11 National Parks Around the World That You Need to Add to Your Bucket List ASAP

·7 min read
Cascading waterfalls pouring into a bright turqiose lake surrounded by lush trees and foliage
Francesco Riccardo Iacomino / Getty Images

Over the past year, people have been exploring their home countries more and more. Chances are, you know of the national parks near you, but have you considered visiting national parks around the world? From turquoise lakes to sandy beaches, waterfalls to rock formations, here are 11 national parks around the world you need to know about.

1.Göreme National Park, Turkey

Goreme fairy chimneys. Tall pillared rock formations with hot air balloons floating overhead.

Göreme is located in central Turkey in a volcanic region called Cappadocia. You may know Cappadocia as the hot air balloon capital of the world (aka where all the travel bloggers get that iconic sunrise pic with what seems like a hundred hot air balloons in the background). But there’s so much more to this region—particularly Göreme valley. Göreme is known for its fairy chimneys, which are unique rock formations sculpted by erosion. These stone pillars were once used as dwelling places for entire civilizations and now there are plenty of theories about this region...some involving ancient aliens.

Best time to visit: April-May, September-October

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Stay in this cave hotel close to the park that has been carved into a cliff.

White stone hotel built into the side of a cliff.

It has 2 outdoor pools, a view of the fairy chimneys, and is the perfect location for exploring Göreme’s underground cities. Starting at $176 per night.

Hotels.com / Via hotels.com

2.Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, China

Tall pillar rock formations jutting out of a canyon with a cloudy fog in the background

Turkey isn’t the only country with incredible pillar-like rock formations. If you’re obsessed with Avatar: The Last Airbender, you’ll definitely want to add Zhangjiajie National Forest Park to your bucket list. These sandstone towers will make you wonder where all the airbenders went. The combination of dense forest and deep canyons paired with all the clouds and pillars seem like a fantasy world.

Best time to visit: April-May, September-November

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Stay in this cute guesthouse just a couple miles from the park.

Hotel lounge with tables and soft lighting.

Starting at under $30 per night, it's perfect for anyone traveling on a tight budget.

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3.Victoria Falls National Park, Zimbabwe & Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, Zambia

Largest waterfall in the world with rainbow

Victoria Falls is the largest waterfall in the world, stretching between Zimbabwe and Zambia. It is considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World, and is truly unlike anything else. The best way to see the falls is by helicopter, but if you prefer to keep your feet on the ground, there are nice trails and no bad views. If you're a thrill-seeker, you can even visit the Devil's Pools where you can soak in a spot at the edge of the falls.

Best time to visit: February-May

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Stay close to the park in this cozy bungalow.

Room at villa with modern jungle design and porch seating for two.

Starting at $109 per night for a standard room. You can enjoy the pool, relax on your private porch, or try your hand at glamping in one of their fancy tents.

Hotels.com / Via hotels.com

4.Fiordland National Park, New Zealand

Tall mountains towering over a lake

Fiordland National Park is the largest in New Zealand. While the park is filled with gorgeous fjords, Milford Sound might be the most popular of the bunch. There are beautiful mountains, lakes, waterfalls, and rivers to explore. But most importantly, there are penguins to see!

Best time to visit: June-August (winter), December-March (summer)

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Stay at a luxurious mountainside chalet or riverside retreat.

Woman sitting in a cozy lodge with drink in hand, looking out at the mountains in Fiordlands National Park.

Splurge on a gorgeous lodge with mountain views starting at $345 per night. Or if you’re traveling in a campervan, consider booking a campervan site for $60 per night with access to all amenities.

@FindingAlexx / Via findingalexx.com

5.Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

You might have Croatia on your bucket list to see the beaches (or famous filming spots), but don’t skip out on Plitvice Lakes in central Croatia. The lakes are the brightest blues and greens, they almost feel fake. The worst part is not being able to jump in for a swim, but it’s worth staying out to keep the water as beautiful as it is.Best time to visit: June-September

You might have Croatia on your bucket list to see the beaches (or famous filming spots), but don’t skip out on Plitvice Lakes in central Croatia. The lakes are the brightest blues and greens, they almost feel fake. The worst part is not being able to jump in for a swim, but it’s worth staying out to keep the water as beautiful as it is.

Best time to visit: June-September

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Stay in a guesthouse near the water away from the crowds.

Enjoy all the comforts from home in this charming guesthouse for just $65 per night.

Enjoy all the comforts from home in this charming guesthouse for just $65 per night.

Hotels.com / Via hotels.com

6.Cát Bà National Park, Vietnam

bright summer sunrise at Halong Bay, a huge bay with mountains and hills scatters throughout

If you weren’t already dying to visit Vietnam, Cát Bà National Park is a great reason. It’s located in Ha Long Bay, a popular tourist site known for small cruises, where limestone karsts abound. Cát Bà is a biosphere reserve home to a number of diverse plants and wildlife.

Best time to visit: April-May, September-November

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Stay in a beautiful hotel with a pool overlooking the bay.

Large rooftop pool with seating that overlooks the karsts of Halong Bay

While this hotel is a bit on the pricier side for Vietnam, the views are well worth the $127 per night price tag! It boasts exceptional guest review ratings, 2 restaurants, a pool, and a spa.

Hotels.com / Via hotels.com

Or you can cruise through Ha Long Bay in style on a small cruise.

Small cruise ship sailing through Halong Bay.

If you have extra time outside of exploring Cát Bà, do yourself a favor and take a small cruise throughout Ha Long Bay. Bhaya Cruises are dedicated to responsible and sustainable cruises, but with the vibes of a boutique hotels. Overnight cruises start at $255 per person.

Bhaya Cruises / Via bhayacruises.com

7.Tayrona National Park, Colombia

tropical beach landscape with white sand beaches and large rocks

Tayrona is located in northern Colombia on the coast of the Caribbean, so of course it boasts tropical landscapes with white sand beaches and turquoise waters. It’s the perfect place to explore and relax. You can chill out in a hammock or go for a hike in the cloud forest, whichever you choose, it’s worth the trip.

Best time to visit: December-March

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Stay in the jungle with a beautiful pool.

Pool with waterfall features and hotel restaurant and lounge in the background.

Two words: Spa Hotel.

Prices start at $103 per night for a room at this adults-only hotel near the park.

Hotels.com / Via hotels.com

8.Cinque Terre National Park, Italy

Stay in a little bed and breakfast with a terrace overlooking the sea.

Outdoor terrace with breakfast tables overlooking the mountains and sea.

With rooms starting at just $88 per night. Stay in Cinque Terre and experience the gorgeous sunsets from your balcony or terrace.

Hotels.com / Via hotels.com

9.Yala National Park, Sri Lanka

Leopard laying in the sand in Sri Lanka

Yala is best known for its leopard population, and is without a doubt one of the best spots in the world for a chance to spot leopards in the wild. There are plenty of other animals to see in the park, like elephants, birds, and of course, the sloth bear.

Best time to visit: February-June

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Stay just a one minute walk from the park entrance in a unique wilderness resort in the jungle.

Hotel room with bed and bowl of fruit

For just $60 per night, you can stay in a guesthouse with exceptional reviews that call this place a "piece of paradise."

Hotels.com / Via hotels.com

10.Banff National Park, Canada

Campervan parked on a lake with tall trees and mountain behind it

Canada is filled with national parks, but Banff might just be the most popular...either that or it’s just well loved on my IG feed. It’s known for its lakes, mountains, and glaciers. Making it the ideal cold weather destination. And the color of the lakes are seriously unbelievable.

Best time to visit: June-September, December-March (during ski season)

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Stay in Banff with stunning mountain views.

Brick hotel at the base of a mountain

I still can't believe this gorgeous hotel in Banff has two hot tubs overlooking the mountains AND rooms start at $97 per night.

Hotels.com / Via hotels.com

11.Tatra National Park, Poland

Tatra National Park lies on the border of Poland and Slovakia in the Tatra Mountains. The park has mountains, caves, lakes, and waterfalls, proving there's so much more to Poland than the cities...and vodka.Best time to visit: July-October

Tatra National Park lies on the border of Poland and Slovakia in the Tatra Mountains. The park has mountains, caves, lakes, and waterfalls, proving there's so much more to Poland than the cities...and vodka.

Best time to visit: July-October

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Stay in the Tatra Mountains at a beautiful ski hotel.

Late evening at cozy ski hotel

Prices start at $57 per night. Enjoy the spa, pool, restaurant, and incredible views without leaving the property.

Hotels.com / Via hotels.com

There are so many more national parks around the world. Whether you're looking for a desert getaway, an oceanside retreat, or a mountain trek, there's something for every traveler.

We'd love to know, which national park is your favorite?