A city break doesn't necessarily have to mean spending all of your vacation time in a dense, crowded and busy metropolis. Many cities in fact offer a number of green spaces for you to escape and hide from everyday city life whilst still being only a stone's throw away from everything else the city has to offer.
Auckland, New Zealand
Auckland in New Zealand is a haven of green spaces with over 4000 parks, nature reserves, farms and regional parks. Pack your bags for a delicious BBQ at Cornwall Park backdropped by a spectacular panoramic view of Auckland or pay a visit to the wildlife sanctuary on Rotorua Island which houses an abundance of colourful kiwi, birds and reptiles.
If you're up for a challenge, you can hike through the beautiful native forests that make up the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park and journey across its coast to discover spectacular waterfalls, streams and pools. You may even spot some of Auckland's native wildlife along the way! Although the reserve may seem like whole worlds away from the busy centre of the city, it is in fact only a short drive away so that you can easily enjoy a slice of paradise!
New York, USA
If you're looking for the perfect park to picnic in, then the city of New York is the place for you with its numerous parks and green spaces spread throughout the entire city. Perhaps the most famous of all, thanks to its many film and TV appearances, is Central Park in Manhattan. The sprawling park right in the heart of the borough stretches for nearly over 60 blocks! Within its confines you'll be able to find botanical gardens out in full bloom in the spring, plenty of picturesque spots for picnicking in the summer, ice-skating rinks in the winter, and even a zoo! There is plenty for everyone to do here all year round.
Yet if this isn't enough for you, there are loads of other outdoor green places for you to escape from the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple including Battery Park, Prospect Park and Washington Square Park to name only a few. With all these green spaces, it's difficult to understand why New York is often referred to as a concrete jungle!
Reykjavik in Iceland is a city well-known for its stunning natural wonders and green spaces. Ellišaįrdalur Valley in particular is a spectacular expanse of green within the city that is frequented by both walkers and cyclists. The valley's river is also open to fishing in the summer months where you'll be able to fish for a variety of delicious Icelandic fish, including Arctic char, salmon and brown trout (although a fishing licence is required). This hidden gem is also only a bus ride away and there are plenty of mesmerising waterfalls along the river to visit and enjoy once you are there.
If you're willing to go a bit further afield, you can also trek to Heidmork Nature Reserve's fascinating lava fields and caves. With its extensive bushy grassland, stunning landscape, and impressive collection of birds to look out for, you could easily spend a day (or two!) exploring everything that this amazing space has to offer.
Japan's former capital - Kyoto - is a beautiful city to visit for its beautiful green spaces, especially during the autumn when the trees surrounding the Daigoji shrine are a beautiful riot of vibrant reds, oranges and yellows. The Fushimi-Inari-Taisha Shrine is also a must see in the city - rows of vibrant towering torii (Japanese gates) line the beautiful tree-topped mountain side. It's the perfect place to absorb both Japanese culture and nature.
Kyoto Gyoen is also a massive park that surrounds Kyoto's Imperial Palace. Here, you can stroll along gravel-lined paths whilst admiring the spectacular display of cherry blossoms in full bloom from late March to early April (and as a bonus this spot does not get as busy or congested as some more popular sakura viewing locations in the city). You'll feel worlds away from the bright neon lights of the city as you enjoy the tranquility of this fabulous open, green space.
Bratislava in Slovakia is not short of green spaces. The city is the proud home of the oldest public park in Central Europe - the Janko Kral Park - dating back to the 18th century. Here, you can leisurely stroll along the banks of the river Danube where many exciting cultural events are often held, sometimes daily! Even its grand hill-top castle overlooking the picturesque city is surrounded by lush trees and fabulous greenery that you can't not stop and admire it from afar.
You can now even spend a couple of nights high up amongst the clouds in the treetops in a treehouse cabin in either Bratislava's forest park - Kacin - or at Pod Dubmi. This is the perfect place to stay whilst in Bratislava if you want to relax in nature, but still enjoy all the amenities of the city a short distance away.