Growing up in a large city, I never really had much interest in exploring natural parks during childhood. Granted, my family and I would make occasional trips to some of the well-known national parks in the US, but we would often just drive or take tours. Much of our visits was very sterile, as I hated insects and getting dirty on trails. I also wasn’t very big on hiking, nor had I the desire to camp and experience the “great outdoors.”

This sentiment of being indifferent to nature carried into adulthood. When I started extensively traveling after college, I still stuck to cities and urban areas– if I ended up going to a national park, I signed up with tours that would take me there for a day trip. I would almost never choose to go out on my own, and looking back, I think I missed a lot of the great sights I could’ve seen if I’d gone just a bit further.

While I still am more of a city break-type than a nature lover today, I admit that I’ve changed my mind on seeing and exploring nature. This change came about in the last four years, as I did a lot of solo traveling and meeting people who enjoy the great outdoors. It was over time that I started saying “yes” more to new experiences, including going on day hikes and checking out natural wonders in the places I temporarily settled. I can say that I’m a lot more open to nature, as I see the beauty in Earth’s creation in opposition with Man’s.

That’s why I find national parks a great introduction to discovering natural sites. Many of them are staggering in size and places to see, some even containing hints of civilization from people inspired by these wonders. I’m choosing to share some of my favorites I’ve been to over time, and I hope to inspire city-dwellers like myself to pack up and take a chance on exploring the rugged terrain outside of home.

10 Best National Parks in the World

1. Cairngorms National Park (Scotland)

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Aka The Scottish Highlands (December 2015)

2. Calanques National Park (France)

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Calanque de Sugiton (February 2017)

3. Columbia River Gorge (USA)

Panoramic view (June 2017)

4. Fuji Hakone Izu National Park (Japan)

Not a person in sight (June 2016)

5. Göreme National Park (Turkey)

20190610_110355Phallic-looking formations (June 2019)

6. Joshua Tree National Park (California, USA)

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The famed Joshua Trees (June 2020)

7. Plitvice Lakes National Park (Croatia)

20180528_124423Water so clear you can see through it (May 2018)

8. Rapa Nui National Park (Chile)

20180626_125959Big heads (June 2018)

9. Taroko Gorge National Park (Taiwan)

Cimu Bridge (June 2016)

10. Tatra National Park (Poland/Slovakia)

Yes, still snowing in the spring! (April 2017)

What are your favorite national parks you’ve been to? Let me know!

— Rebecca

67 thoughts on “My Favorite National Parks in the World

  1. What beautiful and serene views! I love your photo of the Big Heads. I imagine Easter Island must be incredible! My favorite national parks include Yosemite, President’s Park (White House), and the National Mall & Memorial Parks in Washington, DC. Closer to home, I’ve also been to several parks that are part of the Golden Gate National Recreational Area. Your post has inspired me to visit more parks! 🌲

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    1. Easter Island was nothing like what I’d seen before; the fact that it’s so limited to get to makes it all the more worthwhile. It has been almost two decades since I last visited Yosemite, so I’m due for a follow-up trip! Thanks for sharing some of your favorites, Darlene. 🙂

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  2. It is certain that by travelling, by meeting other travellers, by reading their comments, by writing articles, we change and consider experiences that did not seem attractive before.
    We must remain open and curious.

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  3. This was a fun list to read, and right from the title I was excited to see your choices. I’ve been to only one of them and I admittedly am not all that familiar with national parks outside of the US and Canada so this was a fun little world tour. You’ve been to quite a variety of places. My favorite national park is definitely Glacier in Montana, followed by the many parks in the Canadian Rockies… probably not a surprise, given my well documented love of the mountains!

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    1. Which national park did you visit? To be fair, I have not visited Glacier National Park nor the Canadian Rockies (especially Banff), and both of them I’m dying to go to. I especially hope to go to the former soon, considering that it’s close-ish to where I am (i.e. West Coast), and I could do an extended weekend over there!

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  4. I would love to visit every single park listed on your blog post, Rebecca, especially Joshua Tree National Park as the never-ending rain and gusty winds dominating Sligo make me long for warmth. I am glad to see Cairngorms National Park on your list, too. I had a chance to visit the park many years ago, yet it is still fresh in my memory due to the staggering beauty of Lochan Uaine whose green colour is said to come from pixies washing their clothes in the loch. You’ve got to love local legends and myths! Thanks for sharing and have a good day 🙂 Aiva xx

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    1. What a fascinating story about Lochan Uaine! I believe the sublimity of such natural spaces definitely inspires tales to come out of it! Joshua Tree would certainly be up your alley, as there are plenty of unique landscapes and historical sites to spend time exploring. 🙂

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  5. Cool list, I have only done 3 of this particular 10. I’ve also developed a greater love for the outdoors as I get older. From what other people tell me, this is a natural thing. The older you get, the more you know about the world, the less tolerant you become of life’s frustrations and all the unnecessary noise. The more one seeks out environments that encourage calm… reflection… that speak to the soul.

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    1. Couldn’t agree more! Which three did you visit? I definitely agree that getting older comes with more knowledge (and hopefully awareness) about people and actions. That’s why returning to nature, to hike it, can be such a rejuvenating experience!

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  6. These are quite a few stunning national parks you’ve visited around the world, Rebecca. They all seem equally worth a visit, each coming with a different experience. I actually have yet to visit a national park and am looking forward to the day that I do. Like you, I like meandering through cities on my travels, love the city break-type of travels. At the same time I also like exploring nature in foreign places as there’s a very comforting calm that comes long with nature and the quietness it brings. I think maybe spending time in both cities and nature is a good way to balance out travel trips – and that way you can see different sides of where you are traveling 🙂

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  7. Great compilation, Rebecca! Love your photo of Plitviče Lakes. The Calanques are right up there for me too ☺️ I’ve only been to one national park in the US (Yosemite), but I’d love to see more of its green spaces.

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    1. It wasn’t until I got older that I started to appreciate hikes and visiting national parks. I’m still a city girl at heart, but I also enjoy breathtaking views of nature on this beautiful planet. 🙂

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  8. What a great selection Rebecca – personally (and I am biased as it’s in the UK) but your number 1 choice is also mine; Cairngorms is epically stunning. I can’t wait to get to some of the others on your list 🙂

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    1. The Scottish Highlands really took my breath away; despite the bone-chilling temperatures in December, this particular part of the country was still indescribably beautiful. Hope you can visit more national parks someday!


  9. Great pictures Rebecca! I particularly like the Tatra National Park shot. Can’t say I have a favourite as I love being dwarfed by nature. I find them hard to get to when travelling alone carless in other countries though.

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    1. Thank you! In regards to getting to these national parks without driving myself, I’ve relied on a combination of local buses, private guides, and tour buses to get me over. It can be a bit tricky, but it’s doable!

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  10. Wow these are such nice places! Makes me want to push myself out of my comfort zone a little and explore the nature. We have some beautiful sights too, it would be a pity not to make the most of them!

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  11. I’ve been to Tyresta By National Park in Sweden and so far it’s my favorite! Of course, been there last summer so the hike was so relaxing and my husband and I combined several trails so we spent almost a whole day of walking

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    1. I’ve not heard of Tyresta National Park, but it sounds intriguing! I just Googled the images, and wow, are they stunning! I haven’t seen too much of Sweden, so I’ll definitely need to return to see more. 😊


      1. Yes! They have so many amazing hiking trails which you might like! I will be releasing as well a blog soon of the top 10 hiking places in Stockholm.

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  12. I completely relate with what you said about growing up being more of a “city-break” type of person then slowly craving nature more and more, it has been like that for me too! Before I would never think of going on a hike and lately I always want to ahah! I have only been to the Calanques national park, out of the ones you mentioned, and I have to agree that it is absolutely beautiful! When I went to Croatia this summer I also wanted to see the lakes and waterfalls but it was too far away from the place we stayed… maybe next time! For sure I will keep this list in mind when I want to travel to escape into nature!

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    1. Thanks for reading, Juliette! Should you have the time to return to Croatia and perhaps base yourself in Zagreb, it’d only be a two-hour ride over. I based my visit of Plitvice from Split, and that took four hours one-way, but it’s doable, too! Hope you will go back someday to see more of Croatia and its natural wonders. 🙂

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  13. Lovely photos! I’d love to visit the one in Scotland someday. Some of my favorites from back home on the East Coast include Shenandoah National Park in VA and Acadia National Park in ME.

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