Europe’s Greatest National Parks for Families

Think USA. Think National Parks. Think Europe. Think Old Towns. Yes! This is what most travelers presume. However, Europe is so much more than its Old Towns, historic Squares, and charming cobbled streets. The USA might be famous for national park vacations among families but Europe is no less. The national parks in Europe have immense natural beauty and varied landscapes that offer amazing outdoor experiences for families.

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Best National Parks in Europe for Families

Here’s a list of the best national parks in Europe handpicked by travel experts for outdoor and nature-loving families to experience the best of European national parks.

Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

Editor’s Pick

A UNESCO World Heritage Site of Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia with its super gorgeous waterfalls, glassy lakes, and lush landscape has to be one of the best places to visit in Croatia and of course, one of the most beautiful national parks in Europe.

This stunning national park deserves to be on your Europe Bucket List!

Families with kids would love the easy-to-walk wooden pathways and bridges and several (easy to moderate) hiking paths to choose from depending upon the age of the kids. And, you just walk the path one-way and board a shuttle on your way back, so no fuss with young kids.

As you walk the natural wonder and admire its superabundant beauty, don’t miss stopping at the Veliki Slap (Big Waterfall), Great Cascades (Velike Kaskade), Gradinsko Lake, and the viewpoints near the shuttle stop at the entrance 1.

You can arrive at the park by bus, taxi, or rental car. It takes about 2 hours from Zagreb and Zadar and 3 hours from Split. Plitvice is magical whatever the season or reason though I’d recommend visiting during spring or autumn owing to the fewer crowds and pleasant weather. Take a full-day tour to Plitvice Lakes from Split or opt for a guided tour of Plitvice Lakes from Zagreb.

The entrance ticket price depends on the season and ranges from 60 Kuna to 250 Kuna per adult for a one-day ticket. It is advisable to buy the skip the line tickets for the guided tour.

We stayed at B&B Lady of the Lake and totally recommend it to the families visiting Plitvice.

Expert Tip: Get to the park as early as possible (as soon as it opens) to get the most out of your visit to one of the best natural wonders in Europe.

plitvice lakes national park croatia best national parks in europe

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Krka National Park, Croatia

By Karen from Big Adventures for Little Feet

Krka National Park in the heart of Croatia is a fabulous family-friendly option to witness the crystal blue lakes that Croatia is famous for. With easy proximity to Split and Zadar, you can easily visit Krka on a day trip but our preferred option is to stay overnight in lovely Skradin which is also the entrance point for the main gate.

We stayed at the fabulous Apartments Dino Formenti and it was one of our favorite places to stay in Croatia. The owners were super friendly and the rooms for families were spacious, comfortable, and centrally located.

From Skradin you can purchase your tickets from the National Parks Office. The current ticket prices are 200 Kuna per adult and 120 Kuna per child to visit all of the sites in Krka during the peak summer season. To beat the crowd, book the skip-the-line tickets and enjoy the time experiencing the waterfalls. If you just want to visit the most popular section of Krka or during the off-peak seasons the prices are much cheaper. Children under seven are free of charge.

Access to the National Park from Skradin is via a scenic 30-minute boat ride which the kids loved. There are lots of other families so it is quite a fun and relaxing trip. Book the day trip from Split including the boat ride.

The most popular hike or walk at Krka is a counter-clockwise circuit starting at the very impressively beautiful Skradinski Buk or main waterfall. The walk is flat and with kids and taking plenty of time for photos and enjoying the scenery will take approximately two hours to complete. For the kids, there are some ice cream shops and open spaces along the way to take a breather as well.

If traveling with infants you would be able to do this walk with a robust pram (buggy style) but there are a number of planked boardwalks which will be a little bumpy going.

Once you have wandered through all the scenic prettiness of Krka you can take the opportunity to cool off in the refreshing waters with a swim.

Overall, Krka is the perfect family-friendly outing and the kids will love exploring and sighting the different animals such as small lizards and interesting fish swimming in the gorgeous ponds.

krka national park best national parks in europe
© Karen

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Durmitor National Park, Montenegro

By Alina from World of Lina

Far in the north and close to the Bosnian border, you can find Durmitor National Park in Montenegro. With its untouched nature and great hiking routes, it’s the perfect destination for every outdoor lover – no matter what age!

The best starting point for your family trip to Durmitor National Park is the lovely village Zabljak where you’ll find some great and kids-friendly accommodations such as the Family Farm Apartments Durmitor.

From there, plan a short visit to the nearby Black Lake. It’s a beautiful and tranquil place where you can rent a boat, go for a swim, or watch fishermen at work. To explore the rest of Durmitor National Park it’s recommended to rent a car to be more flexible. The park is quite big and there are loads to see.

When it comes to hiking, you can choose one of the many trails at different levels of difficulty. The easiest and most family-friendly hike is theMoor – Zminje Jezero Loop which takes around 1:45 hours.

Another lovely thing about the national park – and what kids will definitely like – is the large number of free-roaming animals. Flocks of sheep, shepherd dogs, cows, and goats are not a rare sight there.

For families looking for some more action, Tara Bridge is the place to go. The bridge spans above the grand Tara Canyon – one of the deepest river canyons in Europe. Ziplining and rafting are just a few of the many activities offered there. They’re definitely not for the faint-hearted but guarantee an epic and fun adventure!

durmitor national park montenegro best national parks in europe

Triglav National Park, Slovenia

By Martina from PlacesofJuma

One of the most beautiful national parks in Europe can be found in Slovenia, the Triglav National Park. Especially, families with children love this natural jewel, where you will find countless possibilities for excursions and activities. Starting with picturesque mountain lakes, spectacular waterfalls, breathtaking gorges, and a picturesque mountain world up to the world-famousSoča valley, everything is represented here.

Fantastic hikes for every age group and lots of sports activities await you here, such as rafting, kayaking, skiing in winter, and swimming in the many lakes/rivers in summer.

You can experience all these highlights with your family in the Triglav National Park, the largest protected area, and the only National Park in the country.

The entrance to this park is free of charge and open to everyone. As a real insider tip, it is recommended to take a few day tours through the Soča Valley in Slovenia. On this tour, you will discover the most beautiful highlights and sights of the national park and can do a lot of exciting things in nature.

It is best to visit the Triglav National Park in the summer. During this time, you can expect top weather, and the cool rivers and mountain lakes invite you to jump into the cool water. The park is also worth seeing in autumn when the leaves change color and the landscape shows its most beautiful side.

The Triglav National Park is located in the west of Slovenia and can also be reached from Italy. However, the journey from abroad is mostly from Ljubljana, the capital of the country, where the international airport is also located. One can take a guided day trip from Ljubljana to the park.

As an accommodation tip, we recommend the 4-star Hotel Triglav, which enchants with its dreamlike ambiance and wonderful location on Lake Bled.

triglav national park slovenia best national parks in europe
© Martina

Una National Park, Bosnia

By Ellis from Backpack Adventures

Una national park in Bosnia is one of the newest, but largest national parks in Bosnia. Few people know about it and therefore it still receives a small number of travelers, despite its stunning landscapes. The park was established to protect the pristine nature around the Una, Krka, and Unac rivers.

Una National Park is therefore all about water. Its main attractions are its waterfalls and travertines as well as the Una River and its deep emerald-green color. The park is also home to some ancient forts, castles, monasteries, and mosques.

This park is perfect for a family holiday. Even though it is in a remote corner of northwestern Bosnia it is easy to access from the city of Bihac with a good road that runs through the park and that brings you right to the most famous waterfalls like milancev buk and strbacki buk and old towns like Martin Brod and Kulen Vakuf.

There are plenty of places where children can play and they will love the ethno villages with playgrounds that lie around the park. It is also easy to find family-friendly accommodations and restaurants around Una National Park. You can choose to stay in Bihac with all its facilities or a more homestay option within the park. At last, it is also a budget-friendly destination.

To visit the waterfalls there is a small entrance fee of 2 Euros, but there is no entrance fee to the park itself. Una National Park is best visited in spring and autumn when the temperatures are pleasant and the weather is at its best.

Una national park Bosnia and Herzegovina best national parks in europe
© Ellis Veen

Hohe Tauern National Park, Austria

By Linda from Travel Tyrol

The Hohe Tauern National Park in Austria is the largest national park in the Alps and a great destination for families who love nature and outdoor adventures. The park’s 1,856 km² stretches over three Austrian provinces – Salzburgerland, Kärnten, and Tyrol.

Perhaps one of the best places for families to visit in the Hohe Tauern National Park is the Krimml Waterfalls. With a total drop of 308 m, they are the highest in Europe. Hiking all or part of the waterfall trail is a fun way to spend time in nature. There is also a water adventure park called the Krimml Worlds of Water where kids learn about water through playing.

Another highlight in the Hohe Tauern National Park is driving the Großglockner High Alpine Road to the foot of the Großglockner, Austria’s highest mountain at 3,798 m. It’s only 48 km long and the kids can help to count the 36 hairpin bends to keep them entertained. Or you can visit one of four themed playparks along the route.

At the Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Höhe Visitor’s Center at the end of the high alpine road, there are lots of opportunities to stretch your legs. From here, you won’t only see the Großglockner up close, but also the Pasterze glacier, the largest in the Eastern Alps.

There are even things to do with kids on rainy days. TheNational Park Worlds in Mittersill, near the Krimml Falls, lets you “hike” through the Hohe Tauern in just a few hours and under one roof.

The closest cities to Hohe Tauern National Park are Innsbruck and Salzburg. Innsbruck is 97 km away from the waterfalls and Salzburg is 156 km. The closest towns to stay are Krimml or Mittersill, while Zell am See is also an excellent location for families.

hohe tauern national park austria best national parks in europe

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Tatra National Park, Poland

By Sean From LivingOutLau

The Tatra Mountains, commonly referred to as just the Tatras, is a mountain range that forms the natural boundary between Poland and Slovakia. Because it lies in the territory of two countries, there are two national parks in the Tatras: Tatra National Park Poland and Tatra National Park Slovakia.

With less strenuous hikes, better accommodations, and easier accessibility, the Tatra National Park in Poland is a more family-friendly destination than its Slovakian counterpart. To reach the Tatras in Poland, visitors will need to get to Zakopane, a small ski resort town located on the southern boundary of Poland. Once you have arrived in Zakopane, you have many options for exploring the Tatras. Take a day tour of the Tatra Mountains and Zakopane from Krakow.

Hiking enthusiasts can decide to hike up to Rysy, the highest peak of the Tatras in Poland, or they can spend multiple days exploring the wilderness. However, since there is no accommodation inside the park, hikers will have to camp.

Consequently, the most popular means to visit the Tatra National Park is through day trips from Zakopane. One of the most popular day trips to Tatras is the Morskie Oko Lake. Translating to Eye of the Sea in English, Morskie Oko is the largest lake in the Tatra Mountains.

The lake is accessible on foot, and visitors can admire its beauty via a 2.5-hour hike on a gradual asphalt road. Don’t be intimidated by the duration of the hike, the terrain is easy and the stunning views at the end will make it worth it! There are also horse-drawn carriages that will transport passengers.

Summer is usually the best time to visit if you want a pleasant time. However, winter could also be fun because the Morski Oko Lake freezes, and visitors can ice skate on it!

Visitors can also enjoy winter sports in Zakopane during that season.If you are staying in Zakopane (which you should), make sure you stay at Aries Hotel & SPA Zakopane. Their spa is the perfect way to soothe your aching limbs after a visit to the Tatras.

morskie oko lake tatras poland best national parks in europe
© Sean Lau

The Black Forest National Park, Germany

By Cate from My Germany Vacation

The Black Forest National Park (Nationalpark Schwarzwald) in southeastern Germany is the perfect place for a family adventure. Not only do you have the stunning outdoors to explore, but there are also numerous nearby cute towns and villages to visit.

The first and only national park in the German state of Baden-Württemberg, the Black Forest National Park was created in 2014. Since it’s located about an hour north of Freiburg (the A5 is the fastest route) and 1.5 hours south of Stuttgart (on the A81), the park makes an easy Freiburg or Stuttgart day trip. Currently, it’s easiest to explore the Black Forest by car.

The park offers dense forests, waterfalls to hike to, intriguing rock formations to investigate, viewpoints to enjoy, and cycling and hiking trails to explore. In the winter you can go snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Fall is of course gorgeous with the changing leaves but the Black Forest is beautiful and fun to visit year-round.

The Black Forest National Park also offers three popular and unique “adventure trails” that range in difficulty and duration (30 minutes to 3 hours). Even better, each trail has a unique path layout and is dedicated to a specific forest-related topic!

Start your visit at the park center on the Ruhestein mountain pass to ask questions, learn about program offerings, and visit their permanent exhibition about the history, geology, and protected species of the Black Forest.

Do check the hours before you go, though, to make sure they’ll be open when you arrive. If you want to spend the night near the park, look in the village of Seebach, one of the other nearby villages, or the spa city of Baden-Baden.

ruhestein mountain black forest national park germany best national parks in europe

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Eifel National Park, Germany

By Bhushavali from My Travelogue by Bhushavali

High Fens – Eifel National Park is located on the border of Germany & Belgium. With an area of almost 2,500 sq km, it fills a very large area and has many way-marked hiking & cycling routes. There are quite a few amazing natural beauty spots all over Eifel National Park.

There are several water bodies and like many European forests, a lot of beech plantations as well. Many of these water bodies were created by volcanic eruptions in the past. The South Eifel Nature Park is also home to the largest number of wild orchids in the province of RLP. This region has some very interesting rugged rock formations.

One of the interesting ways to explore Eifel National Park is by cycling on the Vennbahn Fietsroute. This is a 125km long cycling route that starts in Germany and goes via Belgium to the Netherlands which was once the historic railway line of Venn.

The most unusual aspect here is the German enclaves in Belgium along the route. The best way to enjoy a family trip here is to stay in nearby cities/towns like Aachen, Eupen, Monschau, etc., and bike a portion of this route. It is very much possible to hire e-bikes with a child seat or cargo cycles for the ride!

One of the best hiking trails here is the Eifelsteig trail that’s 313 km long starting from Aachen to Trier. Though the trails are waymarked, there’s also an app to help plan. There are also guided walking tours where the forest ranger will help in identifying the flora & fauna of the region. The best thing is that it is totally free to enter this region!

eifel national park germany belgium best national p[arks in europe

Calanques National Park, France

By Nadine Maffre from Le Long Weekend

The Calanques National Park near Marseille in France was the first park in Europe to encompass land, sea, and urban areas. The park stretches right along the coast from Les Goudes (on the outskirts of Marseille) to Cassis and takes in some breathtaking scenery along the way.

It’s a fantastic place to go hiking with the family, as the trails are neither too long nor arduous, and it’s also accessible for those unable to walk long distances. One of the most popular hikes starts in the seaside town of Cassis and takes you past the “Calanques de Cassis” – three of the most impressive Calanques (natural rocky inlets) in the park.

The second Calanque houses a beautiful, family-friendly beach where you can stop for a swim and a picnic. But I’d recommend admiring the third Calanque, Calanque d’En Vau, from above, as the descent is steep and difficult with little ones in tow.

Continue inland to finish off the 3hr loop. Calanque de Sugiton is another family-friendly hike, and walking to Calanque de Marseilleveyre from Calanque de Callelongue (Marseille end) is an easy, mostly-level trail too. For those unable to walk too far, you can drive directly into the park in the off-season and enjoy the beach and landscape at Calanque de Sormiou. Or take an unforgettable cruise in Calanque Park by the stunning landscapes of the park.

Other than parking, it’s free to enter and hike in the Calanques National Park. Stay in Cassis to enjoy the village feel and stunning swimming spots. The Best Western Plus Hôtel la Rade offers a fantastic location and large family rooms.

Expert Tip – If visiting in Summer, making a reservation at the restaurant is the only way you’re allowed to drive down to Calanque de Sormiou.

calanques national park france best national parks in europe
© Nadine

Pyrenees National Park, France

By Izzy of The Gap Decaders

The Pyrenees National Park spans the French departments of Hautes-Pyrénées and Pyrénées-Atlantiques. Covering over 45,700 hectares and climbing to the heights of 3,298m, the park is a playground for hikers, skiers, and outdoor activity lovers.

The area is ideal for families, once in the park you’re already at altitudes of over 1,000m making many hikes accessible with relatively small altitude gains. With crystal clear lakes, raging waterfalls, and alpine meadows, kids will love the opportunity to roam free amongst the spectacular scenery.

Head for the Pont d’Espagne and hike or take the cable car up to the stunning Lac de Gaube. Once there, traverse around the lake and practice some bouldering in the valley, under the imposing peak of Vignemale at 3298m. The Cirque de Gavarnie is one of the most visited places in the Pyrenees National Park, not surprising when you take in the sheer scale and beauty of this natural wonder.

Formed by glaciers millions of years ago, this bowl in the mountains is home to waterfalls, rushing glacial streams, and meadows carpeted with wildflowers.Visit the Pyrenees National Park in late May or June, for waterfalls gushing with snowmelt and wildflowers to rival the Alps, or go in July and August for guaranteed good weather, excellent camping, and evening warmth.

The park and hikes are free but you may have to pay for things like cable cars. Base yourself at the fantastic Camping d’Arrouach just outside Lourdes, a pilgrimage city worthy of a visit. The campsite offers pitches for tents and motorhomes, as well as mobile homes for those looking for self-catering accommodation.

Expert Tip – Make sure you have the right footwear! Although these hikes aren’t technically difficult, they can be hard underfoot, especially for children.

pyrenees national park france best national parks in europe
© Izzy & Phil

National Park de Hoge Veluwe, Netherlands

By Cosette from KarsTravels

De Hoge Veluwe National Park in Gelderland, The Netherlands is perfect for visiting as a family. The park has white bikes which are free to use for everybody visiting the park. There are 2 models, an adult version with a child seat and a kids’ bike. This makes it ideal to explore the beautiful nature of the park.

In the center of the park is a restaurant with a playground. There are 2 museums in the park, the Kröller-Müller with art and the Museonder, a nature museum.

Go on a wild safari to spot the Big 4: red deer, wild boar, mouflon, and deer. Special workshops and searches for kids are being organized. Besides biking, hiking is ideal to explore the park. There are numerous guided hikes to follow or just go exploring on your own.

De Hoge Veluwe is made up of forests (65%), heathland, drifting sand landscapes, marshes, and grass plains. Throughout the park are several monuments and artwork to be found. All this was founded by the couple Helene and Anton Kröller-Müller at the beginning of the 20th century.

There are 3 entrances to the park:Otterlo, Hoenderloo, and Schaarsbergen. The park can be reached by car or public transport.

The park is beautiful to visit all year long. If you come to see the heathland bloom’s beautiful purple color, August and September are the best months. If your goal is to hear and see the red deer in a rut, September and October are the best months.

The entrance fee is €10.95 for 13 and up, and €5.50 for kids 6 to 12. Parking is €3.90. Bringing your car into the park will cost €7.75.

There’s a nature campground in the park near the entrance to Hoenderloo.

red deer National Park de Hoge Veluwe Netherlands best national parks in europe

Nationaal Park Zuid-Kennemerland, Netherlands

By Lisa of Flip Flop Globetrotters

Nationaal Park Zuid-Kennemerland is located in the western part of The Netherlands, between Zandvoort and IJmuiden. It spans about 3.800 hectares and is one of twenty national parks in The Netherlands.

This rustic dune area on the North Sea coast is a green oasis only about 40 minutes away fromAmsterdam Central Station. The unique flora and fauna make this a wonderful and interesting area for families to explore, with each season bringing something new.

Apart from the main entrance at the Koevlak, this National Park has 25 entrances. Admission to the park is free and some entrances offer free parking. Each area has something different to offer. There are a lot of walking and biking trails in the park, the shorter ones are perfect for families. Explore the luxurious country estates, the varied dune area with its forests and grasslands, and the North Sea coast. Take a half-day bike tour of the dunes from Amsterdam.

Nationaal Park Zuid-Kennemerland is accessible from sunup to sundown. There’s no accommodation in the park itself. There are a number of towns nearby where you can stay. The nearest larger city is Haarlem, which also offers a lot of fun and free do with kids.

You can reach Nationaal Park Zuid-Kennemerland by car, public transport, or bike. To reach the main Visitors Center (Zeeweg12, Overveen) from Amsterdam Central Station, take the train to Haarlem and then take bus 81 towards Zandvoort (bus stop ‘Kennemerduinen’).

Expert Tip – At the Koevlak entrance near the Visitors Center there’s a small natural playground. In the summer months, the water pump in the playground is good for hours of fun. The Visitors Center organizes various excursions and other events and offers several treasure hunts for kids. Next to the Visitors Center, there’s the Duincafé where you can get snacks and drinks. Further along the path, there’s a play forest and a dune lake called ’t Wed. Both ’t Wed and the Oosterplas are great places to go swimming in the summer.

cattle scottish highlanders Zuid-Kennemerland netherlands best national parks in europe

Dolomites National Park, Italy

By Giulia and Darek of the Travelling Sunglasses

The Natural Park of the Ampezzo Dolomites is a gorgeous area of mountain ranges, valleys, rivers, and waterfalls located in the Italian Alps, in the North-East region of Veneto. It covers an area of 11,200 hectares north of Cortina d’Ampezzo. Plenty of beautiful mountain animals and plants can be observed in the park.

You can reach the town of Cortina d’Ampezzo by car from the South by highway from Venice, or from the North from Austria and Alto Adige region. Trains arrive at Venice, and afterward, buses reach Cortina. The closest airports are Venice, Venice Treviso, Bologna, and Milan.

Considering its location at approximately 1250 meters above sea level and higher, the best periods to visit and hike the Natural Park of the Ampezzo Dolomites are spring, summer, and autumn. There are many tours of the Dolomites to choose from depending on the destination:

Keep in mind that the crowded high season is mainly in July and August; in the peaceful low season, many hotels are closed. In Cortina, we recommend staying at Hotel Trieste, a family-run hotel recently renovated with local materials, which boasts traditional architecture and a welcoming atmosphere.

There is no entrance fee to the park and much to do! Before you visit, check with your Hotel reception and with the local information point about the conditions of the park and of the trails. Make sure you wear suitable clothing and shoes, and that you inform your hosts about your hiking destination.

An exciting hike for families is the hike to Fanes waterfalls. There are many trails, some easier and some harder. When hiking with very young children, enjoy the forest and go to the viewpoint of “Belvedere” to admire the striking waterfall.

More experienced or older children can also hike down via Ferrata under the waterfall and into the Fanes gorge (climbing gear is compulsory and can be rented in Cortina). The hike up the waterfall canyons is also very beautiful, but quite long. Read more about the Fanes waterfalls hike here.

dolomites national park italy best national parks in europe

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Asinara National Park, Italy

By Claudia Tavani from Strictly Sardinia

Off the north coast of Sardinia, Asinara National Park is one of the most beautiful ones in Italy and a fun place to visit for families traveling with children. The entire island of Asinara, which measures 51.9 square km, was declared a National Park in 2002.

As Asinara was used as a prison colony and leper center in the 19th century and became the location of a maximum-security prison in the 20th century, nobody other than prisoners and guards has lived on the island for more than 150 years, and in turn, has contributed to the preservation of its beautiful environment.

Asinara is home to pristine beaches – some of them heavily protected as they are a place where turtles nest and latch. It also is a fantastic place to hike – there is a multitude of good trails of varying difficulty levels; as well as bike: only service vehicles can circulate, which means biking is pleasant – though keep in mind that the island is very hilly so electric bikes may be a good idea, especially in the hot summer months.

Asinara is famous for the presence of wild donkeys – many of them albino – as well as boars, foxes, and other wildlife. Beautiful in the summer, the landscape is breathtaking in the spring, when flowers are in bloom.

If you are a history geek you will love visiting the prisons scattered around the island, and especially the bunker below the Diramazione Centrale prison in Cala d’Oliva, where mafia boss Toto Riina was held.

Although Asinara can be visited on day trips, to make the most of all that it has to offer consider spending a few days there.

Asinara can be accessed by boat from Stintino, from where the trip takes around 20 minutes; or from Porto Torres, from where the ferry takes around 90 minutes. There are two places to stay – a boutique hotel in the village of Cala d’Oliva, called Locanda del Parco, and a basic hostel right outside the same village. You will have to eat your meals there as well, as there are no other restaurant options. You can explore the island on foot, by bike, by electric car (you can rent them in Fornelly or in Cala Reale), or by jeep.

Asinara National Park Sardinia Italy best national parks in europe
© Claudia Tavani

Cinque Terre National Park, Italy

By Renee of Dream Plan Experience

You’ve seen the pictures, right? The pretty pastel-colored houses perched high on the rugged cliffs with the sparkling sea below. The beautiful Cinque Terre, or ‘five lands’, is the stretch of the Italian Riviera coastline made up of five fishing villages each with its own distinct character. It’s a National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site, drawing 2.4 million visitors a year to hike, boat, or train their way through these picturesque coastal villages.

Monterosso is the biggest and busiest of all the villages. It has a resort-like vibe with noticeably more restaurants, shops, and places to stay. It’s the only flat village and offers two beautiful beaches, one sand, and one pebble.

Vernazza is the closest of the five villages to remain a ‘true’ fisherman’s village with its natural harbor and abundance of colorful boats.

Corniglia is the smallest of all the villages and the most unique. It sits atop of a rock formation about 100 meters high off the sea. You’ll have to climb 382 stairs to reach the village center, but the view makes it worth it.

Manarola is the oldest and probably the most photographed village. There are some easy foot trails that cut through the hillside vineyards, offering scenic views over to the next village.

Riomaggiore is incredibly photogenic with its steep colorful tower houses that frame its tiny harbor. This village has the best views from the sea (and at night), so if you were to take a ferry this would be a good destination to arrive/depart from.

By train, it takes about five minutes to travel from one village to the next. Or by ferry which connects all the villages but one, Corniglia. While it might not be the easiest with kids, the oldest and most scenic way to see Cinque Terre is on foot! The Blue Path is the coastal hiking trail connecting the villages.

Though it’s always an option, I would personally avoid visiting during the summer months as these tiny villages get extremely busy during the day.

cinque terre national park italy best national parks in europe
© The Holidaymaker

Sierra Nevada National Park, Spain

By Paulina of Paulina on the Road

If you are planning your vacation in Spain, make sure you book a few days in the enchanting city of Granada from where you can go for a day trip to Sierra Nevada National Park. Granada is the starting point for some of the most beautiful bike rides and trek trails for this national park, spread across 850 kilometers, thus crowned as the largest national park in Spain. Take a private safari tour of Sierra Nevada through the picturesque villages.

In addition to its unfair beauty, which makes it look like a dreamland, the lovely Cumbres Verdes area of the park gives you the most chilled-out and relaxed hiking trails, which can be quickly done by both children and elderly people. From mid-May to June, the end is the best time for you to visit the park. During this time, you can go for a summit climb of two of the region Mulhacen and Veleta’s highest peaks.

Both of these mountains start to lose their thick caps of snow, giving trekkers comfortable spots to place their bodies securely. Moreover, you can even explore the place all by yourself on foot during this time, or you can rent a bike. For both these activities, the temperature is perfect. If you are going in winter, get yourself an HG Maribel room, which is located just 50 meters away from Pista Maribel ski slopes.

There is no entrance fee to get inside the park. You can opt for various tours and activities that the local guides provide you at a reasonable cost. Lastly, even if you are going in summer and thinking about what to eat in Granada, my top pick would be Habas con Jamón, as it represents the influence of both Christianity and Judaism in one plate. It’s a simple, comforting dish that you can eat your lunch and dinner.

sierra nevada national park spain best national parks in europe

Jotunheimen National Park, Norway

By Linn Haglund from Brainy Backpackers

Jotunheimen National Park in Norway is a great place to explore for the whole family. The park has some of the best hikes in Norway, like the Besseggen Ridge hike. Some of these are long and hard day hikes perfect for older kids and some of them are easier, shorter hikes on flat land for the smaller kids. Nonetheless, the natural scenery in the park is mesmerizing no matter where you go. The dramatic scenery makes it great for the kid’s imagination to run wild when listening to stories about trolls walking there, hundreds of years ago.

Jotunheimen National Park is also a great place to go wild camping with the kids to teach them survival skills and make it a learning experience as well as an adventure.

If your family likes adrenaline activities, you should try out rafting or riverboarding in the Sjoa River in Heidal. For the even more adventurous, there is even canyoning. A really fun activity is a guided tour through a unique 50-meter-long ice tunnel where you’ll learn about wildlife, nature, and human history 7000 years back in time. You can go cave walking in Dumdalen and even Glacier walking on the Bøverbreen glacier. These are just some of the many activities for the whole family you can find in Jotunheimen National Park.

There are plenty of hotels and campgrounds to choose from in Jotunheimen National Park, depending on where you go. You could even rent a whole mountain cabin, as the Norwegians would do. Grøv Seter is a great alternative. Otherwise, I recommend Gjendesheim Cabin or Sjodalen Hyttetun og Camping.

Jotunheimen national park norway best national parks in europe
© Linn Haglund

Thingvellir National Park, Iceland

By Suzanne from Meandering Wild

Thingvellir is a national park located in the southwest of Iceland.  It is just a short distance from Reykjavik and is part of the well-known Golden Circle Route around the main sites in the south of the country.  It is a UNESCO World Heritage site, listed for its geography and historical background as the seat of the Icelandic Parliament from AD 930.

The area can be reached by road from Reykjavik on road 36 and there are lots of tours that include it in their schedule.   However, driving yourself gives you the flexibility to stay for as long as you want. Unlike other areas in Iceland, the roads here remain open for most of the year and are easy to drive.

The national park has a main parking area with a visitor center and a lookout point over the landscape.  There is no charge to enter the national park but the parking is paid at a meter on arrival.

Thingvellir National Park is perfect for families as there are lots of different things to see.  It is a mini geography lesson as the rift valley between two tectonic plates can be seen and walked.  This is one of the few places where the plates can be seen making it good for learning.  There is also a small waterfall and stream as well as snorkeling at Silfra.  From the main area around the gorge and waterfall, there are hiking trails that follow the river and lake away from the busy tourist areas. Choose from the option for a day trip around the Golden Circle or snorkel at Silfra-

To make the most of your visit to Thingvellir National Park it is best to arrive early or late and avoid the middle of the day when the day trips from Reykjavik are passing through.  Making the most of your time here and then staying in one of many cottages will give you an early start to exploring without having to travel.  One place is Eyvindartunga Farmhouse.

Thingvellir National Park Iceland best national parks in europe
© Suzanne

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Rila National Park, Bulgaria

Emma Pamley-Liddell from Journey of a Nomadic Family

Bulgaria is one of the least visited European countries by Western tourists. So, if you’re looking for an experience with few tourists, visiting Bulgaria & its Rila National Park, you should start planning a trip to Bulgaria.

The Rila Mountains sit roughly 90 minutes south of Bulgaria’s capital Sofia. It’s easy enough to self-drive there or alternatively hire a tour guide.  We previously used Traventuria and were really pleased although the second time we visited, we self-guided.

The Rila is the highest mountain range of Bulgaria and the Balkan Peninsula and part of the Rila–Rhodope Massif.  There are 140 main peaks above 2,000 m and two summits above 2,900 m; Musala and Malka Musala. It is a popular destination for hiking and it also hosts Bulgaria’s oldest ski resort, Borovets. Within the Rila National Park, there are 120 glacial lakes but the most popular is part of the ‘Seven Rila Lakes’ hike; the Tear is the highest one, the Eye is the deepest, The Kidney, The twins, the Trefoil, the shallowest is Fish Lake and the Lower Lake is the lowest.  Click here to book accommodation near Seven Rila Lakes.

Aside from hiking the Seven Rila Lakes, six other hikes here are Masula the highest peak of the Balkans, the Scary Lake which is the amphitheater of thunder, hiking to the Ivan Vazov Hut, go to the Smelly Lake, hiking the horn of Malyovitsa (this is hard!) or visit the beautiful Urdini Lakes.

The park’s vegetation is determined by its altitude. At the lowest part, you’ll find oak, juniper & senna forests. Up to 1300m, you’ll see deciduous oaks, hornbeams, maple, and ash trees whilst up to 2100m is the coniferous zone full of pine treesIf you’re not really into hiking, you could visit the Rila Monastery. It’s the largest and most famous Eastern Orthodox monastery in Bulgaria. There is a self-guided tour from Sofia to the Seven Lakes and Rila Monastery that can be booked.

Situated in Musala (1147m), the monastery is one of 9 UNESCO World Heritage sites in Bulgaria and was built in the 10th century.  The church has 5  domes, 3 altars, and 2 side chapels. The gold-plated iconostasis is the most precious item inside the church also famous for its wood carvings. Check out the amazing hotels near Rila Monastery.

seven rila lakes rila national park bulgaria best national parks in europe

Kinburn National Park, the Hidden Gem of Ukraine

By Inessa and Natalie of Through a Travel Lens

Wildly under the radar, Kinburn is a long and sandy stretch of land washed by the salt waters of the Black Sea from the south, and by the Dnipro-Boh estuary from the north.

The national park has miles of white sand beaches, clean and blue waters of the Black Sea (no pun intended), and unique wildlife, flora, and fauna. Kinburn is home to over 400 lakes including the pink ones, where the locals labor the sun and the sea to produce some of the tastiest salt, populations of the rare pink pelicans, and stunning sunsets. All of this is topped by the fact that even in high season, the area is not overcrowded.

Kinburn offers lots of family-friendly activities, from hiking and exploring to taking trips to salt lakes and bird sanctuaries.

May and September are the best months of the year to visit Kinburn. In May, the park’s wild orchid fields are in full bloom. This is the second biggest wild orchid bloom in Europe, and a stunning one, too. In September, the locals harvest pink salt from the lakes, and it is an activity well worth taking a look at.

Kinburn is an area that is relatively challenging to get to by car unless one is driving a 4×4 and knows how to manage roads that are more of, well, trenches in the sand. But! It is extremely easy to get to Kinburn by water. Speedboats leave Mykolaiv and Ochakiv daily in high season.

Depending on the preferences, there are plenty of camping areas right by the sea, as well as quite a few great guesthouses with rooms, meals, barbecue areas, and whatnot.

kinburn national park ukraine best national parks in europe
© Inessa and Natalie

Killarney National Park, Ireland

Cath of Travel Around Ireland

Killarney National Park is one of the best national parks in Europe for families. Located in the southwest corner of Ireland, this national park is one of the most stunning areas of Ireland. It is bisected by the famous Ring of Kerry and is easily accessed by the town with which it shares its name. A day tour can be taken from Killarney to Ring of Kerry.

As well as numerous hiking trails and walks, Killarney National Park is home to other great activities and places to visit. The Torc Waterfall is a picturesque waterfall that is a must-visit and the short walk from the car park is suitable for children.

Ross Castle is also located in the Killarney National Park and is ideal for exploring with kids. However, be aware it is only open during the summer months and tours are available, although prebook the tour to be sure of your place.

For smaller kids, theKillarney Playground is just a 10-minute walk from Killarney town and will allow kids to have fun while running off some steam. The playground is located near the Circular Walk of Knockreer off which you’ll find walking trails and cycle paths, some of which lead to both Ross Castle and other attractions.

The Killarney National Park is free to enter, but some local attractions have entrance fees. It is approximately 4 hours from Dublin and a car is advisable, especially if you want to combine your visit with driving the Ring of Kerry.

The national park is best visited during summer, but you should still pack waterproofs, just in case. Killarney town sits alongside the national park where you’ll find a host of accommodation and restaurant options. If you want a truly memorable stay, then opt for The Europe Hotel, one of the best luxury hotels in Ireland for families.

ross castle Killarney National Park ireland best national parks in europe

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Peak District National Park, UK

Jenny from Peak District Kids

The Peak District, nestled between the big cities of Manchester, Sheffield, and Derby, is the oldest national park in the UK.  There are some fantastic short hikes for little legs (such as Chatsworth House and Padley Gorge), with streams to paddle in, boulders to climb, and rolling hills to run down. There are also lots of disused railway tracks that have been transformed into traffic-free cycle paths that crisscross the National Park; these are relatively flat and wide, so perfect for families.

Whilst the National Park offers a fantastic array of outdoor activities for families (also including wild swimming, canoeing, and abseiling), many parents choose Matlock as their family base as there are so many things to do in Matlock; including the cable car ride up to the caverns at Heights of Abraham, feeding the farm animals at Matlock Farm Park, and not forgetting the thrilling rides at the Gullivers Kingdom.

For all details on where to go and what to do for families visiting the Peak District, check out the Peak District Kids website.

Whilst summer is a very popular time to visit the Peak District, campsites and accommodations get booked up quickly, prices rise and car parks are full by 10 a.m. Autumn is my favorite time of year as the colors of the landscape change and the throngs of tourists have dissipated. If you’re visiting at this time of year, nothing beats snuggling in a quaint family cottage with a roaring log fire after a hike in the hills. Peak Venues have some lovely family holiday cottages to hire.

Expert Tip: Our top tip for families visiting is to make sure the kids have decent hiking boots for hiking; wellies or trainers just won’t do, and you’ll get more distance out of those little legs if feet are dry, supported, and comfortable.

knights at chatsworth peak district uk best national parks in europe
© Jenny

Norfolk Broads, UK

By Anisa from Norfolk Local Guide

The Norfolk Broads is a beautiful national park made up of a network of 120 miles of navigable waterways.  It’s perfect for a family vacation because there is something for all ages to enjoy. The best way to explore the Broads is to hire a boat. No previous boating experience is necessary as the water is calm and the speed limits are low to protect the reeds and wildlife.

There are options to rent the boats for a few hires or a few days. Yes, the family can spend the night on the boat. It is also possible to explore the area by car for those who don’t want to be out on the water. There is also the Bure Valley Railway, which is a steam train that goes between Wroxham and Aylsham.

Kids will love the wildlife spotting. They can check out the bird hides at How Hill or the Floating Nature Center in Ranworth. BeWILDerwood is an amusement park aimed at younger children. If they want to go to the beach, the North Norfolk Coast is not far away.

Since the land is relatively flat, there are also many scenic walks suitable for children. Try Whitlingham Country Park, Oulton Marshes, or Reedham. History lovers will find St. Benet’s Abbey and Burgh Castle fascinating. When it’s time for a break, relax at one of the many charming pubs along the Broads.

The best time to visit the Norfolk Broads is the summer when the weather is warm. Norwich is the closest city to the Broads National Park, and there are direct trains from London.

norfolk broads national park best national parks in europe

This is, of course, just a slice of what Europe has to offer in terms of national parks. What’s your favorite national park in Europe? Is it included in the list? No! Is it worth being on our list? Yes! What are you waiting for then? Comment below and we’ll add it to our list of best European national parks!


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