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22 Best National Parks To Visit In Europe In September (2022 Review)

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Europe has over 500 national parks. They all offer spectacular natural beauty, wildlife and access to phenomenal walks or hiking. They are also very different from one another. Some are located in the mountains, some are founded in valleys, while others are found in rolling hills awash with rivers, waterfalls and lakes. Most are isolated from civilization while others are in the center of it. They are also spread out in many different countries which means culture, food, accommodation, and transportation are completely unique. All of this means figuring out which one you should go to can be a little overwhelming. To help, I asked travel bloggers which are the best national parks to visit in Europe in September. Here are their answers.

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Other Options

Not sure when or what type of holiday that you may want? Here are a list of other destinations (cities, towns and some state and national parks) that would be ideal at different times of the year.

Best National Parks To Visit In Europe In September

In the following article, each travel blogger identifies one of the best national parks to visit in September in Europe. They discuss why each destination is a fantastic place to go, the best things to do, directions and what weather and temperatures you may expect. If someone stayed or knows of a great accommodation, that has been included as well.

best national parks to visit in Europe in September
Yorkshire Dales National Park (Photo courtesy of Coralie from Grey Globetrotters)

Yorkshire Dales National Park, England

By Coralie from Grey Globetrotters

The glorious rolling green hills of Yorkshire Dales National Park in England draw visitors all year round, but in September something magical happens as the foliage on the trees takes on autumnal hues. The heather bursts into bloom and the high moorlands are carpeted with dense purple flowers making this one of the reasons why this is one of the best national parks in Europe to visit in September.

Head for the remote and beautifully quaint village of Muker in the most northern part of Yorkshire Dales NP for the best heather display and to experience the last agricultural show of the season in the Dales. This is proper James Herriot country with fluffy white sheep dotting the hills, ancient drystone walls, and babbling brooks a-plenty. The Yorkshire Dales also inspired the Bronte Sisters, and a visit to the “Bronte village” of Haworth is a real treat for literature lovers.

One of the most beautiful ruined abbeys in England is the UNESCO World Heritage site of Fountains Abbey. It is easy to reach by bus from the pretty cathedral city of Ripon, or you might like to explore Bolton Castle where Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned for a year by her own cousin, Queen Elizabeth I.

Weather And Directions

September may herald the end of summer, with nights starting to draw in, but it’s still typically very pleasant, although you should always expect rain! While temperatures should be around 62 F you’ll find a warm Yorkshire welcome and huge portions of food wherever you go in Yorkshire Dales National Park.

Manchester is the closest international airport, about 1 hour 40 minutes from Ripon, or about 2 hours from Muker village.

Pro Tip

If you love a road trip, the short “Buttertubs Pass” route from Simonstone near the village of Hawes (famous as the home of Wensleydale cheese) to Thwaite in Swaledale was described by Jeremy Clarkson as “England’s only truly spectacular road”. It’s just 6 miles long, but the scenery is breath-taking at every twist and turn.

Hotel Recommendation

Coralie says, “I would recommend staying at the luxurious Swinton Hall, a luxury Grade II castle in stunning parkland grounds at the centre of the Swinton Estate near Ripon.”

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best national parks in Europe to visit in September
Pyreneess National Park (Photo courtesy of Izzy and Phil from The Gap Decaders)

Pyrenees National Park, France

By Izzy & Phil from The Gap Decaders

Creating a natural border between France and Spain, the Pyrenees is a stunning mountain range which reaches from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean. Within the Pyrenees and covering most of the spectacular features and attractions of this mountain range is Pyrenees National Park, stretching 60 miles (100 km) across France from the Aure Valley in the east to the Aspe Valley in the west.

Pyrenees National Park is a mecca for hikers and one of the best national parks to visit in September in Europe. It includes the giant cirques of Troumouse and Gavarnie (cirques are bowl-shaped depressions that glaciers carve into mountains and valley sidewalls at high elevations), the crystal clear Lac de Gaube (Gaube Lake), the popular Pont d’Espagna, and Vignemale, the highest of the French peaks at 3298m. 

The Cirque de Gavarnie is a favourite Pyrenees hikes – well marked and easy trails lead to an immense bowl deep in the mountains, full of typical Pyreneean flora and fauna, and topped off by the highest waterfall in France.

Visit the Pont d’Espagna, a stone built bridge, where the Gave de Marcadau and Gave de Gaube (streams) meet and rush under the old stone bridge on your way to Lac de Gaube (lake), in the spectacular valley of the same name. Enjoy a picnic at the lake before taking the cable car back down for an incredible ride with views to match.

The best town for good access to all the attractions at the National Park is Cauterets. A typical mountain town with its’ fair share of cafes and shopping, it’s a lovely place to spend an afternoon, maybe resting your legs in between hikes.

Weather And Directions

September is a glorious month in Pyrenees NP – the colours are incredible and the weather still retains the summer heat, with average noon temperatures of 62oF (17°C). There is unlikely to be snow below 1.87 miles (3,000 meters) meaning great hiking, often in a t-shirt!

The nearest large airport is Toulouse, a two hour drive.

Pro Tip

Always check the weather before hiking in Pyrenees National Park, whatever the month. Mountain weather can be unpredictable, so be prepared and carry warm and waterproof layers.

Hotel Recommendation

Izzy and Phil say, “Close to the mountain town of Cauterets is Camping Cabaliros  a small family run site of grassy meadows and stone built communal spaces. It is in the heart of Pyrenees National Park and a great base to explore the area.

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best national parks to visit in September in Europe
Plitvice Lakes National Park, (Photo courtesy of Mike Swigunski from Unsplash)

Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

By Dzangir from Dr Jam Travels

Plitvice Lakes National Park is one of the most beautiful and best national parks to visit in Europe in September. Tourism to the National Park started over 150 years ago and in 1979, became a UNSECO World Heritage Site. Plitvice Lakes National Park is 74,000 acres (300 square kilometers) and located in northern Croatia. It is famous for its sixteen beautiful lakes, linked to each other by cascading waterfalls.

The 16 blue-green lakes in Plitvice Lakes National Park are divided into 12 upper lakes (Prošćansko Lake, Ciganovac, Okrugljak, Batinovac, Veliko jezero, Malo jezero, Vir, Golovac, Milino jezero, Jezerce, Burgeti and Kozjak) and 4 lower lakes (Milanovac, Gavanovac, Kuleđerovac and Novakovića Brod). The Park ends with Veliki Slap or the Great Waterfall, which is 255 ft (78 m) high.

You can choose different trails to explore Plitvice Lakes National Park. The shortest one will take you 2 hours and the longest one can take up to 10 hours. You can also explore the Park by boat or bus. The best time to arrive is early in the morning so that you can avoid the crowds.

To make the best use of your time, start at the upper lakes, slowly move downwards, then take the boat across Kozjansko Lake, and after seeing the Great Waterfall, return by bus to the parking lot. With this route, you will see most everything and experience the beauty of each of these lakes at their best.

If you arrive in late September, you will see colorful autumn leaves surrounding the lakes which would be extra special. Pick a sunny when the colors will be most intensive.

Weather And Directions

Plitvice Lakes NP is located half an hour from the city of Bihač in Bosnia and Herzegovina, 2 hours from Rijeka or Zagreb, and 2.5 hours from Split.

You can expect average temperatures in September to range from 66oF – 82oF with some rain.

Pro Tip

You will be around many waterfalls so it will be slippery. Don’t forget to take appropriate walking shoes with good traction.

Hotel Recommendation

Dzangir recommends staying at the Hotel Jezero near the National Park.

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best national parks to visit in Europe in September
Wicklow Mountains National Park (Photo courtesy of Christian Bowen from Unsplash)

Wicklow Mountains National Park, Ireland

By Mary From Be Right Back

The Wicklow Mountains National Park is one of six national parks in Ireland and one of the best national parks to visit in Europe in September. It is located in Wicklow County, about an hour south of Dublin. As its name suggests, the Wicklow Mountains National Park is home to beautiful lakes, amazing drives and some of the highest peaks in Ireland, such as Mount Lugnaquilla.

September is a great month to visit the East Coast of Ireland as days are still long and the weather is quite mild and pleasant. At this time of the year, Dublin and the surrounding areas, like Wicklow Mountains National Park, are also less crowded which makes it a great time to visit as well. 

Wicklow Mountains NP is the perfect place if you love road trips and hiking. One amazing hike is Lough Ouler, a heart shaped lake located in the heart of the Park. The hike requires a decent level of fitness and proper hiking shoes, however, arriving to the top will be your best reward with incredible views of Lough Ouler.

If you are fond of road trips, driving the Sally Gap from Redwood to Blessington is something you’ll want to add to your bucket list. This scenic drive offers amazing views of the National Park, including the Guinness Lake (Lough Tay). For a snack or a pub break, Wicklow town and Blessington are good options that will immerse you in Irish culture. 

Weather And Directions

Average temperatures range from 52oF -63oF with about 2″ of rain for the month.

The closest international airport is Dublin airport. Reaching the Wicklow Mountains National Park from Dublin is one hour by car.  

Pro Tip

It is recommended to book your accommodation in the Wicklow Mountains quite a bit in advance as selection is limited and the demand can be quite high. It is also recommended to wear appropriate gear when hiking in the park which includes hiking shoes and waterproof jackets. 

Hotel Recommendation

For a luxury modern alternative that is easy walking distance to key sites in Dublin, consider the Marker Hotel.

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best national parks in Europe to visit in September
Saxon Switzerland National Park (Photo courtesy of Peggy from Pixaby)

Saxon Switzerland National Park, Germany

By Christin of Christin Has Fernweh

Named Saxon Switzerland for its mountainous terrain, this National Park is located about 25 miles (40 km) from Dresden, Germany. It features the Elbe Sandstone Mountains, a formation of Sandstone pillars. Stretching over 23,000 acres (93 km²), you will be able to discover in one visit why Saxon Switzerland National Park is one of the best national parks in Europe.

Climbing, hiking and cycling are most popular here. The hikes offer panoramic views in spectacular settings. The photo of the Bastei Bridge, for example, can easily be taken on a hike, without the use of a drone or fancy equipment. Mountain climbers love it because instead of climbing up a sidewall of a massive mountain, you can climb up individual sandstone pillars. 

The nearby Dresden Elbe river Valley used to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is still a famous German wine region. If you enjoy wine, try the local Müller-Thurgau or Riesling.

Dresden itself was bombed heavily during World War II and has been beautifully restored. It is known for art and architecture, must-sees are Frauenkirche, a baroque church, and the Zwinger Palace, inspired by Versailles. 

You will likely have pleasant weather days visiting the Saxon Switzerland NP in September. Also, the main tourist season will be over – most visitors come in July and August. For reasons of preservation, some of the climbs are only open seasonally. In September, all restrictions are lifted and you can enjoy any summit you like. For a detailed list of restrictions, please see the Park’s website

For a day trip, visit the Ore Mountains nearby. Known for their handcrafted Christmas decorations, towns such as Seiffen start spreading Christmas joy as soon as summer is over. 

Weather And Directions

The climate is temperate with warm summers and cold winters. In September, average high temperatures will be around 64oF. Be prepared for rainy days, even in the summer. 

Dresden has an international airport (DRS) but you might find more connections to nearby Leipzig (LEJ). The drive from Dresden airport takes one hour. From Leipzig you will be driving about two hours. 

Pro Tip

If you are truly up for an adventure, take a sleeping bag and try one of the over 50 bivouac sites (wild camping) in the National Park for a night under the stars! Locations are listed on the park’s website as well. 

Hotel Recommendation

If you wish to explore Saxon Switzerland National Park on a day trip from Dresden, Christin recommends staying at the Steigenberger Hotel.

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best places to visit in September in Europe
Cinque Terre National Park (Photo courtesy of Dymphe from Dym Abroad)

Cinque Terre National Park, Italy

By Dymphe from Dym Abroad

One of the best national parks in Europe to visit in September is Cinque Terre National Park. This is a beautiful area in the Liguria region in northern Italy. The National Park is the smallest national park in the country with an area of about 3200 acres (39 square kilometers).

What makes Cinque Terre National Park unique is the five small towns that are inside of it. They are Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. All five towns are connected by footpaths, for example the famous sentiero azzurro which is 12 km long and connects all five villages. There are also trains and boat transfers between the towns.

The towns of Cinque Terre are beautiful, with many photogenic spots. Each town features colorful and picturesque houses tucked against rugged cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Almost everywhere you look, you have spectacular views of the sea, nearby towns, or dramatic cliffs.

Besides enjoying everything that small gorgeous Italian towns have to offer, the walks and hikes between the towns are highlights of the National Park. Besides the cliffs and the views of the Sea, you walk along paths that are sometimes hilly and other times flat, exploring its natural beauty.

Another highlight is the beaches in Cinque Terre National Park. Almost every town offers at least one beach. For example, the public beach of Monterosso al Mare is a fantastic place to spend the day.

When you are in Riomaggiore, you should have lunch on the terrace of Nessun Dorma. Make sure you try the delicious bruschetta while savoring the views.

It is better to visit Cinque Terre in September than the very busy summer months. In addition, the temperature is more comfortable for walking and exploring.

The closest cities to Cinque Terre are La Spezia and Genoa where you can easily take a train to the Park.

Weather And Directions

When you go to Cinque Terre NP in September, you can expect temperatures around 75°F and about 3″ of rain over 10 days.

The easiest way to get to Cinque Terre National Park is by flying into the airports of Pisa or Genoa and then taking the train. By car, it takes about 1.5 hours from Genoa and about 1 hour from Pisa. If you are already in Italy, the closest cities to Cinque Terre are La Spezia and Genoa from which you can easily take a train to the Park.

If in Florence, Cinque Terre National Park is also an easy day trip by train.

Pro Tip

To hike the trails of the Cinque Terre National Park, you need a hiking pass. Besides that, you can buy a pass that provides access to the hiking trails and also gives you unlimited train rides between the towns

Hotel Recommendation

Dymphe says, “A great hotel in Monterosso al Mare is the Hotel Pasquale.”

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Best national parks in Europe to visit in September
Jotunheimen National Park (Photo courtesy of Ela and Beata from Stunning Outdoors)

Jotunheimen National Park, Norway

By Ela & Beata from Stunning Outdoors

Jotunheimen National Park is home to the highest mountains in Norway and the whole Scandinavian Peninsula. The most spectacular features of Jotunheimen are rugged high mountains, glaciers and glacial lakes, all entangled together in a dense web of hiking trails.

Jotunheimen National Park is located in the southern part of Norway. It is a very popular destination for all kinds of walkers and adventure seekers. Thousands of kilometres of walking paths through beautiful natural features means that any nature enthusiast will find many exciting acitivities. Those include one-day hikes, multi-day hikes, cycling, canoeing, dogsledding, or just relaxing in nature. Some of best hikes in Norway can be found in Jotunheimen, including Besseggen Ridge, or Galdhøpiggen – the highest peak in Scandinavia.

If you’re looking for an amazing cycling route in Norway, check out Jotunheimen’s Mjolkeveggen (The Old Milk Trail). This is a long distance cycling trail from the towns of Vinstra to Gol, about 250 km in total. Keep in mind that you should have a good mountain bike for such an adventure.

As for dog sledding, the huskies and experienced local guides will take you through beautiful untamed landscapes. In September, sleds are replaced with carts with wheels to compensate for the lack of snow.

September is a great month to explore Norway, with school and summer holiday season over. The small narrow roads are less busy, and hiking trails and tourist attractions are quieter. Moreover, it is much easier to book suitable accommodation.

In addition, September brings early fall. The summery green vegetation of Jotunheimen National Park changes to a rugged carpet of orange and yellow which amplifies the dramatic feel of rocky peaks and high glaciers. In other words, Jotunheimen NP is one of the best national parks to visit in September in Europe.

Weather And Directions

With average high temperatures in the 60oF and average lows in the 40s, Jotunheimen’s climate is welcoming and a prepared walker should still be able to camp out, if desired.

Getting to Jotunheimen National Park is uncomplicated. Both Bergen and Oslo have international airports and you can reach the National Park by car. Oslo is approximately 4 hours drive. Bergen involves taking ferries and following small winding roads. It may take up to 6-8 hours.

Conveniently, the town of Lillehammer is only 2 hours from the Park should you need a swift return to ‘civilisation’.

Pro Tip

If you plan to start your adventure with the boat from Gjende, try to book the tickets in advance. Otherwise, arrive at the boat harbour as early as possible (first sailing is 7am) as remaining seats/tickets are sold on first come first served basis, and are usually in high demand.

Accommodation

Ela and Beata say, “With regards to the hotel, there is a good mountain hostel/cabin in Gjendesheim (Gjendesheim Turisthytte).”

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best national parks to visit in September in Europe
Danube Delta National Park (Photo courtesy of Richard from RJ On Tour)

Danube Delta National Park, Romania

By Richard from RJ On Tour

The Danube Delta in Romania has been a national park since 1991 and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is the best preserved river delta in Europe and is absolutely stunning. It is one of the best national parks to visit in Europe in September as the weather is dry and sunny. In addition, there are fewer mosquitoes and crowds than over the summer months.

Boat tours are a very popular thing to do while in the Danube Delta. For the more active, you can take a kayaking tour through the wilderness. Wherever you are, keep your eyes open as there is wildlife everywhere. There are over 300 species of birds, many mammal species and even snakes or other reptiles. In particular, the area has a massive pelican colony, lots of wild fowl, and birds of prey to see.

In addition, try to see the wild horses in and around Letea Forest. They are the only true wild horses in Europe. Visitors can only enter the forest with a warden for a guided tour. This area also has inland sand dunes and is a fascinating habitat to explore.

Danube Delta National Park also has some great beaches, including in Sfantu Gheorghe, one of the oldest cities in Transylvania and a popular place to stay.

Directions And Weather

To reach Danube Delta National Park, you need to travel by boat from Tulcea, the nearest city to the river delta. If flying, Constanta Airport is only 1 1/2 hours by car. Bucharest airport is a 3 1/2 hours drive.

Average temperatures in Danube Delta NP in September is 70s Fahrenheit with only 1.7″ of rain.

Pro Tip

Try the local fish soups. They are delicious and very hearty. In fact, all the local fish cuisine is great. Also, take insect repellant for the evening. Those mosquitos can get hungry!

Hotel Recommendation

Richard says, “Green Village Resort is a great place to stay in Sfantu Gheorghe. The villagers live by traditional means and thrive on fishing and farming.”

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best national parks to visit in Europe in September
Peak District National Park (Photo courtesy of Rachel and Nico from Average Lives)

Peak District National Park, England

By Rachel And Nico from Average Lives

Undeniably, the Peak District deserves a spot as one of the best national parks in Europe to visit in September. In September, beautiful pink and purple heather carpets the rolling hills of the National Park. It is an exceptional sight to behold.

Peak District National Park is 355,500 acres and the oldest one in the United Kingdom. It is divided into the White Peaks in the South and the Dark Peaks in the North. The difference between the two is the landscape. For example, the White Peaks has lush green forests and bucolic countryside. In contrast, the Dark Peaks are made up of open moorland, are highly exposed and wild.  

Some of the best things to do in Peak District National Park include visiting the beautiful villages, such as Castleton, where you can visit Peveril Castle, built-in 1176. In addition, you can explore Blue John Cavern, home to eight of the fourteen known varieties of Blue John stone, a beautiful and ornamental fluor-spar. 

You can also visit Chatsworth House and its’ 737 hectares of gardens. It is a beautiful experience to walk around and discover the house. You can also have a traditional English afternoon tea in the Farmyard Café. The setting is unmatched.

Of course, there are plenty of opportunities to hike. Some of the best include: Kinder Scout, the tallest spot in the Peaks; Mam Tor; the more accessible Mother Hill with its outstanding views; and Stanage Edge, an impressive gritstone escarpment.

Directions And Weather

The closest cities to Peak District NP are Manchester and Sheffield. The closest airport is Manchester International Airport. Most places are under an hour away.

In September, the weather is around 55 °F, relatively mild and sunny, perfect for exploring.

Pro Tip

Public transport is available in the National Park. However, to see more and reach the remote places, you will be better off renting a car, saving you a lot of time.

Hotel Recommendation

Rachel and Nico say, “We have stayed at Ye Olde Nags Head in Castleton and loved it!”

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best national parks in Europe to visit in September
Durmitor National Park (Photo courtesy of Laura from Mike And Laura Travel)

Durmitor National Park, Montenegro

By Laura from Mike And Laura Travel

Durmitor National Park is a hidden gem, nestled in the rugged mountains of northern Montenegro. The stunning natural beauty and rich wildlife are sure to leave you amazed – not to mention, this park is brimming with adventure. It’s no wonder why travelers choose this destination when looking to escape the hustle of city life. As the largest national park in Montenegro at over 150 square miles (90,000 acres), there is something for everyone.

While exploring Durmitor National Park, be sure to add Bobotov Kuk to your itinerary. Bobotov Kuk is one of the highest mountains in Montenegro and offers expansive views of not only Montenegro, but Serbia and Bosnia as well. The trek to the top of Bobotov Kuk will take approximately 6-7 hours to complete, so be sure to bring proper footwear, clothing, food, and water.

Black Lake is another activity to add to your Durmitor National Park itinerary. You’ll be pleasantly surprised to see that Black Lake isn’t black at all, but a magnificent and deep emerald green. Spend time walking around the lake to experience the beautiful fall colors.

Speaking of fall colors, we recommend visiting Durmitor National Park in September because you’ll enjoy the incredible fall foliage and cooler weather. At Black Lake, you will see the orange, red, and yellow leaves reflect off the lake. It is a stunning sight to see and makes Durmitor NP one of the best national parks to visit in Europe in September.

Directions And Weather

To get to Durmitor National Park, you’ll either start in Podgorica (Montenegro’s capital) or Tivat (near Kotor). Both of these cities have international airports with affordable flights from other European destinations. Once you reach Montenegro, rent a car. Expect a two-hour drive if you decide to fly into Podgorica or a three-hour drive if you land in Tivat. For an amazing road trip itinerary, please see Exploring Montenegro: A Breathtaking Road Trip.

Average temperatures in Durmitor National Park for September hover around 60º F during the day.

Pro Tip

Once you’ve finished visiting Durmitor, head over to Tara Canyon located just 30 minutes from Zabljak. At Tara Canyon, you can zipline across the second largest canyon in the world!

Hotel Recommendation

Laura says, “Stay in Zabljak which is home to Durmitor National Park and a very cute ski town. Rent a room at the North Story Luxury Chalet. You’ll need a car to stay at this location, but you’ll want a car regardless so that you can explore all that Durmitor has to offer.”

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best national parks in Europe to visit in September
Picos de Europa National Park (Photo courtesy of Cynthia and Alexander from Travel Your Memories)

Picos de Europa National Park, Spain

By Cynthia and Alexander from Travel Your Memories

Picos de Europa National Park is located in northern Spain and one of the most impressive but also unknown national parks in Europe. It is 160,000 acres (646 square km) with a variety of landscapes. At the edges of the park, you will find hilly meadows where animals graze. As you go deeper into the National Park, it becomes increasingly rugged and mountainous.

Hiking in Picos de Europa NP is the best way to see as much as possible. The Puertos de Aliva hike is amazing because once you reach the Refugio de Aliva, you can enjoy the panoramic views on its terrace while enjoying a snack and a drink from the restaurant.

In addition to the many hikes, travelers who love mountaineering can try to climb Torre de Cerrado. At 8700 feet (2650 meters), this is the highest peak in the Park. You can also see the Cantabrian Sea from the top, about 35 miles away.

Another fun activity is trying the local cuisine, in particular the Cabrales cheese. This cheese is still made with traditional methods – the milk comes from the goats and cows that graze in this area all year round. The cheese is then matured for 4 to 6 months in local caves.

Weather And Directions

The easiest way to get to Picos de Europa National Park is to fly to Bilbao and rent a car. The travel time from Bilbao to the village of Arenas de Cabrales is approximately 2 hours.

Normally, it is sunny, but in this mountainous area, the weather can suddenly change. In September, it is very pleasant with average temperatures between 68°F and 77°F. In addition to the weather, it is one of the best national parks to visit in Europe in September as it is less crowded than summer with lower prices.

Pro Tip

It is important to always bring clothing for the rain regardless of the month you visit.

Hotel Recommendation

Cynthia and Alexander say, “There are several villages around the Park where you can stay. The best village is Arenas de Cabrales and the best hotel is Hotel La Rivera. This town is centrally located which means that you don’t have to spend a lot of time in the car when exploring the Park.”

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best national parks to visit in September in Europe
Bohemian Switzerland National Park (Photo courtesy of Samantha from The Wandering Wanderluster)

Bohemian Switzerland National Park, Czech Republic

By Samantha from The Wandering Wanderluster

One of the biggest mistakes visitors to the Czech Republic frequently make is never leaving the boundaries of Prague. While the city is certainly worth visiting, the Czech Republic has four large national parks where you can completely immerse yourself in nature and enjoy some incredible adventures.

Located 2 hours north of Prague and close to the border of Germany lies Bohemian Switzerland National Park (known in Czech as Ceské švýcarsko), one of the country’s most famous national parks. Famous for its sandstone rock formations that were created over millions of years, the National Park is just under 80,000 acres and lies in the Elbe Sandstone region, the same region in Germany where Saxon Switzerland National Park is found.

While Bohemian Switzerland National Park is breathtakingly beautiful all year around, September is particularly special. It is one of the best national parks to visit in Europe in September with the onset of fall, the changing colours of the lush foliage to shades of copper, red and yellow, and fewer tourists at some of the popular viewpoints. With relatively good weather and mild temperatures, you can still enjoy hiking along its many trails. If you’re brave enough, you can also reach some of its sandstone rock formations lookout points for some unbelievable views. 

The town of Hrensko is a popular starting point where you will find a number of hiking routes to join as well as a peaceful boat ride through the beautiful Edmunds Gorge. One of the most popular hiking routes is Gabriel’s Trail, an easy 6km hike that leads you to the icon of the Bohemian Switzerland National Park- Pravčická brána – the largest natural rock gate in Europe. 

Directions And Weather

While you can easily spend days exploring the National Park, many of its visitors come as a day trip from Prague, arriving into the town of Hrensko, easily reachable by train from the city.

In September, you can expect average temperatures of 65oF.

Pro Tip

If you’re planning a day trip from Prague, make sure you come properly equipped with correct footwear and supplies. In addition, plan your day accordingly, so you don’t miss the last bus back to the train station to return to Prague.

Alternatively, book an overnight stay in the Bohemian Switzerland NP so you can rise early to catch a spectacular sunrise over the sandstone rock formations or stay late to watch the golden sunset over the Tisa Rocks. 

Hotel Recommendation

Samantha recommends Guesthouse U Forta. “It’s 3 stars with lovely cabins and a hotel. Great restaurant and the food Is really good and more importantly, its right at the beginning of the hiking trail to the famous gate so great location. Family friendly and good for groups too!

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best national parks to visit in Europe in September
Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park (Photo courtesy of Moumita from Chasing The Long Road)

Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, Scotland

By Moumita from Chasing The Long Road

Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park is a spectacular national park centred around Loch Lomond – a massive freshwater lake in Scotland. Highland Boundary Fault, which divides the Scottish Highland and the Lowland, passes through this National Park. Covering an area of around 460,000 acres (720 square miles), it boasts majestic mountains, Ben Lomond being the most popular one.

Loch Lomond is the largest freshwater lake by surface in the whole of Britain. Take a boat cruise and explore the beautiful villages dotted on the pretty banks of Loch Lomond. Luss is one such lovely village with cute flowery houses. It is considered one of the prettiest villages in Scotland. If you are a fan of water adventures, you will find several options like kayaking or canoeing. Loch Lomond is also a lovely spot for a beach holiday.

There are plenty of hiking and walking opportunities in this National Park. Some of the popular hikes include climbing up Ben Lomond (974m) and Conic Hill (361m). You would get incredibly beautiful views of Loch Lomond and the surrounding mountains on these hikes. 

September is the end of summer in Scotland. Days are reasonably long, and the temperature is pleasant. Also, it’s the start of Autumn and the leaves start changing colour. If you are looking for a holiday in September, Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park would be a fantastic nature retreat.

Weather And Directions

September is the end of summer in Scotland. The average temperature in September is around 60oF during the day.

Loch Lomond and The Trossachs NP is not too far from Glasgow. This Scottish city has an international airport and is well-connected with most of the big cities in the world. From Glasgow, it would take about 45 minutes to an hour by car. There is good connectivity by public transport as well.

Pro Tip

Weather is very unpredictable in Scotland. Come prepared with layers and rain gear. You might come across some infamous midges (mosquito-like nasty creatures), though summer is their peak time. Better to carry a midge repellent spray with you just to be safe.

Hotel Recommendation

Moumita says, “There are plenty of hotels, cottages and Bed & Breakfast dotted around Luss, Balmaha, Balloch – the pretty villages on the bank of Loch Lomond. The Loch Lomond Arms Hotel at Luss is a great place to stay and explore Loch Lomond. They have an in-house pub as well.”

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best national parks to visit in September in Europe
Tatra National Park (Photo courtesy of Linn from Brainy Backpackers)

Tatra National Park, Slovakia and Poland

By Linn from Brainy Backpackers

Tatra National Park in Slovakia is one of the best national parks to visit in Europe in September before the late autumn and winter kicks in and many of the most beautiful hikes get closed for the winter. The National Park covers 180,000 acres and is situated in the north of Slovakia bordering Poland, where the High Tatras crosses into Poland.

The High Tatras are known for their dramatic, naked and rocky peaks and technical hikes. But at a lower altitude, you can indulge in thick forest trails and glittering rivers that cascade along narrow forest trails to form elegant waterfalls along their journey.

There are easy trails to enjoy even with small children. There is also a chair lift that you can take up to a higher altitude, either to enjoy lunch with a view or start some of the many hiking trails. Worth mentioning is the Zelene Pleso hike, said to be the most beautiful hike in Tatra National Park. It is a good 7-9 hour round trip to a stunning green lake sitting at the foot of majestic mountains. September is the perfect time to visit before the trail gets covered in snow and ice, and becomes less safe to walk.

The best place to base yourself near Tatra NP is Poprad, but you need a car to get around.

Weather And Directions

Daytime temperatures in September average 50oF and on a sunny day, it is comfortable to walk in the mountains. Night time can reach zero, especially towards the end of the month.

Fly into Kosice Airport. It is an one hour and 20-minutes drive to reach Poprad.

Pro Tip

Make sure you drive carefully, especially early morning and after dark, as there is wildlife crossing the roads.

Hotel Recommendation

Linn says, “Stay at the Aquacity Poprad Hotel to soften up sore muscles in their relaxing spa after a day of hiking.”

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best national parks to visit in Europe in September
Calanques National Park (Photo courtesy of Nadine from Le Long Weekend)

Calanques National Park, France

By Nadine from Le Long Weekend

Located in the South of France, on the stunning coastline between the metropolis of Marseille and the small fishing village of Cassis, lies Calanques National Park. Covering an area of 130,000 acres (520 km2), it’s the only park in Europe to encompass land, sea and urban areas. Understandably, this means the terrain is quite varied, but for the most part, it’s carpeted with Garrigue – the heavily scented shrub that’s native to this area – and scattered with pine trees.

There are several ways to enjoy Calanques National Park – by foot, bike, or boat. There are hiking trails throughout, most of which lead you to incredible vistas, and stunning secluded beaches. Some more adventurous explorers climb up the mountains for an even more advantageous viewing spots.

Bikes are a popular option on the less-frequented trails, and the marine part of the park can be explored by swimming, sailing, or kayaking. Boat tours leave daily in the warmer months from both Cassis and Marseille, so you’re never short of options.

Some of the best things to do within the Park include hiking the Calanques de Cassis trail, which takes in the devastatingly beautiful Calanque d’En Vau, and it’s hidden beach. Consider dining beachfront at Calanque de Sormiou with the only restaurant right within the Park. For some of the best views in the National Park, walk up to the Belvedere de Sugiton.

September is one of the best times to visit Calanques NP as the weather is still beautiful, but the summer crowds have thinned. In addition, the walking paths should be open again after the risk of wildfires has abated.

Weather And Directions

The weather is beautiful in September with temperatures ranging from 75-85F.

Fly into Marseille airport, or take the TGV train from Paris, and take the bus to Les Goudes, Cassis, or Luminy to start your hikes within the Park.

Pro Tip

If you make a booking at Le Chateau, the restaurant at Calanque de Sormiou, you are permitted to drive right down to the beach. That saves you an hour’s walk and maybe a good choice if you’re travelling with young children or someone with physical challenges.

Hotel Recommendation

Nadine says, “Hotel Les Roches Blanches is a stunning place to stay. It has exquisite furnishings and the best views in Cassis. You can walk from the hotel into the park.”

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best national parks to visit in Europe in September
High Fens National Park (Photo courtesy of Emma from Emma’s Roadtrip)

High Fens National Park, Belgium

By Emma from Emma’s Roadmap

Les Hautes Fagnes – Eifel or the High Fens is a well-known national park located in Eastern Belgium. It is one of the last remaining high moors in Europe, which is only one of the reasons that make this Park so unique. With over one million acres (45.102 km²), it is also the largest nature reserve in Belgium. Moreover, you’ll find here Signal de Botrange, the highest point in Belgium above sea level. This means that High Fens National Park is usually the first place to have snow in winter.

High Fens NP is one of the best places to go hiking in Belgium. Not only do you encounter unique flora and fauna but since the Park is located on a plateau, the hikes are usually very flat. There are many hiking tours available from short (5 km) to long (25 km) where you can discover most of this National Park. However, as this is a protected nature reserve, you can only hike on designated paths and at some places, you’re only allowed with a guide. 

Besides hiking, there are also a few biking routes passing through the High Fens with several villages around them. You can even cross the border with Germany on of these routes to visit the lovely resort town of Monschau. In the winter months, the High Fens is actually the only region where you can ski in Belgium.

September is the perfect month to discover High Fens National Park either on foot or by bike after the summer crowds have gone and before temperatures are too low to truly enjoy it. 

Consider visiting High Fens National Park with a city trip to Liège (the largest nearby city), Spa or Monschau in Germany.

Weather And Directions

It can often be quite rainy and foggy, even in September, with temperatures averaging about 55 degrees Fahrenheit (13 degrees Celsius).

The closest airport is in Liège, however, most flights will arrive at Brussels Airport, the largest airport in Belgium. From the latter, it is a 1 1/2 drive. Free parking is also available at the entrance of the National Park.

Pro Tip

Visit during the week and preferably early in the day because it is a popular spot.

Hotel Recommendation

Emma recommends staying at the Bed & Breakfast Un Air de Bourlingueurs. She says, “It’s a cute place to stay, recently renovated and the owners are super sweet!”

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best national parks to visit in Europe in September
Triglav National Park (Photo courtesy of Martina from Places of Juma)

Triglav National Park, Slovenia

By Martina from Places of Juma

One of the most beautiful and best national parks in Europe to visit in September is Triglav National Park in Slovenia. It is located in the northwest part of the country and is the only national park in Slovenia. At 217,000 acres (880 km²), you have the mountains of the Julian Alps, picturesque lakes, and tributaries of the famous Soca River. In addition, you see karst, a type of landscape where the dissolving of the bedrock has created sinkholes, sinking streams, caves, and springs.

Triglav National Park is heavily forested with predominantly beech, spruce, and larch trees. There are also an exceptional variety of endemic plant species such as Triglav pippa (Crepis Terglouensis) and the Julian Alpine poppy (Papaver julicum). Of course, the National Park is the habitat of a number of animals, including brown bear, lynx, chamois, Alpine ibex, Alpine marmot, roe deer, red deer and the Alpine snow hare.

There is much to see on a trip to Tiglav National Park. One of the highlights is definitely the beautiful Soca Valley with the emerald Soca River. It is considered one of the most beautiful rivers in Europe, especially in September when the autumn landscape is beautiful.

Another highlight is Triglav mountain which is 9400 feet (2864 m), making it the highest mountain in Slovenia. It is located in the center of the Park.

Finally a visit to the National Park would not be complete without visiting Sava Bohinjka River with Lake Bohinj, the largest permanent lake in Slovenia. In mid -September, the forests surrounding them form a true sea of fall colors.

Overall in September, you will face much fewer tourists than in summer, so you can experience the beautiful National Park without crowds while enjoying good weather.

Weather And Directions

You can expect a lot of sunshine in Triglav NP, and often, late warm summer days. On average, the temperature is around 64.4 °F.

Triglav National Park is well-situated near the capital of Ljubljana, about 70 kilometers away by car, where you will find Jože-Pučnik International Airport. A rental car is highly recommended to explore the most beautiful parts of the region and all the amazing attractions.

Pro Tip

Triglav National Park can be explored well and on a budget by campers. On the way, you will always find cheap campsites in beautiful nature. But also a road trip by car is a great thing, because there are many cheap accommodation like private apartments and guesthouses around.

Of course, you can visit parts of the Triglav National Park on a day trip, for example from Bled or from Ljubljana. However, it is better to start a multi-day road trip through the national park to see all the amazing places and to enjoy the nature!

Hotel Recommendation

If visiting Triglav on a day trip from Ljubljana, consider staying at the Hotel Lesar Angel, a small boutique hotel in Ljubljana Old Town. It is located in the pedestrian zone, a dozen or so buildings away from the first of many restaurants and outdoor patios. It is the perfect spot to access everything that you want to do in Ljubljana Old Town. Also, it was in a quiet spot, a little removed from the crowds.

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best national parks in Europe to visit in September
Thingvellir National Park (Photo courtesy of Theresa from Fuel My Wanderlust)

Thingvellir National Park, Iceland

By Theresa from Fuel My Wanderlust

Thingvellir National Park is one of the most popular stops on the Golden Circle route in Iceland. It is 60,000 acres and uniquely situated on the site where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates are divided by the Mid-Atlantic Rift. Additionally, Thingvellir has a unique history, and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2004.

Thingvellir National Park is situated where leaders of clans from all over Iceland began meeting in 930 AD. This was effectively the country’s first parliament. These meetings have continued to take place regularly since their inception. In the mid 19th Century, Parliament meetings were moved to Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, where they are still held today.

A visit to Thingvellir National Park means hiking trails and the opportunity to scuba dive in the Silfra Fissure. This gives visitors the unique experience to dive between two continents in very clear, pristine water. 

Thingvellir NP is also known as a wonderful place to camp and potentially see the Northern Lights. By September, the return of dark nights means the lights will begin making their appearance again.  Thingvellir is far enough from any light pollution from cities or towns to ensure the best chance of a quality sighting.

The closest place to base yourself is Reykjavik, about forty-five minutes by car. The small city is filled with colorful houses and storefronts, cozy coffee shops, and plenty of restaurants. 

Weather And Directions

To reach Iceland, travelers need to fly into Keflavik Airport in Reykjavik where you can also pick up a rental car. 

In September, the average temperature in Iceland is 55 degrees Fahrenheit with about 2.62 inches of rain. Since rain is unpredictable, pack a rain and windproof jacket, umbrella, and water-resistant hiking shoes so you come prepared. 

Despite occasional rain, the mild September weather means generally safe road conditions for self-driving the Golden Circle. This month is also the sweet spot between high and low season, which means you avoid summer’s large crowds and winter’s dangerous snowy and slippery weather conditions.

Pro Tip

To avoid the crowds, make your visit first to Thingvellir National Park in the morning. The National Park is a popular stop for large bus tours, so an early arrival means you’ll have more peace and quiet. 

Hotel Recommendaiton

Theresa says, “I recommend the Exeter Hotel. It’s in the area I stayed during my trip, and a short walk to cool sights like Harpa Concert Hall & Conference Center, the Sun Voyager Sculpture, and Hallgrimskirkja Church. The rooms are very chic, with an industrial modern feel, and all rooms come with a Nespresso machine and smart TV.  

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best national parks to visit in Europe in September
Swiss National Park (Photo courtesy of Trijit from Budget Travel Buff)

Swiss National Park, Switzerland

By Trijit Mallick from Budget Travel Buff

Located in the eastern part of Switzerland, Swiss National Park is 42,000 acres and the only national park in the country. It is also known as Parc Naziunal Svizzer by the locals. This place is virtually untouched by human development as it is not so popular among tourists like other Swiss cities. However, if you like to spend time in nature seeing lakes, waterfalls, and wildlife, then Swiss National Park is one of the best national parks to visit in Europe in September.

The main activities in this National Park are hiking and watching wildlife. Swiss National Park has 50 miles of scenic hiking trails. This is the wildest part of the country where you can see a variety of animals that you don’t often see in other places in Switzerland. Keep your eyes open for ibexes, chamois, bald eagles, marmots, rabbits, lizards, and a variety of birds.

September is the best month to explore the hiking trails in this Park. You will also see various wildflowers like Edelweiss, bellflowers, gentians, and many more.

The trails are categorized according to the skills required to hike them. The yellow or regular trail is for beginners and it doesn’t require any skill. Red trails or mountain trails are ideal for individuals with good hiking skills and the blue trails or Alpine trails are only for extreme outdoor enthusiasts. These trails may involve mountain climbing, and therefore require proper hiking or climbing boots and alpine equipment.

Val Trupchun hike is one of the most beautiful hikes in Switzerland. This hike is highly recommended as it is easy, offers beautiful Alpine scenery and wildlife, and can be hiked by any skill level.

Directions And Weather

Zurich International Airport is the closest airport to this National Park. The most convenient way to get to Swiss NP is by taking a train from Zurich to Zernez and then taking a bus.

Average temperature in September is 57oF.

Pro Tip

As the Swiss National Park is a highly protected area, visitors are not allowed to bring their pet or any fire related stuff. In addition, there are some strict rules to preserve the natural beauty of this park. Hence, visitors are not allowed to pick any flowers or wood from the park.

Hotel Recommendation

Trijit says, “Camping is not allowed in Swiss National Park but different types of accommodation options are available in and around the Park. You can stay in Chamanna Cluozza which is a mountain hut built at an altitude of 6175ft. It remains open from June to October and provides a basic room with washrooms, but no showers.”

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best national parks to visit in Europe in September
South Downs National Park (Photo courtesy of Jens Holm)

South Downs National Park, England

By Annabel from Smudged Postcard

South Downs National Park stretches across parts of Hampshire and Sussex in southern England. Covering some 165,000 acres (670 square kilometres), the Park is made up of chalk hills with far reaching views across a broad green landscape filled with tiny villages and farms. It stretches from Winchester in the west to the cliffs of Beachy Head in East Sussex near Eastbourne.

There is a famous 160 kilometre route – the South Downs Way – which runs along ancient paths from Winchester to Eastbourne, now popular with walkers and cyclists. For those looking for a shorter experience, the Meon Valley Trail is a beautiful walk along a disused railway line which passes some of the most appealing villages (and great pubs) in the region.

There are countless towns and villages in and around South Downs which make for an excellent base to explore the National Park – Winchester is perfect for history lovers, while Brighton just outside the Park, is great for shopping and nightlife. However, for a proper feel of South Downs NP, it’s best to find a cottage in the heart of the Park near one of the little villages such as Hambledon or Wickham.

South Downs National Park is incredibly popular with local walkers and cyclists, particularly in the summertime when day trippers arrive from London. However, September is a brilliant time to visit when children are back at school and the summer crowds have departed. The days are warm and are still relatively long with the sun not setting until 7.30pm – perfect for those wishing to tackle the South Downs Way.

Weather And Directions

The weather is still mild – often still around 70 degrees – although this being the UK, it can never be guaranteed.

The nearest airport is Gatwick, around 40 miles away.

Pro Tip

Try the delicious sparkling wine from Hambledon Vineyard – it easily rivals its French counterparts.

Sierra Nevada National Park, Spain

By Victoria from Guide Your Travel

Sierra Nevada National Park is one of Spain’s most popular national parks and some of the highest peaks of mainland Spain. Located in Andalucia in southern Spain, it is 210,000 acres and lies only an hours drive from stunning little mountain villages like Frigiliana. People have lived in the National Park for more than 2,000 years and coexisted peacefully together with nature.

Sierra Nevada NP is ideal for hiking, camping and sightseeing. In winter, you can ski in the mountains but in September, it’s all about hiking trails and mountain peaks.

The Park offers beautiful mountain streams and rivers where you can swim and cool off after a long day hike. One of the best trails is Pico de Veleta, the second-highest mountain in the Park. If you’re not up for the strenuous hike, you can almost drive to the top and see the beautiful views.

Lanjaron is a fantastic place to visit. This little spa town is ideal for relaxing, unwinding and enjoying the mountain vistas. The town has a natural spring and the water is said to be some of the best in the country.

September is usually far less crowded than the more popular summer months so you should be able to get good accommodation at reasonable prices.

Weather And Directions

In September, temperatures are comfortably warm and not too hot like in the summers. You’ll get to enjoy temperatures around 20 to 25 Degrees Celsius (70s F) and plenty of sunny days.

The closest large city to Sierra Nevada National Park is Granada, a fantastic historic place. You’ll be able to reach the National Park in 45 minutes by car. Malaga is another major city but it takes closer to two hours to reach the park. Both offer international airports.

Pro Tip

Don’t plan a set itinerary. The area has a lot of small towns that are perfect for exploring so give yourself the flexibility to plan your days as you go.

Hotel Recommendation

Victoria says, “I loved Hotel Puerta Nazari in Lanjaron which was a nice budget hotel.”

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best national parks to visit in Europe in September
Krka National Park (Photo courtesy of Rick Govic)

Krka National Park, Croatia

By Bis from Bis To The World

Krka National Park is one of the most popular national parks in Croatia and one of the best national parks to visit in Europe in September. It is located roughly 6 miles (10 km) inland from Sibenik. The National Park covers an area of just over 90,0000 acres (142 square kilometres) and includes two thirds of the River Krka, after which the Park is named. The main draw of the National Park are its magnificent waterfalls, including the famous Skradinski Buk Falls, one of Croatia’s most famous sights.

While you could stick to the waterfalls, it’s worth breaking away to discover more of the park like Visovac Monastery in the middle of Visovačko Lake. Originally, the island was settled by Augustinian monks who established the monastery in the 14th century. It is home to one of Croatia’s most important cultural values. You should also explore Manojlovac Slap – the park’s highest waterfall – that ends in a series of abandoned watermills.

September is one of the best times to visit as the weather is still quite nice but with fewer crowds, especially towards the end of September. If you’ve seen pictures in peak season, you’ll understand why this is a bonus.

Weather And Directions

When you visit Krka in September, you can expect occasional rain, but mostly hot weather, reaching 79oF (26℃). Towards the end of the month, the likelihood of rain increases.

The nearest major cities to the Park are Spilt and Zadar, both of which have their own airports. It takes about 1.5 hours to drive from Split and one hour from Zadar. If you’re visiting Split or Zadar, it makes a great day trip.

Pro Tip

Arrive early or late. The Krka National Park opens at 8am. The earlier you get there the better, as the Park gets quite crowded by mid-day. After 4pm, it goes quieter again, which is why the tickets are cheaper, allowing you to enjoy the park.

Last Word

As you can see, September is a wonderful time to visit one of the best national parks in Europe. The weather is lovely, there are less crowds, and there is lots of accommodation from which to choose. Whether you wish to leisurely stroll through beautiful walking paths or get your heart racing hiking up a difficult hiking trail, there is so much to see and do. The most difficult part of this trip is deciding on which of the 22 national parks you will visit.

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