Living in the city can be great. I know because I live in one. But sometimes the concrete, the crowds, the pollution, and the inability to walk around barefoot still get to me. There’s something about being in nature (or at least near a tree and some grass) that relaxes you. When you’re stressed from the bustle or worn down from looking at gray all the time, there’s nothing like stillness and chlorophyll to block out everything else.
City planners knew this, and that’s why cities have parks. Here’s a look at some of the 24 best urban parks in the world. Be sure to stop by one of these if you’re traveling. There are plenty of other amazing parks in the world, but here are some of our favorites (in no particular order):
Parc de Montjuic, Barcelona, Spain
Named for supposedly serving as a site of a Jewish cemetery in the Middle Ages, this park features panoramas of the city, the Catalan Art Museum, and this majestic fountain. A lot of art and architecture can be found in other areas of the park as well. It was also one of the main sites of the 1992 Olympics.
Millennium Park, Chicago, IL, USA
This park is known for soaring, modern sculptures and architecture, most notably the reflective Cloud Gate (known to the locals as “The Bean”). The park is free to enter, and features many art and architectural installations.
Central Park, New York, NY, USA
Central Park is the most famous of New York City’s parks, and spans more than 50 blocks in the middle of Manhattan. It features regular events year round, including theater and music, a zoo, and several kinds of landscapes. It also neighbors the Museum of Natural History and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and has plenty of ducks to feed.
Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs, CO, USA
This park features all kinds of wildlife and vegetation, as well as some incredible rock formations. This huge park is free and open to the public, with attractions for everyone. It also has wheelchair accessible trails.
Kings Park and Botanic Garden, Perth, Australia
Located on Mount Eliza, this park is a huge area of unspoiled bushland, and home to 300 native plant species and 80 native species of birds. The park’s design allows the natural habitat to thrive, but people are welcome to come and observe.
High Line, New York, NY, USA
This park was created when nature reclaimed an abandoned railway line. Locals noticed that it became a thriving ecosystem high above the street. It’s a skinny stretch of a mile, and offers a unique walking experience through Manhattan.
Guell Park, Barcelona, Spain
Like many things in Barcelona, Antonin Gaudi designed the buildings for this park. These gingerbread-style houses, for example, are part of Gaudi’s signature style seen throughout the park. The park overlooks the city, so it also features great views.
Ibirapuera Park, Sao Paolo, Brazil
Sao Paolo is growing fast, but some greenery remains with this park. It features a planetarium, auditorium and several pavilions. It also has an obelisk.
Retiro Park, Madrid, Spain
This park is home to the glass Palacio de Cristal, once used as a greenhouse, now used as an event and exhibit space. This park serves as a cultural center, with museums, theaters, and sculptures.
Luxembourg Gardens, Paris, France
Created in the early 17th century for the royalty, this park enjoyed a long and storied history. Today, it’s still a favorite in the City of Light, and is open to the public, who enjoy the walkways and gardens.
Singapore Botanic Gardens, Singapore
The city of Singapore is known for its congestion, but this park is one of its amazing treats. It features untouched rainforest and over 3,000 species of flowers, allowing citizens to stroll through nature and relax.
English Garden, Munich, Germany
Besides the English gardens, this park is also home to a Greek Temple, a Chinese pagoda, and a Japanese tea house. It’s known for the rivers that flow through it, which are popular with surfers.
Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA, USA
This park is home to the Conservatory of Flowers, the oldest greenhouse outside of England. There’s also a carousel, performance spaces, and even a herd of bison.
Boston Public Garden, Boston, MA, USA
Autumn is the time of year when this park lights up in a blaze of color, reflected in its multiple lakes.
Balboa Park, San Diego, CA, USA
Balboa Park features architecture right out of historical Spain, and that’s not all. It’s also home to the city’s famous zoo, as well as museums and theaters.
Bryant Park, New York, NY, USA
It’s not the city’s largest park, but it’s located near Times Square. The park is also a center of cultural activities. It’s home to classes and performances, as well as the New York Public Library.
Vigeland Park, Oslo, Norway
This is part park and part sculpture garden. The sculptures here were created by the park’s namesake, Gustav Vigeland. The park’s sculptures were his life’s work.
Vondelpark, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
This park was a favorite escape in Amsterdam since 1865. The park, named for 17th century author Joost van den Vondel, features a rose garden with more than 70 types of roses. It also houses an open theater hosting musical performances year round.
St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin, Ireland
This park is home to a large number of statues, mostly of the country’s famed poets and authors.
Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne, Australia
This garden features hundreds of plant specimens, enough for an inexperienced horticulturalist to get distracted for hours.
South Bank Parklands, Brisbane, Australia
This park is a slice of rainforest in the middle of the city, and features an artificial beach for when you need a swim but can’t get to a real beach.
Mont Royal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
This park is composed of a hill overlooking the city; from the top, you have a complete panorama of Montreal. In the autumn, the hill is ablaze with vibrant foliage, making this time of year the best time to visit.
St. James’ Park, London, England
Located next to Buckingham Palace, this tranquil park is an island of calm in the heart of London. Favorite activities here include taking in the flowers and the ducks on the pond.
Castle Hill, Nice, France
You can see this charming old city from here, as well as the Mediterranean from many famous vantage points. Additionally, the park boasts tons of waterfalls and many specimens of flora.
I don’t know about you, but now I’m feeling the need to get out of my office. Bryant Park, here I come!