If you like to experience the less traveled, most beautiful and unique, consider a trek to one of these three least visited, but the best of Europe’s National Parks.
National Park Risnjak, Croatia
Nature lovers will enjoy the spectacular beauty of Risnjak with its towering mountains, endless forests and dazzling waters set where the Alps meet the Dinaric Range. Risnjak has everything but the crowds as one of the least visited National Parks in Europe. Foreign tourists are especially rare because of a lack of advertising, not magnificence.
Risnjak is located 15 kilometers from the Adriatic coast and 104 kilometers from the capital city of Zagreb. Offering a myriad of hiking adventures in the spring filled with brilliant wildflowers, cooler temperatures in the summer than lower lying areas and in the autumn the trees are bathed in fiery reds, golden yellows and glowing oranges. The winter brings a winter wonderland, and at all times of the year you’ll find incredible views of the islands and the mountains of neighboring Slovenia and in the distance, the Alps.
The sinkholes, caves and abysses make the karstic terrain especially fascinating, and you’ll find a wide variety of wildlife including the lynx, the symbol of the park, as well as Alpine deer, chamois and even bear and wild boar.
Snaefellsnes National Park, Iceland
Mystics have been flocking to the region of Snaefellsnes National Park for years, although it’s still relatively uncrowded, allowing visitors to experience more of the true Iceland – earning a reputation as “Iceland in Miniature.” The 700,000 year-old volcano at the center of the peninsula, is the same place that Jules Verne used as his doorway into the middle of the planet in “A Journey to the Center of the Earth.”
This is the only park in Iceland that reaches from the seashore to the mountaintops, with views of lush fjords and glistening ice-capped volcanic peaks as well as remote golden beaches and crooked lava flows.
The magnificent landscape also includes geothermal hotsprings, waterfalls and powerful waves that crash against black sand beaches. Listen to the songs of the golden plover, meadow pipit and other small birds, and watch for killer whales, minke whales and porpoises that are commonly spotted along the coast. You’re likely to spot the Arctic Fox, mink, rabbits and reindeer here too.
Pindus National Park, Greece
Pindus National Park in northwestern Greece is one of the least visited and least known in all of Europe, located in an isolated mountainous area. Much of the park covers the Valia Kalda Valley and the slopes of surrounding mountain peaks and filled with pristine nature, thick forests, roaring streams, rocky cliffs and narrow winding gorges – perfect for scenic hikes.
Here you’ll find the Eurasian brown bear, in fact the region is called, “Bear Park.” You may also discover wolves, deer, wild cats, wild boar, the Balkan Chamois and five varieties of bat species. The area is also home to rare bird species such as the Golden eagle and the Lanner falcon, as well as a large variety of reptiles and amphibians.
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