The Best Urban Parks in the World

One simply cannot deny the convenience and often excitement that comes with living in the city, but for the most part these cities lack some serious green space. Luckily there are a few cities around the world that can offer a moment of peace and quiet in the midst of the urban jungle, whether you want to explore historic temples, picnic in open green spaces or discover thousands of beautiful species of plants and flowers. From the most famous park in the United States to one of the biggest parks in London to one of the most unusually landscaped urban parks in the world, check out these 6 awesome urban parks and what they have to offer.

6. Central Park, New York City

It is by far the most famous urban park in America, and maybe even perhaps the world, an iconic park that has been photographed millions of times from land and by air. It boasts over 800 acres, a space that is visited by over 35 million people a year. It is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, meander down the pathways, lounge in open meadows or take a break near the peaceful lakes. Walk through the woodland area of Ramble and spend some time bird watching, or take in a regularly scheduled concert or performance during the summer months. Art installations fill the green space and one of the most notable is a 2-acre area dedicated to John Lennon.

Central Park NY

5. Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

One of San Francisco’s greatest treasures, this park is so big that one can dedicate entire days to exploring the many gardens, museums and attractions. The Conservatory of Flowers is a must visit, being the oldest building in the park and home to 1,700 species of aquatic and tropical plants, as well as an impressive Butterfly Zone and miniature garden railroad. Families with kids should head to the Koret Playground where a climbing wall shaped like waves, a rope climbing structure and many slides await, or head to the Herschel-Spillman Carousel where 62 colorful animals await riders. Or why not head to Ocean Beach for some incredible sunsets and dinner at the Beach Chalet where upstairs views are simply astounding.

Golden Gate Park

4. Hyde Park, London

It is visited by millions of locals and tourists every year, one of the largest parks in London and one of the Royal Parks. Hyde Park contains a number of famous landmarks and is the largest of the four parks that form a chain from the entrance of Kensington Palace through Kensington Gardens, past the main entrance to Buckingham Palace and to the Horse Guards Parade in Whitehall. Famous landmarks here include the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain, the Speakers Corner and the State of Achilles. There is also plenty of opportunity for recreation here, row or pedal boat at Serpentine River, swim at the Serpentine Lido, get competitive at the mini-golf course or even go for a horse ride with the Hyde Park Riding School. If you happen to visit during the holiday months in the winter, enjoy the Winter Wonderland spectacle which sees the park dressed up in lights and festive activities.

Hyde Park UK

3. Beihai Park, Beijing

It is among the largest of all Chinese Gardens and since 1925 this park has been open to the public, containing numerous historically important structures, palaces and temples. The lake is the focal point of this impressive park, with Jade Flowery Islet laying smack in the middle of it and home to the imposing White Dagoba, the landmark of the park. Inside the Dagoba is the Buddhist Scriptures, the monk’s mantle and alms bowl and two pieces of Sarira. The Hao Pu Creek Garden is another popular area to visit in the park, an absolutely serene garden featuring a mountain-water structure that is designed to give seclusion from society. Don’t miss out on the Nine-Dragon Screen, a wall unlike any other where 424 seven-color glazed tiles feature 9 huge dragons coiling on each side. Interesting temples, a large beautiful lake and ancient alleyways make up this incredible park.

Beihai Park Beijing

2. Parc Guell, Barcelona

It is one of the world’s most unusual urban parks, featuring buildings designed by famous Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi. The whimsical structures throughout the park were originally designed as a part of a housing development that was unsuccessful. These structures seem to give the park more of a theme park feel, although there is plenty of green space that covers the rest of the park. Climb to the top of the hill for a panoramic view of the bay, lounge on the serpentine bench along the main square, stare the at Art Nouveau gingerbread house or simply wander through the beautiful gardens teeming with colorful flowers.

Parc Guell Barcelona

1. Monsanto Forest Park, Lisbon

In the capital city of Lisbon lies this 2,400-acre park where visitors come for incredible skyline views of Portugal’s charming old city. The park is divided into several protected and leisure areas, along with numerous picnic areas, making it the perfect meeting spot for friends and family. The Ecological Park is one of the most noted areas, stretching 50 hectares and giving visitors the opportunity to learn about the environment through exhibitions, multimedia resources and an interpretation center. Alvito Park is also located here and is perhaps the most popular among families with kids. It is here they will find swings, towers, trains and several swimming pools, perfect for cooling down during those hot summer months. The park is dotted with historical mills, abandoned quarries and beautiful scenery, covered with vegetation and enough space to make all visitors feel welcome.

monsanto park lisbon

The World’s Most Historic Vacation Spots

Good news for all of you history buffs out there. Your quest for ancient ruins, sacred wonders, and world-famous landmarks need not be squandered at an all-inclusive resort. It’s not as challenging as one might think to choose a vacation destination with historic highlights.

Here are ten prime vacation spots for history lovers…

1. Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico

If you like to lounge on a stunning beach between your explorations of ancient Mayan ruins, Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula offers a perfect blend of both. In Cancun you’ll find the world renowned ruins of Chichen Itza and Cobá. And in nearby Merida you can follow the Puuc trek and explore the many Mayan delights—such as the Uxmal ceremonial grounds and pyramids.

Chichen Itza Mexico

2. Athens, Greece

Athens is the premiere site of Greek myth. Here, you can trace the origins and stories of Greek immortals—like Zeus and Poseidon. As one of the world’s oldest cities, you’ll discover history galore. Start with the Acropolis of Athens, explore the famous Parthenon, check out the seats at the Old Olympic Stadium, and if you have time for a dip in the gorgeous azure waves, it’s a pure bonus.

Parthenon, Athens, Greece

3. Petra, Jordan

If Indiana Jones inspired your adventurous side—the city of Petra, scene of the fictional hero’s Holy Grail quest will certainly get your whip spinning. Petra sits carved into a canyon in Arabah, Jordan, where, as the real story goes, was uncovered in 1812 by a Swiss explorer. Today, Petra is among the New Seven Wonders of the World.

Petra, Jordan

4. Rome, Italy

It should be no surprise to find Rome on this list of top historical cities. Not only is it the birthplace of one of the world’s most influential civilizations; it’s also the site of ruins of ancient Rome—such as the Colosseum, The Roman Forum, the early Christian Catacombs of San Callisto, Palatine Hill, the Baths of Caracalla, Villa dei Quintili, and the remains of Port of Ostia Antica.

Villa Borghese Gardens, Rome

5. Machu Picchu, Peru

Well worth the 4-day trek, Machu Picchu is all that remains of the lost Incan civilization in Peru before it was ravaged by the Spanish. You can explore the “Lost City of the Incas” along with hordes of other tourists. So it’s best to plan a day trip and arrive early to get the biggest bang for your efforts.

machu picchu 10

6. Bejing, China

A reminder of the emperors who once ruled this vast empire, Bejing is home to a plethora of Asian culture and influence—such as the Forbidden City, the Ming Tombs, and the Great Wall of China, which almost fully-preserved, dates back to the glorious Ming Dynasty.

Beijing Great wall

7. Angkor Wat, Cambodia

A stunning example of Khmer architecture, the Angkor Wat Temple dates back to the early 12th century. Constructed by Cambodia’s King Suryavarman II as the state capital, the temple holds many unique bas-reliefs (colonettes carved in sandstone) and devatas (elaborate Hindu carvings of deities).

Angkor Wat

8. Budapest, Hungary

The picturesque city of Budapest still harbors many of the forgotten Roman and Medieval sites—although many are now found in ruins. However, you can still take a step back through history amid the Roman-inspired Aquincum to Matthias Church, and the medieval Buda Castle and museums.

Buda Castle, budapest

9. Agra, India

Obviously, the Taj Mahal is India’s most famous and celebrated ancient structure. However, Agra, a short train excursion from Delhi, offers an abundance of historical architecture for the history buff. Remnants of the Mughal Dynasty and one-time Indian capital of Fatehpur Sikri still linger like ghosts in this thriving city.

Taj-Mahal

10. Cairo, Egypt

Cairo is steeped in the remains of ancient Egypt and the inspiring civilizations that were responsible for modern day marvels such as the Pyramids of Giza and the Great Sphinx, which will have you scratching your noodle over the possibility of the construction. The 481-foot building, which took almost 20 years to build, was once considered the tallest man-made structure in the entire world—and that was without the use of cranes or modern machinery.

pyramids-egypt