Saxon, Sarek and Rago

Saxon Switzerland, Germany. Photograph: Sebastian Kahnert/dpa/Corbis. Dramatic and unusual landscapes fill this region in eastern Germany (not Switzerland), which has more than 700 summits for rock climbers and hundreds of kilometres of marked hiking trails. The park’s prime attraction has to be the Bastei, a rock formation towering 194 metres above the river Elbe and linked by a sandstone bridge that cuts through it. The 112km Malerweg trail is a well-trodden route, through a landscape famed for inspiring painters and artists. The park also extends into the Czech Republic. This section, called Bohemian Switzerland, has its own geographical oddity in the form of the Pravčická brána, Europe’s largest natural sandstone arch.

Sarek, Sweden. Photograph: George Steinmetz/Corbis

Things you won’t find in Sarek: marked trails, cabins, cafes, other people. Things you will find: about 100 glaciers, six of Sweden’s highest summits and white-water rapids. The tourist board advises good map-reading skills and knowledge of this type of terrain for those who want to visit. Sarek consists of 2,000 sq km of untouched natural habitat, making it a natural playground for experienced adventurers. Still, it’s possible to join a trekking tour in order to have an experienced guide for your trip across one of Europe’s last wildernesses.

Rago, Norway. Photograph: Alamy

Even the non-national park bits of the Nordland region of Norway are spectacular: flying or sailing into Bodø airport takes you along the dark, jagged edge of the country’s coastline, but Rago itself is a particularly impressive sight to behold. Rugged rock formations, boulders and steep mountains jut out of the often other-worldly landscape. One of the highlights is the Litlverivassforsen waterfall, which tumbles off the edge of Litlverivatnet lake. There are trails to follow, as well as cabins to pitch up in at night, and nearby Sjunkhatten and Junkerdal national parks are also within easy reach for those who want to explore further.