The Quieter Side of City Life
Over the past year we have stayed in, or close to nine cities in Europe. We love being near the centre of what's going on, although taking time out to appreciate nature and enjoy some quiet, relaxing time is something we actively seek. Chelsea loves nothing more than a good splash in a lake, stream or even a muddy puddle whenever she gets the chance!
Many cities have parks, green spaces, heath land and riverside walks that help breath fresh air into congested, busy areas.
The most well known green spaces in London, Royal Parks such as St James's Park, Green Park, Regent's Park are easily accessible and enjoyable, although can often get overcrowded with tourists most times of the year. If you are prepared to get on the tube or a bus, you can get to much bigger parks and commons and enjoy being a bit further out of the busyness of the city.
Richmond Park, another one of the eight Royal Parks covering 2500 acres containing deer herds, wildlife, nature reserve and acres of woodland is a great place to explore. On a clear day you can enjoy distant views of St Paul's Cathedral from King's Mound.
Wimbledon and Putney Commons offer visitors 1,140 acres of calm and tranquillity in the midst of the urban surroundings of Wimbledon, Putney and Kingston-upon-Thames. You could easily forget you are only a couple of miles away from the city. Just off to the west side of Wimbledon Common you will find Cannizaro Park to explore.
Hampstead Heath is one of London's most popular open spaces, about 3.5 miles from Trafalgar Square.It is an island of beautiful countryside, the magic of Hampstead Heath lies not only in its rich wildlife, but also with facilities that include a zoo, athletics track, an education centre, extensive children's facilities, three swimming ponds a swimming poo and paths to have a walk, all in proximity and accessibility to millions of people.
All the above places can be reached by public transport from central London – see TFL website for more information.
Meaning “Dear Green Place” in Gaelic, Glasgow really does live up to its name. About 10 minutes walk from the city centre is the historic Glasgow Green located in the East of the city. Glasgow Green is the city’s oldest park, where you'll find the spectacular Doulton Fountain, the largest terracotta fountain in the world, and the beautiful McLennan Arch. Set within Glasgow Green you will find the People's Palace, dedicated to social history of Glasgow and its people and the Winter Gardens an elegant glasshouse filled with exotic tropical palms and plants.
Edinburgh is a city with a good choice of escapes including hidden gardens, an extinct volcano and meadows. Princess Street Gardens run through the centre of the busy shopping district, providing the idea space to retreat. In the Summer have a picnic, people-watch and soak up rays. In Winter it's transformed into a festive wonderland with a German market, fairground rides, ice rink and stalls selling mulled wine and hot dogs to keep out the chills. Arthur's Seat an extinct volcano, is the ideal spot from which to survey the city. An easy(ish) climb, it has fantastic panoramic views and is most easily tackled up the grassy slope from Dunsapie Loch in the east. One of Edinburgh’s most famous parks is The Meadows which is split into several sections, allowing visitors to spread out on the well-kept lawns and play pitch and putt, cricket and frisbee, skate and cycle on its footpaths, walk dogs or jog, do tai chi or just drink tea underneath the shade of trees from dawn to dusk.
Cardiff is another green city with over 330 parks and gardens The largest and most famous- Bute Park is probably the city’s most pleasant sun-trap break spot. Stretching right across the city, the park is blossoming with green space, a perfect place to spend a lazy afternoon. And if you happen to come at the right time of year you will find it hosting some of the biggest festivals in Cardiff.
Cardiff Bay is another great area to visit, about one mile walk from the centre. The bay area has been created by redeveloping the old Cardiff docklands and is home to a large freshwater lake for sailing and water sports; the Mermaid Quay – plenty of restaurants to choose from and the home for Welsh National Opera – the Wales Millennium Centre. It’s mostly pedestrianised, and can be busy, although there are areas to walk and enjoy being by the water and watch the boats and wildlife. Pay a visit to the Norwegian church (first established in Cardiff Bay to serve the large community of Norwegian sailors working in the docks). Its main claim to fame is as the church where author Roald Dahl was baptised – today, however, it has been converted into a cafe and art gallery.
Vienna In 2018, Vienna was the world's most liveable city for the ninth year in a row. More than half of the metropolitan area is made up of green spaces. 280 imperial parks and gardens are available to enjoy. In spring, 400 species of rose bloom in the Volksgarten alone. The nearby recreation areas of Prater, Vienna Woods and Lobau invite visitors to go on walks, day trips, hikes and bicycle tours. Vienna has a total of 2,000 parks. This is a city we would happily live in ourselves!
Ljubljana is a beautiful, fairly compact city. The old town is mostly pedestrianised, so it's easy to enjoy the relaxed cafe culture it has to offer. The many bars and cafes are open all year round- blankets are outdoor heaters are available in the Winter months, allowing people to carry on the people-watching!
Tivoli Park is Ljubljana's largest and most beautiful park, stretching right into the city centre. The park, covering an area of approximately 2 square miles, is crossed by three grand horse chestnut tree-lined walks and landscaped with ornamental flower beds, interesting trees and numerous statues and fountains. The park area blends into the slopes of the Rožnik hill, to which it is connected by several walking paths. There is also indoor swimming pool, bowling alley and areas for outdoor rolling skating (in Summer) or ice skating (in Winter) to get your exercise fix.
Visiting cities and soaking up the culture and architecture on offer is great, although taking time out to enjoy the quieter, greener parks and recreational side of life can make your visit much more enjoyable and relaxing.
Do you have a favourite city escape?