Home to 50 countries, Europe is one of the world’s most varied continents in terms of culture, history and geographical diversity. From verdant mountain ranges and lush countrysides to crystalline coastlines and arctic scenery, it contains hundreds of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, thousands of beautiful corners and too much natural beauty to soak in in one lifetime. We’ve rounded up the 10 most beautiful natural wonders on the European continent which we’re sure will take your breath away.
Italy: The Tuscan countryside
Few vistas are as idyllic and alluring as that of Italy’s Tuscan hills. Lined with cypress trees, textured with patchwork vineyards and dotted with rustic farmhouses, the countryside is all at once rural, manicured and serene, while its vibrant shades of green and yellow are a feast for the eyes. The Val d’Orcia, encompassing Siena, Pienza and Montalcino, is one of the loveliest parts of the region.
Croatia: Plitvice Lakes National Park
Made up of 16 terraced, crystalline lakes, the Plitvice Lakes National Park is a standout attraction in Croatia and well worth a day trip from the capital. This UNESCO World Heritage site is famous for its waterfalls, caves and lakes, which were created due to water flowing through limestone and chalk terrain for centuries, and for the shade of its turquoise water.
Svalbard represents one of the most remote regions of the world, as well as one of the most northernmost inhabited landmasses on earth. This archipelago lies close to the arctic circle and the majority is covered with glaciers, making this a truly untouched arctic wonderland. Svalbard is famous for its wildlife, such as polar bears and reindeer, and was originally used as a whaling base in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Ireland: Cliffs of Moher
Located on Ireland’s western coast, the magnificent Cliffs of Moher are a sight to behold – the rugged cliffs rise up 120m high from the water and are 7km long, curving in and out of sight into the distance. With the Atlantic ocean continuously breaking onto the cliffs and heavy winds greeting you along the edge, this dramatic landscape represents the force of nature in its purest form.
Italy: Capri’s Blue Grotto
The Blue Grotto in Capri is one of Italy’s main draws for the incredibly vibrant blue hue visible within the cave. The peculiar effect is caused by sunlight passing through a deep underwater cavity and shining back up through the water, thus illuminating the cavern. The mouth of the sea cave is only a meter high so visitors can only enter the Blue Grotto with small boats when the tide is low enough to permit entry.
Switzerland: Swiss Alps
The Swiss Alps are one of the world’s largest mountain ranges and cover 65% of Switzerland, making it one of the most alpine countries in Europe. The mountains were formed 45 million years ago and have some of the highest peaks in Europe, including the Monte Rosa and Matterhorn, which historically provided protection to the land-locked country. Today, nature enthusiasts flock to the Swiss Alps for hiking, skiing, paragliding and swimming.
Greece is made up of 6,000 islands and islets and Santorini is one of the country’s most famous islands thanks to its dramatic coastline, white-washed buildings and red sandy beach. The rugged red cliffs, colored due to the iron-rich sediment of the rock, contrast sharply with the turquoise Mediterranean waters gently lapping at the beach below, making it one of the most beautiful natural wonders in the country.
Italy: Amalfi Coast
This 50km stretch of coastline on the south-side of the Sorrento Peninsula is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world for its mix of beauty, culture and nature. The Amalfi Coast is made up of a number of towns and villages dotted along the coast, including beloved Positano and Amalfi, and afford fabulous views onto the Mediterranean sea. Don’t miss a boat tour along the coast to take in the craggy coastline.
England: Land’s End
Land’s End is the most westerly point of mainland Cornwall and one of Britain’s most famous landmarks due to its peacefulness and natural beauty. The Cornish coastline has spectacular views onto the Celtic Sea and walking along the promontory will give you views onto the magnificent sea arch – made of weather granite – as well as numerous coves and caves.
Scotland: Isle of Skye
Scotland’s second largest island is a magical place with expansive valleys, rolling mountain ranges, sweeping coastlines and a beguiling atmosphere. It is also called ‘cloud island’ due to the misty, moody climate – the weather, coupled with natural rock formations such as the sharp Old Man of Storr pinacles, make this an otherworldly place to explore.