Nature's Best Retreats: 5 Green-Filled Cities Worldwide

Nature's Best Retreats: 5 Green-Filled Cities Worldwide

Nature 2024-03-19

Surrounding ourselves with nature is beneficial for our mental health and overall wellness. Even in urban areas, opportunities to enjoy green spaces exist, thanks to well-planned parks and gardens integrated into the city landscape. Forward-thinking city planners prioritize incorporating green areas over extensive hardscaping, offering residents the benefits of nature within city limits. Let's explore some of the most green-filled cities around the world!

So which cities around the globe are known for their abundant green spaces?

1. Stockholm, Sweden

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Formally, Stockholm ranks as the top among the EU's capital cities with an impressive 19% of its total area dedicated to green spaces. Despite their location in the north, Swedes thoroughly enjoy outdoor activities, so it's no wonder that the city boasts numerous parks and gardens. Among the popular spots is the Royal Djurgården, a lush area located on an island filled with museums. Humlegården also holds a royal history, dating back to a 16th-century garden where King John III cultivated fruits, spices, and hops. Centuries later, King Gustav III established Haga Park on the shores of Lake Brunnsviken to the city's north.

Stockholm is part of an archipelago, with many islands accessible by ferry providing opportunities to connect with nature. One of the most convenient trips is to the scenic Fjäderholmarna (the Feather Islands), just a quick boat ride away from the city's historic center.

2. Vienna, Austria

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If you're willing to consider larger metropolitan areas in your assessments, Vienna emerges as a top contender for the title of Europe's – if not the world's – most environmentally friendly capital. Data reveals that approximately half of the city's total area comprises green spaces. Vienna boasts nearly a thousand the city center, the well-maintained Stadtpark features a lovely statue of Johann Strauss, while the formal gardens surrounding landmarks, such as Schönbrunn and Belvedere exude elegance.

On the western side of Vienna, the Wienerwald (Vienna Woods) serves as the city's primary green area. Recognized as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 2005, it plays a vital role as the city's green lung. To the east, the Donau-Auen National Park is a protected nature reserve stretching along the banks of the River Danube. This riparian habitat covers over 23,000 acres, making it one of central Europe's largest wetlands.

3. Singapore

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Singapore has integrated the presence of green areas into its development plan. The current Green Plan of this Asian urban center outlines its objective of enhancing nature within the city by goals like planting one million additional trees by 2030 and ensuring that all residences are within a 10-minute walking distance from a park. Given Singapore's high population density, achieving these goals requires creative solutions like green walls and rooftop gardens. Despite this challenge, Singapore has already excelled in providing green spaces. In the 1960s, Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew initiated a plan to turn Singapore into a Garden City, which has been remarkably successful.

Noteworthy green areas in the city include the advanced Gardens by the Bay, the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve offering primary rainforest just a short ride from the city center, and the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, housing the largest mangrove forest on mainland Singapore.

4. Washington DC, United States

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According to the nonprofit organization Trust for Public Land, Washington DC came out on top among the 100 largest cities in the United States in terms of the 2023 ParkScore® index. Roughly 24% of the city's area is designated for public parks, with most residents having good access to green spaces, despite challenges like major urban highways. When Pierre Charles L'Enfant planned the city in the late 18th century, he envisioned a "public walk" that's now known as the National Mall. Originally, it featured cows grazing on a uniquely shaped meadow.

For first-time visitors to Washington DC, exploring Rock Creek Park is highly recommended. This park is more than twice the size of Central Park in New York and offers an array of activities, such as hiking, cycling, and horseback riding on its many well-marked trails.

5. Sydney, Australia

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You can discover a wealth of green areas in the heart of Australia's largest city. Established in 1810, Hyde Park, spanning 40 acres, stands as the oldest public park in the country. Shaded by fig trees, you can enjoy a leisurely walk to The Domain, forming a green pathway that leads to Sydney's Botanic Gardens, established in 1816. Amidst the calls of sulphur-crested cockatoos, the noise of city traffic fades away, allowing you to momentarily forget you're in a bustling urban center.

Over the last two decades, approximately 59 acres of new parkland have emerged, with 800,000 new plants and 15,000 extra trees planted across the city. Architects are actively integrating greenery into building designs. Notably, the One Central Park Building in Chippendale showcases a vertical park on its facade with 250 native plant species. This serves as a strong statement signaling to future developers the importance of incorporating nature into urban landscapes.

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In addition to our ultimate travel guide, we would also like to provide you with some more useful information on traveling, which will be handy for those who prefer doing this by air.

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