Take the scenic route! Best National Parks in Europe

By Sergio González | 12:01

Cabrera is a little protected isle, part of the Balearic Islands

What makes a national park different from any other park is conservation. National parks are entitled to preserve and develop the natural conditions of the land they run and are usually a symbol of national pride meant to endure. Yellowstone was the first national park ever created, in 1872. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) acknowledged 6,555 parks in 2006 (via wikipedia) that’s a ratio of more than four new national parks per month.

Adding Russia -Asian part included- to the list, makes her number one as she boasts 40 natural parks, more than any other European nation. However, competition is rough and Finland (37) and Norway (36) are right behind. 

More credit goes to Scandinavian love for Nature: Sweden was the first European country to pass a law on national parks in 1909. Actually, if we take a deeper look to these data, we notice that Norwegian national parks cover 6% of its territory while Russia is just protected a 0.4%.

Anyhow, France is the real deal in Europe’s protected land, with 9.5% of its territory preserved (including the Amazonian Park in French Guinea). Being the largest country in Europe that’s more than 60.000 square kilometers of woods, lakes, mountains and even sea areas that will remain natural and safe from human spoil for generations to enjoy.

The largest national park in Europe is the Vatnajökull in Iceland, a wild reserve covering the southern east part of this volcanic iceland. Magma lakes, volcanic streams and conifer woods share the land with rocky, snowed mountains and several glaciers, including the famous Lakagígar crater. There is a visitor’s center in Skattafell and rangers all across the park that will happily guide your tour. It’s only accesible from mid-June to September, but it’s among the best national parks in Europe.

Spain is still shy when it comes to protecting its territory though it boasts some jewels you can’t miss. Visit the tiny Cabrera Archipielago while enjoying our fantastic accommodation in the Belaric Islands to discover the Mediterranean it was or find out why people from all over the world gather around Doñana Park, the largest wetland on the continent. Early spring and late summer are the best time for visiting, as every bird in Europe migrates from and to Africa following the sun. The arrival of storks in early February is simply majestic. 

And as if awesome beaches, friendly charming people and 25º C temperature on average weren’t enough, the Canary Islands are a unique spot in the world with tons of endemic flora and fauna with four national parks.

Not the Amazon rainforest, Garajonay National Park in the Canary Islands

Timanfaya, Teide and Calderas de Taburiente parks are volcanic ground and your way into desertic hicking without actually needing to be in the desert. If you’re to climb the Teide -Spain’s highest peak- don’t forget to wear sunscreen. It’s so high the sun will be heavy on you. On the brightside, there’s a road leading almost up to the peak.

Among the natural parks in the Canary Islands, Garajonay stick out as the European jungle. An endemic rainforest, the ‘laurisilva’ where to experience Livingstone like adventures just three hours flying from mainland. Discover the unique Dragon Tree and get your cam ready for the Eden garden ahead. Do you fancy those heavenly pictures of clouds playing around mountain peaks? You’ll get plenty in Garajonay national park. Take advantage of our awesome summer deals and hit thi incredible island right now!

Photo credit: Kufoleto

Photo credit: Jean-Michel BAUD

  • […] win win. It can help you theme specific events, like teaching them to recycle and awarding it with a trip to a national park, or you can encourage their love for animals and nature by signing them to a school farm or a […]

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