30 Best City Parks in the World
In a sea of skyscrapers, miles of concrete, traffic jams and smog, there are oases for residents and visitors to enjoy Mother Nature. We're talking about city parks with plenty of grassy areas to enjoy a picnic, trails for a long walk or afternoon jog, and often lakes for a romantic boat ride.
Many of these parks are also filled with museums and attractions that hold a key to the city's heritage. Here are the best city parks in the world, beginning with the smallest and climbing 100 times in size to the largest.
This city park in Sweden is actually located on its own island. Its name translates roughly to "animal garden," named as such because it's been a zoological garden since the 16th century.
Once used as hunting grounds for the royal family, today it is home to biking and walking trails, museums, gardens and palaces, and is still owned by the Swedish monarchy.
High Line, New York
Size: 6.7 acres
A new park still undergoing expansion in New York City was never meant to be a park. Instead, the High Line was abandoned train tracks going to waste in a city where space is valuable.
Rather than destroy the unsightly tracks, residents saved them to convert into a park above the streets that stretches from Gansevoort Street to 30th Street. It's now lined with trees, flower gardens and sitting areas.
Hong Kong Park
Size: 16 acres
One of the smallest city parks on this list only opened in 1991 but features some of the oldest British buildings on the island.
The park is home to one of the biggest greenhouses in Southeast Asia as well as a museum dedicated to all things tea.
Park Guell, Barcelona
Size: 17 acres
Park Guell began its operation as a garden city on a hill that overlooks Barcelona in the early 1900s. Famed local artist Antoni Gaudi bought a home in the park city, which was eventually converted into a city park.
But Gaudi, who lived until his death in the home here, added his unique touch to the gardens with bursts of color, style and tiling artwork found at practically every turn. His home is now a museum here, too.
Size: 28 acres
Vienna's oldest park was styled after English gardens and is divided into two by the Wien River in the heart of the city.
A former spa Pavillion now serves as a concert hall where 500 concerts and balls are held annually.
Luxembourg Gardens, Paris
Size: 56 acres
These beautiful gardens near the Latin quarter of the Left Bank were created in the early 17th century by King Louis XIII's mother, Marie de Medicis.
The gardens, which have served as backdrops in films and literature, are a combination of French- and English-style gardens with more than 100 statues spread out across the park.
National Garden, Athens, Greece
Size: 59 acres
The National Garden was originally called "Royal Garden" or "The Garden of Amalia" after the queen who had the gardens completed in 1840. The wife of King Otto loved the garden so much that she spent three hours a day tending to it.
Not only did Amalia plant the park's palm trees herself, but the garden also has more than 7,000 trees surrounding the park's six lakes.
Hamarikyu Gardens, Tokyo
Size: 62 acres
Translating to "the detached palace gardens of Hama," these gardens in Tokyo are located along the Sumida River and were created using land that was once a tidal pond.
The gardens feature ponds and cruises along the river into Tokyo Bay. Don't miss the 300-year-old tree planted by Shogun Ienobu, located near the garden gates.
Size: 120 acres
The largest park in Amsterdam was originally called Nieuwe Park when it opened in the mid-1800s as a walking and horseback-riding park. Its current name was adopted when a statue of Joost van den Vindel, a poet, was erected two years after the park opened.
The park took 30 years of renovations to create, transforming what was once the city's swampy dump area into this beautiful oasis.
Yoyogi Park, Tokyo
Size: 133 acres
Before becoming a city park, Yoyogi Park was the site of the 1964 Olympic Village for the Tokyo games. Before that? This was the place where Japan's first powered aircraft took flight.
Visitors can enjoy the pink blossoming cherry trees in the springtime and the orange-hued ginkgo trees in the fall when enjoying the green space.
Mount Faber Park, Singapore
Size: 138 acres
This mountain park is one of the oldest in Singapore. Covered in rainforest, it is one of the more unique landscapes found in a city park.
Visitors can take guided tours to learn about the mountain heritage, take in views of the city and ride a cable car to Sentosa Island.
Lumpini Park, Bangkok
Size: 142 acres
The first public park in Bangkok, Lumpini Park opened to the people in 1942.
Simply used as green space in a city filled with skyscrapers, the park provides land and trails for exercise and is dotted with statues.
Piedmont Park, Atlanta
Size: 185 acres
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the triangular-shaped park in the middle of Atlanta was originally used as driving land for the Gentleman's Driving Club in the late 1800s.
Eventually, esteemed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted was brought in to consult on design for the park for the Cotton States and International Exposition that was held here in 1885. By 1909, the buildings and park had deteriorated so quickly that Olmsted's sons reworked the park into the beauty it is today.
Imperial Gardens, Tokyo
Size: 280 acres
The land that makes up the Imperial Gardens is, as you may have guessed, home to the Imperial Family of Japan. It is here the Edo Castle compound stood during the Shogun years from 1603 to 1867. And then the Imperial Palace replaced the castle as the home of subsequent Japanese emperors, including the 126th current emperor.
While visitors cannot enter the palace walls, they can explore the grounds on guided tours. However, the Imperial Family opens the inner grounds to the public without guides every year on Jan. 2 and for the emperor's birthday, Feb. 23.
Grant Park, Chicago
Size: 313 acres
Nicknamed Chicago's "Front Yard," Grand Park rests along Lake Michigan and is the location of the city's biggest events and celebrations.
Within the park named after President Ulysses S. Grant are Chicago's biggest and best museums, an aquarium, a plantation and the centerpiece Buckingham Fountain. This park, originally named Lake Park, is also home to the famous "bean" mirrored sculpture, Cloud Gate.
Hyde Park, London
Size: 350 acres
The largest of London's eight Royal Parks, the park was originally hunting ground for King Henry VIII during the 1500s. King James I permitted limited land access to "gentlefolk," but King Charles I was the one who officially opened the park to the people in 1637.
Not only is the park enjoyed for its relaxing lakes, trees and pathways, but it is also home to several city and national celebrations.
Park Ibirapuera, Sao Paulo
Size: 390 acres
Brazil is not just beaches and Amazon forest. In its capital city of Sao Paulo, the skyscrapers surround Park Ibirapuera for its own Central Park of sorts.
The park, which was built in 1954 to celebrate the city's 400th anniversary, features the cities biggest museums, a large concert auditorium for worldwide events and, of course, plenty of trails to enjoy the great outdoors.
Regent's Park, London
Size: 487 acres
Another of the Royal Parks of London, this, too, was hunting ground for King Henry VIII. By the early 19th century, the park was designed by famed architect John Nash to serve as a leisure park for the royals and their aristocratic friends. And then in 1841, it was opened to the public.
Visitors will find museums, boating lakes, trails, sporting fields and the London Zoo throughout the park grounds.
Centennial Park, Sydney
Size: 490 acres
Called the "People's Park" when it was presented to the public in 1888, Centennial Park took marshland and converted into space the people could enjoy.
The park is part of a larger collection referred to as Centennial Parklands, which evolved over the course of generations.
Mount Royal, Montreal
Size: 692 acres
This "mountain" park in Montreal serves as a four-seasons green space that even includes ski slopes in the winter months.
Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted in 1876, the park provides the perfect perch for overlooking Montreal's summit, especially at the Kondiaronk Belvedere lookout.
Central Park, New York
Size: 840 acres
In an island city vying for space, it is an amazing feat that developers thought to keep a large expanse dedicated to the outdoors.
Extending from 59th and 110th Streets and Fifth and Eighth Avenues, the world-famous Central Park is home to playgrounds, monuments, museums, a zoo, open-air theater, skating rinks, boating lakes, fountains, and biking and walking paths.
The English Garden, Munich
Size: 910 acres
The Englischer Gartden of Munich rests along the Isar River and is home to one of few river surfing locations found within a city.
Styled after an English park (makes sense!), the German park was created in 1789 and features trails and sports fields as well as a Japanese teahouse, which actually performs tea ceremonies since it was first opened in the 1970s.
Kings Park, Perth
Size: 990 acres
Western Australia's biggest attraction is Kings Park, home to the Botanic Garden that has 3,000 species of flora unique to the state.
The park provides wonderful views of the city skyline, the Swan and Canning Rivers, and the Darling Ranges. Guided tours are available for those who want to learn more about the park's rich Aboriginal and European history.
Stanley Park, Vancouver
Size: 1,000 acres
Vancouver's northwestern peninsula is occupied by the city's largest — and first — park. For more than 130 years, the park has provided a combination of coastal beaches and forest trails with 500,000 trees.
The park is home to the city's aquarium, a water park, playgrounds, totem pole sculptures, restaurants and loads of picture-perfect spots.
Emerald Necklace, Boston
Size: 1,100 acres
A collection of nine interconnected parks dreamed up by — yes, him again — Frederick Law Olmsted, the Emerald Necklace includes Boston's famed Commons and Public Gardens.
When Boston was a colonial town, the Commons served as a common land area for keeping farm animals and growing produce, while the land that makes up the Public Garden was originally swampy and used for disposal. The "necklace" stretching to Franklin Park is 7 miles.
Golden Gate Park, San Francisco
Size: 1,017 acres
Larger than Central Park, the "Outside Lands" of San Francisco was originally sand dunes until a park was created in the late 1800s.
Home to the 1894 World's Fair, the park included a number of buildings that have become music centers, botanical gardens and museums. The park features 33 acres of lakes, 680 acres of forest and has been home to bison since 1891.
Chapultepec, Mexico City
Size: 1,695 acres
Meaning "grasshopper hill," Chapultepec is the largest city park in Mexico. Also the oldest and largest of parks in Central America, its true name is Bosque de Chapultepec, which means "Forest on Grasshopper Hill."
The park is home to an amusement park, nine museums, a zoo and plenty of space for getting fresh air in the heart of Mexico City.
Phoenix Park, Dublin
Size: 1,752 acres
One of the biggest parks found in Europe, Dublin's city park is home to its zoo and is large enough for horseback riding, polo-playing, cricket fields, and even model-airplane air space.
The British Army used this land in the 18th century, and former barracks and buildings still stand. Since becoming a public park in 1747, the park has welcomed celebrations and events, including live music and a visit from Pope John Paul II.
Metropolitan Park, Santiago, Chile
Size: 1,780 acres
Not only is Metropolitan Park the largest in Chile, it's also the largest park in South America — and more than double the size of New York's Central Park. The most iconic statue found in the park is that of the Virgin Mary, standing at the top of Cerro San Cristobal. Pope John Paul II visited the statue and left an icon that is still on display.
The park features a funicular and cable cars to climb to the top and take in the panoramic views of the Chilean capital.
Fairmount Park, Philadelphia
Size: 2,052 acres
Philadelphia's first park lies adjacent to the banks of the Schuylkill River and was once used as the site of the Centennial Exposition in 1876.
It's divided into two — East and West Fairmount parks — and the former Expo buildings have become iconic attractions for the city. The Philadelphia Zoo and Centennial Exposition are just a few that attract visitors every year.