National Parks of the Mediterranean
The Mediterranean is as irresistible for its outdoor beauty as its vibrant culture and amazing history; be sure and get to know the natural side of this famous sea region on your travels through Europe.
Turkey has 33 national parks so here’s an teaser for you: Nemrut Mountain National Park near Adiyaman and the capital of Turkish apricot production is the most famous site of all. Huge sculptures of gods perch on a windy mountaintop, which you ascend in the middle of the night to catch the stone faces in the light of the rising sun. Another park with iconic Turkish images is Goreme National Park in the heart of Cappadocia, consisting of valleys with the world-famous rock formations of Cappadocia. These are conical rocks shaped over centuries out of eroded volcanic stone, and known as Fairy Chimneys.
A rocky promontory on the south-eastern coast of Cyprus, at Cape Gkreko National Forest Park you can hike along a network of nature trails lined with miniature pine trees and juniper stopping, to admire spectacular views from sea cliffs overlooking turquoise seas. Take advantage of one of the benches along the way to stop, rest, and lose yourself in the sight of the crystal clear waters of Cyprus.
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.
Malta’s national park is more an urban example, located within a group of other attractions. Ta' Qali is a wide open space in the centre of Malta where you can find the National Stadium, the National Park and amphitheatre, the Crafts Village and a vegetable market which is locally known as the Pitkalija. The area was an airfield during World War 2 and has been transformed into a recreational area, with 1940’s bunkers refit for peaceful uses such as jewelry stores. Like most things in Malta, this area is small in scale but it is considered by some Maltese as an ideal place to go for a picnic and spend weekend afternoons.
Sailing along the coast of the Sardinia’s Maddalena National Park in Italy is an incredible experience with its lively seabed, perfect for scuba divers. The Cinque Terre has to be one of the most beloved national parks in Italy, and did you know that there is also a Cinque Terre Protected Marine Area? The picturesque villages, coastline, vineyards and general magic of the area form a UNESCO World Heritage site as well. For a bang, so to speak, or the chance of one, visit Vesuvius National Park and visit the volcano that made Pompeii what it is today: ”a volcano to be respected and a mountain to love”.
Just over an hour's sailing from Majorca is Spain’s Cabrera Archipelago National Park, a group of islands and rocky islets. The marine ecosystem is noteworthy for its Neptunegrass meadows, which enable the proliferation of marine fauna. This is one of the best-preserved marine areas on the Spanish coastlines. There are also several exceptional plants unique to the park and several large colonies of birds. Did you know that Spain’s highest mountains aren’t far from the Mediterranean? Glaciers gave us the dramatic slopes and peaks, and today this area has forests, mineral springs and a wide variety of plants and animals, heavy on the Spanish ibex.