Though great architecture and man-made masterpieces are always a treat for our eyes, but nothing astonishes us more than masterpieces created by nature. Well, at least for me. I love to explore charming villages and towns, get lost in majestic cities, but, Dear Reader, if you ask me what places left me the most unforgettable impression, at least first 5 of them would be natural.
Today, as winter cold has overtaken our daily lives, I want to remember 5 warm days spent in the most beautiful natural places in Europe. And, in addition to this, I hope that mine most beloved nature spots will become an inspiration for your upcoming trips. Believe me, Dear Reader, all 5 below mentioned destinations are more than worth your time!
So here it goes, 5 places in Europe that I would recommend for every nature lover!
5. Peaks of Europe Mountains (Spain)
Peaks of Europe, mountains located in the Asturias region in Northern Spain, are one of those rare places that made my head spin. Literally. The nature landscape here is unforgettable: steep rocky peaks mixed with azur mountain rivers and narrow mountain trails looks super awesome. Highest peak of Natural Park, Torre de Cerredo, reaches up to 2.65 kilometers, and it is believed that, together with its siblings, it was the first sight of Europe for ships arriving from America. That’s why they are simply named Peaks of Europe.
As Picos de Europa National Park isn’t that small, you need to know where you’re headed. Personally we got our starting destination from the tourist information center, and I definitely recommend you to visit the same place. We walked along the River Cares and we were astonished by the view that we found there. What is even more unbelievable, routes were very easy to walk on, because they there plain almost all the time. We didn’t need to climb any steep mountain to admire the perfect view.
P. S. It was our (P. and mine) first trip abroad together! Picos de Europa were the first mountains we both hiked in, and the first and only mountains where we were attacked by wild mountain goats! Funny story, actually, but they wanted canned peaches which P.’s mom had taken there for our lunch in the mountains. As we opened lunch box somewhere on the table-formed rock, and were getting ready to taste those goods, we heard a clatter of hoofs from the nearby mountain. There were 3 or 4 mountain goats with curled horns running straight towards us! You can’t imagine how frightened we were for a second.Nevertheless we saved those tasty peaches and ourselves, and now we can make it a lesson from that, Dear Reader. If you are thinking of having picnic in the mountains, be sure that no one is watching you!
4. Mount Etna (Sicily Island, Italy)
Cosmonautics! That’s the only word that could describe Europe’s tallest active volcano located in Eastern Sicily. The colours that varies in the nature of this 3.3 kilometers high volcano are like from the other planet. The ground is all black with a little bit of dark brown mixed in it, and all the mountain is furrowed by various size of crater holes which you can explore as much as you want! What is more, Etna is one of the most active volcanoes in the world, so the smoke coming from its peak makes it even more impressive.
I have to say, that Mount Etna was the strangest and one of the most awesome nature places that I have ever seen. It’s nothing like other nature spots in Europe. And the only thing that you should know before going there, is that you need to climb to the top!
3. Balos Beach (Crete Island, Greece)
Until this year1 Balos beach was the most beautiful and the most exotic seaside that I have ever seen in Europe! Located in western part of wonderful Crete Island, Balos lagoon is one of the top tourist destinations there. And there is a strong reason for that!
Though Crete is famous for its beautiful beaches, but Balos overruns them all. Seems like it was taken from somewhere in Southeast Asia landscape, and was brought and placed in Europe. It has perfectly white sand, bright and warm turquoise water, rocky mountains around, and small islands in the horizon.
What is more interesting about it, is that it is quite a challenge to reach it. Firstly, if you are scared of heights, you won’t like the road that leads to the top of the mountain from which you have to take a path towards Balos. The road is located on the ridge of the mountain, it’s narrow and just with a gravel pavement. In addition to this, there are no fences guarding cars from going down to the sea. Oh, and don’t be surprised to find mountain goats on the road, as they love to surprise excited tourists by jumping on the road. Secondly, after you leave your car at the top of the mountain, there is quite a distances to walk down to the beach. But believe me, the nature is so picturesque here that you won’t notice as you will walk down to it.
2. Saxon Switzerland (Germany)
Our latest nature finding in Europe – Saxon Switzerland – is definitely worth to be at the top of this list. We have already shared our detailed experience from this natural park in the Saxony region in Eastern Germany, but I want to name it once again. It is a hilly national park in on the banks of beautiful river Elbe. Together with Bohemian Switzerland, national park in Czech Republic, Saxon Switzerland forms Elbe Sandstone Mountains.
Mountains here looks like really made of wet sand. For me they remind sand castles that we used to built on the beach when we were little. With all the forests spread out between them and with river Elbe peacefully floating into horizon, the view from Saxon Switzerland peaks is incredible.
As to the places which you should visit there, unquestionably No. 1 of them is Bastei Bridge. Due to almost 100 meters long man-made bridge, Bastei rock formation is the most iconic place in whole Natural Park. And, in addition to this, all the paths around Bastei are above river Elbe, which makes this place and this view 100 percent fulfilled.
1. Ursa Beach (Portugal)
In the Central Portugal, less than 50 kilometers from Lisbon, there is an astonishing Sintra National Park. With its perfectly preserved nature, one of the most charming towns in Portugal, and the westernmost point of Europe, Sintra is the top destination in Portugal. However, when I have to name my first nature choice in Europe, I am going just with one piece of this Natural Park – Ursa Beach (Praia da Ursa). It’s the wildest, hardest to reach, emptiest and the most beautiful beach I have ever seen. And it is a bit paradox, because it is located approximately 100 meters away from the most crowded place in Portugal – Cabo da Roca, or the westernmost point of Europe.
Praia da Ursa, as all Portugal seaside, is located on the shores of Atlantic Ocean. So the water isn’t as warm as in, for example, Mediterranean Sea. Nevertheless, surroundings are so beautiful and the water is so clean, that I would immediately exchange all the other resorts into this one! But, in order to reach it, you have to go through steep and rocky trails and it’s just a torture to climb back. However, believe me, Dear Reader, it’s worth every single drop of your sweat! So pack your most comfortable shoes and speed towards Sintra National Park.
So, what do you think? Have you visited some of these nature spots, Dear Reader? What seemed to be the most intriguing place for you? I want to hear everything! See you in the comments.