Europe’s Most Beautiful Places for Nature
Europe’s natural beauty seems to know no boundaries. Its incredible places for nature include dramatic cliffs and vast mountain ranges, which merge effortlessly with deep forests and the most pristine lakes and oceans. The sheer diversity of natural wonders located throughout Europe makes it difficult to know where to head. Here are a few options to keep in mind when planning your ultimate European rail adventure:
Places for nature in Europe
1. Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
Plitvice Lakes National Park is home to some of Europe’s most stunning water features. There are sixteen idyllic lakes linked together by a network of streams and waterfalls in this blue-green wonderland. There’s an exciting network of walkways and paths, so if you’re up for a hike you’ll reach some spectacular views of this natural wonder.
How to get there by train: The nearest big city is Zagreb, which has direct trains from Vienna, Zurich, Budapest, Munich, Salzburg, and Ljubljana. Once there, catch a bus or take an organized tour to the lakes.
2. Cliffs of Moher, Ireland
Ireland is a beautiful, unspoiled country home to dozens of impressive natural sights. But the dramatic Cliffs of Moher are particularly exhilarating. These limestone cliffs on the western edge of Ireland drop more than 100 yards to the turbulent ocean below, and only the very brave will tiptoe towards the edge. They’ve been featured in movies, television series, and music videos. They should without doubt feature on the top of your Irish bucket list as well.
How to get there by train: Catch a local train to Ennis, via Limerick, and then catch the bus to Moher. You can also take the train to Galway and catch a bus from there.
3. The Matterhorn, Switzerland
Choosing the most dramatic mountain in Switzerland or Italy is an almost-impossible task – but given the notoriety and splendor of the iconic Matterhorn, its inclusion is a no-brainer. This isolated jagged cliff rises 15,000 feet into the clean Alpine air. Over the years it has claimed the lives of more than 500 climbers. Fortunately, it’s just as impressive from the ground.
How to get there by train: To get to Zermatt, where the best views of the Matterhorn await, you’ll need to change to the Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn in the town of Visp. The train will then climb up to the scenic town with dramatic views en route.
4. Durmitor National Park, Montenegro
Durmitor National Park in Montenegro is perhaps one of Europe’s most breathtaking parks, but tourists often overlook it for the better-known regions. Durmitor was formed by glaciers, is crisscrossed by beautiful rivers and underground streams, and has some of the deepest gorges in Europe. The region is also home to endemic flora and diverse fish populations. There are incredible walks and hikes that will expose you up close and personal to this beautiful natural attraction.
How to get there by train: The national park is large and borders several regions, but the easiest option by rail is to take a train to Mojkovac on the Belgrade-Bar line. There you can catch a bus to Žabljak.
5. Black Forest, Germany
Germany’s Black Forest has a mythical feel that is as enchanting as it is beautiful. There are more than 4,000 square miles of iconic fir and pine trees that make up the Black Forest. Together with a network of pristine rivers they make this a paradise for nature lovers. The area has inspired famous Grimm Brothers’ fairytales, and a long hike through the forests will make it very clear why.
How to get there by train: The Black Forest Lines scenic train runs through the forest. It follows a route between Konstanz and Offenburg.
6. Tatra National Park, Poland
Europe’s High Tatra mountain range, straddling the border between Poland and Slovakia, is one of the continent’s most impressive places for nature. The Valley of Five Lakes in the Tatra National Park is a particularly rewarding hike in the summer months. You’ll walk alongside raging mountain rivers and through dense forests all the way to the pristine lakes. It’s high enough to get you close to snow-capped peaks without too much exertion.
How to get there by train: There are regular trains to Zakopane from Kraków, as well as less frequent overnight trains from Wroclaw and Warsaw.
7. Verdon Gorge, France
France is no stranger to natural beauty, and many people flock to the Alps for the best mountain views and hikes. But Provence’s Verdon Gorge runs for 15 miles and offers sublime swimming in turquoise lakes, incredible walks, and thrilling rock climbing. It has been labeled as one of the most beautiful river canyons on the continent.
How to get there by train: The easiest way to explore the gorge is to travel by train to Nice. Choose a local tour operator once you’re there. Smaller mini-vans can then drive you around the most scenic roads of the region.
A list about Europe’s natural beauty will always be divisive, but this can only be a good thing. Given how many natural wonders there are on the continent, it’s comforting to know that stunning landscapes are often just a short train ride away. You can visit Europe’s best places for nature with a Eurail Pass.