7 PICTURE-PERFECT SPOTS TO
TAKE YOUR PICNIC BASKET
Saturday 16th June marks National Picnic Week, and what better way to soak up the sights while you're travelling than to slow down the pace and indulge in a picnic break? Whether you want to wind down among lush vineyards or watch the world go by in a buzzing city park, we've cherry-picked 7 of the best spots to take your picnic basket too. Better still, why not book a last minute break to one of these gorgeous destinations and enjoy lunch somewhere a little different this week?
CENTRAL PARK, NEW YORK
One of the most famous urban green spaces, Central Park is a tranquil oasis amid the glittering skyscrapers of New York. The 843-acre park is a perfect spot for a picnic – the much-photographed Bethesda Terrace and Fountain affords amazing views of the Manhattan skyline, while the Gapstow Bridge at the south-western entrance is ideal for a romantic al-fresco lunch. The park is filled with serene picnic spots, including Cedar Hill, Cherry Hill and the benches at East Meadow. Boasting rolling meadows, walkways, European-style gardens, a zoo, skating rinks, an outdoor theatre and playgrounds, the city’s “backyard” has ample choices to unwind. After you’ve ticked off the iconic landmarks like Sheep Meadow, Strawberry Fields and Conservatory Garden, head to Loeb Boathouse, a waterside eatery on the north-eastern end of the Central Park.
JARDIN DES TUILERIES, PARIS
Sitting pretty on the banks of the river Seine, Jardin Des Tuileries is a quintessential French garden in the heart of Paris. This green refuge close to the Louvre has verdant lawns, fountains, pools, sculptures and shaded paths. The Tuileries Garden is an ideal place to bring your little ones too, with a carousel, trampolines and an amusement park (in summer) to keep them entertained. There are two fantastic museums – Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume and Musée de l’Orangerie – within the park grounds, as well as the beautiful Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, erected by Napoleon. Grab a croque-monsieur from La Pâtisserie-Salon de Thé des Tuileries or sandwiches from the chain bakery Paul and enjoy a picnic on your Paris city break.
VILLA BORGHESE, ROME
If you’re looking for a change of scene from the Renaissance riches of Rome, arrive at Villa Borghese. Just a short walk up the famous Spanish Steps, this lush green space is an obvious choice for taking a leisurely stroll or enjoying a quaint picnic on your weekend city break in the Italian capital. This manicured English-style garden near the Piazza del Popolo features an artificial lake, fountains, piazzas, a zoo, an aviary, an amphitheatre, walking trails and benches everywhere. Art enthusiasts can admire sculptures by Bernini and paintings by Titian, Raphael and Caravaggio at the Galleria Borghese, while nature lovers can head to the leafy Giardino del Lago overlooking the idyllic Lake Bracciano – the grassy lawns are the perfect place to spread your blanket and enjoy bruschetta and salumi, accompanied by sparkling wines in the sunshine.
ARAN ISLANDS, IRELAND
Looking for an adventure-laced picnic experience? The windswept Aran Islands at the mouth of Galway Bay in Ireland enamour travellers with its uninhabited yet breathtaking beauty. The island group consists of three picturesque destinations – Inishmór, Inishmaan and Inisheer – which is characterised by karst limestone landscape, craggy cliffs and scattered grassy terrain with blooming wildflowers, all framed by stone walls and the Atlantic. A scenic 45-minute ferry ride from the Irish mainland brings you to this popular picnic spot where you’re greeted by imposing rocky vistas and some of the stunning archaeological sites of Ireland. For a relaxing picnic, choose from the ancient forts of Dún Aengus on Inishmór or Dún Chonchúir on Inishmaan, where you can feast on smoked salmon sandwiches and sausage rolls while looking across the azure waters.
Spend a day amid 99 acres of idyllic greenery with lawns, ponds, footbridges and leafy walkways – Amsterdam’s largest park is a verdant paradise to escape from the urban stir. Crowned as one of the landmarks in the city, Vondelpark attracts over 10 million annual visitors from all over the world - visit this English-style garden in autumn and you’ll know why. There’s a plethora of activities inside the park offering an afternoon full of entertainment. Stroll through the rose garden (which features over 70 varieties of roses), relax on vibrant green lawns and indulge in a picnic with croquettes, Dutch fries and stroopwafel. You can even watch live performances at the open-air theatre. Don’t miss Pablo Picasso’s sculpture The Fish – the park’s landmark worth snapping a photo of.
MILFORD SOUND, NEW ZEALAND
How do you fancy a picnic spot with a spectacular view? Lush rainforests enveloping colossal cliffs, cascading waterfalls and dramatic peaks towering over a deep fjord – Milford Sound greets you with mesmerising scenery. Marvel at the 1692m-high Mitre Peak that juts from the inky blue waters of the fjord. Situated within the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage site, this iconic New Zealand picnic spot can be reached in a variety of ways, and each has its own charm. Take a scenic 2-hour boat ride or a kayak tour around the coastline; hop on a bus from Queenstown and drive across rainforests, grassy expanse and placid lakes; or hike through the popular Milford Track. To satisfy those hunger pangs, be sure to pack in a picnic basket at Te Anau, the closest town to Milford Sound.
BUEN RETIRO PARK, MADRID
Once the private playground of the royal family, Parque del Buen Retiro – or more popularly called Buen Retiro Park – is one of the most preferred picnic spots among locals and tourists alike. With landscaped lawns, a rose garden, fountains, an artificial lake with rowing boats, marble monuments and shaded walking trails, Madrid's green artery is a picture-perfect venue to unwind while gorging on savouries packed from the food hall in El Corte Inglés. Paddle across the lake in rowboats, be captivated by the glass-and-cast iron structure of the Palacio de Cristal, admire the half-moon colonnade overlooking the lake, or visit the temporary exhibitions in Palacio de Velázquez. Visit this patch of soothing greenery on your next weekend break in Madrid, but don’t forget your picnic basket!