exceptional glacial cirques that present challenging mountain climbing opportunities.
Catalan and Spanish travelers frequently escape city life for some skiing, hiking or taking part in local festivals and countryside life. A range of accommodations exists within the park from hotels to refuges which serve as base camps; you can visit any one of the Maison du Parc visitor centers located in Saint-Lary, Luz-Saint-Sauveur or Gavarnie for further insight into this region, hiking trails led by park wardens or accommodation options available to them.
5. Bialowieza Forest National Park
Though many think of national parks primarily in North America and Oceania when considering nature reserves, Europe also boasts stunning natural areas like Bialowieza Forest National Park in Poland – home to wild bison and ancient forests.
At the border between Poland and Belarus lies this primeval forest known for its massive oak trees and roaming herds of bison. Designated as a UNESCO biosphere reserve, this park boasts exceptional biodiversity conservation practices as well as sustainability efforts.
Bialowieza Forest massif is home to an old-growth forest ecosystem that exemplifies Central European mixed forests terrestrial ecoregion. This old-growth forest contains intact wildlife habitats including viable populations of large mammals and carnivores as well as an intricate network of watersheds with an abundant diversity of fungi, saproxylic invertebrates and rare species such as European bison and capercaillie; making this location perfect for nature education as well as recreational activities.
6. Butrint National Park
When thinking of national parks, the Grand Canyon or Yosemite may come to mind; however, Europe boasts numerous beautiful parks that should also be on your travel bucket list.
Butrint National Park in Southern Albania near the Straits of Corfu stands out as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Ramsar Wetland of International Importance, boasting an archaeological treasure trove including temples, basilicas and theaters in addition to defensive walls and castles that date back centuries.
Vlore County was initially settled by Greeks from Corfu who established an important colony here during the 6th Century BCE. Later it was taken over by Romans before eventually becoming home for a bishopric and Venetian fleets.
Epirot Theater, Roman Forum and early Byzantine Baptistery as well as Hellenic Roman and Byzantine temples palaces and castles provide a vivid timeline of Mediterranean culture and thinking. One of the most beloved attractions is Lion Gate with its statue of a lion devouring a bull.
7. Slovenia?s Paklenica National Park
Paklenica National Park is an impressive mountainous region, part of Velebit Mountain Range, featuring magnificent cliffs and canyons that attract rock climbers of all skill levels. Beginners as well as experts regularly come here for adventure sports such as climbing.
Hiking is the ideal way to discover Velebit National Park. There are roughly 200 km of trails and paths dedicated to tourists that lead them through Velika Paklenica Canyon and Manita pec cave, the forest cottage Lugarnica and mountain hut as well as those designed for mountaineers who head toward Velebit’s highest peaks.
Paklenica Park offers plenty of historical and cultural activities for everyone to enjoy, such as touring its underground tunnels at Paklenica Mill or viewing one of many Mirila (graveyard monuments) that dot its paths and roads – making this park one of the ideal day trip options from nearby cities.
8. Lake Constance National Park
These parks provide visitors with outdoor thrills and natural beauty in abundance while offering cultural attractions to keep them engaged for hours at a time. Don’t miss them for outdoor thrills and peace!
Bodensee in Germany and Lake Constance in Austria and Switzerland, this lake offers visitors watersports as well as providing stunning scenery for nearby towns and villages.
Konstanz offers a vibrant arts scene, and Reichenau Island – a UNESCO World Heritage site featuring three early medieval abbey churches – should not be missed when exploring Bavaria. Lindau is another picturesque Bavarian town which hosts world-class opera performances on an floating stage as part of Bregenz Festival; history buffs should visit Pfahlbau Museum Unteruhldingen which features reconstructed pile dwellings while Zeppelin Museum Friedrichshafen displays full-scale replicas of historic airships.
9. Germany?s Saxon Switzerland National Park
Saxon Switzerland National Park is an idyllic destination for hikers. A network of amazing trails wind their way through stunning sandstone formations, deep gorges, and picturesque landscapes – not forgetting unique rock structures like Bastei Bridge which spans Elbe River.
Hiking is one of the most beloved activities at Saxon Switzerland, and with so many trails suited to every fitness level available here it is easy to find something suitable. From flat walks to challenging climbs that require ladders and railings Saxon Switzerland provides something suitable for everyone!
For those seeking an adventurous trek, the Himmelsleiter Trail provides stunning views of both nature and human engineering. Along its route are slot canyons, tiptoeing along cliff edges and endless narrow stairs before culminating at its summit. After your hike is done, why not treat yourself to some thermal baths in Bad Schandau or enjoy an event on Rathen Open-Air Stage before returning home?