It is fair to say that nearly everyone has a touch of cabin fever from being cooped up for most of 2020 and so far in 2021, and that we all are eager to travel again, including internationally.
According to a survey by USA Today travel is the first thing one in five Americans will do when it’s safer is to book a trip internationally or domestically.
And after being cooped up for over a year, few things are more appealing for a getaway vacation than exploring Europe’s beautiful national parks for solace or for adventure.
If that appeals to you here are a five top national parks in Europe to put on your bucket list.
Triglav National Park, Slovenia
Despite being the only national park in Slovenia, it’s highly popular among nature lovers since it preserves 3% of the country’s land, including the Triglav Mountain and most of the Julian Alps.
There are various routes to the top – from easy walks to strenuous paths only for the seriously fit – all of which reward your effort with great views.
The hiking trails around the park are also a good way to appreciate the other beautiful areas of the park, such as Lake Bohinj and the Kozjak waterfall.
Water sports like kayaking and rafting in the rivers are popular during the summer.
Peak District, UK
The Peak District was established in 1951, making it the first national park in the UK.
One-third of the park is protected for nature conservation, and the varying landscapes have made it one of the most scenic parks in the country, with some 555 square miles of rolling hills, caverns, limestone dales, and gritstone edges.
In addition to the usual hiking and cycling activities, the Peak District also has “Dark Sky Places” designation, and is popular for dog walks.
With light pollution in many parts of the UK making it nearly impossible to see the night skies in their full glory, these “Dark Sky Places” are just a few locations in the country to truly see the stars.
Ordesa National Park, Spain
Also called Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park, this magnificent destination is located along the border of Spain and France — the French side of the park being called the Pyrenees National Park.
According to the Global Alliance of National Parks, the Ordesa National Park was the first national park established in Spain and is one of the first national parks in the whole world.
The main sights here are the Monte Perdido Range and the Ordesa Valley.
Those who love adventure have three trail options they can choose from depending on their hiking ability and time.
Cinque Terre, Italy
Cinque Terre is different from other national parks in Europe, including in Italy.
This national park, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which showcases the colorful coastline of Italy.
The five towns that make up the Cinque Terre have only become popular with tourists since the 1960s, and are unique since they can be reached only by boat.
You can cool off in the beaches, walk along the cliffs and between the towns, and just appreciate the Old World charm.
Peneda Geres, Portugal
This is the only national park in Portugal, catering to both nature and history lovers.
It’s famous for its wild Garrano ponies that have been in the region since the first millennium BCE. There are also domesticated ponies that can take you across the park’s countryside to see the granite cliffs, forests, and bogs.
For history lovers, there’s the Laboreiro Castle, the Santa Maria dos Pitoes monastery, megalithic tombs, and a Roman road.
For everyone, there are shaded forest trains, including past murmuring brooks.
Famous urban destinations including Paris, Rome, Berlin and London are always worth visiting. But this year may be the time to go beyond towns and cities and get some fresh air and open space.
When planning the trip make sure you catch the right season to see the best of your destination.