Whilst it's fun and exciting to explore all the major sites during your city break, it's also important to make some time for rest and relaxation. And what better way is there to escape the hustle and bustle of whichever city you are in than taking a calming and romantic walk through a public park.
Europe has plenty of such places, and so wherever you travel there is sure to be somewhere green in which to unwind. Here are some perfect examples of the urban parks you can find on the continent.
Monsanto Forest Park, Lisbon
This is not just a single park, but multiple parks within a park. A decision was made in the late 1800s to re-populate the Monsanto hills, in the centre of Lisbon, with lush greenery. In the previous years, excessive agricultural activity had led to this part of the city being left rather bare and so, once the flora began to return, the park was established in the 1930s.
As well as the track that hosted the Portuguese Grand Prix in 1959, the Monsanto Forest Park also offers plenty for visitors to do. The Ecological Park will take you through all of the various plant and animal species that can be found here, whilst the Monsanto Municipal Camping Park is a great place to pitch a tent under the stars. There are also three leisure areas which offer swimming pools, climbing apparatus, slides, swings, and even BBQ grills accompanied by picnic tables.
Perhaps the best thing to do in the Monsanto Forest Park though is to gaze back towards the city centre and take in the wonderful views of Lisbon.
Tiergarten Park, Berlin
The 520 acres of Berlin's Tiergarten make it the third-biggest urban park in Germany. A tunnel allows cars and metro trains to pass underneath without having to go all the way around. The name, meaning 'animal garden', refers to the fact that the area used to be used as a royal hunting ground. Nowadays, however, it features a diverse range of rich flora and offers some great pastimes for those that visit.
BBQs are common on summer weekends, whereas the winter months often see people skating on the frozen lakes. Amongst the flourishing plant life, there are outdoor concert venues, quaint tea houses, and plenty of benches where you can take the weight off for a while. If you want to see the whole park without getting off your seat, though, you can always hire a Velotaxi (taxi bike) to take you around.
In the middle of the Gross Tiergarten (to give it its full name) stands the impressive Victory Column. This monument was built in 1873 to commemorate victories in the Danish-Prussian, Austro-Prussian, and Franco-Prussian wars. It features a gold statue of the goddess of victory and visitors can climb the internal tower.
City Park, Budapest
A trip to the City Park during your Budapest city break will provide a long list of things to do. Over the 300 acres, there are sporting activities to take part in as well as plenty to do inside if the weather isn't too great. Among the main attractions you'll find the largest artificial ice surface in Europe, the continent's only permanent circus, and the impending Vajdahunyad Castle which now holds the Museum of Hungarian Agriculture.
Also within the park is Hungary's largest zoo. The Municipal Zoological and Botanical Garden houses over 3,500 species of plants, 750 types of animal and also has a special area where you can feed some of the younger and smaller residents. Away from the animal antics, your visit to the City Park could also include taking a dip in the healing waters of Szécheniy thermal Bath, Europe's largest spa, or discovering the rides at the children's amusement park.
As you can see, there is so much do to here. You may need to refuel at the refined Gundel Restaurant, famous for its indulgent foie gras, after such a busy day.
Buen Retiro Park, Madrid
The Buen Retiro Park lives up to its name (meaning Park of the Pleasant Retreat) by offering a beautiful area in which to relax and some wonderful art and sculptures to marvel at. Until the 19th century, this area of greenery was owned by Spain's royal family, but it is now a public park which is entirely surrounded by the cosmopolitan landscape of Madrid.
Near the centre, you will find a large boating lake on which you can hire a romantic rowing boat on a beautiful summer's day. On the edge of this lake stands the beautiful Monument to Alfonso XII, which incorporates four bronze lion statues as well as three others entitled 'Peace', 'Freedom', and 'Progress' respectively.
The grounds of the park also include pavilions where temporary art exhibitions are often held as well as what is thought to be the only known statue of the devil; the Fountain of the Fallen Angel.
If you would like to stroll through any of these public parks, Fred.\ Holidays can whisk you away on a range of different European city breaks. Call us today on the number at the top of the page or complete an online enquiry form.