Tulips at Longwood Gardens

Do you like exploring parks & gardens when you visit a new city? I love spending some quiet time in these green spaces to get away from the bustle of the city. Or to take a break during a long day of sightseeing. I recently chronicled some of my favourites on Instagram. (Are you following me yet? If not, click here!)

Here are 7 parks & gardens worth visiting (listed in alphabetical order).

Central Park, New York City

Central Park Bethesda Fountain

Did you know that Central Park is only the 5th largest park in New York? It is certainly the most visited urban park in the US! It was created in 1858 and is spread over 843 acres in the centre of Manhattan.

Central Park John Lennon Memorial

The park holds so many attractions – Bethesda Terrace and Fountain, the Ramble and Lake with the Loeb Boathouse, Strawberry Fields (a memorial to John Lennon, the Sheep Meadow, Cleopatra’s Needle (a 21-metre, red granite obelisk that was originally erected in the Egyptian city of Heliopolis in 1475 BC), a carousel, a zoo, an open-air theatre, an ice rink, ornamental bridges, and so much more.

Central Park musicTake a walk, go running or cycling, catch impromptu performances (or Shakespeare in the Park every summer), have a picnic, take a carriage-horse ride, chill out with the kids & pets – the possibilities are endless.

Central Park New York City

Holland Park, London

Holland Park London

I rather love Holland Park located in the borough of Kensington & Chelsea. It is spread across 54 acres of what used to be the grounds of Cope Castle, a large 17th-century Jacobean mansion. It was renamed Holland House after the Earl of Holland’s wife inherited the property.

Holland Park Kyoto Garden

Stroll through its Japanese garden (called Kyoto Garden), admire its manicured flowerbeds, and say hello to its resident peacocks. The park also has a massive outdoor chess set, a merry-go-round, and a children’s play area.

Holland Park fountain

Hyde Park

If I had to pick one absolute favourite in this list, it would be Hyde Park, the largest of the four Royal Parks in London. Henry VIII created the park in 1536. Since then, it has been a hunting ground as well as a venue for duels, executions, and horse racing. Did you know that Hyde Park was turned into an enormous potato field during WWII?

Hyde Park Serpentine

The River Westbourne that flowed through the park was dammed to form a lake. Its east and west halves are known as the Serpentine and Long Water. With more than 4,000 trees, meadows, and ornamental flower gardens, the park is the largest green space in central London.
Hyde Park Horse riding
You can go walking, running, horseback riding, and even ice skating (in winter). Or you can just bring a book and lay on the grass under a tree. Or hire one of those green-and-white striped deckchairs (for an hour or the entire day) and get a nice tan!
Hyde Park London

Jardin du Palais-Royal, Paris

Jardin du Palais-Royal Paris

While Paris has many lovely parks & gardens, I rather like the Jardin du Palais-Royal tucked away just steps from the Louvre. It is part of the 17th-century Palais-Royal, a former royal palace that now houses government offices.

Jardin du Palais-Royal art

Its courtyard showcases the rather striking sculpture Les Deux Plateaux (also known as Colonnes de Buren) by Daniel Buren. The contemporary art piece contains 260 octagonal, candy-striped columns of varying heights.

Jardin du Palais-Royal fountain

The garden itself is quite picturesque with pretty flower beds, splashing fountains, and random sculptures.Jardin du Palais-Royal in winter

There are plenty of benches where you can stop for a picnic or rest your feet after wandering the Louvre.

Latour-Marliac Garden, France

Latour-Marliac Garden France

I got a chance to visit the Latour-Marliac Garden while on a luxe barge cruise in Southern France last year. Joseph Bory Latour-Marliac opened this stunning waterlily garden in 1875. He had developed a method of hybridisation by crossing a white, hardy waterlily with tropical ones to create a range of colourful waterlilies.

Latour-Marliac Garden lilies closeup

Latour-Marliac exhibited them at the Universal Exhibition of 1889 and became an instant sensation. The waterlilies attracted the eye of Claude Monet who ordered a large quantity to build his own water garden in Giverny – which inspired his famous waterlily paintings.

Latour-Marliac Garden lilies

The garden features a huge nursery with ponds full of different colours and varieties of waterlilies. There’s also a greenhouse, beautifully laid-out gardens, a bamboo grove, waterfalls, and a small lake with a green Japanese bridge, reminiscent of Monet’s paintings.

Longwood Gardens, Pennsylvania

Longwood Gardens Pennsylvania

It was a cold, grey day when I visited Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania, just a 45-minute drive from Philadelphia. Given the weather, I didn’t quite expect to enjoy the botanical garden as much as I eventually did.

It contains stunning, seasonal floral beds, native and exotic trees, landscaped gardens, lakes, woodlands, and meadows.

Longwood Gardens tulips

The gardens were awash with colourful tulips when I visited last spring. In autumn, they hold an annual chrysanthemum festival, not to mention their glorious fall foliage.

Longwood Gardens Conservatory

There’s a massive conservatory, housing some 4,600 varieties of plants and trees in its 20 sections, including the Orchid House, Rose House, Orangery, etc. I especially loved the Silver Garden with its grey and silver-foliaged plants. The garden also features a cafe and beer garden as well as a fine-dining restaurant called 1906 where I had a stellar lunch.

Longwood Gardens entrance

Longwood Gardens is open through the year with general admission at $25, which is totally worth it!

Stadtpark, Vienna

Vienna Stadtpark pathways

Vienna is one of the world’s most liveable cities and its sprawling green cover is definitely one of the factors in consideration here. Opened in 1862, Stadtpark (City Park) is Vienna’s oldest publicly accessible park, It is located right in the city centre, stretching over 28 acres of land, extending from the Ringstrasse in the first district right up to Heumarkt in the third. The park is designed in the style of English landscape gardens with the River Wien running through it.

Vienna Stadtpark

Statues of famous Viennese artists, writers, and composers dot the park, like Franz Schubert and Johann Strauss.

While Stadtpark is gorgeous in summer with its colourful flower beds and profusion of verdant trees, its stark winter beauty is also worth seeing. And even more so when there’s a blanket of snow all around!

Vienna Stadtpark waterbody

Have you visited any of these parks & gardens? Or do you have a favourite one in your city? Leave us a comment below.

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