Parks-I simply can’t get enough of them. They’re the perfect places to go for a run, or curl up on a bench with a book, or conjure up the memory of someone. Here are just some of the parks in Europe that I fell head-over-blistered-heels for.
Saski Park, Warsaw, Poland
If you’re mesmerized by water fountains and red poppies, prepare yourself. This park will hold you hostage for hours. I ran here in the mornings, read here in the afternoons, and strolled through in the early evenings, all the while staring at the grand fountain as it showered the sky with its glistening, photogenic water.
Verkiai, Vilnius, Lithuania
In this park, I was positive I had been transported back to New Hampshire. The leaves were just starting to turn as I trundled down a beautiful wooden walkway between secluded hills, hidden from the routine business of the Lithuanian capital.
Verkiai was gorgeous in autumn, but it would be the perfect place for a summer picnic, a morning walk in the spring, an adventurous trek in the winter. Without a doubt, this expansive park, easily reachable from the city center, was a highlight of my time in Vilnius.
Kadriorg Park, Tallinn, Estonia
I walked for 45-50 minutes to get here, which is not necessary, but most definitely worth it. One end of the park leads to the sea, the other to a grandiose palace overlooking perfectly trimmed gardens. It’s gigantic, with plenty of room for everyone. If I remember correctly, there was even a zen Japanese garden somewhere deep into the park. It’s a splendid place to get lost and admire both lush gardens and a sparse beach on the coast.
Železná Studienka, Bratislava, Slovakia
Though often overshadowed by Vienna, Bratislava’s parks are some of the best in Europe (in my humble opinion). For such a small capital, Bratislava boasts a plethora of parks, my favorite of which is just down the road from where I live.
Železná Studienka is massive with several playgrounds, public grilling areas, an extensive network of bike trails and some more rugged, back country trails for cross-country runners and hikers. I get some serious New Hampshire vibes every time I’m here and there always seems to be a new seductive and secluded trail to explore.
Bonus: many adorable and impossibly fluffy dogs frequent this park.
Tivoli Park, Ljubljana, Slovenia
If the Headless Horseman had a summer getaway, this park would be it. Before I scare you away, I should explain. I wandered through this park on a very foggy morning and it was awesome. I don’t think Ljubljana is necessarily known as a particularly foggy place but it did add to the mystery of it all. And if a park is beautiful even in dense fog, imagine what it would look like on a clear day.
Marjan Park, Split, Croatia
Have you ever been in a place that is so gorgeous, you almost feel like you don’t deserve it? Marjan Park, perched on a hill overlooking Split in all its maritime glory, is such a luxury to visit. If you wander through this place around sunset, you will surely find yourself completely changing your life plan to one that involves living in Split for all of eternity. In my case, it was just a fantasy, but one I was more than happy to indulge in.
Bonus: Split is teaming with stray kittens and the occasional camera-shy donkey.
Central Park, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
Cluj-Napoca’s Central Park is a special place to me, one I think about often. I walked, ran, skipped through this park on a very snowy afternoon, snow sneaking into the growing cracks in my soles. My feet were freezing but this park was a place of peaceful reflection and now it’s a place of haunting beauty that I can’t shake out of my head.
Sadly, a friend I met in Cluj died a few months after this picture was taken, but I like to think that a little part of him found a home in this park where the snow falls as it would in a snow globe, softly settling on a solitary path weaving into the heart of Transylvania.
Time to Park,