These national parks, a number classified as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, protect and preserve some of the world’s most beautiful natural wonderswildlife and landmarks. Whether it be witnessing the staggering peaks of Torres del Paine in Chile, the pretty pastels of Cinque Terre in Italy or the deep-dusty hues of Uluru-Kata Tjuta in Australia, we’ve cherry picked the 22 most amazing national parks in the world to visit.

    ULURU-KATA TJUTA NATIONAL PARK, AUSTRALIAThe giant monolith, or inselberg, of this UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Northern Territory of Australia is best known for its intense red colour, which can change shades from ochre to burnt orange with the movement of the sun. As one of the world’s largest monoliths, Uluru is the sacred site of the local Aboriginal people, the Anangu, and still bears markings of human settlement from more than 10,000 years ago. We suggest spending the night at smart campsite Longitude 131° for the best taste of the outback.The most beautiful places to visit in Australia and New ZealandINSPIRATIONThe most beautiful places to visit in Australia and New ZealandALAMY
    YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, CALIFORNIA, USAWhatever the season, Yosemite has some of the most spectacular landscapes in the USA. Located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California, this national park is renowned for its cascading waterfalls, towering sequoia groves, wild meadows and staggering views at the top of what might be the park’s most famous summit, El Capitan. Vintage-style Airstreams are available to rent at AutoCamp located in the park – they come equipped with fire-pits, hammocks and access to the property’s clubhouse and heated pool.GETTY IMAGES
    CINQUE TERRE NATIONAL PARK, ITALYThis string of five colourful seaside towns along the Ligurian coast of Italy runs from Monterosso al Mare in the North to Riomaggiore in the South. It’s a walker’s delight, with multiple panoramic trails running from village to village. We suggest stopping off for cool dips at parasol-dotted beaches and long lunches of trofie al pesto, a speciality of the area. To stay: this stunning sea view villa in Portovenere.VIDEO: A postcard from Cinque TerreTRAVELLER ORIGINALSVIDEO: A postcard from Cinque TerreGETTY IMAGES
    FUJI-HAKONE-IZU NATIONAL PARK, JAPANWe recently named Mount Fuji one of the most beautiful places in the world, and at the foot of this sacred and still-active volcano is one of the most popular destinations among both Japanese and international tourists. It covers hot-spring-filled Hakone, less than two hours by bullet train from Tokyo, and Fuji-san’s Five Lakes. Waves of wildflowers show off their colours in the spring and summer months, as do the blush-tinted cherry blossoms during sakura season.The best hotels in JapanPLACES TO STAYThe best hotels in JapanGETTY IMAGES
    JASPER NATIONAL PARK, CANADAJasper National Park is the largest national park in Canada’s Rocky Mountains, and while it might be overshadowed by its little sister Banff, home to the electric-blue Lake Louise, Jasper is in fact both wilder and richer in wildlife. Sightings might include grizzly and black bears, coyotes, moose, bald eagles and Canada geese. It’s worth seeing both parks – we suggest a road trip along the scenic Icefields Parkway from Banff to Jasper for the most amazing snow-capped views.GETTY IMAGES
    TORRES DEL PAINE NATIONAL PARK, CHILEWe named this national park in Chilean Patagonia a wonder of the world in 2018 and with its striking three peaks of the Paine mountain range, it’s easy to see why. A major destination for hikers, kayakers and walkers pursuing the scenic End of the World Route, it’s worth visiting and staying at eco-friendly Tierra Patagonia Hotel & Spa, for views of hazy glacial lakes and possible fauna sightings of puma, the South American grey fox and more than 100 species of bird.The world’s greatest road trip: Patagonia, ChileEPIC ADVENTURESThe world’s greatest road trip: Patagonia, ChileGETTY IMAGES
    WADI RUM PROTECTED AREA, JORDANNicknamed Valley of the Moon, Wadi Rum is located in the south of Jordan, a little more than 60 miles south of the ancient city of Petra. As a desert landscape, it’s been the location for many space films, such as The Martian and The Last Days on Mars. It’s worth spending some time overnight here – traditional Bedouin camps are dotted around the desert, and futuristic bubble tents too.GETTY IMAGES
    GUILIN AND LIJIANG RIVER NATIONAL PARK, CHINAThe best way to soak up China’s Guilin and Lijiang River National Park is by taking a boat trip along the Li River. The area is renowned for its limestone karsts and vast bamboo forests, typical of the topology of the land. With names such as Dragon Head and Elephant Trunk, these wave-like hills and limestone cones have inspired many Chinese artists and poets alike, and they’re even featured on the 20 Yuan banknote.GETTY IMAGES
    ACADIA NATIONAL PARK, MAINE, USAAcadia is the only national park in the north-east of the USA and a top destination for many East Coasters planning a road trip through New England. It covers roughly half of Mount Desert Island as well as some smaller surrounding islands, and is in close proximity to Bar Harbor, where you can stock up on provisions and fresh lobster rolls before a full day outdoors. Cadillac Mountain is the highest point on the East Coast and the first place that sees the sunrise – it’s a four-mile trek uphill so head here early after a good nights sleep at glamping site Under Canvas (opening 2021) to catch those first rays.GETTY IMAGES
    GALÁPAGOS NATIONAL PARK, ECUADOREstablished in 1959, the Galápagos National Park in Ecuador is one of the most biologically diverse places on earth. With its own ecosystem, it’s famously known for inspiring Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species and his theory of evolution and natural selection. Around 97 per cent of the park remains uninhabited by humans, but there is no shortage of wildlife – on land or in the water. Iguanas, giant tortoises, finches, Sally Lightfoot crabs and sea lions might be the most likely seen on a visit here.An expert’s guide to visiting the Galápagos IslandsECUADORAn expert’s guide to visiting the Galápagos IslandsGETTY IMAGES
    CAIRNGORMS NATIONAL PARK, SCOTLANDIn the spring and summer months it’s best to explore this part of Scotland’s eastern Highlands by foot but come wintertime, skis take over. It’s the largest park in the UK – twice as big as the Lake District National Park and even bigger than the whole of Luxembourg. With nine national nature reserves, three rivers and an abundance of lochs, it doesn’t have a shortage of local wildlife – red deer, capercaillie, osprey and Scottish wildcats, to name a few. For the best places to bed down nearby we suggest art-filled The Fife Arms and scandi-cool Killliehuntly Farmhouse and Cottages.GETTY IMAGES
    KHAO SOK NATIONAL PARK, THAILANDLocated in Southern Thailand, Khao Sok is home to one of the largest virgin rainforests in the country, which also happens to be the oldest evergreen rainforest in the world. There are more than 1,500 species of bamboo here, and more than 300 bird species, including the rufous-collared kingfisher and the white-crowned hornbill. Top things to do include hiking to waterfalls and through a number of the park’s hidden caves.Thailand’s secret hotels to know aboutPLACES TO STAYThailand’s secret hotels to know aboutGETTY IMAGES
    KRUGER NATIONAL PARK, SOUTH AFRICAAs one of Africa’s largest national parks, the Kruger covers 14 different ecozones and more than 7,000 square miles, making it one of the most diverse in wildlife on the continent. This is the place to visit for a first-time safari, with one of our favourites being conservation-focused Singita Sweni Lodge. It’s ideal for a prime viewing of the Big Five (lions, elephants, rhinoceros, Cape buffalo and leopards) and for sunrise koppie hikes.How these African safaris are reconnecting with natureINSPIRATIONHow these African safaris are reconnecting with natureGETTY IMAGES
    DARTMOOR NATIONAL PARK, ENGLANDHighly popular with wild campers – it happens to be the only national park in England where it’s permitted – Dartmoor shows off some of the most striking terrain in the south west. It’s known for its boggy moorlands and tors, or jutting granite rock formations, but visitors can also find sweeping grasslands and wild ponies. Dartmoor has also been used for military training since the early 1800s so come prepared with proper walking shoes and camping kit for some of the more difficult trails. Where to stay: Olga Polizzi’s charming countryside bolthole Hotel Endsleigh.GETTY IMAGES
    SAGARMATHA NATIONAL PARK, NEPALHome to Mount Everest – the highest mountain in the world at 29,032ft – Sagarmatha National Park in Nepal is where many hikers kick-start their lifetime goal of climbing from Everest’s Base Camp. The park is also home to several rare animal species, such as the snow leopard and the lesser panda. It’s an adventurer’s paradise, where the Three Passes and Gokyo Lakes trails prove popular too, for those looking for less of a trek.GETTY IMAGES
    PLITVIČE LAKES NATIONAL PARK, CROATIAThe 16 terraced lakes at Croatia’s Plitvice Lakes National Park are connected by more than 90 waterfalls, one of which is the highest in the country, and the colours of the water change from emerald green to hazy blues, due to the levels of minerals as well as the angle of the sun. Swimming is not permitted but the Korana River flows just north of the park and is equally as inviting.Croatia islands: the 15 bestDESTINATIONSCroatia islands: the 15 bestGETTY IMAGES
    ZION NATIONAL PARK, UTAH, USAIn 2019, Zion was the fourth most-visited park in the USA and while it’s popular with roadtrippers heading down the windy Mount Carmel Highway, it’s even more of an attraction for rock climbers and adrenalin seekers. Parts of Zion are fairly inaccessible – backcountry hikers normally beeline for the nine-and-a-half mile hike that requires rappelling cascading canyons and swimming in deep rock pools. For other visitors, it’s the dusty deep-red slot canyons, waterfalls and views from Angel’s Landing that are worth coming for.GETTY IMAGES
    GÖREME NATIONAL PARK, TURKEYSculpted rock formations, formed by wind and water erosion and known as ‘fairy chimneys’, have shaped Göreme National Park in Turkey’s Cappadocia region into one of the most picturesque spots in the world. Locals have carved into these rocks, making themselves homes, churches and shops – there are even ancient Byzantine cave frescoes and underground tunnels and cities too. Most visitors head here to take a bucket-list sunrise hot-air balloon ride for the best views over the area.GETTY IMAGES
    KOMODO NATIONAL PARK, INDONESIAFounded in 1980, Komodo National Park encompasses three Indonesian islands – Komodo, Rinca and Padar – and is home to roughly 5,700 of the world’s largest lizard, the Komodo Dragon. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Centre, where these protected lizards, weighing in at more than 300lb when fully grown, live solitary lives among other animal species such as the orange-footed scrubfowl and the Timor deer. The park is also popular with scuba divers and snorkellers – its waters harbour around 1,000 species of tropical fish, 260 species of reef-building coral and 70 species of sponges.GETTY IMAGES
    SIMIEN MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK, ETHIOPIASimien Mountains National Park, in northern Ethiopia, is known for its striking and dramatic landscape – with jagged mountain peaks, extreme precipices and deep green valleys created due to millions of years of erosion. It’s a popular spot for trekking Ethiopia’s highest peak – Ras Dashen – and houses a number of endangered species, including the gelada monkey, the Ethiopian wolf and the walia ibex, a type of goat found nowhere else in the world.Ethiopia: The edge of reasonEPIC ADVENTURESEthiopia: The edge of reasonALAMY
    SNOWDONIA NATIONAL PARK, WALESHome to Wales’s highest mountain, Snowdon, and largest lake, Bala Lake, Snowdonia National Park offers endless outdoor activities. There are 1,497 miles of public footpaths that run from the coastline near the Bae Ceredigion to Mount Snowdon itself – with trails that also dive through valleys carved out by glaciers of the past. It’s worth spending a few days at this off-grid hideaway perfect for wild swimming and some of the best views of the park.The most beautiful places in WalesINSPIRATIONThe most beautiful places in WalesGETTY IMAGES
    FIORDLAND NATIONAL PARK, NEW ZEALANDA large portion of this national park is uninhabited and only accessible by boat or hiking trail. With some of the biggest lakes on New Zealand’s South Island, it’s a popular destination for adventurers and outdoor enthusiasts alike. It’s filled with snow-capped peaks, glaciers and numerous fiords, the deepest being Doubtful Sound and at 1,381ft deep, and visitors might spot fur seals, bottlenose dolphins and possibly even a penguin splashing about.