To provide a little inspiration, I’ve picked my top five favourite parks and gardens in Europe - have you visited them?
5 / Park Güell, Barcelona
The views of Barcelona from the top of the park are worth the trip alone. Seeing Gaudi's architectural experiments is amazing and worth the walk up the hill to get here (be ready to hike and make sure you have a good pair of sneakers on). Add this to your must-see list.
4 / Quinta da Regaleira, Sintra
Quinta da Regaleira is worth the price of admission for the gardens alone! While it’s definitely worth going inside the palace itself, the real attraction here is the gardens. You could spend hours exploring here, and the map you’re given upon entry will show just how much there is to see. Wandering through the dappled light-bathed paths will have your fingers itching for your camera at every turn, but I found it best enjoyed when I was focusing solely on where I was and the beauty of the scene.
3 / Le Mura di Lucca, Lucca
We cycled around the walls on a Sunday morning late in November, with a threat of rain but only a short passing shower. The walls are hugely popular with the locals and they are out there in droves walking, running and riding bikes. The walls date to the 1500s and replaced two earlier walls (Roman and Medieval) of which traces only can be seen. The view on both sides of the wall are stunning, with views of the surrounding hills and on the inside of the towers, palaces, churches and gardens of Lucca.
Disclaimer: your mileage may vary depending on the time and month you're there. I arrived at Versailles at 9am on a chilly December morning and essentially had the place to myself, however, I've heard nightmare-inducing stories of visits in the peak of summer.
Nevertheless, the gardens of Versailles are truly stunning and are worth a leisurely wander while you're there. Electric carts are available to hire to get around quicker. If you're visiting in winter, as I was, be sure to buy some vin chaud at the little kiosk in the gardens to warm you up!
1 / Englischer Garten, Munich
If you’re going to be in Europe during summer, you must – MUST – go to Germany, and in particular Munich. There is little better on this earth than going to a beer garden on a beautifully sunny day, sitting in perfectly dappled light with a litre of beer and enough pretzels, weißwurst, potato, and schnitzel to keep you occupied all afternoon. In my opinion, the best place for this is the Englishcher garten in Munich. Not only is the dining area amazing (and SO atmospheric), there is so much to explore! It is one of the largest urban parks in the world, and there are many lovely secluded areas for a post-schnitzel nap.
There’s also a gorgeous river running through the garden, perfect for swimming and, in some parts, surfing. Yes, surfing – there’s an artificial wave that you really have to see to believe.
Despite the popularity of the park, it’s the perfect respite from sightseeing in churches and museums, and I really recommend spending an afternoon there (particularly in the warmer months)
Do you have any favourite parks or gardens that you’ve visited in Europe? Let me know below and I’ll add them to my bucket list!