Want to Relax In Nature? Head to These National Parks
Being in nature is one of the best ways to relax. It’s almost impossible to be stressed when you’re surrounded by the sounds of birds and views of mountains reaching out towards the sky.
But some natural destinations are more relaxing than others. If you’re seeking serenity and focusing on wellness, we have 15 national parks from around the world that are perfect for that. They cover most corners of the planet, from Australia to South Africa and North America.
These are the most relaxing national parks in the world for the ultimate wellness escape.
15. Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park
Size: 2,221,764 acres (899,116 hectares)
Score: 42 (Out of 100)
*Note: Scores and data are based on Money’s “The World’s Most Mindful National Parks” report.
Wellness at Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park
The Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park is not just relaxing, it's downright mystical. As you traverse Australia's vast Red Center, you'll be surrounded by the silence of the desert. At night, the sky, uninterrupted by artificial light, seems so close that you'll want to extend your hand to reach it.
The Uluru and the Kata Tjuta sites are the highlights of a trip here, as these impressive rock formations define the landscape that surrounds them. Both sites are sacred to Aboriginal groups and are surrounded by a palpable serenity.
Where to stay: Sails in the Desert.
14. Bohemian Switzerland
Size: 19,838 acres (8.028 hectares)
Wellness at Bohemian Switzerland National Park
This park's name is strange but true. This area of Bohemia could easily be confused for the idyllic mountain scenery of Switzerland.
Only about 135,000 people visit the park each year, which means that you have a high chance of having the beauty of the land all to yourself. You can also quite literally breathe more easily here, as the park has an air pollution score of zero out of 100.
Hiking often rewards you with visits to old castles, and you can continue relaxing at night at one of the numerous spa towns near the park.
Where to stay: Hotel Elbresidenz an der Therme.
13. Plitvice Lakes National Park
Size: 73,341 acres (29,680 hectares)
Wellness at Plitvice Lakes National Park
Croatia's stunning Plitvice Lakes is considered Europe's best national park. Although its popularity means that you will rarely be alone (especially in the summer), there are still plenty of opportunities to let go of your worries. To be honest, it's kind of hard to hold on to stress when you're swimming in turquoise waters fed by a series of waterfalls.
When you're not in the water, you can walk around the large forest that makes most of the park. A series of wooden trails make it easy for you to explore it by foot and to get views of the famous terraced lakes that the park is famous for.
Where to stay: Plitvica Lodge.
12. Guilin Lijiang River National Park
Size: 494,211 acres (200,000 hectares)
Wellness at Guilin Lijiang River National Park
In Guilin Lijiang River National Park, you will find a series of individual limestone mounts coming out from the banks of the Li River. If the scene feels familiar, it's because it is featured on the 20 yuan note — a sign of the park's cultural importance in China.
One of the most scenic and most relaxing ways to explore the park is by boat. You can take a cruise along the river and wake up to views of the towering mountains and the soft sound of the water. Of course, there are also land excursions that you can make to nearby villages or to caves and hiking trails on land.
Where to stay: Li River Hotel Guilin.
10. Lake District National Park (Tie)
Location: United Kingdom
Size: 583,747 acres (236,234 hectares)
Wellness at Lake District National Park
The English countryside often invades our imagination as a place where things are simpler and more peaceful. And while this description can fit most of rural England, it may be especially true for the Lake District.
Dotted with beautiful fluvial landscapes, sheep grazing on hills and fairly well preserved historic villages, the national park is certain to calm your soul. Try to stay in a small town, where you can hike around the hills, then end the night in an old English pub.
Where to stay: Lyth Valley Country House.
10. Serengeti National Park (Tie)
Size: 3,644,804 acres (1,475,000 hectares)
Wellness at Serengeti National Park
With more than 60,000 animals protected within its boundaries, Serengeti National Park is absolutely spectacular. This protected land is home to part of the Great Wildebeest Migration. Driving safaris are the most popular way to see the park, which is one of the most Instagrammed in the world.
Another way to see the park is by doing a hot air balloon ride, where you may get to see herds from above. Sleeping in one of the certified camps within the park also guarantees the calm of the bush at night.
Where to stay: Namiri Plains.
9. Cinque Terre National Park
Size: 9,538 acres (3,860 hectares)
Wellness at Cinque Terre National Park
You won't necessarily find quiet in this extremely popular national park. With less than 10,000 acres and 2.5 million yearly visitors, there will be plenty of other people who want to enjoy the beauty of Cinque Terre. But that doesn't mean that it's impossible to relax. In fact, we dare you to try to be stressed in the colorful villages while sipping Italian wine.
Besides boat tours, there are dozens of hiking trails that will take you through and out of the perched house villages. There are also numerous wellness classes and spa treatments offered within the national park. It may not have as much nature as other parks on the list, but it still has plenty of opportunities to forget your worries.
Where to stay: Hotel Porto Roca.
8. Denali National Park
Size: 6,045,186 acres (2,446,400 hectares)
Wellness at Denali National Park
One of the most remote national parks in the United States, Denali is for those who want to follow the call of the wild. The region is harsh and unforgiving, but those who venture within it will find unspoiled beauty and an arduous but rewarding trek to the top of the country's tallest mountain.
Join a walking safari to see some of Alaska's most famous animal residents, like grizzly bears, wolves and moose. The park only receives around 600,000 visitors per year, which is very few people for its 6 million acres of land.
Where to stay: Denali Backcountry Lodge.
7. Kruger National Park
Location: South Africa
Size: 4,814,848 acres (1,948,500 hectares)
Wellness at Kruger National Park
Another paradise for wildlife enthusiasts hoping to see some of South Africa's iconic species, Kruger National Park is a must-visit destination. There is plenty of excitement to be had while out on safari, but the country's established tourism industry also makes sure that there are plenty of moments to sit back and relax.
Wine tasting, lounging by pools, star gazing and yoga classes are easy to find in many of the lodges that operate within the national park. You should also leave some time to see cave paintings.
Where to stay: Kapama River Lodge.
6. Yellowstone National Park
Location: Wyoming, Montana, Idaho
Size: 2,221,724 acres (899,100 hectares)
Wellness at Yellowstone National Park
Few national parks in the U.S. enjoy the fame that Yellowstone has. Arguably one of the most beautiful places in the world, the park is perfect for a much-needed escape from reality. Not just because nature always helps to ground us, but also because the landscape of Yellowstone is quite literally otherworldly.
It's hard to focus on the mundane when you're gazing at the swirling colors of the Grand Prismatic Spring or seeing Old Faithful spout boiling water with a force that reminds you of the volcanic activity that's happening under your feet.
Yellowstone also has 600 lakes and 1,000 rivers, so there are plenty of ways to enjoy the water.
Where to stay: Old Faithful Inn.
5. Goreme National Park
Size: 24,424 acres (9,884 hectares)
Wellness at Goreme National Park
Goreme National Park receives the smallest number of visitors from any park featured on this list. Only about 50,000 people make their way here, which is great news for those who want to disconnect from everyone else.
You can meditate or ruminate while completing one of the 25 hiking trails. We recommend this activity as a way to see the peculiar rock formations and the ancient rock houses from up close. But once you've done that, we also encourage you to take a hot air balloon to have the quintessential Cappadocia experience.
Where to stay: Kelebek Special Cave Hotel.
4. Jasper National Park
Size: 2,688,000 (1,087,795 hectares)
Wellness at Jasper National Park
Nestled within the Canadian Rockies, Jasper National Park is a natural wonderland. Snow peaks feed pristine lakes that are impossibly clear and incredibly cold. Wildlife abounds within the mountains, the evergreen forests and near the banks of the lakes and rivers that crisscross the park.
Yes, many other places have similar landscapes, but there is a special stillness in Jasper that makes you feel as if time is standing still. Sometimes, it is so quiet, you are left alone with the sound of your own heartbeat until something rustles the leaves in the trees above you. But rather than feeling lonely, the stillness of Jasper somehow helps you connect to the quiet movements of the forest.
Where to stay: Jasper Park Lodge.
3. Fiordland National Park
Location: New Zealand
Size: 3,132,555 acres (1,267,700 hectares)
Wellness at Fiordland National Park
Fjords dominate the horizon of New Zealand's most famous national park. To complement them, there are three lakes that work as perfect mirrors for the fjords and snowy mountains of the park. Numerous hiking trails are open throughout the year, as are cruises that immerse you within the landscape in a way your own two feet never would.
Fiordland is not always easy to traverse, especially during winter, but the reward is so high, it can actually invigorate you. Then again, you can go the relaxed route and enjoy the views without overexerting yourself.
Where to stay: Fiordland Discovery.
2. Banff National Park
Size: 1,641,027 acres (664,100 hectares)
Wellness at Banff National Park
Canada's first and best national park comes in at No. 2 in the world for wellness and relaxation. Banff is famous for its perfect mountain landscape, with towering mountains and crystal-clear lakes.
Though it is within the Canadian Rockies, it places higher than Jasper for a number of reasons. One, it is more accessible, which means that you won't have to wait as long to start relaxing. It also offers numerous wellness classes and retreats that cater to a range of interests. The park's hot springs have ensured a number of spas have sprung up around. Soaking away your worries is one of the most popular things to do in gorgeous Banff.
Where to stay: Post Hotel and Spa.
1. Swiss National Park
Size: 42,082 acres (17,030 hectares)
Wellness at Swiss National Park
There are many reasons why Swiss National Park deserves to be No.1 on this list. So many, in fact, that it scored 11 points higher than the second most relaxing park.
For one, the crisp mountain air is extremely clean, so you can enjoy your breathing exercises more than almost anywhere else. Numerous hiking routes take you through quintessential Swiss scenery that borderlines on perfect, and there are also over 70 boat tours available.
As if that weren't enough, the park has 71 workshops available for visitors, so you're sure to find one that fits your interests. There are also dozens of spas and wellness activities. And to really reach perfection, the park only gets 150,000 visitors a year, so you can easily enjoy solitude here.
Where to stay: Swiss Lodge Zernez.