Last Updated December 16, 2020 12/16/2020

15 Incredible National Parks in Italy

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When you envision Italy, you probably picture the Roman Colosseum, medieval hilltop villages, the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the like, but it’s also a country filled with breathtaking scenery. There are numerous national parks that protect gorgeous landscapes from spectacular beaches edged by clear blue waters, towering mountains, glistening lakes, archaeological sites and castles. To visit some of the dreamiest, be sure to put some of these parks on your must-see list.

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Cinque Terre National Park - Liguria
Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre National Park - Liguria

One of the most spectacular national parks in Europe, Cinque Terre National Park is made up of five fishing villages: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso. While there are few roads, there are scenic walking trails that connect them, making the park a perfect place for those who like to hike while enjoying spectacular mountain and coastal views. You’ll also find beaches to relax on while gazing out at a magnificent vista of the sea, endless photo-ops like the colorful fishing boats at Vernazza Harbor that front the town Vernazza, vineyards, historic churches and plenty of mouthwatering wine and cuisine.

Belluno Dolomites National Park - Belluno
Belluno Dolomites National Park, Italy

Belluno Dolomites National Park - Belluno

Dolomites National Park is one of the most stunning in all of Italy, nestled in the north-east, home to several mountain ranges known for their jagged soaring peaks, including the Monti del Sole and Talvena range, as well as abundant flora. It covers some 15,000 hectares in the province of Belluno and offers everything from trails for hiking up steep mountains, alongside streets and through canyons during the warmer months, along with skiing and other snow sports in the winter. In addition to its natural attraction, it boasts diverse, rich culture in its small charming villages.

Mount Vesuvius National Park - Naples
Pompei Ruins & Mount Vesuvius

Mount Vesuvius National Park - Naples

Mount Vesuvius lies just east of Naples and is the only active volcano in mainland Europe. It’s produced some of the continent’s biggest volcanic eruptions and is the star of Mount Vesuvius National Park. The most popular thing to do here is to walk the trail that travels to the summit, an easy route that takes only 30 minutes to reach. You can stroll right alongside the crater and take in breathtaking views of Campania and beyond from above. There are many tours that combine a trip to this park with Pompeii, another highly-recommendation destination as an ancient city that was preserved under ash following the massive 79 AD volcanic eruption.

La Maddalena Archipelago National Park - Sardinia
Spargi, island of the La Maddalena archipelago in north-eastern Sardinia, Sassari.

La Maddalena Archipelago National Park - Sardinia

Maddalena Archipelago is one of Italy’s marine national parks, located off the coast of Sardinia. While boat excursions are popular for exploring it, one of the best islands to visit is Caprera Island. This small, picturesque island and nature reserve can be accessed by car, bike, or bus from the island of La Maddalena. The two islands are connected by a bridge, with ferry service being available to La Maddalena from Palau. Caprera is home to one of the prettiest coves in the Mediterranean, Cala Coticcio (only accessible with a guide), along with multiple historic treasures, like Roman ships and the home of Giuseppe Garibaldi, one of the fathers of Italian independence. Garibaldi spent the last years of his life here in a white house overlooking the sea. Today it’s a museum where visitors can walk through and see the furniture, works of art and other objects that belonged to the general, including a vintage watch on the wall, stopped at the time of his death.

Gran Paradiso National Park - Piedmont
Gran Paradiso National Park, Italy

Gran Paradiso National Park - Piedmont

Gran Paradiso National Park is Italy’s very first national park, opened in 1922 in the Piedmont and Aosta Valley region of the Arabian Alps, sharing a border with Vanoise National Park in France. It covers nearly 174,000 acres with forest, streams, alpine pasture and glaciers. The pastures are inhabited by a wide range of plant and animal species like the Italian wolf, Alpine ibex, Eurasian badger, weasel, Alpine chamois, and Alpine marmot, along with some 100 bird species. Enjoy hiking in the summer, or come during the winter with your ski, snowboard, or snowshoeing gear.

Stelvio National Park - Trentino
Stelvio National Park, Trentino, Italy

Stelvio National Park - Trentino

Stelvio National Park stretches from the Italian Alps in northern Italy and is home to crystal-clear blue lakes, dramatic ridges and lush valleys, along with a wealth of hiking trails. There’s something for all levels of hikers here, from easy routes through the valley to challenging treks to the park’s highest summits. It’s especially renowned for the Passo dello Stelvio, a high-altitude mountain pass with nature trails where one can view military ruins from the First World War. Wildlife like marmots and birds of prey can be witnessed as well.

Gargano National Park - Foggia
Gargano National Park, Italy

Gargano National Park - Foggia

Located in the less-visited Puglia region in southern Italy, Gargano National Park sits on a white, green and calcareous promontory that stretches out to the crystal-clear aquamarine waters of the Adriatic Sea. It’s a place where you can walk through the woods, stroll while enjoying the aroma of pine and citrus trees, sail and watch for wildlife like roe deer. A true paradise, don’t miss the opportunity to take a boat excursion to Tremiti Island, relax on a pristine white sandy beach, sample fresh fish in the trabucchi and savor delicious local wines.

Abruzzo National Park - Abruzzo
Abruzzo National Park, Italy

Abruzzo National Park - Abruzzo

Abruzzo National Park is rich in diversity, located just two hours east of Rome in the Abruzzo region. Made up of dense forest, rivers, streams and impressive mountain hiking trails, this is one of the few regions where you’ll have the chance to glimpse the Italian wolf, chamois, otter, deer, golden eagle and Marsician brown bears. It also includes the 12th-century abbey of Santi Pietro e Paolo and the Apennine garden which contains a pond and many different flora species.

Tuscan Archipelago National Park - Livorno
Walking path Tuscan Archipelago National Park

Tuscan Archipelago National Park - Livorno

Located west of Tuscany, this national park is spread across an archipelago with seven main islands, covering more than 50,000 hectares of land and sea. A true natural paradise, one of the best islands to visit is Elba,  the largest in the archipelago, with its scenic hiking trails around Mount Capanne.  It’s also home to a butterfly sanctuary that sits on Mount Perone where visitors can marvel at some 50 different species of butterflies, including some very rare varieties. The island is also known for its diving and snorkeling, where one can swim past coral sea fans, sea horses and even the remains of ancient Roman merchant ships.

Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga National Park - Abruzzo
Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga National Park, Italy

Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga National Park - Abruzzo

One of Italy’s largest national parks offers biodiversity, rich culture and stunning scenery along with fabulous wine and food traditions. The dolomitic size of the Gran Sasso overlooks the landscapes, standing out in the valleys and hills. The Lord of the Apennines is known as the “Tibet” of the park, and you’ll find thunderous waterfalls too. The park has an extensive network of hiking paths and biking trails, along with castles, abbeys and medieval hamlets. The route from Carapelle Calvisio to San Pancrazio Sanctuary is a relatively easy hike bringing some of the most gorgeous views.

Asinara National Park - Sardinia
Aerial view of Asinara National Park, Italy

Asinara National Park - Sardinia

Asinara National Park is located on an island just off the northern coast of Sardinia, known for its Asinara donkeys that graze in the green fields on the Mediterranean flora. There are trails for hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding and off-roading, with the island’s famous donkeys found along nearly every corner. Watch for wild boars, and lots of birds too like the Audouin’s gull, the European shag, and the peregrine falcon and the magpie. There are also beautiful beaches with soft sands and crystal-clear turquoise water.

Majella National Park - Abruzzo
Majella National Park, Italy

Majella National Park - Abruzzo

Located about halfway down the Adriatic coast and then slightly inland, Majella National Park comprises nearly 100 square miles of pristine mountains and awe-inspiring canyons. The spectacular landscapes, like the entire Abruzzo region, provides multiple recreational activities that immerse visitors in its nature, including vast gree areas for mountain biking, walking and horseback riding. Guided walks for all levels are available, and in some of the nature reserves, free climbing is possible. during the wintertime, the Abruzzo Mountains are ideal for skiing and snowshoeing.

Aspromonte National Park - Calabria
Ruins in Aspromonte National Park, Italy

Aspromonte National Park - Calabria

Located right at the tip of the “boot,” Aspromonte National Park features magnificent mountains, rocky grasslands and a wealth of native species like peregrine falcons and wolf. Visitors can also explore historic towns scattered across the region, including the more than thousand-year-old town of Caloveto. Nestled between the Ionian Sea and the Tyrrhenian Sea, it’s just a short distance from both, while Mount Etna and the Aeolian Islands are clearly visible from its peaks.

Cilento and Vallo di Diano National Park - Salerno
Cilento and Vallo di Diano National Park, Salerno, Italy

Cilento and Vallo di Diano National Park - Salerno

Italy’s largest national park includes rolling hills covered with olive trees, mountains with thick woods of chestnuts and evergreens, and river valleys that slope down to the Tyrrhenian Sea and spectacular unspoiled beaches. It also has a rich history with the earliest human presence in the region dating back over 250,000 years.

Pollino National Park - Morano Calabro
Pollino National Park, Italy

Pollino National Park - Morano Calabro

Pollino National Park is Italy’s largest national park but it’s also one of the lesser-visited. It boasts jaw-dropping panoramas and beautiful hikes that wind through mountains, peaks, ridges and valleys.  Lush forest contrasts remarkably against rocky grey cliffs and yellow herbs on the mountainside, bringing many idyllic photo-ops.

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