There’s so much beauty to be seen and explored throughout the world, and with many countries distinguishing some of their best scenic lands as national parks, it can feel impossible to choose where to visit next. To help, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best national parks around the world, along with plenty of reasons to add them to your bucket list.
Lake Louise in Banff National Park. Photo by Sara_Winter/iStock.com
BANFF NATIONAL PARK, CANADA
Located in southwestern Alberta, Canada, this national park is also the country’s oldest. Walk some of the 1,000+ miles of hiking trails, including the jaw-dropping trail around Lake Agnes. You can also drive along Icefields Parkway to see stunning glaciers and waterfalls, or take the Banff Gondola to the summit of Sulphur Mountain for exceptional views. Snow-tipped mountains, forests, and countless types of wildlife will surround you whether you’re hiking, driving, skiing, or riding the Rocky Mountaineer railway.
Rhino, Springboks, zebra, Elephant and lion in Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. Photo by ugurhan/iStock.com
SERENGETI NATIONAL PARK, TANZANIA
Located in northern Tanzania, this national park is home of the Serengeti Great Migration, when millions of wildebeests and hundreds of thousands of zebras, gazelles, and other wildlife cross the park to Maasai Mara in Kenya, looking for food, water, and breeding grounds. Whether you go on a safari during the migration or visit during another time of year, this once-in-a-lifetime trip will surely take your breath away.
Bungalows overlooking the Olifants River, Kruger National Park, South Africa. Photo by steve_is_on_holiday/iStock.com
KRUGER NATIONAL PARK, SOUTH AFRICA
This park, bordering Mozambique and Zimbabwe, covers 14 ecozones, each home to different types of wildlife. The park is actually home to hundreds of thousands of animal species, including lions, leopards, buffaloes, elephants, and rhinos. You can take a guided safari tour, but there are also options for self-driving tours and adventurous hikes. Depending on your preferences and budget, you can choose from several camping spots, lodges, and excursions.
SAGARMATHA NATIONAL PARK, NEPAL
Even if you don’t want to hike up Mount Everest, Sagarmatha National Park in the Himalayas will offer breathtaking mountain views, impressive glaciers, and fantastic grazing lands for herds of yak. At Sagarmatha, which translates to “goddess of the sky,” you can take a guided backpacking trip with the local Sherpa people or explore nearby villages while admiring the park’s beauty. You don’t have to be an experienced hiker to visit, though it will be helpful.
Famous Mitre Peak Fiordland national park, New Zealand. Photo by primeimages/iStock.com
FIORDLAND NATIONAL PARK, NEW ZEALAND
Not only is Fiordland the largest national park in New Zealand, it’s also one of the largest in the world. Impressive and stunning glacier-tipped fjords, carved by other glaciers, can be viewed throughout the park, as well as lakes, mountains, waterfalls, and an abundance of wildlife, including kiwis, seals, penguins, and dolphins. Don’t forget to visit Milford Sound, one of the most visited and beautiful destinations in the country.
SWISS NATIONAL PARK, SWITZERLAND
Encompassing about 42,000 acres of land, visitors can access nearly 50 miles of hiking paths, nature trails, and excursion destinations weaving in and out of valleys through the spectacular Swiss Alps. There’s a little something for everyone, including hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, or relaxing at the local brewery. Plus, you’ll want to keep an eye out for the local wildlife, such as ibexes, chamois, marmots, and golden eagles.
Ranthambore National Park, India. Photo by Annie Spratt
RANTHAMBORE NATIONAL PARK, INDIA
One of the largest and well-known parks in India, located in the Sawai Madhopur district of southeastern Rajasthan, the Ranthambore National Park is most famous for its Bengal tigers, and is one of the only parks where you can view these gorgeous animals in their natural habitats. Other wildlife like leopards, sloth bears, hyenas, and more, also call this park home. What’s more, you can visit one of the many ancient ruins scattered throughout the park.
Jiuzhaigou Park National Park in Sichuan, China. Photo by rimeimages/iStock.com
JIUZHAIGOU NATIONAL PARK, CHINA
Also known as the Jiuzhai Valley, this nature reserve is named after the nine ancient Tibetan villages found within the park. It’s famous for its giant pandas and Sichuan golden snub-nosed monkeys, but visitors can also visit extraordinary multi-story waterfalls, karst mountains, and hundreds of blue, turquoise, and green lakes, including the Five Color Pool, best known for its color-changing water.
KOMODO NATIONAL PARK, INDONESIA
This national park spans across three main islands in Indonesia named Komodo, Rinca, and Pardar, along with surrounding smaller islets. Unsurprisingly, this park is known for its Komodo dragons, which can grow up to 10 feet long and weigh more than 150 pounds. Wild horses, water buffalo, wild boar, and other animals also make their homes here. You can find an extensive and rich marine habitat offshore, with more than 260 species of coral, sponges, crustaceans, and fish—plus turtles, rays, and sharks. Whether hiking through the island or snorkeling through the reef, this park is unlike any other in the world.
Iguana sun bathing at San Cristobal in the Galapagos Islands Ecuador. Photo by Herzog/iStock.com
GALAPAGOS NATIONAL PARK, GALAPAGOS ISLANDS
Another park unlike any other in the world, the Galapagos Islands is one of the most biologically diverse places on earth. With a unique ecosystem of animals, plants, and fish that can’t be found anywhere else on the planet, the Galapagos is one of the most fantastic national parks to visit. The best way to explore the park is with a cruise around the island where you’ll see tortoises, penguins, lizards, sea turtles, sea lions, iguanas, and more.