When they dream of Europe, most travelers imagine having a coffee in a Parisian Cafe, walking through the streets of Rome, or watching the sunset over Santorini. Certainly, Europe is one of the cradles of the history, art, and culture of the world. Few tourists cross the pond in search of nature. After all, there are 61 breathtaking national parks in the United States and many other game reserves and nature reserves. Well, I’m going to introduce you to a secret… European national parks are also quite awesome and offer a range of breathtaking landscapes, biodiversity, and the opportunity to observe wildlife.
1. SIPOONKORPI NATIONAL PARK (FINLAND)
From Helsinki, the easiest to reach is the Nuuksio National Park, known for its beautiful lakes and well-marked hiking trails. It is a popular destination for weekends in the capital. To the east of the city, not far from the airport, is the Sipoonkorpi National Park, a wild section of pine and birch forests.
This is the perfect place to walk around with a map and a compass, as cell coverage is uneven in the area. You can also camp in the Sipoonkorpi National Park and cook your own food with firewood provided free of charge by the Finnish government. In winter, the park becomes one of the best places for cross-country skiing and is just around the corner from the capital!
2. PEMBROKESHIRE COAST NATIONAL PARK (WALES)
Wales is famous for its castles, hills, and sheep. But did you know that the Welsh coast is also home to spectacular mountain landscapes, welcoming villages, and a thriving gastronomic scene? The Pembrokeshire Coast National Park is visited by only a few tourists each year -mostly hikers who walk along the 186-mile-long Pembrokeshire Coast Path. The trail extends mainly at the cliff level and offers a breathtaking view of the incredible rock formations of the coast. Think arches, piers, and sea caves, as well as pristine beaches with rocks covered with barnacles and countless seabirds that rise in search of a meal.
3. SLOVENSKI RAJ NATIONAL PARK (SLOVAKIA)
It is one of the nine national parks in Slovakia and is located in the eastern part of the country, not far from Poprad and the Tatras. The area is rich in rivers and streams that, over the centuries, have shaped the surrounding mountains into ravines and ravines with beautiful waterfalls. Hiking trails follow the course of these canyons and allow visitors to travel their length via walks and ladders over streams and waterfalls. It is certainly an adrenaline-pumping experience, especially after heavy rains, when the falls are at their best.
4. THE CALANQUES NATIONAL PARK (FRANCE)
Although it is not as well known as the Cévennes National Park (UNESCO World Heritage site), climbers from all over Europe have been flocking to the mountains of the Calanques National Park since the 1970s. Relatively close to the city of Marseille, the spectacular limestone cliffs of the park offer perfect climbing conditions all year round. But don’t be afraid you don’t have to be a climber to enjoy this national park. There are also kilometers of well-marked hiking trails, several caves, and opportunities for diving and exploring the coast by boat.
5. THE ABRUZZO NATIONAL PARK (ITALY)
The Abruzzo region is located in central-eastern Italy, between the Apennines and the Adriatic coast. There is only one trickle of tourists, which is surprising given the proximity of the region to Rome and its abundance of natural beauty. Abruzzo has been at the forefront of European ecotourism for decades. Nowadays, you will find some of the best cycling routes in Italy, as well as various opportunities for nature tourism.