Italy is one of those countries that you can never really say you’ve finished seeing. After all, It’s so diverse! From the different foodie delights (I’m naming you, gelato), and beautiful cities like Rome, to the ever-impressive spots in Cinque Terre – there’s just so much to see. That being said, it can sometimes be easy to overlook the beautiful national parks in Italy that are perched all across the country.
You see, it doesn’t matter what area of Italy you visit – there’s nearly always a truly dramatic national park close by. And, to be honest, that’s the thing that makes Italy so special… how close many of the cities are too beautiful national parks and landscapes.
With that in mind, I wanted to share some of the very best and most beautiful national parks in Italy that you should think of visiting. After all, a little trek on one of the beautiful Italian hikes will begin to work off that extra scoop of gelato (that I always go for).
Take a look below at the most beautiful national parks in Italy to visit.
1.) Bellunesi Dolomites National Park
The Italian Dolomites is possibly one of the prettiest national parks in Italy that’s nestled within the northeast.
The park is home to an array of mountain ranges including the Monti del Sole and Talvena range. In summer, enjoy hiking past streams, through picturesque fields and up steep mountains. There are also lots of rock climbing spots and a whole heap of canyoning that’ll have your blood pumping!
Once here, make sure to get to the top of Via Ferrata, Braies Lake and Mis valley.
2.) Stelvio National Park
Stelvio National Park stretches down from the Alps in northern Italy and is home to deep valleys, majestic ridges and crystal-clear lakes. The park has plenty of walking trails that cater to all levels; beginners can enjoy rambling through the valley while pro hikers can tackle the park’s highest summits.
Honestly, it’s one of those national parks in Italy that just seems to cater for all abilities. Your only real disturbance will be the jingling of cow’s bells across the meadows. It’s just so gorgeous to see.
Don’t forget to stop by (or go through) the Stelvio Pass. There are a few easy hiking trails around this area but it’s also reachable by car, too,
3.) Gargano National Park
Gargano National Park sits in southern Italy, within the picturesque region of Puglia.
It’s home to fragrant citrus trees (perfect for limoncello), a crystal clear sea and rolling mountains dotted with olive trees (for that all-important antipasto).
This is one of the national parks in Italy where you can literally explore the gorgeous coastline (especially around the San Felice Arch) or hop over to the tiny Italian villages to explore the cobbled streets.
Oh, and make sure to spend some time in Vieste and the stunning Peschici (which is about 10-12 km away).
Cinque Terre National Park was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997, and it’s no surprise as to why – it’s one of the totally gorgeous national parks in Italy that’s got some pretty famous towns, too.
Each of these is linked by a few minutes’ train ride and coastal trails (though, I know some trails are closed, so make sure you check once you arrive).
Now, you’ll need at least one full day if you want to dart through the five towns. That being said, a long weekend is a much more relaxing pace.
5.) Parco Nazionale d’Abruzzo
D’Abruzzo National Park sits just two hours east of Rome in the Abruzzo region of Italy. Made up of dense forest and impressive mountain hiking trails, that start around Pescassèroli, the park is stunning to explore.
D’Abruzzo is also one of the few national parks in Italy that is home to the Italian wolf, chamois and Marsician brown bears that roam this region. now, they are pretty rare to see but incredible if you do. Just use common sense and treat all wildlife with the healthy respect it deserves.
One of the highest mountains in the park is Petroso, which is gorgeous to see. Oh, and one last thing… do make the trip over to Rocca Calascio ( which is in Gran Sasso – Monti della Laga Park) which is totally beautiful.
6.) Tuscan Archipelago National Park
Perched west of Tuscany, this is one of (only a few) national parks in Italy that’s located on an archipelago. Now, there are about seven main islands that make up Tuscan Archipelago National Park with the park covering well over 50,000 hectares of land and sea.
Once here, pop over to Elba island and explore some of the hiking trails around Mount Capanne. You’ll love it.
7.) Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga National Park
Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga is one of the largest National Parks in Italy and is one of the largest protected areas in Europe. This alone makes it a pretty epic stop on your holiday in Italy (especially in the summer months).
Once here, make sure to explore Castelvecchio Calvisio, see Santo Stefano di Sessanio and explore the historic centre of Barisciano. If you’re looking for a gorgeous hiking route, head from Carapelle Calvisio to San Pancrazio Sanctuary. It’s a totally gorgeous hike and not too strenuous. You can see the full route of this trail, here.
For some gorgeous views, head over to the Campo Imperatore plateau which has some of the best views of Gran Sasso summit.
8.) Parco Nazionale del Cilento
Cilento is located in Salerno in southern Italy, just under a two-hour drive south of Naples.
This alone makes it one of the easier national parks in Italy to visit. Especially if you want a little city and nature-style holiday.
Not only that, the park is listed as a world heritage site thanks to its sweeping scenery made up of rolling meadows, babbling streams and giant mountains. Once here, make sure to see Cape Palinuro, Roscigno (which is nestled on the side of Monte Pruno) and explore the stunning natural landscapes.
Being one of the largest national parks in Italy makes this a spot to spend a good few days exploring.
9.) Gran Paradiso National Park
Gran Paradiso National Park was one of the first national parks in Italy to be established. Located close to the French border the park is home to fir woodlands, alpine grasslands and rocky peaks and summer bring loads of hikers to the area. In winter, it’s a great spot to swish down the slopes skiing.
From the summit of Gran Paradiso (the tallest mountain in the park), you can actually see the Matterhorn in the distance. Plus, you might even spot some ibex, that are now a protected species in the area.
One thing to note is that the hikes and terrain here can be tough, especially if you’re heading into the higher altitudes around Gran Paradiso. Make sure to always listen to local expert advice and follow the trails detailed in the national park’s website. The summer trail to Colle della Terra is just incredible.
10.) Asinara National Park
Asinara National Park sits on an island just off the northern coast of Sardinia and the third largest in the area. once here, you’ll find Asinara donkeys grazing in the green fields on Mediterranean flora.
Now, history has it that this is one of the national parks in Italy that’s often known as ‘Devil’s Island’ due to its history as a quarantine site. That being said, it looks totally beautiful and is perfect to explore with spots like Cala Sabina and the rugged east cost being just beautiful.
11.) Aspromonte National Park
Located right at the tip of the boot of Italy Aspromonte National Park is home to glorious mountains, rocky grasslands and an array of native species including wolf, peregrine falcons and the goshawk.
This is one of the national parks in Italy that’s perfect to explore alongside the historical towns that are scattered around the region. Make sure to stop off at Caloveto (which is well over 1,000 years old), see Caccuri and find Civita. They are stunning spots.
12.) Vesuvius National Park
Mount Vesuvius is one of Italy’s greatest geological features and the National Park that surrounds and protects it is a must-see and a pretty easy stop to make if you’re travelling between Naples and the Amalfi Coast.
Once here, make sure to join the trail that goes to the top of Mt Vesuvius itself. It’s a pretty easy trail and doesn’t require much hiking experience at all. With the trail time being around 30-minutes each way.
Don’t forget to visit Pompeii, too. We visited right at the opening time when there were much fewer crowds.
13.) La Maddalena Archipelago National Park
La Maddalena Archipelago is one of the geo-marine national parks in Italy that’s located off the coast of Sardinia.
Once in the area, you can actually take a few boat excursions around the park. They typically range from around 50-120€ (per person), depending on the boat and route you choose. That being said, if you want a more inexpensive option, hop on over to Caprera Island and explore the island by foot or bike.
14.) Majella National Park
Majella National Park is a forested wonderland home to Mount Amaro. IT’s the type of park that you’ll love if you’re a hiker for sure. Once here, make sure to explore the Orfento valley.
After all that exploring, hop over to Guardiagrele for a bite to eat in a grotto called ‘La Grotta dei Raselli’. Alternatively, pop just outside the park to Pacentro, which a totally gorgeous medieval town.
15.) Alta Murgia National Park
Alta Murgia is located in southern Italy in the region of Apulia close to the region of Puglia. The park’s large plateau is made up of limestone deposits, rocky outcrops and rolling green fields, which makes for some totally idyllic scenery to explore.
Make sure you hike to Castel de Monte, a mysterious castle atop one of the park’s hills, too.