The top 10 ‘must visit’ natural beauty spots in Europe

The year so far has been nothing but cold, wet and windy and because of this many of us have taken to scrolling holiday sites on our lunch breaks looking for somewhere more beautiful to travel to.

Luckily, you don’t have to spend a fortune flying to the Maldives or Hawaii for some of the world’s most stunning natural landscapes – you can find all of that in Europe.

Foreign exchange experts Eurochange analysed popular review site TripAdvisor’s data to find out the top 10 “must-visit” natural beauty spots in Europe so that you know exactly where to fly, drive or sail to this spring.

The research looked at the number of reviews, average review score and number of five star reviews for the European attractions listed on the site to figure out where we should be visiting.

Here are their findings…

1. Plitvice National Park, Croatia

The number one attraction for nature-lovers in Europe was in Croatia in Southeast Europe.

The Plitvice National Park is a huge 295 square kilometres of forest which is well known for its lakes and waterfalls.

The terraces on the 16 lakes give tourists an incredible view across the park and towards the limestone canyon where its waterfalls descend.

2. Blue Lagoon, Iceland

In second place comes Iceland’s Blue Lagoon.

This geothermal spa sits above Grindavik on the Rekjanes Peninsula and the large hot water lake is stunning as well as relaxing.

The black volcanic lava field and milky white water make for a naturally instagrammable environment – and you can make use of the free clay masks to improve your skin.

If you can afford it, then you should stay at The Retreat at Blue Lagoon – a stunning spa hotel with access to a private section of the lagoon as well as a Northern Lights watch, sunrise yoga and great food.

If not, just visit for the day, but nip over to the Old Bryggjan Grindavik Cafe at the nearby harbour for the best Lobster Bisque in Iceland.

3. The Keukenhof Gardens, Netherlands

The Keukenhof Gardens in Lisse are the biggest flower gardens in the world and help to promote the Dutch flower industry.

The huge arrays of colourful blooms are stunning to see and are sure to cheer up anybody who is trying to leave behind the winter blues.

Wandering around the gardens will make you feel as though you’ve just stepped into a rainbow.

if you’re looking for somewhere to eat nearby, try Het Tussenstation Lisse – they serve an excellent continental breakfast and tasty cakes for the weary traveller.

4. Wieliczka Salt Mine, Poland

A lesser known attraction, the Wieliczka Salt Mine, near Kraków in Poland came in fourth.

Since Neolithic times salt has been produced here due to upwelling brine, from the 13th century until 2007 table salt was mined there.

Due to its long history, the mine is full of labyrinthine passageways ad shafts, an underground lake, for chapels, statues carved by both miners and artists and several chandeliers.

The stunning attraction is a mix between raw, natural beauty and creative human intervention.

Gorgeous.

5. Mount Etna, Sicily

This active volcano sits on the east coast of Sicily, in the city of Catania.

It is the most active volcano in Europe and the oldest recorded active volcano in the world.

The juxtaposition between sitting on an Italian beach looking up at the volcano and then driving up into snow is a magnificent experience.

While the air temperature in December at the top of the volcano can dip below 0 degrees, the earth at the top of the volcano will feel hot to the touch.

Sometimes sections of the summit are off-limits as they send out jets of lava – earth-shakingly cool.

6. Lake Geneva, Switzerland

Lake Geneva in Switzerland actually shares it’s banks with France.

As one of the largest lakes in Western Europe, its size is sometimes unexpected – but, on a sunny day the water of Lake Geneva is an eery pale blue surrounded by snow-capped mountains, wildflowers and ancient castles.

Lac Léman as it is also known, was well-known as a place which inspired the poetry of Lord Byron and its beauty leaves little question as to why.

7. Etretat Cliffs, France

The Etretat Cliffs in France are chalk cliffs which feature three beautiful natural arches and a pointed formation – the Needle – which rises 70 metres up from the sea.

The blue water, white cliffs and lush green tips of the cliffs can be seen from the beaches and are a naturally stunning sight.

We would recommend a picnic of French bread, cheeses, preserves and pate on the beach, or some local seafood if you can find it.

8. Jökulsárlón, Iceland

Putting Iceland in the top 10 twice for natural beauty hotspots is Jökulsárlón – a large glacial lagoon next to the Vatnajökull National Park in Southeastern Iceland.

The lagoon is covered in blue-white frozen glaciers and small icebergs which give it the nickname “diamond beach”.

Wrap up warm for this one an hold your breath that you'll see the Aurora Borealis on your drive home.

9. The Matterhorn, Switzerland

A second mention for Switzerland is attributed to one of its most-famous peaks which also straddles Italy.

The Matterhorn is a mountain in the alps, well-known because of its incredibly high summit of 4478 metres and its distinct shape.

The near symmetrical appearance of this pyramidical peak lends it a spectral beauty as it looms above the surrounding glaciers, though on a sunny day when the sky is blue it's far more cheerful looking.

Interestingly, the first ascent of the mountain in 1865 ended in tragedy when four of the seven climbers fell to their deaths meaning that you'd be right to worry about climbing it.

The peak is credited with ending the golden age of alpinism because of the incident, so make sure you don't try to climb it without proper training and instruction.

Over 500 climbers are thought to have died climbing The Matterhorn and its most dangerous face was only successfully scaled in 1962.

10. Vintgar Gorge, Serbia

Vintgar Gorge, also known as the Bled Gorge, is a huge valley in Serbia.

The wooden walkway attached to the walls of the gorge allows you to stroll along and view the glittering blue-green water which flows within the gorge.

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The water is made up of the Radovna River and the waterfalls and white water create a beautiful vision which will help you shrug off the cold winter months.

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