Europe’s Most Spectacular National Parks from Europe’s Most Spectacular National Parks

Europe’s Most Spectacular National Parks

Annual visits to national parks have been increasing overtime, and for good reason. They are the perfect destination for your weekend getaway. Whether you are traveling alone, with your significant other, or with your family, there is something for everyone.

After ranking the National Parks in the U.S. we decided to take it a little farther, and look at the most spectacular national parks in Europe.

*Related: The Best European Cities for Solo Travelers

There are just so many things to explore. From camping in Oulanka National Park, to glacier kayaking in Jostedalsbreen National Park and climbing in Saxon Switzerland National Park, you will never run out of things to do.

Continue reading for Europe’s Most Spectacular National Parks.

Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

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This National Park is open year-round. It is composed of stunning lakes, waterfalls and caves. Go on a panoramic train tour, take an electric boat ride or go for a hike on one of their numerous hiking trails. Also, look out for wolves, bears and rare bird species. Bonus: They also have two educational trails.

Oulanka National Park, Finland

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Oulanka National Park is situated in the Lapland region of northern Finland. It is well known for its various trail and camping options. The Karkunkierros Trail has a number of day trails to choose from, while it also has tent and campfire sites. The park has incredible sites to see – from rivers, to sand banks, pine forests and swamps, it has something for everyone. They also have hundreds of different plants and animals and offer an array of cycling and walking routes.

Jostedalsbreen National Park, Norway

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The valley of Jostedalsbreen is mainly shaped by glacial erosion, the National Park encompasses the largest glacier in Northern Europe – Jostedalsbreen. The park covers approximately 510 square miles and the glaciers cover approximately 310 square miles. That being said, there are a wide range of glacier-filled activities to choose from. Go glacier hiking, glacier-lake kayaking and even try whitewater rafting.  

Goreme National Park, Turkey

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The Goreme National Park was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1985. It is located in the volcanic zone of Hasan Mountain and Erciyes Mountain. The incredible rock formations make it one of the world’s most spectacular cave-dwelling developments.  

Soomaa National Park, Estonia

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If you love the outdoors, Soomaa National Park is the perfect destination for you. This is one of the many protected wilderness areas in Europe. Experience forests, meadows and wildlife. Go canoeing in the Soomaa, visit the Tori Hell cave, and go on a day hike.

Timanfaya National Park, Spain

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This Park covers an area of approximately 20 square miles. Its land is almost entirely made up of volcanic soil. There are only a few ways to access the park – the first is by public car where you can go on a tour and experience the landscape, the second is by camel, and the third is by a free guided walk. Tip: Make sure to visit El Diablo, a delicious restaurant that serves Canarian food which is cooked using geothermal heat (discoverlanzarote.com).

Saxon Switzerland National Park, Germany

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This national park was established in 1990 and encompasses 36 square miles. The park is known for its free climbing opportunities and for its wildly eroded landscape of Elbe sandstone formations, created as a seafloor during the Cretaceous period, according to National Geographic. For the best experience, it is advised to take a rowboat or ride a historic paddle steamer on the water.

Triglav National Park, Slovenia

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This is one of the first European parks and the only national park in Slovenia. It consists of the highest summit, standing in almost the middle of the park – Triglav Mountain. It’s also one of the largest national reserves in Europe. View their incredible lakes, canyons, rivers, caves, waterfalls, forests and Alpine meadows.

Ordesa National Park, Spain

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This park offers a variety of ecosystems, diverse flora and a stunning landscape. Go caving, rock climbing, hiking, horseback riding and canyoning. A review on Trip Advisor said: “Suitable for all levels of hiking, rock climbing and abseiling, there are so many walks to do you won't run out and each has its own breathtaking views.”

Dolomiti Bellunesi National Park, Italy

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This park was originally created in order to protect a territory of extraordinary landscape and naturalistic value, according to Parks.it. Due to its geographical position, there are a variety of rare species that roam around. Visit this park and explore their variety of nature trails, go wildlife watching, and admire their incredible architecture.

Wild Taiga National Park, Finland

If you are a lover of the outdoors, don’t pass up on a chance to visit Wild Taiga National Park. Look out for bears, wolverines, wolfs and birds. In the summer, go canoeing, cycling, fishing and hiking. In the winter, go cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and dog sledding. Also, while you are in Finland, don’t pass up on a chance to see the northern lights. Stay at Finland’s Kakslauttanen Resort and look up through your glass-domed igloo as the spectacular colors from the night sky shine through.

Vatnajökull National Park, Iceland

This national park is centered around the glacier and consists of mainly glaciers, snowy mountains and geothermal areas. Large areas of the park are in highlands. According to visitors, hiking and camping are some of the best ways to experience the park. *See: Why Iceland Needs to Be on Everyone’s Travel Radar This Year

 

Durmitor National Park, Montenegro

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This park is approximately 39,000 acres large. It was formed by glaciers and is traversed by rivers and underground streams, according to UNESCO. It contains 23 mountain tops over 2,300 meters of altitude. Glacial lakes cover the landscape, making for a spectacular scenic view. It’s also a great park for wildlife and plant viewing – there are more than 1,600 vascular plants found in the park and approximately 130 recorded birds.

Swiss National Park, Switzerland

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Located in the Western Rhaetian Alps is Swiss National Park, an incredible year-round national park. It’s the largest protected area in the country and the only national park in Switzerland. There is so much to do, and even more to explore. In the winter, go skiing and snowboarding. In the summer, go hiking, biking and embark on an outdoor rafting trip.

Sarek National Park, Sweden

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This park is known as a national treasure, and for good reason. It’s one of the best places in Sweden to capture views of the Northern Lights. According to Visit Sweden, "the Northern Lights appear around the beginning of September (Kiruna) to around the end of March all over Swedish Lapland."