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The Traveller's Magazine
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Dusting off the picnic basket and digging out the blankets and plastic cutlery are sure-fire signs that summer isn’t too far off (or are we just dreaming). Europe’s got its historical buildings, art scenes, great beaches, rad parties and most of all it’s got world class parks which are… you guessed it… perfect for summertime picnics.

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These are Europe’s best parks. They’ve been proven to be ideal spots for family reunions, outdoor naps, spontaneous weekend getaways, cloud watching and of course picnics. Whether you make these green spaces the reason for your trip or you just happen upon them, pack a little food (bread, cheese, wine and olives go a long way) and take your time.

Buen Retiro Park – Madrid

It seems like once summer has arrived this park becomes the central meeting spot in central Madrid. It’s easy to lose track of time here, especially if you laze about the lake in a row boat. The roses, glass palace, Versaille-like gardens… stretch out your blanket and stay a while. Listen to the musicians playing between the trees, finish that book you’ve been meaning to read and soak up the Spanish sun, is there anything better in life?

[see]Flights to Madrid[/see]

Hampstead Heath – London

Hampstead Heath

Close to home doesn’t have to be boring. London’s parks are highly under-rated and for no good reason. The Heath is an ideal spot to waste a day, even just a few hours. Not far from central London, this park is wild compared to the city’s other manicured lawns. Run through the fields, climb a tree in the forest, break your bread and sing out loud. Take your dog of its leash (it’s allowed here) and enjoy the views of the city centre, it doesn’t get much better in London than this.

[see]Flights to London[/see]

Borghese Gardens – Rome

Borghese Gardens

Manicured and English… not a bad combination at all, especially when you find it in the middle of Rome on a sunny morning. The park is public, there is even a palace which houses an art gallery (fresh air + culture!). It’s likely you’ll feel as if you’ve been transported to some period film from the 18th century when you come across the picturesque pond, fountains and neo-classic temples. Is that Mr. Darcy coming around the corner?

[see]Flights to Rome[/see]

City Park – Budapest

Varosliget

Fact: Budapest was the first city in the world to create a public park. It was also the first city in central Europe to have a metro system but that’s not important (unless you’re taking the metro to City Park in which case it’s an additional historical fact that will add to the experience). Within the park limits is Hero’s Square, an essential city sight as well as the “oh so relaxing” Széchenyi thermal baths. In the summer there is always something going on so when in doubt, head to the park.

[see]Flights to Budapest[/see]

Jardin du Luxembourg – Paris

Medici Fountain

Paris’ second largest park wins our vote for best picnic park in the French capital. Besides the lovely palace which houses the French Senate, the pièce de résistance is the Medici Fountain, built by Marie de’ Medici, widow of King Henry IV of France in the 1630s. Curl up under the shade of a tree or on a vacant bench. The perfect book to read during a summer afternoon here is of course Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables, this park is where Marius and Cosette first meet before falling in love.

[see]Flights to Paris[/see]

What are your favourite European city parks? Have any favourite picnic spots?

Imgs: madrid: felipe_gabaldon / london: laura_nolte / rome: cyrilbouteille / bud: Old Fogey 1942 / paris: RachelH_,  Flickr cc.

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