22 Incredible National Parks From Around The World That Straight Up Look Like They Could Be On Another Planet

·8 min read

Chances are you've heard of Yellowstone, Yosemite, Zion, Acadia and many of the other major US National Parks. But there are tons of National Parks abroad that are just as incredible and well worth a spot on your travel bucket list. Here are 22 of the most stunning landscapes on earth just waiting to be explored.

1.Brazil: Lençóis Maranhenses National Park

Sunset at Lençóis Maranhenses, Brazil.

Set on Brazil's north Atlantic coast, Lençóis Maranhenses is a giant field of sand dunes. The ideal time to visit is from May to September because the rainy season causes gorgeous, crystal clear pools to form in the pockets of the dunes, creating an otherworldly landscape.

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2.Costa Rica: Corcovado National Park

Corcovado National Park

A must-visit for lovers of wildlife, this tropical rainforest covers almost half of Costa Rica's Osa Penninsula. It's one of the most biologically diverse places on the planet, home to pumas, jaguars, crocodiles, tropical birds, sea turtles, and most exciting: all four of the country's species of monkeys. If you go, book a stay at one of the many eco lodges just on the outskirts of the park in the towns of Drake Bay or Puerto Jimenez.

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3.China: Jiuzhai Valley National Park

Five Flower Lake inside Jiuzhai Valley National Park.

Set in China’s Sichuan province, this jagged system of valleys, waterfalls, dramatic blue and green pools, and lush forests looks like a scene from a fairytale. This protected natural landscape is an important habitat for lots of animals, including the endangered giant panda.

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4.Croatia: Plitvice Lakes National Park

Plitvice Lakes National Park.

You might associate Croatia with impressive, ancient walled towns, hidden beaches, and bustling ports, but there's more. Plitvice Lakes National Park in central Croatia — a UNESCO World Heritage Site — is a gorgeous landscape of 16 staggered emerald lakes, cascading waterfalls, limestone canyons, and hiking trails.

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5.Italy: Dolomiti Bellunesi National Park

A mountain landscape at Dolomiti Bellunesi National Park.

Italy really does have it all. From cosmopolitan cities and coastal fishing villages to Medieval towns. And don't forget about majestic mountains, thanks to Dolomiti Bellunesi National Park in Northern Italy. Though it's only an hour and a half from Venice, this majestic mountain landscape feels incredibly remote, a far cry from canals and piazzas. Make sure to explore Monti del Sole, a rugged and rough terrain that offers incredible views of the surrounding mountains and meadows.

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6.Rwanda: Volcanoes National Park

Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda.

Have you ever dreamed of trekking through the forest next to a family of silverback gorillas? Well, that dream can become a reality in Volcanoes National Park, located two hours from the capital city of Kigali. Access to this park is limited to a small number of tourists per day, so you'll have to plan your adventure well in advance, but adventurous travelers should put this once-in-a-lifetime journey on their bucket lists.

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7.Canada: Banff National Park

Lake Moraine in Banff National Park.

If you imagine what heaven might look like, it probably looks a lot like Banff National Park, set where Alberta and British Columbia meet in the Canadian Rockies. It's home to the emerald blue glacial lakes Moraine and Louise, snowcapped mountain peaks, canyons, and epic scenic roads.

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8.Ecuador: The Galapagos National Park

Galapagos Island

This park makes up almost all of the Galapagos Islands, an archipelago of volcanic islands off the coast of Equador. For animal lovers, it's an absolute must-visit. It sits at the intersection of three Pacific Ocean currents, making it one of the most diverse marine ecosystems in the world. As you explore, you might spot anything from penguins and giant tortoises to sea lions and whale sharks.

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9.Turkey: Göreme National Park

Hot air balloons over Cappadocia.

Göreme National Park is one of those incredibly unique landscapes that might make you think you've landed on another planet. It's set in a volcanic area in central Turkey, and it covers the spectacular stone pillars and fairy chimneys of Cappadocia. If you're feeling brave (and not too afraid of heights) the best way to take in the landscape is by hot air balloon ride.

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10.Thailand: Ang Thong National Marine Park

A viewpoint in Ang Thong National Park, Thailand.

Beach bums and nature lovers can find common ground at Ang Thong National Marine Park in Thailand, which is made up of 40 karst islands spread across about 100 miles in the unbelievably picturesque Gulf of Thailand. The best way to visit is by starting in Koh Samui or Koh Phangan and then island hopping by boat, stopping to snorkel or hike to your heart's content.

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11.Chile: Torres Del Paine National Park

Chilean Patagonia at Torres Del Paine National Park.

You can search the world, but you won't find many places that compare to the stark, rugged beauty or Torres del Paine National Park. This park in Chilean Patagonia is known for its iconic trio of granite mountains surrounded by glistening blue glacial lakes. Outdoor enthusiasts can hike, ice trek on glaciers, fly fish, mountain bike, kayak, horseback ride, and catch a glimpse of rare wildlife.

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12.France: Calanques National Park

Calanque d'En-Vau in Calanques National Park, French Riviera.

Nestled between Marseille and Cassis in the French Riviera, Calanques National Park is a seriously unique landscape. It occupies portions of both land and Mediterranean Sea, and it's only 30 minutes from France's second largest city. Calanque is French for a narrow inlet surrounded by limestone, and you'll find over a dozen of these gorgeous landscapes throughout the park, which you can explore on foot or on a boat tour.

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13.Ireland: Killarney National Park

Landscape in Ireland along the Ring of Kerry in Killarney National Park.

The first of Ireland's national parks, Killarney is known for its jaw-dropping scenery. You'll find it along the iconic drive, The Ring of Kerry, but you can easily spend a few days exploring. Take a boat cruise around the lakes of Killarney, hike to Torc waterfall, or explore the rugged landscape by bike.

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14.Tanzania: Serengeti National Park

Three giraffes under a tree in Serengeti National Park.

Have you ever wanted to witness the Lion King in real life? Well you pretty much can if you visit Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. It's one of the most famous game parks in Africa, and it's the definition of a bucket list adventure. Each year from July to November, millions of wildebeest, gazelles, zebras, and antelope cross the Serengeti as part of the Great Migration.

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15.Indonesia: Komodo National Park

A view of the ocean in Kimodo National Park.

Yes, Komodo dragons do exist, and you can find them at this National Park in Indonesia, which makes up 29 volcanic islands. It's the only place on earth where Komodo dragons exist naturally, and thousands of these gigantic lizards roam the sandy shores and dramatic hills along the Flores Sea.

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16.Australia: Karijini National Park

Knox Gorge at Karijini National Park, Pilbara.

This park in Western Australia's Pilbara region is the second largest in the country. It boasts giant gorges you can climb, waterfalls that lead to turqoise natural swimming pools, and ancient rock formations that date back millions of years. There are plenty of campgrounds where you can sleep under the clearest, unpolluted starry night sky you can imagine (shooting stars and views of the Milky Way are pretty much guaranteed).

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17.Morocco: Toubkal National Park

A Berber village in Toubkal National Park.

Less than 50 miles from Marrakesh in the high Atlas Mountains sits Toubkal National Park. Given its proximity to the city, it offers an easy escape to nature for locals and tourists alike. There are both short hikes and week-long treks that take you past picturesque berber villages built into the cliffs, mountain passes, gorges, and plateaus.

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18.Iceland: Thingvellir National Park

The continental divide at Thingvellir National Park.

About an hour from Reykjavik, Thingvellir National Park is a perfect example of Iceland's incredible natural beauty and diverse landscapes. A popular stop along the Golden Circle route, Thingvellir boasts spectacular hiking trails, Silfra Fissure (a spot where you can snorkel or scuba dive between two tectonic plates), and majestic waterfalls. It's also the only place in the world where you can actually stand between two continental plates.

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19.New Zealand: Fiordland National Park

Dawn at Milford Sound in Fiordland National Park.

This park on New Zealand's South Island is one of the must-visit and most impressive spots in the country. The two most iconic features of Fiordland National Park are Doubtful Sound and Milford Sound, which were carved by glaciers and are now adorned with waterfalls, vertical cliffs, rainforests, and amazing marine life.

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20.Argentina: Iguazu National Park

Sunset at Iguazu Falls.

At the border of Brazil and Argentina sits Iguazú National Park, a landscape that truly looks like a scene from a fantasy novel. It's made up of more than 250 larger-than-life waterfalls in the lush and tropical Parana jungle. If you visit, it's not uncommon to find these extraordinary and powerful falls framed by perfect rainbows.

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21.Germany: Saxon Switzerland National Park

Bastei rock formation at Saxon Switzerland National Park.

The name and identity might be confusing (it's located in Germany, after all) but the beauty of Saxon Switzerland National Park is undeniable. It's located about three hours from Berlin near the Czech boarder in the free state of Saxony, and it takes up over 250 miles filled with hiking and biking paths. Some of the most iconic features are its rocky canyons, the Bastei Bridge over the Elbe River, and the remainders of Neurathen Castle.

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22.Japan: Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park

A view of Mount Fuji in the autumn at sunrise.

An easy trip from Tokyo, Fuji-Hakone-Izu is a giant park that comprises Mount Fuji, Fuji Five Lakes, the mountain town of Hakone, and the coastal Izu Peninsula, and the volcanic Izu Islands. There are many ryokans (traditional Japanese inns) scattered around the region, a perfect basecamp for exploring the UNESCO world heritage site.

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Have you visited an incredible National Park abroad that you'd recommend to other travelers? Tell us in the comments below!

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