Sometimes all you want to do is escape the hustle and bustle of a city and immerse yourself in nature. Here are some of the coolest, most innovative city and public parks around the world.
Royal Djurgården, Stockholm, Sweden
Djurgården is a green island oasis in central Stockholm, Sweden that has belonged to the Swedish royal family since the 15th century. Originally used as the king’s hiking grounds, the island was eventually converted into the world’s first city national park. Today it is home to historical buildings and monuments, cultural attractions and museums (including the ABBA museum!), and trails and parks. Only one bridge leads to Djurgården; it is accessible by bus, tram, bike, ferry, or foot.
High Line, New York, USA
Once an elevated, abandoned train track that fell into disarray, the High Line was converted into a park above the streets of New York in 2009. The 1.45-mile-long High Line is now one of the most visited parks in New York, and it is lined with trees, flower gardens, sitting areas, and art installations. The park also hosts many public programs, performances, tours, and more.
Park Güell, Barcelona, Spain
Park Güell began as an upscale residential estate in the early 1900s when local artist Antoní Gaudí, also a resident of the estate, was commissioned to add his signature art nouveau style to the park. In 1924, Park Güell opened as one of the most innovative and wackiest public parks in the world. From its mosaic giant dragon fountain at the entrance to the tiled ceramic seats to the gingerbread-style gatehouses, Park Güell is still hailed as one of Gaudí’s, and Barcelona’s masterpieces.
Gardens by the Bay, Singapore
Built on reclaimed swamp land, Gardens by the Bay covers over 101 hectares in the heart of Singapore and is a working ecosystem. It comprises three distinct gardens filled with award-winning conservatories and over 1.5 million plants from every continent except Antarctica. The iconic Supertrees tower above the park and consist of hundreds of different species. Some of the Supertrees have photovoltaic cells to harvest solar energy, and others serve as air exhaust receptacles.
English Garden, Munich, Germany
The English Garden of Munich, styled after an English park, was created in 1789 and features trails, sports fields, an artificial river, a Greek-style temple, a Japanese teahouse, and a 25-meter high Chinese Tower (Chinesischer Turm) that hosts a 7,000-person Biergarten. If all of that wasn’t enough, the English Garden also has a place for people to surf. Located at the mouth of the artificial stream that runs through the park, there is a standing wave produced by the water pumping mechanism.
Turia Gardens, Valencia, Spain
After River Turia needed to be diverted in the 1950s to prevent devastating flooding, Valencia transformed the dry river bed into a five-mile-long park that runs through the center of the city. The innovative Turia Gardens park features walking and biking paths, sports facilities, cafés, bars, parks, a zoo, and the City of Arts and Sciences (Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias). The City of Arts and Sciences, designed by famous architect Santiago Calatrava, consists of six futuristic buildings including an opera house, science museum, and aquarium.