Think about striking scenery you’ve witnessed around the world, and places like the Grand Canyon and Victoria Falls would probably spring to mind. But, did you know there’s a wealth of beautiful places just waiting to be discovered in Europe too?
More commonly known for its fairy-tale architecture, colourful history and deliciously varied cuisines, Europe won’t often crop up as a hotspot for otherworldly landscapes. That’s why we’re here to shine a light on some of its most stunning spots and give you a little language lesson too, so you’ll have the words to communicate your amazement when visiting.
Tucked between the mainland and the North Pole, this Norwegian archipelago is a great destination for first time Arctic adventurers. Renowned for its extensive frozen tundra, towering glaciers and iceberg-filled waters inhabited by Arctic foxes, native reindeer and polar bears. It’s here that you can catch a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis in winter, and the amazing midnight sun in summer (24-hour daylight). Admittedly it’s not the cheapest place on Earth, but you’ll find it’s well worth the investment.
Lying on the banks of Portugal’s Bensafrim River, Lagos is one of the prettiest towns in the Algarve region. Home to a spectacular coastline boasting pristine beaches, crystalline waters and unique rock formations. These grottoes, caves, arches and towers have been created by the battering of waves from the Atlantic Ocean and are ideally explored by boat. Ponta de Piedade is worth a special mention; this dramatic chunk of the headland isn’t unlike a mini version of Australia’s Twelve Apostles.
From the snowy Southern Alps to the vast open plains of Camargue, the scenic diversity of Provence is incredibly impressive. So much so in fact, that several of these landscapes even inspired some of Van Gogh’s most famous works. To experience something truly special, head to the Luberon countryside from June to August where you’ll see (and smell) the fragrant lavender fields in bloom. Sometimes called the Blue Gold of Provence, you’ll find it in everything here from soap to tasty Provençal recipes.
Tatra National Park, Poland
Forming a section of the Carpathian range, the Tatra Mountains create a natural border between Poland and Slovakia. Their surrounding national park provides astonishing views and unspoiled nature, from turquoise-hued glacial lakes to free-flowing waterfalls. People flock to the Tatras year-round to sample the faultless winter skiing conditions, as well as numerous opportunities for summer hiking, rock climbing and caving. Whatever your active interests there’s something for everyone here.
Cinque Terre, Italy
Prepare to be wowed by some of the world’s most arresting coastal scenery on the shores of Cinque Terre. A collection of five ancient fishing villages set into the steep hillsides of the Italian Riviera, it’s here that the natural mingles perfectly with the manmade. Pretty pastel-coloured homes perched on craggy cliffs dish up expansive ocean vistas that’ll take your breath away. Climb into a kayak and paddle out into the encircling waters to take a look back and marvel at Cinque Terre in all its glory.
Stockholm Archipelago, Sweden
There’s no denying the city of Stockholm is picturesque with its soaring steeple tops and a smattering of mint green roofs. But the real wonder awaits in the Stockholm archipelago, a cluster of around 30,000 islands and rocks just moments away from the bustling centre. Hop on a boat and enjoy soaking up the peaceful atmosphere as you cruise past tiny uninhabited islets, small colourful cottages, heavily forested islands, ancient villages and current local communities. You can even take a dip in summer!
Feature image C/O Lukasz Kurbiel, Shutterstock.