There’s a reason they call it the great outdoors! It’s that fresh air that invigorates mind and body, the sound of the soothing breeze among the trees – being at one with nature feels amazing. And there’s just so many ways to enjoy and celebrate the environment. Whether that’s racking up record steps as you explore on foot, paddling at full pelt in a kayak or something more extreme! It’s time to celebrate the great outdoors with some of our favourite natural beauties.
Cava Grande Natural Reserve, Sicily – Italy
The impressive canyon of Cava Grande may have been created over a number of centuries, but we’re going to cut to the chase! This is the star of this natural reserve’s show. The River Cassabile has slowly carved a course between the mountains, shaping the impressive canyon that draws so many nature lovers to this part of Sicily. Your stroll to this natural wonder takes you around dense greenery and beautiful emerald pools, cascading into one another and fuelled by rushing waterfalls. With so many shades of green working together beautifully, this is a stunning sight! And what better way to refresh those tired legs than a dip in the fresh water? Cool off, take in the canyon from a different perspective and prepare for your return hike. Just be sure to wear comfortable (and sensible) shoes and take a bottle of water with you.
Saturnia Thermal Baths, Tuscany – Italy
From cool pools to hot springs – a dip in Saturnia is even more tempting. With a warming temperature of 37.5°C a soak here is great for the soul, soles and anywhere else you’re feeling tense for that matter. The Tuscan sulphurous baths have a long running reputation of restoring and healing those who slip into their warm waters. In fact, two of Italy’s biggest empires were fans of Saturnia’s Thermal Baths. Picture Wealthy Estruscans and Roman conquerors enjoying the era’s equivalent of a spa day. Gossiping as they kick back in a natural hot tub, chatting about their next lavish purchase or which lands they had their eye on. If these pools could talk…
Voidomatis River, Epirus – Greece
What better tour guide could there be than the flowing river waters of Voidomatis!? Leading you on a fascinating tour of Epirus‘ natural beauty and Greek traditions. The crystal-clear waters won’t have you following a tight schedule with planned stops, so you can lazily admire whatever catches your eye! Whether that’s a traditional arching bridge over Voidomatis or one of the many charming villages it meets on its journey. You don’t even have to break stride if you don’t want to, let these simply complement that wonderful forest and river bank scenery. If walking’s too tame, why not kayak your way along Voidomatis? Daring thrillseekers can make a huge splash with a canyoning trip, climbing rocks and jumping into the river below. Join Voidomatis in the right spot and you could even be passing through the Vikos-Aoos National Reserve! We did mention that it was an amazing tour guide…
Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
Chances are you’ve seen or heard of Plitvice before and if you haven’t, we’re a little bit jealous that you’re getting to enjoy this beautiful sight for the very first time. Nature just seems to work in perfect harmony in this national park! Its 16 lakes are connected by cascading waterfalls and streams that rush through the trees. While wooden trails wind their way around the emerald and turquoise pools, a great foil for all that greenery. And you might even spot some fascinating Croatian wild animals among the trees! Plitvice is home to plenty of bird species, hedgehogs, lizards, deer and even brown bears.
Be sure to grab a glimpse of Veliki Slap before you head home! Plitvice’s tallest waterfall stands at 70m high, so get ready for a huge rumble and an awe-inspiring sight. It’s not all trekking along wooden walkways and ducking through trees, there’s easier ways to enjoy this natural wonder. Glide along the glass-like water of the largest lake (Kozjak) or simply enjoy a bus ride to the highest point in the park.
Verdon Gorge, Provence – France
Another staggering canyon bookends our celebration of the great outdoors. And many would argue that the Verdon Gorge is bigger and better than its Sicilian counterpart! Sculpted by the Verdon River over time, its turquoise waters now snake through the cliffs – an electric blue contrast to the limestone and greenery that surround it. A huge hit with nature lovers, it’s the variety of Verdon that draws so many visitors to this gorgeous French gorge. You might spot climbers scaling the cliffs, or kayakers paddling along as they drink in their wonderful surroundings. Hardened hikers might be seen completing the 15km Sentier Martel trail, while casual ramblers tackle bite-sized chunks of the route. If you’re all about those holiday road trips, why not follow the routes that wind their way around the gorge? Stop off at a handful of the stunning viewpoints and enjoy a bird’s eye view of the beauty that lies below.