Gorgeous European National Parks

Gorgeous European National Parks

Shutterstock

Calanques National Park lies along the coast of southeastern France near Marseille, offering dramatic views of the Mediterranean. On your visit, you can climb the massive, limestone formations, hike the rugged seaside cliffs or check out prehistoric cave drawings.

Shutterstock

At this park, you can hike around the rim of the largest erosion crater in the world, or explore the many gorges, waterfalls and rivers via the area's many trails. If you want to enter the caldera, make sure to first visit the Caldera Information Office to obtain permission.

Shutterstock

Perhaps the most famous feature in this park is Pravcicka Brana—the largest natural stone bridge on the European continent. However, this is just one of the many gorgeous, massive sandstone formations you can find while hiking on the extensive network of trails. With all the amazing rock, it’s no surprise the area has a long tradition of climbing. The sport is regulated, however, so make sure to check specifics on the national park website before you head out.  

Shutterstock

This area is known as a backpacker’s paradise with three different trails and 202 square miles of open access land. Adventurous trekkers can try Pennine Way National Trail. At 268 miles, it begins in Edale and crosses Kinder Scout—the highest point in the Peak District at 2,087 feet. For a unique treat, make your way down Titan Cave. At 464 feet, it’s the deepest shaft of any known cave in Britain. The park center will provide the necessary equipment and a guide; all you need are warm clothes. 

Shutterstock

This national park is located in one of the most beautiful mountain ranges in the Carpathians. The area boasts more than 60 peaks over 7,500 feet and more than100 crystal-clear glacial lakes. This park is home to one of Europe’s last remaining old-growth forests and the continent’s largest single area of pristine mixed forest. About 1,190 plant species—over one-third of Romanian flora—can be seen in the area. You can also find wolves, bears, deer and wild boar. With the highest number of mountain peaks (more than 20) in Romania, hiking this National Park will not be a breeze, but hikers will witness breathtaking views of the famous glacial lakes, alpine and sub-alpine meadows and other natural features that make this park and its location so unique.

Shutterstock

This is the most popular national park in Wales, with more than 6 million visitors every year. The area boasts the highest mountain (Snowdon) in England and Wales, and the largest natural lake in the country (Llyn Tegid). The terrain includes rugged mountain peaks, long sandy beaches, and crystal clear lakes and rivers. If you’re up for the challenge, try one of the six footpaths up Snowdon, where you‘ll summit at 3,559 feet. For something less demanding, try a walk along the hills of Snowdonia. These walks include the scenic Clogau trail, which takes you up into the hills above Bontddu and past the old Clogau gold mine. 

Shutterstock

This corner of Wales is rich with natural features including numerous offshore islands, tide pools, the Preseli Mountains (from which the rocks for Stonehenge were sourced) and a vast stretch of pristine coastline comprising the majority of the park. A total of 621 miles of trails run through the area. When you're done hiking, you can charter a boat for a chance to see dolphins, porpoises, whales (minkes, fins, humpbacks and killers are sometimes seen here) even basking sharks–the second largest living fish.

Shutterstock

This park is the largest in the British Isles and home to 25 percent of the threatened bird, animal and plant species in the UK, as well as the Scottish Crossbill—the only bird unique to Britain. If you visit between December and April, you’ll find plenty of winter-weather activities such as skiing and snowboarding on Cairngorm Mountain. Skis, boards and helmets can be rented on site. In the summer, try the 39.8 miles of off-road cycling routes. Two new cross-country routes are also set to open this summer along with the new Mountain Bike Trail Center in Glenlivet. If you're more excited to explore on foot, there are plenty of day hikes, including a route to the top of Ben MacDui, the second highest mountain in the UK. 

Shutterstock

This protected area beside the town of Killarney is also a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The first national park in the country, it shelters Ireland’s only native herd of Red Deer, and comprises the most expansive covering of native woodland. The park is famous for housing the Lakes of Killarney, and tourists can visit the popular Meeting of the Waters, where the three lakes join together. You can also check out the Muckross House, a restored mansion beneath the backdrop of the Mangerton and Torc mountains, or take advantage of the paved trails in the Knockreer, Muckross and Ross Island areas. For spectacular views of Killarney, explore the Old Kenmare Road and the track around Tomies Oakwood, the largest oak forest left in Ireland.

Shutterstock

Swiss National Park is located in the eastern part of the country in the canton of Graubünden. Within the park, there are 21 hiking routes that comprise 50 miles of trails. For anyone interested in geology, the area offers interesting geologic features, such as dinosuar tracks, and rock formations made of dolomite, radiolorite and limestone.

The alpine flowers draw many visitors in late spring and summer. Alongside the trails, you can find edelweiss, hairy alpen-rose and vanilla orchids, among many other species. It’s also possible to spot many different animals including brown bear, elk and the bearded and golden eagle.

Shutterstock

This protected area is home to Scafell Pike, the highest mountain in England at 3,209 feet, as well as Wastwater, the country's deepest lake. Ascent of Scafell Pike usually takes between 2-4 hours and can be done at your own pace. If you're more interested in cycling, take a ride through Whinlatter and Grizedale Forests, where routes are available for beginner and advanced cyclists.

Shutterstock

Although this park’s limestone peaks offer amazing bouldering, as well as sport and trad climbs, it is still relatively unknown to the greater climbing community. Click here for the most updated guide book of the area. If climbing doesn’t interest you, you can still trek to various mountain huts.

Shutterstock

Located in Vâlcea County in Romania, this national parks offers hiking trails, rock climbing, ice climbing, hot springs and a large variety of flora and fauna. In addition, you can visit the numerous monasteries in the area. The monks often host workshops on subjects such as wood carving or glass painting.

Shutterstock

Located in its namesake county, this park is a short ride south from Dublin. Visitors here enjoy walking and hiking, rock climbing and a chance to snap photos of the beautiful landscape. In the Glendalough valley in the park, there are nine walking trails for hikers of all levels. For an easy jaunt, try the 65-foot climb (Purple Route) along the Upper Lake. If you have more than three hours to kill, try the difficult White Route (a 1,246.7-foot climb) that takes you through some of the most spectacular scenery in County Wicklow. 

Shutterstock

This park sits betweenthe Tarentaise and Maurienne valleys in the Savoie region of the French Alps. It's a great spot for hiking, mountaineering and wildlife spotting. The park is known for its Alpine ibex and chamois, however it’s also home to alpine marmot, Eurasian Lynx, Mountain Hare and Stoat populations. Bird species include the Bearded Vulture, Golden Eagle and Black Grouse.

Gorgeous European National Parks