Natural Wonders Around Europe

Europe is full of natural wonders that many of us have been ticking off our travel bucket lists before the covid-19 travel restrictions. Today we are feeling inspired to continue writing travel bucket lists gearing up for a surge of travel on the other side of the pandemic.

Many of you may have heard of and visited many enchanted destinations in Europe, including Blue Grotto in Italy or Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland and perhaps Dune of Pilat in France or Bigar Waterfall in Romania and the Verdon Gorge in France. Some of these magical places have become popular travel gems. And of course there are many more lesser known European spots that leave us in awe.

Today we are sharing our top five natural wonders in Europe that are on our bucket list. And we’d love to hear more about yours.

Durmitor National Park in Montenegro

The impossibly rugged and dramatic Durmitor (Дурмитор) is one of Montenegro’s – and Mother Nature’s – masterpieces.  

Durmitor is a stunning limestone massif located in Northern Montenegro and belonging to the Dinaric Alps or Dinarides. It is also the name of Montenegro’s largest protected area, the Durmitor National Park, which constitutes the heart of a landscape shaped by glaciers, numerous rivers and underground streams of which are embedded in the much larger Tara River Basin Biosphere Reserve. There are a total 48 Durmitor mountains higher than 2000 meters above the sea level. The highest peak in Durmitor is Bobotov Kuk at an altitude of2523 meters. There are also 18 glacier lakes here that are collectively called the Mountain Eyes, or Gorske

This fairyland will make you feel you’re in Middle Earth from the Lord of the Rings!  This picturesque land is a playground for many adventurous travelers, from hikers to water rafting and zipline lovers, mountain bikers and life contemplators.  When walking in the breathtaking Durmitor mountains, you cannot miss an outstanding geological feature – the fold belt called Sareni Pasovi. This beautiful formation is a result of the Alpine orogeny – Greek for mountain generating – the process of natural mountain building.

You cannot miss checking out Tara River Bridge – the elegant span of the 150m-high man made construction completed just as WWII was starting. At the time it was the largest concrete arched vehicular bridge in Europe. In May 1942, with large numbers of Italian and German troops stationed in Žabljak, the Partisan command gave the order to blow up the bridge, which was re-built in 1946. And what is even more fascinating is that the Tara river canyon underneath is the deepest canyon in Europe, so you are sure to take in some mind-blowing views up here.

Matterhorn on the Swiss-Italian Border

Matterhorn, located in south Switzerland on the border with Italy, is one of the most famous European alpine peaks. It towers to 4,478 meters above the sea level and is marked by its sharp pyramid shape. The Matterhorn’s pronounced shape has always attracted many tourists and photographers. A quick search on Instagram or Google will reveal our fascination with this natural wonder.

There are a wide variety of different attractions to be discovered around the Matterhorn. A top excursion is Gornergrat. On this three-thousand metre mountain ridge there is a viewing platform with a truly unforgettable view of the Matterhorn and the surrounding mountain world.

And of course, skiing!

To ski from Zermatt to Italy and back is not a walk in the park as you will need a full day and you need to be a good skier. Thankfully, “customs” here aren’t very strict!  You will  cross the border while passing the Rifugio Testa Grigia, which makes for a great first Italian espresso stop. The slopes on the Italian side are gorgeous, wide and well groomed. The long way down to Breuil-Cervinia seems to be a never ending slope, while the shape of the Matterhorn changes around every corner.

The Italian side of the ski area has a distinctive different feel than the Swiss side. It comprises more gently rolling slopes (mainly reds and blues) that are great for cruisy ski runs and heaps of fun.

Melissani Cave in Greece

Surrounded by dense forestry, hidden away another miracle of nature in Kefalonia’s subterranean world – the cave of the nymphs in Greece. Beautiful waters with changing shades of blue as the sun sets, honey-like brown walls and countless stalactites will take your breath away here.

Legend has it that the Cave of Melissani was the very spot where one of local nymphs, Melissanthi (or Melissani), drowned after being rejected by the god Pan.  And the cave continues to exist like a reminder of this mystical (Greek mythology)  occurrence.

Melissani cave-lake gives off a unique appeal, as inside the ‘B’-shaped cave is a lake that has a small island, as well as trees and forests surrounding it. Its two chambers,
one sun-lit and the other dark and ominous covered with stalagmites, algae and moss, create a unique and unforgettable picture.

This place feels like a real fairytale come true!

Eisriesenwelt in Austria

The largest ice cave in the world is thought to be the entrance to hell according to Austrian legend. Eisriesenwelt in, or The World of the Ice Giants in German, can be found beneath the Hochkogel Mountain, in Styria, about 70 kilometers from Salzburg. This descent from a magical subterranean cave into the mystical underworld in Austria feels like a true adventure from a children’s fairytale book.

Eisriesenwelt is the largest of the world’s ice caves, an unusual phenomenon created when ice forms beneath already-created lava or limestone caves underneath the ground. Often confused for one another, glacier caves are formed within ice, while ice caves are formed within stone structures. And although it’s cold here, this place was believed to be the entrance into the burning hell because of its scary look. Austrians didn’t explore the cave until Anton Posselt traversed its icy depths in 1879, finally unlocking the true beauty of this underworld.

Sarek in Sweden

Sarek National Park landscape is stunningly beautiful, a real wilderness. It can be a challenging area and not without risks to walkers – narrow valleys between high peaks, several over 2,000 metres above sea level. This wondrous world isn’t for everyone. The remote feeling, the vast landscape, the silent mountains and the impressive wildlife – it’s like visiting another world. Here you can experience raw and pure nature!

Thousands of years ago, hunter gatherers lived in this area mainly feeding on the reindeer. The great mountains were seen as religious places and there is evidence of sacrifices and places of worship being made at the foot of the mountains. The reindeer became not only a source of food but also to provide milk and transportation for the local Sami people. In 1732, it is recorded that the first Swede; by the name of Carl von Linné, ventured into this region to explore the mountains.

There are not any marked trails for hikers, as well as no accommodation. Anyone hiking in this park should be an intermediate to advanced hiker; as the lack of shelter, along with alternating weather and dangerous wild terrain does require experience to safely explore. This is a truly raw experience in nature!

If you’d like any help planning your trip to see Europes Natural Wonders, please contact our team on 1800 242 353 and we’ll be happy to answer any of your questions.