Europe’s 44 countries are home to such a wide variety of cultures, languages, foods, and experiences that it can be impossible to know where you’d like to visit if you’re planning a trip. On the plus side, that means that travellers looking for one particular thing from their adventure can easily find it in Europe – if they know where to look, that is!
With busy schedules and current events making it easier and easier to become seriously stressed in your day-to-day life, more travellers than ever are looking to visit a place with incredible nature that will allow them to relax, unwind, and unplug. Thankfully, Europe is filled to the brim with nature so amazing you won’t believe your eyes!
Whether you’re looking for something truly unique or just craving green views that remind you of a simpler time, here are the best places to visit in Europe for nature.
Travel to: Europe
The New Forest, England
If you like your nature to look like something out of a fairytale, the New Forest in the south of England is your next perfect destination. Not only can you discover serene heathland, you’ll also be treated to sightings of wild deer (five species live in the forest!), an array of butterflies and birds, and, perhaps most famously, wild horses. Travellers also have the opportunity to visit New Forest National Park, where they’ll find expansive coastlines that remain largely undiscovered by those outside of the UK.
Douro River Valley, Portugal
We all love walking through stunning nature, but there’s one thing that may just make the nature even better – walking through stunning nature with a glass of wine in your hand! The Douro River Valley looks like an enchanted garden: you’ll see stunning turquoise water, rolling green fields, and immaculate vineyards everywhere you look! Wine lovers are able to assist with the grape harvest and learn about the process of growing and producing one of this region’s most famous exports, while those more interested in nature will be thrilled to learn that it’s also home to Parque Natural do Douro Internacional – a national park that also serves as the border between Spain and Portugal, where travellers can try and spot the over 170 different species of bird that call the stunning park home.
Who says nature has to be all rolling green hills? Svalbard, an archipelago in the Arctic Ocean, sits halfway between mainland Norway and the North Pole, making it one of the northernmost inhabited places in the world. This rugged land is starkly beautiful, and travellers will have no problem at all spotting incredible wildlife such as Arctic foxes, Svalbard reindeer, and, of course, polar bears – here, these majestic animals outnumber the people! Visit during the winter for crystal-clear sightings of the northern lights, or travel to Svalbard in the summer to experience the midnight sun, where the sun shines for 24 hours a day. This remote destination is a unique experience, and while it may not be for the faint of heart, travellers looking to get out into the world will relish the opportunity to see nature in one of its most untouched forms.
Gorges du Verdon, France
Do you ever see a place on social media and think there’s no way it looks like that in real life? Surely travellers have been slapping filters on the Gorges du Verdon’s strikingly green-blue waters this whole time, right? Absolutely not. This gorge in southeastern France is often thought to be one of the most beautiful natural sites in all of Europe, and we’d have to agree. Not only will travellers be treated to some seriously amazing natural views, there’s also plenty of opportunity to experience the gorge in a more personal way – travellers can go white-water rafting, visit several museums along the river, or hike along maintained trails that often lead to panoramic viewing platforms.
See Also: Your Perfect Scandinavia Itinerary
Las Médulas, Spain
Humankind and nature join forces for this unique and totally captivating site in the Spanish province of Leon. What was once the site of a gold mine has returned to nature, leaving the area filled with vast man-made clay mountains topped with vibrant greenery. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the mine was once the largest and most important open gold mine of the Roman Empire, making Las Médulas a perfect cross of ancient history and nature, as well as an excellent reminder that even with human interference, nature can reclaim itself and create something special.
Gauja National Park, Latvia
Another wonderful example of history and nature co-existing, Gauja National Park in northeast Latvia is also home to several historical sites that are well worth a visit in their own right! The largest and oldest national park in Latvia, Gauja surrounds the town of Cesis, which is home to a 13th-century castle. Alongside the remarkable biodiversity of stunning views you’ll find in the park, Gauja is also home to Folk Song Park, a trail dotted with granite sculptures inspired by Latvian folklore. Gauja is a fantastic destination in all seasons – whether you’re looking for stunning fall colours, an icy winter wonderland, or a way to spend a glorious summer day, Gauja National Park has it all!
Nature tourism is a growing industry, and that’s a good thing: not only is it always a good idea to appreciate the natural world, many tour and attraction operators are dedicated to maintaining the gorgeous nature around them, so supporting them means supporting efforts to protect and preserve the stunning sites you’ll visit on your European escape!
See Also: Adventurous Things to do in Europe
Remember: the best thing you can do for the natural world when you travel is to follow that old adage – take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints. Always remember to clean up after yourself, and try to seek out lower-waste products along your journey when you can!
What kind of nature would you most like to see while visiting Europe? Where is your dream nature destination?