Last Updated on 7 November 2022
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What are the most beautiful natural wonders in Europe?
Are you craving a trip where you can just lose yourself in the pure beauty of nature? A trip where you can truly escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life? It’s no secret that there are some stunning destinations in Europe for city breaks, but what about natural wonders? Europe is a beautifully diverse continent, home to an abundance of mountains, waterfalls, islands, alpine pastures, and coastline. Here are the top 10 natural attractions in Europe you won’t want to miss (and yes, they really are as pretty as the pictures)!
1. Pamukkale, Turkey
A unique spectacle of pure white calcite terraces which spill over the cliff side, Pamukkale has been formed over thousands of years by deposits left behind by the calcium oxide rich waters which flow down over the mountain side. Located in the southwest of Turkey, Pamukkale is a unique natural wonder in eastern Europe (and indeed in the world)!
It’s no surprise that Pamukkale translates as ‘Cotton Castle’! When the sun hits the travertine’s, the reflection can be quite dazzling given their whiter than white look! If you fancy a unique experience, then you should certainly add bathing in the warm mineral rich waters which cascade into the calcium pools to your bucket list for Europe!
How to get to Pamukkale: Around a 1 hour drive from Denizli Çardak Airport (DNZ). Or, you can take a day trip with a tour operator from resorts such as Marmaris (warning: it will be a long day, but the countryside drive is quite pleasant).
2. Tenerife’s black sandy beaches
Until this point in time, you might have happily lived your life believing that all sand is naturally golden in colour. But that’s not the case in sunny Tenerife! Given that Tenerife is essentially a volcano, many of the beaches on this beautiful island are composed of the sediment from volcanic lava.
Over time, the hardened volcanic lava that’s been ejected from Mount Teide has been eroded by the sea, creating sand which is black in colour. Although you will find golden sandy beaches on Tenerife, these are man-made from imported sand from the Sahara Desert and are not original! So if you want to see the original black sandy beaches, you’re better off heading to the north of the island!
How to get to the black sandy beaches in Tenerife: Playa Jardin and Playa de la Martianez are two well known black sandy beaches in Tenerife. They are both within walking distance of the charming seaside town of Puerto de la Cruz, located on the northern part of the island.
3. Krimml Falls in Austria
Given that Krimml Falls is the largest and most breathtaking waterfall in Europe at 380m high, it is undoubtedly one of the must see natural wonders on this beautiful continent! The sheer volume of water which thunders over the edge of the mountain side makes visiting Krimml Falls one of the best things to do in Austria!
Tip: Krimml Falls is the perfect stop on any European motorhome road trip itinerary! There is a campsite adjoined to Hotel Krimmlerfalle where you are able to use hotel facilities also. It’s a rather beautiful place in Austria to wake up in!
You can hike the Waterfall Trail up to the top of the waterfall, which takes you to various viewpoints along the way to offer stunning views down over the falls (you might get a little damp from the refreshing mist of the spray)! Krimml Falls is located in Hohe Tauern National Park which is the largest national park in the Alps brimming with mountains, alpine pastures, forests and rivers, making it one of the best destinations in Europe for nature lovers!
How to get to Krimml Falls: Driving is going to be your easiest option. Krimml Falls is located ~100km east of Innsbruck and ~160km southwest of Salzburg by road.
4. The Scottish Highlands
If you really want an escape from the chaos of life, to disconnect from the modern world and to truly recharge your batteries, then a road trip to the Scottish Highlands may be your cup of tea. You will find some of the prettiest mountains in Europe here, especially in the Cairngorms, Glen Coe and around the northwest coast of Scotland.
In Scotland the natural wonders are plentiful and you will find endless lochs, rivers, mountains, and an array of wildlife such as eagles and red deer. The Scottish Highlands are particularly magical in springtime given the seasonal change in the colours of the undergrowth, to bright pinks, oranges and yellows!
How to get to the Scottish Highlands: Undoubtedly the best way to see the Scottish Highlands is by road. You could do a Scottish motorhome road trip or rent a cottage in the Highlands to use as your base. The best airport for access to the Scottish Highlands is in Inverness.
5. Kornati National Park, Croatia
Located in Croatia, Kornati National Park is one of the hidden gems in Europe and makes for an easy day trip from Zadar. Kornati National Park spans an area of 218 square kilometers and is abundant with islands, islets, rocks, reefs, wildlife and cliffs.
Quite barren in appearance, most of the islands in Kornati National Park are uninhabited with their closest neighbours being the wildlife that reside there and the deep blue sea! What better way to enjoy the untouched nature of Kornati National Park than to spend the day on a boat slowly slaloming between the islands?
How to get to Kornati National Park: The best way to visit Kornati National Park is by an organised boat trip from Zadar. You can pre-book these online before your departure or find a local tour shop in Zadar to book from when you arrive.
6. The Blue Lagoon at Comino Island
Located in between Malta and Gozo, The Blue Lagoon at Comino Island is one of the natural wonders of the Mediterranean which should be on your bucket list for Europe because of its stunningly clear turquoise waters!
A paradise for marine wildlife, it is the perfect place to visit on any itinerary for Malta if you are a water baby, snorkelling-lover or just in search of beautiful aqua waters! Comino is a small car-free island which is mostly uninhabited (there is one hotel), and is where your boat will dock if you do a day trip to Comino from Malta!
Tip: You can combine a day trip to the The Blue Lagoon and Comino with a visit to the beautiful island of Gozo if you’d like. I went with Sea Adventure Excursions and had the most fantastic day (the boat has a slide and glass bottom – who could resist that)!
How to get to the Blue Lagoon: The easiest way to visit The Blue Lagoon is to do a day trip from Malta.
7. Kravice Waterfalls, Bosnia and Herzegovina
One of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s most stunning sights, Kravice Waterfalls is located in the Herzegovinian region of the country. Kravice Waterfalls is one of the best waterfalls to visit in Bosnia and Herzegovina if you want to take a crisp swim in some stunning blue-green waters! There are beautiful picnic areas overlooking the lake and cascading falls, offering the perfect place to enjoy a cold Karlovačko (popular Balkan beer).
How to get to Kravice Waterfalls: Kravice Waterfalls is ~50km drive from Mostar, or can be done as an organised day trip from Dubrovnik.
Read more: Along with some stunning natural wonders, eastern Europe is your best friend if you are looking for cheap places to visit. Why not check out these tips on how to travel travel cheap in Europe for some need-to-know hacks?
8. The Bay of Kotor, Montenegro
The Bay of Kotor is one of the most stunning natural wonders in eastern Europe and best geological sites in the region, making it an easy contender to include on this list! A butterfly shaped inlet of the Adriatic Sea, The Bay of Kotor boasts some of the prettiest mountains in the Balkans!
Located in southwestern Montenegro, you could be fooled into thinking you have stumbled across a Norwegian fjord. But this magical UNESCO World Heritage Site is actually a collapsed river bed, bursting with some of the most beautiful natural landscapes you will find in the whole of Europe!
How to get to The Bay of Kotor: You can visit The Bay of Kotor as a day trip from Dubrovnik with a tour operator given its close proximity to Croatia! Otherwise, The Bay of Kotor is located ~250km southwest of Sarajevo, and road is the best way to reach the area!
9. Bavarian Alps in Germany
A natural border with Austria which erupts from the southern part of Germany, the Bavarian Alps are some of the prettiest mountains you will see in Europe! Imagine snow capped peaks and jagged mountain tops with a carpet of lush green alpine pastures flowing down the mountainside and around their base, dotted with Austrian-style wooden huts!
You won’t find a natural wonder in Europe that is more intimidating and breathtaking, all in one go! The Bavarian Alps are particularly jaw dropping around Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Neuschwanstein castle!
How to get to the Bavarian Alps: The best airport to access the Bavarian Alps is Munich. The Bavarian Alps start in the southwestern corner of Germany near to Lake Constance. They span across the southern border of the country right across to the southeast, and are best explored by road.
Read more: Do you want to feel like you are walking through the pages of a real life fairytale? Then you should visit one of Germany’s most beautiful small towns!
10. Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia
If you haven’t heard or seen photographs of the stunning Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia, then where have you been hiding? Plitvice Lakes is one of the top sights in Croatia and most famous natural places in Europe, and with very good reason. The park consists of 16 natural lakes which are interconnected by flowing rivers and cascading waterfalls of all shapes and sizes.
Tip: Given the inviting waters, you might be wondering whether you can swim at Plitvice Lakes. No, you can’t. If you want to swim underneath clear Croatian waterfalls then you might want to consider visiting Krka National Park. Or, take a trip to Kravice Waterfalls in Bosnia and Herzegovina (#7 on this list).
Charming wooden walkways meander through the park, alongside and over the emerald coloured waters. Imagine the type of place that pixies and fairies might live and play if they were real! Plitvice Lakes is purely enchanting. Who wouldn’t want to visit such a magical natural wonder in Europe?
How to get to Plitvice Lakes: Organised day trips from Zadar to Plitvice Lakes are plentiful, and you can book these online or on arrival in Zadar. Or, you could rent a car and take the ~150km drive from Zadar or ~147km drive from Zagreb yourself.
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