One of my favorite things to do in a foreign city is spend some time in a park. While traveling, I learned that Europeans really know how to enjoy the outdoors and appreciate their down time and the parks in Europe were where I tried to emulate the local past time. No matter how bustling a particular town can be, these beautiful oases afforded me a few minutes to a few hours to people watch, eat, or just sit and appreciate my temporary travel lifestyle.
Park Guell, Barcelona
Barcelona is known for Gaudi’s architecture and Park Guell is a free alternative to the tours of buildings offered in the city. My friends and I explored the park for a while until we came to a circular plaza where we ate tortilla de patatas and people watched for a good hour.
City Park and Hero’s Square, Budapest
City Park in Budapest is more than just your run-of-the-mill park. It starts off with Hero’s Square, a semi-circular area of the park lined with statues dedicated to Hungary’s iconic figures. Walk past beautiful lakes and historical mansions and you’ll find one of the many spas throughout the city that offer hot baths for rest and relaxation, something I would definitely do if I had an extra day.
Holyrood Park, Edinburgh
Holyrood Park takes you out of Edinburgh without leaving Edinburgh. My friends and I were free to roam the park on a chilly spring day with very few people around. If you feel like a challenge, you can try and climb the famous Arthur’s Seat but be ready for a workout. Otherwise, you can do as we did and circle around the hills of the park for gorgeous views of the city center.
Holland Park, London
We all know and love Hyde Park in London, but Holland Park deserves some credit too. Holland Park has many areas of quiet to take a stroll with a loved one and more busy spots including a Japanese Garden and ample fields for football and picnics. The park truly has a romantic feel to it and any girl who has read the book Something Blue can understand why as many scenes were set in Holland Park.
Boboli Gardens, Florence
I don’t think I’ve experienced perfect quiet as wonderful as in the Boboli Gardens. Located behind the Medici family’s Pitti Palace, the park is a long walk past fountains and through grottoes. The wandering for hours is worth it when the end destination is a garden that overlooks lush hills of green with billowing clouds of smoke rising from chimneys.
St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin
To see the real green of Ireland, you should definitely drive along the southwestern coast of the country but St. Stephen’s Green in the heart of Dublin is a beautiful alternative. Located near busy Grafton Street, the park is a haven for statues dedicated to the country’s greatest writers such as Joyce and Wilde and also for ducks in a tranquil lake complete with gazebo and bridge. St. Stephen’s Green definitely offers a variety of stunning views.
Retiro Park, Madrid
Retiro Park is the perfect activity on a Sunday in Madrid. The park is one of the busiest places in the city at this time with groups of friends and families lounging on the grass with picnics or rowing boats on the lake. Right next to the lake is a massive drum circle for all you free spirits and rhythm seekers or for those who just want a festive soundtrack to their leisurely day.
Stadt Park, Vienna
I sat down on a bench in quiet Stadt Park with my friends and felt truly lucky that I was here and not in a cubicle. If you’re like me you’ll choose one of the benches that line the path circling the center lake for a rest or try to figure out the bike rental machines for a good hour before being able to ride around the park’s blossom trees and up and over bridges running along the park’s river.
Quinta da Regaleira, Sintra
Quinta da Regaleira is actually an estate consisting of a palace, chapel and park that belonged to kings of Portugal’s past and it’s a blessing the park is still preserved. The park is filled with lakes, grottoes, fountains, and dark caves. My friends and I spent a good couple hours just getting lost and we loved it. I personally felt like one of the Lost Boys in Peter Pan. Who doesn’t love a little adventure at the base of a gorgeous historic palace?
Green Park, London
I don’t know why but Green Park is my favorite park in London. There is nothing special about this park that sits right next to Buckingham Palace but it has its perks. I love the way it looks on a fall morning when no one is around, when it’s freezing cold in winter and I’m sitting on a bench eating lunch and people watching, or when every inch of the small park is covered with sun bathers in the summer. One of my last days in London was spent watching my friends roll down the hills and sitting under the shade of a big tree watching footie players. If it sounds like perfection, it is.
What’s your favorite park in the world?