Perhaps your favourite thing about a city break is the architecture and landmarks, or perhaps the shopping and the restaurants. Whatever you enjoy most about vacations in the city, at some stage you’ll no doubt visit the local green space, especially when the weather is good. Our list of the world’s best urban parks includes four iconic cities, so why not take advantage of cheap flights this year and head off to explore?
The Big Apple
Central Park is one of the most famous parks in the world, and for good reason. Head there for a picnic, a stroll round the botanical gardens, a trip to the zoo or to catch a concert. This sprawling green space is surrounded by the city’s iconic skyscrapers, and is a tranquil oasis away from the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple. There are also several museums in Central Park including the American Museum of Natural History, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim Museum. You could end up spending a number of days exploring all that the park has to offer.
The Spanish city of Barcelona is probably best known for its architecture, much of which is the creative genius of modernist architect Gaudi. His masterpieces include the Sagrada Familia and a number of houses around the city, as well as the magical green space that is Parque Guell.
The park is found just outside the city centre, and includes buildings and sculptures that wouldn’t be out of place in a fairy-tale. Gaudi’s mosaics and tiny houses draw crowds from across the globe, and examples of his modernist, geometric architectural designs can be found all over the huge park.
San Francisco is a city of bohemian charm and culture with the Golden Gate Bridge stretching out over San Francisco Bay.
It’s also home to one of the world’s most beautiful green spaces. Golden Gate Park has a Japanese theme with pagodas, ornamental waterfalls and elegant bridges decorating the Tea Garden. There are also views out over the bay from Ocean Beach, and meadows for picnicking and relaxing. This a great park for family fun, too, with its own herd of bison and a lake where you can paddle boat.
The beauty of Tokyo lies in the contrasts you can experience there. Traditional tea shops and markets exist alongside high-tech arcades and shopping centres. You’ll find the sights, sounds and smells of historic Japan in the city’s Ueno Park, where more than a thousand cherry trees line the path ways between ponds.
You’ll also spot remnants of a bygone era as you stroll past pagodas and shrines. Spring is the best time to visit, when drifts of pink and white petals fall from the cherry trees and the park is green with new life.
These four cities are just the beginning, and there are plenty of other notable parks across the world. Have you been to a green space that you think should be on this list? Which, in your opinion, is the world’s best park?