Spring is one of the best times to visit Europe. The chill of winter begins to melt away and cities and countrysides burst into bloom. Spring is a wonderful time to slow down, step outside and enjoy the beauty of nature. Stunning natural scenery can definitely be found in abundance in Europe – especially in the national parks dotted across the continent!
While travelling to different countries in Europe may not be on the cards this year, due to Covid-19 and travel restrictions, we can still celebrate stepping into spring by taking a look at Europe’s most beautiful natural parks! It may not be exactly the same thing as exploring these destinations in person, but it is a great way to find some new places to add to your travel bucket list!
From the frozen expanses of Iceland to the fairytale landscapes of Turkey, here are 12 beautiful Europe national parks and the best time to visit them:
You’ll find impressive mountain peaks, deep blue lakes, Alpine meadows and rolling valleys blanketed in wildflowers in Triglav National Park. This is Slovenia’s only national park and is home to the country’s highest peak (Mount Triglav, part of the Julian Alps). Slovenia is an incredible destination for lovers of the great outdoors and Triglav National Park is the best place to go for a Slovenian hiking adventure!
Best time to visit: Slovenia starts to really warm up from May and early to mid-autumn is the best time to go hiking in Triglav National Park.
Related: Join a tour and experience the beauty of Slovenia with Expat Explore.
The Yorkshire Dales National Park in England is filled to the brim with magnificent scenery. From the valleys filled with heather and historic stone-built farming villages to waterfalls, ancient woodlands and windswept moors. It’s not only a wilderness area – it is a living and working environment home to 24,000 people! There are many fun activities to enjoy; go for a tranquil walk, explore the Aysgarth Falls and explore the caves beneath the dales. Visit Bolton Castle (one of the best-preserved medieval castles in England!) or take a train trip through beautiful sections of the Yorkshire Dales. You could spend days exploring this national park – no wonder it was voted Europe’s top national park in the Tripadvisor Traveller’s Choice Awards!
Best time to visit: Visit in spring to admire the beautiful gardens, wildflowers and newborn lambs wandering around farm fields (note that spring is usually still chilly). Visit in summer to explore the outdoors in warmer weather.
Related: Explore the Yorkshire Dales National Park before or after an exciting tour through the UK.
In a country that is overflowing with beautiful scenery, Plitvice Lake National Park in Croatia is truly beautiful to behold! The national park is Croatia’s most popular attraction and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The area is made up of 16 crystalline lakes, connected by cascading waterfalls, and lush green forests filled with a variety of flora and fauna. Explore Plitvice Lakes National Parks along the wooden walkways, traverse the hiking trails and enjoy the scenery by boat.
Best time to visit: You can visit Plitvice Lakes year-round for an unforgettable experience. Enjoy the lush greenery of spring and summer or admire the rich colours and cooler weather in autumn. In winter, you can enjoy a frozen wonderland of snow and ice (just be sure to wrap up warm!).
Related: Experience Plitvice Lakes National Park on a guided group tour through Croatia.
A striking region of Icelandic wilderness! Vatnajökull National Park is home to glaciers, volcanoes, huge ice caps and thundering waterfalls. You’ll also find ice caves, black sand beaches and green fields – it’s an incredibly rich and diverse area! This is Europe’s largest national park. Here, you can enjoy hikes, beautiful driving routes and even camping.
Best time to visit: Spring and summer bring longer days and warmer weather, which are both good for outdoor adventures.
Peak District National Park is a haven for outdoor activities in the heart of England! Whether you are keen on walking trails, cycling, horse riding, rock climbing or even paragliding. While you won’t find any peaks in the Peak District National Park, visitors can breathe in the fresh air and admire the valleys, lakes and wild moorlands with gritstone edges alongside stately homes and medieval villages. This is England’s first national park, founded in 1951, and remains one of the most popular in Europe.
Best time to visit: Spring and autumn are both favourites for the colours they bring to the landscapes respectively. Summer is warmer (and busier) and a great option for outdoor enthusiasts. Winter is fantastic for a cosy Christmas getaway and you can enjoy crisp countryside walks in the cool weather.
The spectacular landscape of Göreme National Park in Turkey is unlike any other! The scenery is home to unusual hoodoo (also called a tent rock or fairy chimney) rock formations and the area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Years of erosion have created the fairytale-like chimneys and rock towers. There is also an 8-story deep underground city beneath the hoodoo rock formations! Many will recognise the landscapes in connection to the Cappadocia hot air balloon trips. Seeing the hot air balloons drift over the unique fairytale chimneys as the sun sets is a real bucket-list experience!
Best time to visit: Spring and early autumn are the best time to visit Cappadocia and Goreme National Park as it is less crowded and the days are warm while the nights are cool.
Related: See the incredible landscapes of Cappadocia on a tour to Turkey!
Welcome to Spain’s first national park and one of the first national parks established in the world (way back in 1918)! The magnificent wilderness destination is filled with the soaring peaks of the Spanish Pyrenees and ancient glacial lakes. There is also an exciting variety of plants and wildlife around. Today it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Visit to enjoy hikes, mountain climbing, kayaking, white-water rafting and horse riding.
Best time to visit: Late spring, summer and autumn bring warmer weather that is great for exploring the outdoors.
Related: Discover the sights, sounds and signature tastes of Spain.
The sight of jagged mountains towering above the glaciers, valleys, rivers and meadows makes Écrins National Park one of the prettiest wilderness areas in France. This destination in southern France is a must-see for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. On a visit to Écrins National Park, you can hike, mountain bike, rock climb and even paraglide in the warm weather. Winter brings a chill and new activities! Grab your skis and snowboard and get ready for fun in the snow at one of the nearby resorts.
Best time to visit: Visit in summer to enjoy the beautiful hiking trails and in winter for skiing and snowboarding.
Related: Travel through France to see the incredible highlights of this mesmerising country.
Enjoy the captivating beauty of the mountains in Dolomiti Bellunesi National Park in Italy. The Dolomites mountains are some of the most impressive in Europe. Seeing them in person will show you why! The mountains stand alongside rivers, bubbling springs and rolling valleys inhabited by a range of animal species. The park is popular for its hiking trails, which range from easy and moderate to challenging. In spring, the wildflowers bloom in the crisp mountain air making for wonderful mountain treks.
Best time to visit: Visit in spring and summer to see the flowers bloom and enjoy the warm weather and lush, green landscapes.
Related: See more of Italy’s stunning landscapes on a tour through the beautiful country.
This unique, rugged landscape has been captivating travellers, artists and nature lovers for centuries! Although it’s named Saxon Switzerland, the national park is located in Saxony, eastern Germany. Here, you can enjoy the untamed, rugged mountain landscapes complete with fascinating rock formations, sandstone cliffs and deep valleys. A highlight is Bastei Bridge, which is a manmade bridge connecting rock formations and offers incredible views of the surrounding scenery. Saxon Switzerland National Park is also a top German hiking destination.
Best time to visit: Visit during the warmer months to make the most of the hiking routes.
Related: Visit top attractions ad hidden gems on a tour of Germany.
Scotland is home to beautiful lochs (lakes), mountains, glens and rolling hills. One of the best places to admire the country’s natural scenery is in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. It’s home to the largest lake in the United Kingdom (and one of the prettiest – there is even a song dedicated to the lake!) which is bordered by the mighty Ben Lomond and Arrochar Alps and boasts wild Highland beauty (even though its located near the south of the country). Visit and enjoy a scenic boat trip on the loch, explore the towns dotted around the shore or walk and hike the unique landscapes of the park.
Did you know? “Trossachs” refers to the romantic landscape made up of lochs, hills, forests and villages surrounding Loch Lomond.
Best time to visit: Spring, summer and early autumn are the best times to visit to enjoy the outdoors (although there is always a chance of rain and chilly weather in Scotland!). In winter the mountains are usually topped with snow and visitors can and enjoy a warm drink on the shores of Loch Lomond.
Related: Admire the scenic beauty of Scotland on a trip that visits this wonderful part of the UK.
The picturesque, untamed beauty of the Black Forest (Schwarzwald) National Park in Germany attracts visitors from around the world! The scenery of the Black Forest National Park could have been taken straight from a storybook – thick woodlands, tumbling waterfalls and deep valleys. This is the perfect place to slow down and take in the scenery. Enjoy a slow car trip through the region or set off into the evergreen canopy and explore the walking and hiking trails. You can also visit quaint towns and learn more about the history and culture of the area.
Best time to visit: Black Forest National Park is a year-round destination depending on your reason to visit. For walks and hikes, late spring and summer are best. Enjoying the festive spirit, snow and Christmas markets in the quaint towns is great in winter!
There is definitely no shortage of beautiful places to experience in Europe! So many people can’t wait to get back on the road again, so why not make the wait for travel to resume a bit easier by planning your next big adventure with Expat Explore? If these stunning national parks have sparked your wanderlust, start planning your future trips to visit them, today!
We’ll deliver top travel tips, insider info and travel inspiration right to your inbox.