World's Most Beautiful City Parks
Behind every great city is an even better (and more beautiful) park.
From a romantic refuge in Paris to a modern rooftop escape in Tokyo, each of these 15 picturesque parks is a true hidden gem — and the perfect place to enjoy a breath of fresh air without ever leaving the city.
Luxembourg Gardens - Paris
It's hard to choose just one park in a city as romantic and whimsical as Paris. But arguably one of the most charmed is Luxembourg Gardens, nestled in the Left Bank.
Built for a queen in the European Renaissance, the grounds surround the magnificent Luxembourg Palace and are divided into two sections: a formal French garden and an enchanting English garden. Throughout both, you'll find an abundance of colorful flowers (including orchids and roses), ponds and over 100 statues. Visitors can also roam the apple orchards, take a beekeeping class at the apiary or rent a wooden sailboat to play with in the Grand Bassin.
If you want to feel like a true Parisian — and who doesn't? — spend an hour sipping wine and indulging in a crusty baguette on the lawn while resident parakeets frolic in the trees.
Park Güell - Barcelona, Spain
Made up of vibrant mosaics, whimsical statues and lush greenery, this playful park is ringed by a continuous, wavy bench decorated with shards of ceramic tile. After passing by the sculpted dragon at the entrance, make your way to the monumental zone at the center of Parc Güell (hint: you'll need to buy tickets to access this area!), which contains some of famed artist Antoni Gaudi's iconic architecture.
You can also experience the striking sights, including a twisted-iron gazebo and views of Barcelona, by hiking the hilly trails that wind through the park.
Golden Gate Park - San Francisco
Come for the bridge, stay for the park. That will likely be your motto at the gorgeous Golden Gate Park, where there’s so much more to enjoy than views of the iconic bridge from atop Strawberry Hill.
Experience natural beauty in the form of rare foliage at the Conservatory of Flowers, the uniquely colorful water at Rainbow Falls and the buffalo that roam freely in the paddock. You can also frolic among the expansive meadows, take a break under one of the arching cypress trees by Spreckels Lake or zen out at the tranquil Japanese Tea Garden.
This California must-visit is additionally well-known for its packed schedule of outdoor music and film festivals, helping to make it the fifth most-visited city park in the United States. San Franciscans are also keen to point out that their refuge is larger than the more well-known Central Park in New York City. So there.
Englischer Garten - Munich
It may have "English" in its name, but Munich's Englischer Garten is a multi-cultural masterpiece.
Start at the Chinese Tower, the park's most well-known landmark, before strolling over to the Japanese Teahouse, which is situated on a small island in the middle of Schwabinger stream and serves authentic oriental tea. Then switch from Asian to Mediterranean influence with a stop at the stone Greek temple, followed by a frosty pint at one of four German beer gardens.
Cap it off with a few hours laying on the grassy Schönfeldwiesen, the large lawn famous for its nude sunbathers. (How very European.) You might even be joined by the local herd of sheep that keeps the expanse freshly sheared for visitors.
Ueno Park - Tokyo
A trip to Ueno Park in the spring is like a fairytale come to life. Japan's first public city park transforms into a sweetly-scented sea of over 1,000 white and pink cherry blossoms that hang over the well-traveled walkways. At hanami outdoor parties, revelers feast, sing and dance beneath the trees.
But while it's particularly pretty and exciting in March and April, the park has much to offer all year round, including the Tokyo National Museum, the Ueno Zoo, the Metropolitan Art Museum and numerous other cultural institutions.
Wander through one of the intricately-decorated Japanese temples and shrines, dance with the colorful street performers or picnic by a pond where there are food stalls galore selling authentic Asian cuisine.
Central Park - New York City
You don't have to escape the New York City limits to indulge your inner nature-lover. Simply head to the middle of Manhattan, where you can enjoy the sprawling greens that make up Central Park.
With multiple lakes, an ice rink, outdoor theaters, tennis courts, a zoo and even a small castle, there's something for everyone in this city park that has inspired many others of its kind around the world.
One of the best ways to soak it all in is with a romantic horse-drawn carriage ride through the dense forests and beautifully manicured gardens (don't miss Strawberry Fields, the living memorial to singer and songwriter John Lennon).
Pro tip: For a more serene getaway, visit on the weekends, when cars are prohibited from entering the park.
Keukenhof Park - Lisse, Netherlands
Considered the largest flower garden in the world, Keukenhof Park is unlike anything you've ever seen. But while the landscaped masterpiece grows over 7 million flowers each year (from roses to lilies to orchids), the real draw is the brightly-colored sea of tulips that Holland is so famous for.
Keukenhof, which is also known as the Gardens of Europe, boasts some 800 different varieties of tulips that bloom in the spring. The best way to see them? From overhead, which you can do via an airplane tour.
Or, opt to take a boat ride through the flowering fields, which will also take you by the ever-popular Dutch windmill in the center of the park.
Villa Doria Pamphili - Rome
When in Rome...visit the city’s largest landscaped park, Villa Doria Pamphili. First constructed in the 17th century for the noble Pamphili family, it consists of two triangular-shaped sections, which are divided by a river running through the center and are connected by a bridge.
Spanning 450 acres, the park boasts lemon trees, historic fountains and plenty of "secret" gardens to explore via foot or bike. Want to escape the hot Italian sun? Step inside the stunning villa, which houses a well-curated collection of artwork, including the Pamphili family's private collection. Or seek out shade under some of Rome's famous towering umbrella pines that cover the park.
Stanley Park - Vancouver, Canada
Beautiful beaches? Check. Gorgeous gardens? Check. Forests full of firs and elms? Check.
Vancouver's first and largest park has it all. There's plenty to do — from learning about marine life at the Vancouver Aquarium to making a splash in the pools and water park — but perhaps the most stunning feature is the Seawall. Running 5.5 miles around the park's perimeter and connecting the urban escape to the bustling downtown, it's the longest uninterrupted seawall in the world and boasts magnificent views of the city's skyline.
If cycling or skating the Seawall isn't your cup of tea, go look for Canadian geese and swans at the Lost Lagoon or traverse the wooded trails across the interior of the park.
As the locals would say, Stanley Park is pretty great, eh?
Lumphini Park - Bangkok
If you're looking for a peaceful place to get away from the business of Bangkok, look no further than Lumphini Park. This 142-acre green space was named after the Buddha's birthplace, and offers a true sense of zen.
Originally built as a place for selling crafts and artwork, the park is today a hot spot for joggers, bikers and walkers, thanks to its many paths and walkways. Locals also love to use the grassy spaces to practice tai chi in the early mornings, to the tune of colorful birds chirping overhead.
In the middle of it all, you'll find a sparkling lake, where you can rent row boats or paddle boats and spend a sunny afternoon on the water (you might even catch a glimpse of the enormous water monitor lizards that call it home!).
Ibirapuera Park - São Paulo
Sip on a fresh coconut as you meander through this South American treasure, tucked away in vibrant Sao Paulo. It's long been a hub of culture and arts for the city, housing many museums, auditoriums and concert halls, a planetarium, and even an outdoor library where you can rent a book for the day.
And Ibirapuera Park's natural beauty is just as impressive. Its nearly 400 acres are dotted with an array of endangered plant species, groves of leafy trees and pristine lakes, all of which are connected by a maze of walking trails. On any given afternoon, you'll find the lawns covered in people doing yoga, listening to Afro-Brazilian bands or simply enjoying the fresh flowers.
Namba Parks - Osaka, Japan
There are regular city parks — and then there are city parks that are built on top of 30-story buildings.
Yes, that really exists in Japan, and it's known as Namba Parks. Located in what used to be a baseball stadium, the unique design features eight levels of rooftop gardens, all of which open up in the center into a "canyon" of shops and restaurants below.
Not only will you be treated to an awe-inspiring view of the city's skyline, but you'll also be able to wander across gently sloping pathways, over rushing waterfalls and through blossoming vegetable gardens.
Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria - Melbourne, Australia
As soon as you venture into the Royal Botanic Gardens, you'll be instantly transported to a lush paradise where over 10,000 different species of plants flourish. Very quickly, you’ll see why this is considered Australia’s most comprehensive botanical library.
Amble through the various sections on your own (there's a garden for cacti, for Chinese species, for New Zealand plants and more) or take one of the guided tours across the forested grounds.
No matter which you choose, you'll be surrounded by cascading flowers, crystal lakes, and every color and texture imaginable. There's even a Children's Garden, complete with climbing rocks and a bamboo forest, along with plenty of places to picnic and grill out.
On a sunny summer day, you'll likely hear an outdoor concert or stumble across a theater performance on the grassy lawns. It’s hard to imagine a more perfect day.
Mount Faber Park - Singapore
You can't go to Singapore without visiting Mount Faber Park. Located high above the city, the best way to get to this urban oasis is via cable car, which you can ride all the way to the top.
Once there, you'll be treated to incredible panoramic views of Sentosa, an island resort off Singapore’s southern coast, before entering one of the country's most popular attractions.
Blanketed by a tropical rainforest, the park offers prime bird and wildlife watching, particularly along the South Ridges, where you can admire the regional flora and fauna (like cute monkeys leaping from tree to tree!).
Before you return to the city below, ring the Bell of Happiness — it's believed to bring people everlasting peace and harmony.
Hyde Park - London
The oldest park in London, Hyde Park is as beautiful as it is historic. Frolic in the meadows, go horseback riding on one of the tree-lined tracks or soak up some sun by one of the park's two lakes (you can even rent chairs for the day).
One of the cultural highlights is the beautiful Diana Memorial Fountain, a granite masterpiece that honors the late princess and is a sentimental spot for visitors to dip their toes and cool off.
The park is not only a popular spot for summer concerts and events, but has seen numerous protests and rallies over its lifetime. This tradition is still upheld at Speaker's Corner, where you can listen to lively debates on Sunday mornings.