National Parks in the Atlantic Coast countries of Europe have vistas for every mood, from broody dales and moody highlands to drama-queen geothermal areas, exotic islands off the coast of Africa, wistfully beautiful stretches of dunes and heavenly green forests and vales.
The largest national park in Europe is Vatnajökull National Park in Iceland. Few other places in the world exhibit the effects of such a wide range of natural phenomena, where the battle between ice and fire still rages within the park's boundaries. Thingvellir National Park, “Symbol of the Icelandic Consciousness”, is in a rift valley between the American and European geological plates - and where else can you see evidence of this geological summit meeting? Snæfellsjökull National Park, at the foot of a volcano and glacier, is steeped in Icelandic mystery and romance and reaches from the seashore to the mountaintops.
Ireland’s six national parks include Killarney National Park in County Kerry, renowned for its lake-studded mountains and for being the sanctuary of Ireland’s last herd of wild red deer. The Connemara National Park is a seemingly endless, lunar landscape of peat bogs. More bogs cover much of the heights and vales at Wicklow Mountains National Park, which is also endowed with fast-flowing streams descending into the deep lakes of wooded valleys before continuing their course into the surrounding lowlands. How beautiful does that sound?
Seabirds abound in the National Park of the Atlantic Islands off the coast of Spain. Contrasts take on their maximum splendour in the Canary Islands National Parks. Head back into prehistory in the laurisilva forests of Garajonay, a UNESCO World Heritage area. The volcanos, craters and solidified lava in Timanfaya will make you think you have touched down on the moon. Enjoy the most rugged, untamed countryside at the Caldera de Taburiente National Park, with its almost sheer canyons and cliffs that reach over 2,000 metres in altitude. You can also see Spain's highest peak, the Teide, an imposing volcano that towers 3,718 metres above sea level, one of the world's most spectacular geological monuments.
In northern Portugal the Peneda-Gerês National Park is a natural jewel; Come and discover these natural surroundings and unique species including wild ponies, golden eagles and the Castro Laboreiro dog breed. Learn about local village customs, too, in the Montesinho, Alvão and Douro International Natural Parks, and always be ready for some water-based fun on the clear streams running through this area.