Top 10 Magical Landscapes You Should Know About

From sweeping mountain vistas to charming windmill-dotted riverside scenes, Europe is home to some of the world’s most picturesque landscapes. Here are 10 magical landscapes you should add to your travel bucket list.

Swiss Alps, Switzerland

Swiss Alps, Switzerland
the Swiss Alps

The soaring snow-capped peaks of the Swiss Alps offer some of Europe’s most stunning high-mountain scenery. Tourists flock to places like the Bernese Oberland to soak in views of the mighty Matterhorn and Eiger mountains reflected in crystal blue lakes. Popular activities include hiking mountain trails in summer and skiing glacier-covered runs in winter. Over 58 mountain railways and cable cars carry sightseers to the best panoramic viewing platforms.

Hallstatt, Austria

Hallstatt, Austria
Hallstatt, Austria

Nestled on the shore of Lake Hallstatt, this storybook Austrian village unveils one of Europe’s most photogenic scenes. The pristine alpine lake is surrounded by steep green mountain slopes dotted with quaint Alpine huts and historic salt mines. Beyond the dense forests lies the Dachstein Glacier. Tour the village’s 16th-century buildings and narrow cobbled streets for a magical trip back in time.

Black Forest, Germany

Black Forest, Germany
Black Forest

As the setting for many Brothers Grimm fairy tales, the Black Forest embodies enchanting old-world European charm. The wooded mountains in southwest Germany feature gurgling streams, cascading waterfalls, glacial lakes, iconic cuckoo clocks, and fictional landmarks like the witch’s gingerbread house. Admire the sea of black fir trees from scenic routes like the panoramic Schwarzwaldhochstraße.

Keukenhof Gardens, Netherlands

Keukenhof Gardens, Netherlands
Keukenhof Gardens

Every spring, the Dutch put on a spectacular floral display at Keukenhof Gardens near Amsterdam. More than seven million tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths bloom across this 79-acre landscape, creating a mosaic of vibrant colors. Wander through themed areas like the English landscape garden for magical photo opportunities around every bend. Time your visit for mid-April to see the tulips in full bloom.

Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
Plitvice Lakes National Park

Imagine a series of 16 storybook lakes linked by hundreds of waterfalls flowing through verdant forests. Welcome to Plitvice Lakes National Park, located halfway between Croatia’s capital Zagreb and the sea. Formed by natural travertine dams, the lakes shine in varying hues, from azure to green to gray. Walk the wooden pathways and trails network to experience the park’s diverse waterfalls, caves, and canyon views.

Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland

Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland
Giant's Causeway

Mythology surrounds this striking coastal landscape on Northern Ireland’s scenic Causeway Coastal Route. Giant’s Causeway is renowned for its 40,000 interlocking basalt hexagonal pillars, formed millions of years ago by volcanic eruptions. The unique rock formations resemble a giant’s cobblestone pathway disappearing into the sea, hence the name. Marvel at the volcanic stone columns from sea-facing cliffs or hike down to wander between the towering pillars along the coast.

Sognefjord, Norway

Sognefjord, Norway

Norway’s longest and deepest fjord cuts a striking figure amidst Scandinavia’s stunning vistas. Sognefjord stretches inland for 127 miles, with surrounding mountain walls rising 5,000 feet above the glistening blue waters. Take spectacular views of forests, glaciers, and waterfalls from stops along the scenic ferry ride between villages like Balestrand and Flåm. For a magical perspective, hike trails lead to panoramic viewpoints overlooking the magnificent fjord.

Lavender Fields of Provence, France

Lavender Fields of Provence, France
Lavender Fields of Provence

The postcard-perfect purple hues of Provence’s lavender fields attract admirers each summer. Follow scenic driving routes like the Route de la Lavande to capture stunning landscapes of endless rows of lavender blooms set against a backdrop of Alpine peaks or quaint French villages. Visit distilleries to see how lavender is transformed into aromatherapy oils and soaps using traditional techniques honed over centuries. June and July offer front-row seats to this floral phenomenon at its peak.

Neuschwanstein Castle, Bavaria

Neuschwanstein Castle

Nestled among Bavaria’s breathtaking Alpine peaks near the village of Schwangau, Neuschwanstein Castle looks as though it sprang from the pages of a storybook. The Romanesque Revival palace was commissioned in the late 1800s by King Ludwig II of Bavaria, known as the “Fairy Tale King”. He envisioned the whimsical castle dedicated to the operatic sagas of medieval knights and Wagnerian mythology.

Meteora Monasteries, Greece

Meteora Monasteries, Greece

Perched dramatically atop immense sandstone pillars, centuries-old Eastern Orthodox monasteries make up the spectacular panorama of Meteora, Greece. The breathtaking rock formations soar as high as 1,300 feet above the Plain of Thessaly, offering picture-perfect views from below. From the 14th century onwards, six active monasteries cling to these lofty outcrops, accessible via staircases carved into the cliffside or cable cars. Visitors can tour historic churches filled with centuries of priceless art and relics within this mystical landmark.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best time of year to visit Keukenhof Gardens?

The best time to view the colorful, blooming tulips is mid-April. The flower park is only open for 8 weeks, from mid-March to mid-May, which coincides with the peak tulip season.

How many waterfalls exist in Plitvice Lakes National Park?

Ninety-two waterfalls link the 16 lakes, plummeting as far as 130 feet into the emerald pools below.

Why is the Black Forest famous?

The Black Forest earned fame as the fictional setting for many of the Brothers Grimm’s fairy tales, lending an air of magic and enchantment to the pine woods and medieval villages.

What causes the unique shape of Giant’s Causeway’s rocks?

Around 50-60 million years ago, molten basaltic lava flowed into the Antrim plateau chalk beds. As the lava cooled rapidly, symmetrical hexagonal pillars formed, giving rise to the legendary Giant’s Causeway stones.

How many monasteries are at Meteora?

Six Eastern Orthodox monasteries remain active atop the towering rock pillars of Meteora today.

What flowers bloom in the Provence lavender fields?

Fields burst into purple hues each summer thanks to two types of lavender flowers – the Lavadula angustifolia (English lavender) and Lavandula stoechas (French lavender).

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