National Parks in the Balkan Peninsula
The main thing to know about the national parks of the Balkan Peninsula is why they aren’t yet completely overrun by visitors. Fjords to rival any in the world, mountains graced with ancient sites and holy places, the biggest wetlands in Europe – these are unquestionably some of the world’s greatest natural treasures.
At the top of the Balkan Peninsula in the Julian Alps is Slovenia’s Triglav National Park, named after its highest peak. This area looks as if it’s where all the postcard photos are taken: views of craggy mountains draped in dense green forest abound. A “Wow! This is beautiful!” destination for sure. Glacial Lake Bohinj is in the park and is a favorite place for summer water sports and just chilling out.
Cascading lakes amidst tangles of green invite forested walks at Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia. Other national parks in the mountainous region are Risnjak, replete with the bizarre formations only karstic stone produces; Paklenica and its springs, forests and abundant game; and Northern Velebit, the top pick for rock climbers, For more information on coastal national parks in Croatia, visit our page on National Parks on the Adriatic Coast.
Another truly unique landscape is one of Europe’s three rainforests, located in Montenegro at Biogradska Gora National Park. As soon as you step into Prokletije the amazing view will challenge your eyeballs to stay in their sockets, and if you’re an adventurous spirit seeking a challenge, Prokletije will make your wishes come true with its opportunities for exhilarating hiking and climbing. Montenegrin Prokletije is only a small part of this very special range of mountains located between the Dinarides and Šarske mountains.
What will you see in the national parks of Greece? The famous Samaria Gorge, deep and imposing gorge, the scenic streams, the caves, the dense forests full of pine and cypress trees compose scenery of unforgettable beauty in the national park of the same name. The thick reeds on the shores of the lake Mikri Prespa in Prespes National Park host pelicans, wild ducks and many other species of rare birds; Parnassos National Park is known for its birds of prey, woodpeckers and other birds, and to top it all off, you can seek advice from the Oracle of Delphi, also in the immediate area.
Romania’s six national parks include grasslands, gorges, caves, volcanic lakes, and an extensive river network. If one of these parks is the crowning glory, it might have to be the Danube Delta, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and Europe’s largest wetland. Walk through serene alpine meadows covered with wildflowers, trek around glacial lakes, ride horses, go mountain biking, climb odd rock formations, photograph fossils traces of 15,000-year old cave-bear species, track gold eagles or try your hand at traditional crafts - or then maybe relax in a local home and sample some homemade plum brandy. There are different ways to appreciate nature’s bounty, after all.
Located on the Danube River where it borders Romania in eastern Serbia, Djerdap National Park contains some of the country’s most impressive natural beauty and archeological sites. The main feature of the national park is the Djerdap Gorge, known as the Iron Gate, which stretches nearly 100 kilometers alongside the slopes of the Carpathian Mountains, creating a wide and deep section of the Danube.
The higher sections of Fruska Gora consist of thick forests, whereas the lower valleys of the mountain contain orchards and centuries-old vineyards. Fruska Gora also has 16 orthodox fresco covered monasteries tucked in its woods as well as loads of archeological sites.
Bulgaria’s three national parks are Pirin, Rila and Central Balkan. Located inland and comprising some of Europe’s few remaining truly wild regions, they are well endowed with rivers and are actually the source of water for much of south eastern Europe. At these parks not only can you submerge yourself in natural attractions but also learn about the close relationship between local people and the bountiful yet fragile ecosystems of their mountain homes.