National park holiday ideas

Rent a holiday cottage close to nature

Add This

Sophie Gackowski

Sophie Gackowski
HomeAway travel expert


Woodland in Plitvice LakesIt’s hard to write an article on Europe’s best National Parks. Not due to lack of inspiration, of course – there are 359 to choose from. And that’s the difficulty, really: a whole lot of beauty, and just one article to fit it into. 


Here, we take a look at five of Europe’s best, but also diverse, National Parks – covering bleak moors and mineral-rich lakes, cliff-clinging towns and Caribbean-like islands, finishing it all off with lava-laden landscapes. Feeling inspired? Read on.

 

 

Top five National Parks in Europe


   

Dartmoor National Park, England Dartmoor National Park, England

We had to start with one of our own, right? Well, not exactly – this choice has more to with sheer beauty than national pride. The 368 square miles that make up Dartmoor National Park are nothing short of cinematic: ponies roam wild on it sweeping, tawny moors; gurgling streams moisten already verdant, mossy rocks; and enormous tors (or granite hills) stand proud when turbulent, sleeting skies appear. Dartmoor National Park is arguably Devon’s most alien landscape, but something the entirety of Europe should be proud of. And speckled as it is with rustic cottages and warming pubs, it is, in short, an outstanding place to explore.

View Dartmoor National Park cottages

 
   
 

   

Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

Have your finger on the pulse of trending travel? Then you’ll know Plitvice Lakes has soared in popularity over recent years. Perhaps a little sad for those who wanted to keep it a secret; all the better for those of us who can now gaze upon, and help to protect, its majesty. A UNESCO World Heritage site, its 16 mineral-rich lakes have gradually meandered through the rocks, creating cascading waterfalls and trickling streams all the while. Aside from the flurry of butterflies here, its wooden bridges are some of the most photographed in the world. And at just two hours from Zadar, it’s now amazingly easy to take a day trip to the fairytale park.

View apartments in Zadar

 
   
 

   

Cinque Terre National Park, Italy Cinque Terre National Park, Italy

A little different to the others on this list is Cinque Terre National Park – not big, bleak or brimming with rare wildlife, but just as beautiful. The ‘five lands’ cover just 15 square miles, but Monterosso and Manarola, Vernazza, Riomaggiore and Corniglia are awesome – and not in the overused sense of the word. Since they gained National Park status in 1997, not a single tourist trap, souvenir shop or vehicle has been allowed to pass their pastel-coloured houses (though Monterosso was already a little resort-like – you’ve been warned!). Clinging perilously to the cliffs, the man-made terraced vineyards slope down to deep-blue waters.

View Cinque Terre National Park villas

 
   
 

   

Cíes Islands National Park, Spain Cíes Islands National Park, Spain

Made up of three islands – Monteagudo, Do Faro and San Martiño – the Cíes Islands are possibly Spain’s most enchanting. It wasn’t until 2000 that they were given National Park status, but since then, here are the rules: no watersports (though snorkelling is permitted); bring all rubbish back with you; only 2,200 people allowed to visit each day. It may seem like a tightly run ship, but all of these things help to protect its beauty. One of the country’s most important spots for wildlife, particularly birds, it’s also covered with white, sandy beaches. While it’s not possible to stay on the Cíes Islands, most take the 45-minute boat trip from Vigo.

View apartments in Vigo

 
   
 

   

Teide National Park, Tenerife Teide National Park, Tenerife

Ok, ok – so we’ve technically given Spain two spaces on the list. But Teide is so grandiose that it’s hard not to pay it attention. And, for the same reason, it doesn’t really matter where you stay on holiday in Tenerife – it’s that big. It offers over 50 walking trails through its volcanic landscape, topped with El Teide itself, reaching 3,718 metres high (the highest in Spain). With 14 plants found nowhere else in the world, almost 1,000 archaeological sites pertaining to the Guanche people (many aren’t signposted to avoid you lot taking souvenirs...) and some of the world’s most alien geological structures – well, I don’t need to say any more.

View La Orotava holiday homes

 

 

Holiday Homes Away From It All

GLENCOE HIGHLANDS FABULOUS 4 Star holiday cottages

Glencoe Luxurious and elegant properties, in the beautiful valley of Glencoe. If it's water sports, mountain biking, hill climbing, sking, or touring you want, this beautiful rugged glen has it all. Exclusively designed for couples seeking that ...

Original black and white 16th Century Cottage

Our black and white cottage dates back to 1632. Lounge, dining room and recently updated kitchen, outside courtyard for that all important al fresco dining during summer months, upstairs offers a quirky layout typical of this age of building, slop...

Foxglove Cottage

A charming 18th century oak-beamed Lake District holiday cottage that offers superior self-catering accommodation for up to four people. Pets welcome. The cottage is situated in the non-tourist Lake District village of Greystoke, which has a cast...

Cosy detached quaint Cotswold cottage in village near walks and facilities

Cooks cottage is a delightful cosy Cotswold stone cottage attached only to neighbouring sheds on a quiet no through road leading to walks into the beautiful countryside yet moments from an excellent shop with post office services, two gastro pubs,...

Luxury Holiday Apartment With Exclusive Heated Indoor Swimming Pool And Sauna

The Retreat is the award winning and recently completed luxury holiday apartment adjoining Wolferlow House, the former rectory, set in beautiful scenery on the Herefordshire / Worcestershire border. The highlight is the exclusive use of a private...

Charming 17th Century Cottage In Croscombe, Somerset

The entrance hall to Millview with its beautiful old flagstones worn to a polish by generations of boots and shoes has a stone archway leading into the older section of the house dating from the very earliest years of the 17th century. Here, the s...

Loch fronted holiday cottage in the Highlands of Scotland with hot tub

Offering spectacular views across Loch Tay towards the magnificent Ben Lawers, Ardeonaig Lodge is nestled within an acre of beautiful natural grounds, with private hot tub, shore and harbour. Sleeping eight guests in four bedrooms, the lodge offe...

Free: Swimming, Boating And Club With Entertainment Just 2 Miles Away

The Acland Hotel with its holiday cottages is situated right in the centre of the historical village of Stogursey just a short distance from the local town of Bridgwater in Somerset. There are many interesting places just a short drive away, like ...

17th Century thatched cottage close to Exmoor, Devon sleeps 4

This Grade II listed thatched cottage is in the small working village of Bishops Nympton,home to wildlife photographer and presenter Johnny Kingdom. It featured briefly in the recent series 'Johnny's New Kingdom'. Surrounded by beautiful countrysi...

Luxury barn conversion cottage

This cottage is a recent conversion of a sandstone barn to high quality holiday accommodation with the emphasis on retaining the character features. The cottage is 'inverted' with the living space, kitchen and dining area on the first floor to giv...

MapWorld USA Europe Northern Ireland Scotland Northumbria Cumbria Isle of Man Yorkshire North West Wales West Midlands East Midlands Cotswolds East of England London South East England West Country
       


Search for holiday rentals

Search for holiday ideas
 


WIN £10,000 FOR YOUR DREAM HOLIDAY

Sign up to our newsletter

Our latest updates and special offers, direct to your inbox

Advertise with HomeAway

Related Articles


 

Other Categories



Popular Articles