The national parks of Southern Europe are top class, with the professional personnel necessary to preserve Mother Nature’s wild landscapes. The care and attention with which Southern Europe treats its wilderness land is comparable to no other part of the world. Here, we will discuss the very best of those national parks following our articles on Central Europe and Eastern Europe.
This National Park was once mainly situated in Abruzzo, a mountainous southern city in Italy. However, since its land was extended, it now crosses the boundaries of Lazio and Molise. The cool climate of the Abruzzese mountains and rugged forests of Abruzzo is an ideal habitat for furry mammals, which is one of the reasons the 496.80 km2 land mass was turned into a national park. As such, the park is hailed as saving many species of wolves and bears since opening in 1922.
Belluno Dolomites, Italy
Unsurprisingly, Italy has more than one entry on this list. Cherry-picking the best parco nazionales is a tough task for anyone. And that’s not just for the wider country – even the most beautiful national park around the Dolomites mountain is a difficult choice. The views of the mountains from Belluno are second to none, with bright green carpets of lush grass leading up to the snowy peaks and rocks of some of Europe’s tallest mountains.
Opened in 1918, Ordesa, up in the Pyrenees, is Spain’s oldest national park. The Pyrenees on the border of France is the closest Southern Europe has the Alps and offers similar extreme heights for hiking but without the freezing temperatures. The glacial valleys have eroded the cliffs over time to form the kilometre-deep Anisclo Canyon.
Picos De Europa, Spain
The green area of mountains between Gijon and Bilbao is the natural habitat of beautiful amphibians, birds and invertebrates. Iberian wolves and the Cantabrian brown bear, which specifically lives in northern Spain, are among over 70 species of animals in Picos that require protection. Also, often seen in the park are many rare birds, including buzzards, eagles and falcons, which can be seen soaring majestically over the mountain tops on clear days.
The yellowy hills of Gerês are particularly important to the Portuguese national identity. What looks like normal suburban farmland near Soaja in Northern Portugal was in-fact a Roman settlement. The clues to its past can be found in the winding roads and stone walls that separated allotments. The park began preservation in 1972 due to international interest.
Well away from the hustle and bustle of commercialised package-holiday destination of Zante is the National Marine Park, on the south of this beautiful Greek island. The bay is best known for its turtles (mainly Loggerhead and endangered giant turtles) but it is also the natural habitat of Monk Seals. The nature trails along Laganas Bay are also an attraction for the more relaxed among the 500,000 tourists that flock to this popular Mediterranean island every year.