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Top Five National Parks In Europe
To mark National Parks Week, here’s a list of our top five National Parks in Europe.
National Parks Week is being celebrated from 25th – 31st July. This year the theme of ‘adventure’ has been chosen to mark the occasion. With this in mind, we’ve pulled together a list of our top five national parks in Europe where you’ll be sure to find adventure! Whichever national park you decide to explore, make sure you take out European travel insurance before you leave, as touring parks often means being far from emergency medical help and adventure trips do pose a higher risk of injury.
Goreme – Turkey
Turkey usually conjures up images of pristine beaches and the minarets of Istanbul, but the nation is also home to one of the most awe-inspiring national parks in Europe: Goreme. The volcanic landscape of this region is entirely unique, containing a wealth of unusual peaks and caves to explore. The best-known area of the park is Cappadocia, a network of caves with ‘fairy chimneys’, which generations of inhabitants turned into homes. The most popular way to view this peculiar region is from a hot air balloon – a wide range of operators offer flights to tourists.
Saxon – Germany
The dramatic landscapes of this national park in German Saxony are ripe for adventure. It contains over 700 summits, which are a haven for rock-climbers, and with hundreds of miles of walking trails it will keep every hiker happy. The most well-known feature of the park is the rock formation called ‘The Bastei’, which lurches 194 metres over the Elbe river. You will see why this landscape has inspired generations of artists – so bring your sketchbook if not your hiking boots!
Ordesa – Spain
Spain’s oldest national park is Ordesa, located on the French border in the Pyrenees. It really deserves to be better known. Containing a wealth of hiking trails through stunning scenery, you would be forgiven for thinking that this park was somewhere in California! Deep glacial valleys and thrilling footpaths through limestone cliffs keep hikers in the know returning to Ordesa year after year. June and July are the best times to visit, in order to enjoy the area’s colourful flora.
Port-Cros is one of the four Iles d’Or, which lay off of the French Côte d’Azur. Though the island is only small (one kilometere wide and three kilometres long!) it is packed with wild, rugged terrain, criss-crossed with hiking trails. As the island is so small, you’re never far from stunning sea views. There’s even an underwater trail for snorkelers! Though the park is popular with the French who flock to its campsites in the summer, it remains relatively unknown among British tourists.
Peneda Geres, Portugal
Peneda Geres is a national park located in northern Portugal. An area filled with forests and natural pools which are great for swimming, it is also known for the wild ponies that roam freely about the park. It is even possible to explore the area on the back of a pony, if you’ve drunk too much of the local honey liqueur and don’t feel up to hiking! If you’re lucky you’ll spot an Iberian wolf or golden eagle, which are native to this region.
Of course, we must not forget the wonderful British national parks, all of which are just a drive away. See the official National Parks Week page for more information.