mahabis getaway // the best city parks to retreat to
A relaxing getaway can create quite a conundrum. You don’t always want to opt for a beach retreat, but it can be tricky to negotiate a new city whilst avoiding the crowds. Whilst you can have a peek at our series of relaxing city guides to plan your next weekend getaway, it helps to plan your trip to a city with a sprawling park close to the centre. Close to the galleries, shops and restaurants, yet secluded enough to allow you to momentarily forget that you’re in the middle of a bustling city, these are our top recommendations for city parks in which to unwind.
Berlin is filled with parks, some of them grittier than others. Whilst we have a soft spot for former airport turned public space, Templehofer, it is the sprawling green space in the centre of the city that provides the perfect escape for visitors. Mere moments away from key tourist destinations such as the Reichstag and the Brandenberg Gate, Tiergarten Park is so large that the majority of visitors won’t notice the main roads running through its centre. Perfect for cycling around, the park is full of large green fields in which to rest and unwind. Take time to explore and you will stumble across a bier garten serving delicious pizza, a small lake where you can hire pedalos and the entrance to the Berlin zoo.
photo: edwin.11 via flickr
Hampstead Heath, London
Despite its size and concentration of inhabitants, London is filled with quiet and calm places to retreat to. There are many luscious green spaces and urban parks, but it is Hampstead Heath that provides a space that truly makes you forget that you are in the midst of a metropolis. Covering 790 acres, the Heath is one of the highest places in the city, offering fleeting views from atop its hills that remind you that you are not in fact in the English countryside, but only a short walk from the nearest tube station. The perfect place to head to during the summer months, the Heath is home to a trio of swimming ponds just waiting to be submerged in. Wander through the woods, take along a blanket and enjoy a picnic on top of one of the hills.
photo: davide simonetti via flickr
High Line, New York
The original park in the sky, New York’s High Line was conceived as a regeneration project to breathe a new lease of life into an old railway line. Despite being just shy of two miles long and plagued by a growing number of visitors, the High Line still makes a welcome retreat from the busy streets below. Visit first thing in the morning or on balmy summer nights to avoid the crowds and enjoy a relaxing stroll along the park’s entire length. Much more than just a green space, the High Line plays host to several art works and the occasional musical or theatrical performance. Sound installations, sculptures and street art can all be spotted along the walkway, turning the High Line into an outdoor art gallery.
photo: david berkowitz via flickr
Stanley Park, Vancouver
The largest public park in Vancouver provides a relaxing getaway from the busy city streets whilst also delivering one of the best ways to enjoy the waterfront along the 8.8km seawall pathway. Surrounded almost entirely by water, the park juts out into the English Bay in the downtime area of the city. The diverse landscape includes forests, a lake, numerous beaches and plenty of green spaces in which to sit and unwind whilst admiring the views of the harbour. The perfect medium between a wild space and a perfectly pruned park, Stanley Park has frequently been named the best city park in the world.
photo: maziar hooshmand via flickr
Whilst it isn’t one of the largest parks in Paris, Buttes-Chaumont is perhaps the most charming. Its artificial lake, follies, grottos and waterfalls conjure up visions of a countryside retreat, despite the park’s location in the heart of a cosmopolitan city. Filled with promenades and green spaces, the main attractions of the park are concentrated around the lake and the rocky island in its centre. Access the island via one of two bridges and make your way to the top of the hill to admire the view from the Temple de la Sibylle, where you can take in the surrounding area from tranquil surroundings.
photo: phil beard via flickr
Chapultepec Park, Mexico City
One of the largest parks in the Western Hemisphere, Chapultepec is filled with trees, secluded places to unwind, and even a couple of museums for when the heat becomes too much and you need to retreat indoors. Originally a retreat for Aztec rulers, the park now provides the perfect respite from the often smog-filled air of the city. Divided into three sections, the landscape of the park ranges from dense areas of trees to open parkland and undeveloped wild territories. Although most of the attractions are situated in the First Section of the park, it is the Second Section that provides the best environment for casual strolls, gentle exercise and simply sitting and resting.
photo: jen wilton via flickr
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