Northern light in Scandinavia
The Northern light is an absolute must-see for any travel-loving person. The best place to see the Northern light, or aurora borealis, is of course in the northern parts of Scandinavia. The northern light is best visible in that region, because the green lights are the clash of electrical solar winds with chemicals in the Earth’s atmosphere. These solar winds are magnetically drawn to the North pole and therefore are best visible in parts close to the polar region.
There are many travel organizations that offer trips to the cold and dark areas of Scandinavia, either with a tour guide, in a group or on your own. To top off the Northern light viewing experience, you could rent a small log cabin, and warm yourself at the fireplace in between viewings.
Frisian islands in the North sea
The Frisian islands are located in the North sea, and form a belt along the north and west coasts of the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark. The Frisian or Wadden islands are separated from the mainland by the Wadden sea, which dries up completely when the tide is low. The inhabited Dutch islands all offer “wadlopen” tours, where a tour guide takes the participants on a walking tour across the wadden sea at low tide. It is strongly advised never to go walking across the dry wadden by yourself, but always with an experienced tour guide, who knows exactly when the tide will rise and can see upon the timely arrival on land again.
The drying up at low tide of the wadden sea is also a great development for sea and land birds that use the dry wadden sea as a foraging place.
Bialowieza forest in Poland and Belarus
The Bialowieza forest is one of the largest forests and the only primeval forest left in Europe. It used to be a much larger forest that stretched across the European plain, but time and habitation have decreased it to what it is now. It’s located on the border of Poland and Belarus and is home to 800 European bison, among other animals, such as the lynx.
The total area of the Bialowieza is 1,418.85 km2 and much of it hasn’t been visited by people over hundreds of years. A large part of the forest is under strict protection and the Bialoweiza is a UNESCO World Heritage property.
Apart from the large protected areas, there are also many hiking and cycling trails. Some of Bialowieza’s lakes are also open to the public and are perfect for water sports and sailing.
Matterhorn mountain and Swiss alps
The Matterhorn is one of Europe’s highest mountains and is located in the Swiss alps. As always with high mountains, many have tried to climb it, and many of them failed. It is estimated that almost 500 climbers died during their attempt to ascent the Matterhorn, making it one of the most deadly mountain peaks in the world. Several films have been made about the first attempt to ascent the Matterhorn, also known as “the mountain of mountains”.
Not only daredevils can find peace of mind at the Matterhorn mountain. Many railway tracks lead to the high peak and account for a wonderful mountain view. The Matterhorn attracts many tourists and there are also many simple, intermediate and advanced hiking routes available around the mountain.
Cairngorms national park in Scotland
Cairngorms national park is situated among the Cairngorms mountain range and surrounding hills in the Scottish highlands. This area has only been designated as a national park in 2003 and covers an area of 4,528 km2.
The national park is not a protected area and is open to many forms of tourism. It is possible to stay in the Cairngorms national park, in one of the hotels, B&Bs, log cabins, chalets, hostels or group accommodations. Besides the obvious hiking, walking, cycling and water sports availabilities, Cairngorms also has its own golf course, right in between the beautiful lakes and hills.
Iceland is a great place to go to. Hiking trails are omnipresent, its nature is awe-inspiring. Some relatively active volcanoes sometimes make it hard to reach Iceland or to leave it, due to the high activity high amounts of ash are released into the air.
These volcanoes are not all bad, the plate boundaries also make it possible for the remarkable geysers to be active. Iceland is also home to the oldest known geyser in the world, which is strikingly named “Geysir”. Besides that, the geothermal activity gives way to many hot water springs that have beneficial health effects.
As in Norway, Iceland has many beautiful fjords, which offer a great view of the surrounding scenery. Then there are multiple waterfalls, some smaller, some larger, that offer a wonderful Iceland experience for anyone. Iceland is a great place to visit all year round.
Triglav national park in Slovenia
Triglav national park is the only nature park in Slovenia and is named after the highest mountain that resides in it, the Triglav. It runs along the Swiss alps and Italian and Austrian border and covers an area of 880 km2. The Triglav mountain is a national symbol and is featured on the Slovenian national flag.
The Triglav National Park Public Institution takes care of the park’s protection, but also carries out research of the geography and fauna inhabitants of the park. There are many waterfalls in the park, also mountains and hills that make for a great hiking or cycling route.
Retezat national park in Romania
The Retezat national park is situated among the Retezat mountains in Romania. The area is very mountainous, with about 60 peaks in the park alone and almost double the amount of glacier lakes, that provide for a wonderful view, due to their bright blue colour.
The protected area covers one of Europe’s last remaining old-growth forests, where rare animals such as wolves, lynxes, wildcats, deer, otters and brown bears reside.
Hiking is possible in the park and there are many trails available to follow. Some of them are for advanced climbers, but there are also intermediate and beginner trails, for a lighter stroll around the park.