With the Spring sunshine providing some much needed vitamin D after another uninspiring British Winter, I’ve been spending a lot more time in our local parks recently.
Whilst sipping a cold local cider or slurping a thick shake, my mind has been drifting to other parks where I’ve come back to life after hibernation. Blissfully reminiscing about which foods I’ve consumed where and which views grabbed all my intention and leaving books unread.
From my sushi consuming days in the botanical gardens of Sydney to the fingerpicking afternoons in Amsterdam’s Vondelpark, urban green spaces are micro environments where locals and tourists alike come to escape the rush of the city and be transported to a world of calm in a mosaic of expressiveness.
I, like many others which whom I shared a patch of grass, love watching all kinds of people pass by, each as unique and wonderful as the next. Impromptu performances, the smell of fresh cut grass, birdsong, wafts from global cuisines and distant urban sounds; a harmonious cacophony and aroma illustrative of a city’s inclusiveness.
So here are my top 10 city parks:
10 Vondelpark, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
At the heart of Amsterdam, a city often celebrated for its liberal values and quaint architecture, lies Vondelpark. On summer days people from all over the town gather to enjoy some sunlight before going back to wandering along the canals.
9 Park Güell, Barcelona, Spain
A short ride away from the old town, this Gaudi masterpiece is amongst the most inspiring parks in the world. Although the entry queues and fake Gucci sellers can be off-putting, seeing the divine work by famous architect Gaudi is worth the hype.
8 St James Park, London, England
Feeding birds in the lake or watching squirrels fighting for territory, St James Park boasts great views the London skyline with a picture perfect green passe-partout.
7 Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris, France
Paris has many great parks, you can easily get lost in the town and be assured there is always a green space with a bench nearby. With courts for virtually every sport on Earth, tree-lined promenades, fantastic flower displays and even a circular pond filled with model sailboats, this shows Paris is truly the city of love.
6 Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh, Scotland
One of the most central of all parks, the park surrounding the Castle can easily make you forget that you’re in a lively city. The castle mounted on a large outcrop of rock gives a majestic feel to the park.
5 Central Park, New York City, United States
Probably the most famous city parks of all, Central Park has been featured in so many tv and film productions as well as a venue for world famous artists, it is impossible not to have a clear idea of what it looks like. Visit in Autumn for a glorious display of natural colors.
4 Chapultepec, Mexico City, Mexico
A centrepiece of the city, Chapultepec includes museums, a zoo and a large lake. It has over 15 million visitors per year and is ranked amongst the largest and most popular urban parks in the world.
3 Osaka Castle Park, Osaka, Japan
Incredible scenes of blossoming trees cover this park, which changes colors throughout the year. The impressive stone walls and moot surrounding the castle make a wonderful contrast to the modern skyline in the background.
2 Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney, Australia
The vast variety of plants and trees is just one of the attractions of this park. The park is home to some fantastic wildlife (not the scary stuff often associated with Australia), with the bats creating an impressive across the city at sunset. The views of the Opera House and Sydney Harbour, combined with blue skies and boats passing by make it near impossible not to take a great picture.
1 Stanley Park, Vancouver, Canada
Stepping into wilderness, just minutes away from the hustling and bustling of the city, is what makes this park so attractive. Rock cliffs, beaches, adventure trails, cycling paths, award winning aquarium and plenty of places to replenish. Stanley Park has repeatedly been voted Best Park in the World and for good reason.