Europe is home to hundreds of national parks, many of which have been listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. With each one offering a slightly different experience, OROGOLD takes a look at some of the best European national parks.
Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
One of the oldest national parks in Europe, the Plitvice Lakes National Park consists of 16 lakes, each a different shimmering shade of blue and green due to their mineral levels, cascading into each other, surrounded by beech, pine and spruce forests. With a number of different micro-climates, the national park is a hotbed of diversity, making it home to a wide array of flora and fauna, as well as unique wildlife, including wolves, bears and lynx – animals that are rare in Europe. In order to minimize human impact on this precious ecosystem, visitors can explore the park on the raised walkways that wind their way through the area. Due to the park’s popularity, it can often be quite crowded on the weekend, so OROGOLD recommends keeping your visit for a weekday.
Iceland offers three national parks to choose from, but Vatnajökull, which covers over 8% of the country and is home to the largest glacier in Europe, is the most popular choice. The park’s surreal landscape consists of glacial rivers, cascading waterfalls, huge cliffs, and the world-famous Icelandic volcanoes. Years of erosion have created stunning ice caves, which visitors can explore, enjoying the light patterns that glitter off the icy walls. For those seeking more of an adrenaline rush, OROGOLD recommends giving glacier climbing a go, while those who want to simply explore the region can opt for a guided tour, or make use of one of the many hiking trails. Since the weather conditions can change extremely rapidly here, OROGOLD advises that you travel prepared, with any necessary safety equipment as well as communication and navigation devices.
Timanfaya National Park, Spain
Lanzarote’s Timanfaya National Park is the next best thing to a visit to the planet of Mars. With a vast red landscape that is sprinkled with a strikingly black volcanic ash, the park is home to more than 180 species of plants, as well as the Timanfaya volcano. For those who want to get up close and personal with the ‘Fire Mountain’, there are air conditioned buses to take visitors up and around the volcano. OROGOLD also recommends saving time for a camel tour, as this is a truly unique way to take in your surroundings. Finally, you can wrap up your visit with a stop at one of the local restaurants, where meat is grilled over a hole in the ground that releases heat from the craters.
Each of Europe’s national parks have something unique to offer. From the climbing Europe’s largest glacier in Iceland to eating a meal cooked in volcanic heat in Spain, these are just a few of the exciting activities that you can do in Europe’s best national parks.