The quintessential holiday haunt for most travel-lovers is the beach. But Europe has way more than shore to explore. Join us as we take a stomp around some of Europe’s most beautiful forests.
Forget about crowded beaches with their loud children and pestering hawkers. Sometimes you can’t beat the peace and tranquillity of a good forest. There’s a hymnal solitude to a forest that helps to heal the soul and replenish the spirit. So let’s take a leafy gambol around some of Europe’s most frondescent finest.
1. Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
Three words of advice for anyone travelling to Plitvice Lakes: don’t forget your camera! This place has an otherworldly beauty to it – all cascading waterfalls, turquoise lakes (sixteen of them), sprawling spruce trees and cloud-bothering pines. Don’t be surprised if you need to pick your jaw off the floor on more than one occasion. There’s a reason Plitvice Lakes National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
2. Trillemarka – Rollagsfjell Forest, Norway
Just 100 kilometres from Oslo awaits the Trillemarka – Rollagsfjell Forest, a remarkably calm and beautiful place no matter the season. A quiet wilderness of gently rising mountain sides and weaving rivers, the Trillemarka – Rollagsfjell Forest also provides a precious home to 93 species that appear on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (subtext: they’re rare), including the lesser spotted woodpecker, the Siberian Jay and the golden eagle.
3. Saxon Switzerland National Park, Germany
It’s a popular spot for hiking, biking and climbing – and it won’t take you long to see why. But don’t worry. There’s plenty of this national park, located near Dresden, to go around. And as you wander among the towering conifers, lush fern groves and peculiarly-shaped cliff faces that define this part of the Elbe Sandstone Mountains, you won’t have to stroll far to find your own piece of paradise.
4. Oulanka National Park, Finland
Racing rapids flanked by dense pine forests are the hallmark of the Oulanka National Park, situated in the northern Ostrobothnia and Lapland regions of Finland. It’s beautiful at any time of year, but if you’re visiting in winter remember that this is a mere stone’s throw from the Arctic Circle. So wrap up and bring your snowshoes. And if you fancy trying to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights, well, the Oulanka National Park will give you a suitably spectacular backdrop.
5. The Bavarian Forest, Germany
There’s a nursery-rhyme charm to the Bavarian Forest, with its water meadows and pretty timber houses dotted among the tall trees. It’s the largest protected forest area in central Europe and a wonderful place to while away an afternoon. So why not?