10 Nature Destinations in Europe to Explore This Spring

Last update: April 28, 2024 in Best Destinations
10 Nature Destinations in Europe to Explore This Spring
© Photojogtom, dreamstime.com

Fed up of being stuck indoors over the winter? Here are ten places for spring – all are truly delightful and should whet your appetite for travel and exploration this year.

Abisko National Park in Sweden

Abisko National Park in Sweden © Ghm Meuffels, dreamstime.com

The Abisko National Park covers around 77 km2 (29.7 mi2) of forests, fjords, canyons and waterfalls in the northernmost reaches of the Swedish province of Lapland. The park features the Aurora Sky Station, one of the best spots in the world for viewing the Northern Lights between November and March. In fact, Lonely Planet has selected Absiko and the Northern Lights as the world’s most illuminating experience in the United Nations’ Year of Light 2015.

There is plenty of scope for caving, fly fishing and Alpine, off-piste or Nordic skiing. Abisko is also the starting point for Sweden’s best known skiing and hiking route, Kungsleden (the King’s Trail, 467 km / 290 mi long).

Make sure you don’t miss any of the stupendous experiences Abisko National Park has to offer with the help of local guided tours.

Davolja Varos in Serbia

Devil's Town © Djordje Rusic, dreamstime.com

Designated a National Landmark, Davolja Varoš features two extremely rare natural phenomena in one area. The name means ‘Devil’s Town’ and refers to 202 rock formations on the Radan Mountain near Kuršumlija. Known as earth pyramids, they stand between 2-15 m (6.6 ft – 49 ft) tall. Layers of soft rock are topped by harder rock, which erodes at a slower rate and forms umbrellas of andesite, protecting the base from further erosion. The result is blocks of stone weighing up to 100 kg (15 st) balanced apparently precariously atop the towering pillars. Two natural springs of extremely acidic water, Davolja voda (Devil’s Water) and Crveno vrelo (Red Well), emerge beneath the formations.

An organized tour is the perfect way to explore the stunning landscape of Davolja Varoš.

Duncansby Stacks in Scotland

Duncansby Stacks in Scotland © Karin Claus, dreamstime.com

Although John o’Groats is often said to be the most north-easterly part of the Scottish mainland, Duncansby Head Lighthouse in fact holds that honour. The headland juts into North Sea with the Pentland Firth to the north and west and the Moray Firth to the south. Duncansby Stacks are two spectacular rock formations lying within the Duncansby Head SSSI, to the immediate south of Duncansby Head. They rise dramatically 64 m (210 ft) out of the sea and can be viewed best from the grassy cliff top above. As well as the striking landscape, a large variety of rare birds and marine mammals occupy the cliffs and waters around the headland.

Paklenica National Park in Croatia

Paklenica National Park in Croatia © Przemyslaw Chodura, dreamstime.com

Paklenica National Park in Starigrad, northern Dalmatia is centred on a karst river canyon on the southern slopes of the Velebit. The main focal features are the two canyons: Mala Paklenica, the smaller of the two, is 12 km (7.8 mi) long and 400-500 m (1,312 ft – 1,640 ft) wide, with vertical cliffs rising above both sides of the canyon to a height of over 650 m; while Velika Paklenica, the larger, is 14 km (8 mi) long and 500-800 m (1,640 ft – 2,624 ft) wide with cliffs at up to 700 m (2,296 ft). The park also contains a huge number of pits and caves, the longest being Vodarica Pit (300 m / 984 ft).

There are hugely diverse plant, mammal, bird, amphibian and reptile populations dwelling amid the extensive forested areas, including many rare and endangered species.

An organized outdoor tour will allow you to discover not only the wonders of Paklenica National Park but also the beauty of three other stunning national parks in Croatia.

Sfinx and Babele in Romania

The Sfinx in Romania © Cornholio4ya, dreamstime.com

High in the Bucegi Mountains in Romania there is a plateau, also named Bucegi. Here, erosion by the wind and rain has worn away at the rocks to form striking figures such as the Sfinx and the Babele. The Sfinx is at an altitude of 2,216 m (7,270 ft), and when viewed from a certain angle, resembles the Great Sphinx of Giza. Babele means ‘the old women’, a name the stones have been given because of the way the natural mushroom shapes have emerged as the layers of soft and harder rock have eroded at different rates.

Together, the two unique formations are one of Romania’s Seven Natural Wonders and are one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations.

Babele in Romania © Gusa Mihai Cristian, dreamstime.com

Discover these natural wonders of the Carpathians accompanied by a local guide in an adventure tailored according to each and everyone’s ability level.

Belogradchik Rocks in Bulgaria

Belogradchik Rocks in Bulgaria © Elenajs, dreamstime.com

The Belogradchik Rocks in north-west Bulgaria, declared a Natural Landmark by the Bulgarian Government, cover an area of 50 km2 (19.3 mi2) and are split into five main groups. The most famous and interesting are the central group of rocks, lying close to the town of Belogradchick, to the south, where each rock formation bears a name, such as Adam and Eve, the Schoolgirl, Mushrooms, Rebel Velko and so on. Each formation carries a legend of its own.

There are also many hundreds of caves within the rocks, including Magura Cave, where both evidence of prehistoric species and cave paintings have been found.

The best way to explore this incredible natural monument and the area surrounding it is by choosing one of the available local tours.

Lagoa das Sete Cidades in Portugal

Lagoa das Sete Cidades in Portugal © Rui G. Santos, dreamstime.com

Translating as the Lagoon of the Seven Cities, Lagoa das Sete Cidades is a twin-lake in the crater of a massive dormant volcano on the western third of the island of São Miguel. The two lakes are connected by a narrow passage, which has a bridge crossing, from which you can view the dramatic colours of Lagoa Verde (the Green Lake) and Lagoa Azul (the Blue Lake) – each named for the colour it reflects in sunlight, caused by the presence of algae or cyanobacteria. The crater lake is one of the most important freshwater resources in the Azores archipelago.

There are many available organized tours which will reveal to you all the wonders of this iconic place in the Azores and the natural nearby attractions.

Geiranger Fjord in Norway

Geiranger Fjord in Norway © Fredrik Vindelälv, dreamstime.com

Geiranger Fjord lies in the Sunnmøre region of Møre og Romsdal county and is one of Norway’s most visited tourist spots. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A fjord cruise is one of the best ways to see the magnificent views of snow-covered mountain tops, rich verdant vegetation and dramatic waterfalls such as the Seven Sisters and the Bridal Veil.

Kayaking and fishing will also reward you with breath-taking views, or hike along on of the many marked trails. You may still be able to catch some snow if skiing from the summits down to the fjord below appeals to you - check all the available guided tours and chose the ones that suits you best.

El Chorro Gorge in Spain

El Chorro Gorge in Spain © Sokolovsky, dreamstime.com

El Chorro (‘The Spurt’) National Park is one of most popular rock climbing destinations in Europe because of its dramatic limestone cliffs and the sheer-sided, narrow river gorge, Garganta del Chorro. There are said to be over 500 bolted climbing routes accessible on foot, mostly hard climbs. However, it is also a popular area for mountain bikers, hikers and campers.

The gorge is spanned by a small bridge suspended 200 m (656 ft) above the water below and the ccess to the bridge for stunning views is via the Caminito del Rey (Little Pathway of the King).

Explore El Chorro Gorge and follow the Caminito del Rey with the help of private tours organized in this impressive national park.

Lake Windermere in England

Lake Windermere in England © Bobbrooky, dreamstime.com

At 18 km (11 mi) long, Windermere is England’s largest natural lake. It is a long and narrow ribbon lake and lies entirely within the Lake District National Park in Cumbria. It contains 18 islands of varying sizes, the largest being Belle Island which is privately owned.

The lake has long been a major tourist attraction and there are numerous passenger cruises operating for visitors to enjoy the scenic landscape and the wildlife or simply relaxing.

The lake is an important migration highway for geese and other birds in winter. Boating activities are permitted, but there is a speed limit of 10 knots (19 km/h) to preserve the tranquillity and the environment of the area.

Guided tours offer you the opportunity to explore not only Lake Windermere but many of the other nearby lakes, and to discover the hidden gems of Lake District National Park.