National parks in Europe are a sanctuary for wildlife and an oasis for nature enthusiasts seeking refuge from bustling cities. In Europe, there are over 500 magnificent national parks, each offering a unique and diverse experience for visitors to enjoy. The government carefully manages these protected areas to preserve their natural beauty and ensure local flora and fauna conservation. From majestic mountains and pristine lakes to ancient forests and captivating coastlines, national parks in Europe are a treasure trove of natural wonders to explore. Whether you’re an avid hiker, a wildlife enthusiast, or simply seeking tranquility in nature, these parks offer various activities and attractions to suit every taste. Embark on a journey through Europe’s awe-inspiring national parks and discover the wonders that await you.
Mljet National Park, Croatia
Mljet National Park is a beautiful protected natural area on the Croatian island of Mljet, making it one of the most enchanting national parks in Europe. It takes up over a third of the island and has two saltwater lakes called Veliko and Malo Jezero. Narrow channels connect these lakes to the sea.
Within this remarkable national park in Europe, there are many different kinds of plants and animals. For example, you can find over 1,000 different types of plants and a variety of birds and fish. Explore the park’s numerous trails and enjoy walking, biking, kayaking, or swimming in the lakes. An added gem in this European national park is the tiny island of St. Mary in the middle of Veliko Jezero. It holds an old Benedictine monastery dating back to the 12th century, adding to the park’s rich history. As you visit this European national park, you can explore the sanctuary and learn about the island’s captivating past.
It is a beautiful, protected natural area on the Croatian island of Mljet. It takes up over a third of the island and has two saltwater lakes called Veliko and Malo Jezero. Narrow channels connect these lakes to the sea.
There are many different kinds of plants and animals in the park. For example, there are over 1,000 different kinds of plants and many different kinds of birds and fish. On the island’s many trails, people can walk, ride bikes, kayak, or swim in the lakes. The tiny island of St. Mary in the middle of Veliko Jezero is one of the best things about the park. An old Benedictine monastery on the island dates back to the 12th century. Visitors can explore the sanctuary and learn about the island’s long history.
The Swiss National Park, or Parc Naziunal Svizzer in Romansh, is the only national park in Switzerland, making it a notable addition to the roster of national parks in Europe. Located in the canton of Graubünden in the country’s east, it holds the distinction of being one of the oldest national parks in Europe, established in 1914. Encompassing over 170 square kilometers, the park serves as a habitat for a diverse array of plants and animals, boasting more than 5,000 plant species and over 100 bird species.
The captivating landscape of this European national park consists of rocky mountains, alpine meadows, and forests, providing a home to many of Switzerland’s renowned animals, such as the ibex, chamois, and red deer, as well as smaller creatures like marmots and foxes. The park’s primary focus is on conservation, striving to preserve natural habitats and sustain wildlife. Visitors can delight in walking over 80 kilometers of trails in this European national park, offering stunning views of nearby mountains and valleys. Furthermore, the park offers several guided tours and educational programs, providing valuable insights into the park’s ecosystem and the concerted efforts to protect and safeguard it.
Swiss National Park, Switzerland
The Swiss National Park, or Parc Naziunal Svizzer in Romansh, stands out as the only national park in Switzerland, adding to the diversity of national parks in Europe. Situated in the canton of Graubünden in the country’s east, it is one of the oldest national parks in Europe, established in 1914. This European national park covers over 170 square kilometers as a habitat for a diverse array of plants and animals, boasting over 5,000 plant species and 100 bird species.
This European national park offers a captivating landscape of rocky mountains, alpine meadows, and forests, providing a home to many of Switzerland’s renowned animals, such as the ibex, chamois, and red deer, as well as smaller creatures like marmots and foxes. The park’s primary focus is conservation, striving to preserve natural habitats and sustain wildlife. Visitors are rewarded with stunning views of nearby mountains and valleys by exploring over 80 kilometers of trails in this European national park. Additionally, the park offers several guided tours and educational programs, offering valuable insights into its ecosystem and the concerted efforts to protect and safeguard it.
Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
Plitvice Lakes National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site, representing Croatia’s contribution to the collection of national parks in Europe. Located about two hours from the capital city of Zagreb, it stands as one of Europe’s oldest and most picturesque national parks.
The park’s allure lies in its sixteen lakes, elegantly linked together by cascading waterfalls. The lakes showcase a mesmerizing array of colors, ranging from emerald green to azure blue, all ensconced within a backdrop of green forests and rocky cliffs. To explore these captivating waterscapes, the park offers a network of hiking trails and wooden footbridges, providing access to the lakes and waterfalls. Additionally, visitors can opt for boat tours and electric trains to traverse the park’s scenic beauty.
Amidst this European national park’s pristine wilderness, many plants and animals find their home. Brown bears, wolves, and rare bird species are among the inhabitants of this ecosystem. Furthermore, the park serves as a vital habitat for the European otter and the olm, a blind cave salamander, adding to the ecological significance of this remarkable national park in Europe.
The park is known for its sixteen lakes linked together by waterfalls and set up in a cascade. The lakes are known for their bright colors, which range from emerald green to azure blue. Green forests and rocky cliffs surround them. The park has a network of hiking trails and wooden footbridges that people can use to get to the lakes and waterfalls. You can also get around the park by boat tours and electric trains. The park has many different kinds of plants and animals, like brown bears, wolves, and rare bird species. It is also an important place for the European otter and the olm, a blind cave salamander, to live.
The Bavarian Forest National Park, Germany
The Bavarian Forest National Park, situated in the southeast of Germany, near the border with the Czech Republic, stands as one of the notable national parks in Europe. Established in 1970, it holds the distinction of being Germany’s oldest national park. Encompassing approximately 240 square kilometers, this European national park is renowned for its vast forests, diverse wildlife, and stunning natural landscapes. Within its boundaries, visitors can encounter a variety of animals, including wolves, lynxes, otters, and wildcats. The park also offers opportunities to observe eagles, owls, woodpeckers, and various other bird species. Additionally, many forest trees within the park are centuries old, evoking a sense of awe and wonder.
One of the park’s most popular attractions is the treetop walkway, standing at an impressive height of 44 meters, offering visitors a unique view of the forest canopy. Alongside this remarkable experience, the park boasts a plethora of hiking trails, including the Goldstein, which ranks among Germany’s most favored long-distance trails, traversing through the park’s captivating landscapes. The Bavarian Forest National Park exemplifies the splendor and importance of national parks in Europe, serving as a sanctuary for nature enthusiasts and a haven for diverse wildlife.
The Belluno Dolomites National Park, Italy
The Veneto region in northern Italy houses the Belluno Dolomites National Park, a protected area and one of the most remarkable national parks in Europe. Encompassing over 31,000 hectares, this park is adorned with some of the Dolomites’ most stunning and renowned mountains, including Mount Pelmo, Mount Civetta, and Mount Marmolada.
Visitors to this European national park are treated to a mesmerizing landscape featuring sharp peaks, high plateaus, clear lakes, and dense forests. Its natural beauty is further enhanced by a rich diversity of plants and animals, some rare or endangered, such as the ibex, golden eagle, and alpine salamander. Adventurers have ample opportunities for outdoor activities within the park, including hiking, mountain climbing, rock climbing, biking, and skiing. Well-marked trails and paths cater to various levels of expertise, offering both strolls and challenging hikes, leading to the most breathtaking views within the park.
In addition to its scenic wonders, the Belluno Dolomites National Park is steeped in history and culture. Visitors will find traditional mountain villages and historical sites throughout its expanse, providing a deeper connection to the region’s heritage. This European national park stands as a captivating sanctuary for nature enthusiasts and a testament to the importance of preserving the natural wonders found in national parks in Europe.
Saxon Switzerland National Park, Germany
Saxon Switzerland National Park is a national park in the German state of Saxony. In German, it is called Sachsische Schweiz. It is famous for its beautiful nature, which includes high sandstone cliffs, deep valleys, and rivers that wind around. The park is over 240 square kilometers and is home to many plants and animals, including some rare or endangered. The Bastei Bridge, the Konigstein Fortress, and the Schwedenlocher Gorge are some of the most famous places in the park.
You can do many different things outside, like hiking, biking, climbing, and kayaking. The park has a lot of trails and paths that lead to beautiful views of the landscape. The Saxon Switzerland National Park is a popular place for tourists to visit.
Oulanka National Park, Finland
The Oulanka National Park is in northern Finland, close to the border with Russia. The park is 270 square kilometers and is known for its rough terrain, fast-moving rivers, and untouched forests. There are a lot of brown bears, lynxes, wolves, and birds in the park. People who go to the park can walk through the forests and along the riverbanks, go fishing, or do winter sports like cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
The Oulanka Canyon is a deep, narrow gorge made by the Oulankajoki River. It is one of the most popular places to visit in the park. As you walk along the canyon, you can see waterfalls, rapids, and rock formations that are beautiful to look at. Oulanka National Park is a lovely and unique place for people who like nature and being outside.
North York Moors National Park, England
The North York Moors National Park is a protected area in North Yorkshire, England, with moors, forests, and the coast. This national park is 71 years old and is 1,436 square kilometers. The North York Moors are made up of rolling hills, heather moorland, and ancient forests, and they have beautiful views of the North Sea coast. The area has many plants and animals, such as heather, bilberry, oak, rowan trees, red deer, mountain hares, and rare bird species like the merlin and golden plover.
In the North York Moors, you can go hiking, biking, horseback riding, and fishing, among other things. The area also has several historic sites and landmarks, like the ruins of Rievaulx Abbey and Helmsley, a medieval market town. Another popular place is the North York Moors Railway, where you can ride a historical steam train through the park. The train goes through pretty villages and countryside between Pickering and Grosmont, 18 miles away.
Visiting national parks in Europe offers a unique and enriching experience that goes beyond the beauty of its cities. These best national parks in Europe showcase the continent’s diverse and breathtaking landscapes and hold significant cultural significance. Exploring Europe’s national parks allows you to engage with nature on a deeper level, immersing yourself in its splendid scenery and participating in various activities.
In the national parks in Europe, you can encounter awe-inspiring vistas, dense forests, serene lakes, and majestic mountains. Each park holds its distinct charm, offering a glimpse into the continent’s natural wonders. Moreover, these protected areas often carry cultural importance, with historical sites and traditional villages scattered throughout their expanse, connecting visitors to the region’s heritage.
To truly enjoy these European national parks, one must venture into the countryside and actively participate in the surrounding environment. Hiking, climbing, biking, and other outdoor activities are embraced in these natural havens, allowing them to fully appreciate their beauty and splendor.
So, whether you seek scenic views, cultural insights, or immersive experiences, exploring national parks in Europe will undoubtedly offer a profound and unforgettable journey through the continent’s untouched wonders.