You’ve heard of New York’s Central Park, the world’s most famous urban green space, but you may not realise that many other cities have long treasured their prized pockets of greenery that remain amongst the towering skyscrapers. The value of public parks cannot be overstated; in an increasingly concrete-dominated world they provide a much-needed break from the constant buzz of city life, and give city-dwellers the massive backyard they lack. They also give users easily accessible space in which to relax, exercise, explore and re-immerse themselves in the natural world. Every city will have hidden gems that are worth seeking out, and below are 5 of the best and brightest city parks waiting for you to discover them.
Stanley Park, Vancouver
Stanley Park, located in the middle of downtown Vancouver, is a gorgeous, natural oasis, filled with gardens and greenery. The park also hosts beaches and various historic monuments across its 400 hectares, and is home to the famous Seawall, a trail that encircles the park and offers breathtaking views of Coal Harbour and the English Bay. Adding some quaint charm is the Stanley Park Train, a miniature vintage steam train that offers 15 minute guided tours around the park. Vancouver Aquarium, home to sea otters, seals and numerous ocean species, is also nestled in the bustling centre of Stanley Park, providing extra entertainment year-round. Be sure to take in all of the park’s awesome monuments, but especially don’t miss out on seeing the nine totem poles at Brockton Point; symbols of the area’s First Nations heritage and history.
Ritan Park, Beijing
Known as being the home to the Temple of the Sun, a historic altar built in 1530 during the late Ming Dynasty, Beijing’s Ritan Park has so much more on offer. Spanning more than 20 hectares in Chaoyang District, Ritan (literally Temple of the Sun) Park is the city’s standout green space. Not only does it showcase a beautiful relic of Chinese history, the gardens themselves are incredibly impressive. Nestled in the heart of Beijing’s CBD, Ritan is the premier local space for relaxation and spiritual recharge. On any given day you will find locals exercising, meditating, or relaxing. The park is also a great hub for tourists, as it is easily accessible and close to accommodation, attractions and plenty of excellent local dining options.
Mount Faber Park, Singapore
Mount Faber Park is one of the oldest parks on the island of Singapore, and one of the most popular. In true Singaporean fashion, Mount Faber offers a wide range of delightful sights and attractions, including the chance to reach the park’s summit via cable car. At the top there are also dining and bar options that offer the chance to indulge in a fine meal or drink whilst taking in some of the best views on the island. The gardens themselves are also manicured and beautiful, and provide a lovely space to relax or enjoy a walk. You can also delve into some of Singapore’s natural history at Faber Point, the peak of the park, where a mural wall features scenes of local historical events.
Amsterdam’s Vondelpark is an urban greenspace encompassing 47 hectares in the Amsterdam-Zuid borough. Beloved by locals and tourists alike, Vondelpark offers not only breathtaking natural gardens, but a wide variety of activities, making it a must-see year-round. At Vondelpark you can choose to kick back and relax in the luscious rose garden, take in the public sculptures and art (Don’t miss Picasso’s sculpture!) or even hire a bike and cover more ground. You might like to grab a bite to eat, or check out the Vondelpark Open Air Theater, which stages numerous artistic shows every year, from operas, to plays, to concerts.
Located right in the centre of Stockholm, Djurgården is a tranquil island filled with museums, an amusement park and numerous lush gardens. Most famous for its historic Vasa and Skansen Museums, featuring a 17th-century warship and depictions of Swedish history and life throughout the ages. Djurgården is also home to the famed ABBA museum, which houses mountains of memorabilia and iconography of pop’s iconic powerhouse. For the kids (and the young at heart!) is Gröna Lund, an amusement park with 31 different rides and attractions to keep everyone entertained. With so much on offer, Djurgården is a must-see destination in Stockholm, for both its many attractions and its sheer beauty.