Europe is filled with beauty, from its historic and iconic cities, to its breath-taking natural scenery. If you’re looking for a really relaxing and inspiring European break, how about a stay in one of its national and natural parks? From mountains, to lakes, waterfalls and glaciers, you’ll find amazing sights in every one of these parks.
National Park holidays guarantee unspoiled natural beauty and a wide range of outdoor activities to enjoy. There are National Parks throughout Europe giving you a choice of countries to visit, each with their own vast expanses of mountains, forests and lakes. Get out into the fresh air, spot wildlife and you will feel invigorated in the breathtaking surroundings. Here are some of the best National Parks to visit on holidays :
There are seven National Parks in France including several in the mountainous regions, such as the Mercantour National Park in the Alps and the Pyrenees National Park. Offering skiing, hiking and mountain biking opportunities throughout the different seasons, these regions are popular all year round. Port-Cros National Park is on the French island of Port-Cros in the Mediterranean Sea. Largely untouched, the island is a haven for walkers and cyclists.
Spain has ten National Parks on the mainland, four in the Canary Islands and one in the Balearic Islands. Holidays in National Parks in Spain can be spent climbing in the mountainous Picos de Europa, relaxing on the beaches of Illas Atlánticas de Galicia or bird spotting in the nature reserve of Doñana. The volcanic Teide National Park in Tenerife offers a close-up look at the geological past of the island, as well as incredible views over the ocean.
Among the dramatic scenery of all European National Parks, Iceland's offerings are outstanding. Þingvellir has a towering volcano, the country's largest lake and UNESCO World Heritage status. Vatnajökull is named after the largest glacier in Europe in which new ice caves appear as the ice melts each year. Snæfellsjökull features caverns, canyons and craters to explore, as well as a black sand beach.
Eight National Parks celebrate and protect the natural beauty of Croatia. Plitvice Lakes is the most popular National Park with 16 azure lakes and a number of waterfalls. Mljet National Park is less crowded and incorporates the mountainous interior with the beautiful coast of Mljet island. Hiking, kayaking and sunbathing offer various activities to suit all energy levels.
Italy has an impressive 25 National Parks which cover around 5% of the land. Archipelago Toscano National Park covers the seven islands of the Tuscan Archipelago and the surrounding sea. Diving, snorkelling, walking and mountain biking are the top activities here. Many National Parks receive few visitors, including Pollino National Park and Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga National Park, making them peaceful and a joy to explore.
European National Park holidays can include mountains, forests and beaches, all three can be seen in Germany's 16 National Parks. From the chalk cliffs of the Jasmund National Park on the Baltic Sea coast to the wilderness of the Black Forest National Park, there are parks in every corner of the country. Rock climbing, mountain biking and walking are the top outdoor pursuits in these parks.
There is an astonishing 40 National Parks in Finland. The parks are intended to encourage visitors to make the most of the outdoors and so there are plenty of campsites, cabins, guided tours and marked hiking routes available. Nuuksio National Park offers a taste of nature less than an hour from Helsinki while visiting Pyhä-Luosto National Park in the north allows you to experience the Midnight Sun and the Northern Lights.
Montenegro is smaller than Wales, yet it has five National Parks. Whitewater rafting, canoeing and rock climbing are among the activities available in the popular Durmitor National Park and the rainforests of Biogradska Gora National Park. Lovcen National Park is home to Mount Lovcen, the 'black mountain' that gives the country its name.
For National Park holidays in Turkey, you are spoiled for choice with 40 of them covering the length and breadth of the country. Ilgaz Mountain National Park offers skiing, hiking and fishing among the volcanic mountains and rivers. Uludag National Park south of Istanbul features the 'Great Mountain', Mount Uludag. With snow for almost half the year, this is one of Turkey's most popular winter sports destinations.
Triglav National Park is Slovenia's only park, which is named after the 2,864-metre Mount Triglav. The park is situated near the borders with Austria and Italy and features an Alpine landscape. With the aim of creating the sustainable development of activities, local people work to preserve the peaceful environment and the natural beauty of the area. The unspoiled region is ideal for hiking and walking.