Europe's National Parks: The Cheat Sheet (And Slideshow)

While national parks are popular summer vacation destinations in the United States, many North Americans are unaware that Europe has its own extensive and diverse system of protected areas. They're home to incredible sights, including the largest limestone arch on the European continent, massive underground caves, clear alpine lakes, and animals (alpine ibex) and wildflowers (edelweiss) you can't find back home. [slideshow:649]

Of course there's no reason to completely neglect the big cities on your trip—who doesn't want to eat a croissant under the Eiffel Tower or wander the cobblestone streets of Prague?—but spending some time in Europe's great outdoors can help you recharge, give you a change of pace from the urban tourist scene, meet a few more locals and experience parts of Europe few of your fellow travelers have visited before.  

You can check out our slideshow to see a few of our favorites, or click on the country icons below for a complete list. 


Czech Republic