Europe’s most stunning national parks in pictures

Noble Horvath

Enchanting Europe Majestic mountains, gleaming glaciers, charming rural sights – the natural beauty of Europe’s many national parks is nothing if not diverse. From humbling Scottish Highland vistas to otherworldly Icelandic ice caves, feast your eyes upon 15 of the most beautiful parks on the continent. Microsoft […]


Majestic mountains, gleaming glaciers, charming rural sights – the natural beauty of Europe’s many national parks is nothing if not diverse. From humbling Scottish Highland vistas to otherworldly Icelandic ice caves, feast your eyes upon 15 of the most beautiful parks on the continent.



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Home to giant, sweeping valleys and wild, open moorlands, the Cairngorms is accessible in 45 minutes by car from Inverness. The park covers a staggering 1,748 square miles (4,527sq km), making it the largest national park in the UK, followed by the Lake District National Park. Wildlife lovers, take note: it’s home to 25% of the UK’s rare and endangered species.



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Things to see and do include motorbiking on Grosser Arber mountain, wildlife watching at the Tierfreigelande open air habitat plus tobogganing and snowshoeing. The forest offers over 300 miles (483km) of marked trails, but the best might be the wooden tree top boardwalk Baumwipfelpfad Bavarian Forest, complete with a 144-foot (44m) observation tower.



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Distinguished by jagged mountains, steep slopes, giant plateaus and green-blue water, you’ll find the 444-square-mile (1,150sq km) Jotunheimen National Park in the heart of Norway. The capital, Oslo, is four hours south by car. It’s home to 29 of Norway’s highest mountains, including the tallest, Galdhøpiggen, at 8,100 feet (2,469m), and the strikingly cone-shaped Kyrkja, pictured here.



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The lake formations call for slow, meditative walking, via easy trails and pleasant, water-crossing boardwalks. People admire cascading waters – including the 229-foot (70m) Veliki Slap, shimmering with mist – at their leisure. But beware: swimming is prohibited in the park.



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Despite its name, Bohemian Switzerland National Park is not in Switzerland, but the north of the Czech Republic, just over two hours from Prague. (It’s connected to Saxon Switzerland National Park, across the border in Germany.) Featuring dramatic rock formations, alluring pine forests and relaxing streams, 18th-century Swiss artists Adrian Zingg and Anton Graff inspired the name, when they noted that elements of its 30.5 square miles (79sq km) reminded them of home.



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Established 1973, Vikos National Park is flecked with deciduous and coniferous forests, and covers 49 square miles (127sq km) of northeast Greece, near the Albanian border. It’s remote, with Thessaloniki reachable in three hours. However, it’s worth the trip with Vikos celebrated for its breathtaking Vikos Gorge, plus interesting rock formations like the Stone Forest.



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Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.



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