Regular rankings of the world’s best green cities are a perfect excuse to draw attention to the role of nature in cities. Increasing natural retention, oxygen production, air purification, lowering noise levels, protection from wind and heat are some advantages of urban greenery in a nutshell. Tree alleys, parks and gardens no longer are only a pleasant addition to urban areas for a guarantee of effective relaxation in green surroundings. City authorities are more and more willing to turn concrete squares into green havens, which is appreciated by both residents and tourists. A city break in a green city, even with an intensive sightseeing plan, will have you relaxed. Where to spend your spring break in Europe?
Vilnius – the green oasis of Lithuania
Vilnius is one of Europe’s greenest capitals, so it’s not a surprise that it occupies the highest positions in the international “green city” rankings. 60% of the city’s area is green! You can get a really impressive view of the greenery in the city from the Hill of Three Crosses or Mount Gediminas. Vilnius is famous for its action of planting trees by both the authorities and residents. You’ll notice the benefits of the action not only in the city’s main centre but also in residential areas – there are beautiful trees everywhere!
Certainly, some of the most visited green spots on the city map are Bernardine Gardens and Zakret Park. What is there to see in Vilnius? Make sure to go for a walk in the UNESCO-listed Old Town. It’s full of atmospheric streets, tenement houses and churches. An important monument of Vilnius is, of course, the Gates of Dawn, and the Jewish Quarter is also worth a visit. Vilnius held a special place in the heart of Adam Mickiewicz, a famous Polish poet. You can still see his traces on Literatų Street and in the museum named after him. A city break in Vilnius is a good option from the financial point of view. Prices here are lower than in popular western cities, but the attractions, monuments and local cuisine are as good as in the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Be sure to try the Lithuanian cold beetroot soup and zeppelins, or relax with a glass of traditional liquor. If you prefer unusual flavours, we recommend a popular Lithuanian delicacy – smoked pigs’ ears.
Dortmund – visiting Germany
Most of us associate the Ruhr Area city with industry. However, it is worth knowing that more than 50% of Dortmund’s area consists of green spaces and bodies of water. During your visit to Dortmund, you can’t miss Dortmund’s largest park, the Westfalenpark (over 70 hectares!) with recreational areas, playgrounds and a very popular rose garden. In the park, you will also find an observation tower, the famous Florian Tower. A city break in Dortmund is also a great opportunity to visit, among other attractions, St. Reinold’s Church (it is the oldest of its kind in the city, dating back to the 13th century), the Brewery Museum or the ruins of the medieval castle Hohensyburg. Every football fan visiting Dortmund shouldn’t miss the Westfalenstadion, the place where the famous Borussia Dortmund plays their matches.
Dortmund is not the only green city in Germany. Over 30% of the country’s area is covered by forests, and many German cities are highly ranked in green city rankings. The HUGSI ranking, for example, has placed 20 German cities, including Stuttgart and Würzburg, in the top 100 green cities.
Zurich, two sides of the Swiss city
Zurich, the largest city in Switzerland, has two sides. On the one hand, famous international companies have their headquarters here, and residents walk through the streets in suits. On the other hand, it offers constant contact with nature. Lake Zurich invites you to take a stroll along the promenade, and Üetliberg Mountain is an ideal viewing point (you can get there on foot or by comfortable shuttle service). Locals, as well as tourists, like chilling in the shade of the trees on Lindenhof square – you can admire the old town from here, including the historic Niederdorf district with the Grossmünster church. Intensive sightseeing requires adequate hydration – did you know that Zurich’s fountains are filled with drinking water? On warm days, you can also go swimming in the very centre of the city.
During your visit to Zurich, you should go for a walk down Bahnhof Street where the boutiques of the world’s most famous brands are located, and the interesting design of shop windows attract the attention of people passing by. Zurich also has a zoo, numerous art galleries and museums, such as the Toy Museum, the FIFA Museum or… the Tree Museum! A walk surrounded by old trees and stone walls will certainly give you a fascinating experience. What’s for dessert? If it’s Zurich, a praline is a must, but you won’t be able to stop at just one…
Gothenburg – with the attention to ecology
Sweden’s second-largest city puts a strong emphasis on ecological solutions in practically every area of life. No one is surprised by vegetable gardens on the roofs of hotels or separate zones where green technologies of the future are tested. The city’s most popular green oases are the Botanical Garden (175 hectares!) and Trädgårdsföreningen Park in the centre of Gothenburg. Beautiful panoramic views of the city can be enjoyed from Keillers Park, located on a hill. If it’s raining during your stay in Sweden, head to Renströmsparken, the perfect space to relax during rainy weather. This park will be a delight to both adults and children.
What is worth seeing in Gothenburg? One of the first attractions that tourists visit is Götaplatsen Square, where the fountain of Poseidon, the symbol of the city, is located. Right next to it is the Art Museum and the Grand Theatre. Make time for a stroll through the city’s oldest district, Haga, which will make you fall in love with its wooden buildings. Children, as well as adults, will enjoy the Liseberg amusement park.
Oslo – a city surrounded by a fjord
Norway’s capital city is situated on a fjord, surrounded by picturesque mountains. This description alone is a guarantee that your stay in Oslo will be marked by nature. Be sure to make time to visit the botanical garden, which is the oldest in Norway (established in 1814). The Frognerparken park is also a place to relax in a charming green setting. On its territory, there is a separate Vigeland Park. The name is not accidental – this is the place where you can admire the sculptures of the famous Norwegian artist, Gustav Vigeland. Oslo has been awarded the title of European Green Capital 2019. Nearly 70% of the city’s area is green space, and environmental protection measures are visible here at every turn.
Oslo is also a city full of history, which you can learn about by visiting some of the many museums. Some of the most popular include the Viking Boat Museum and the Munch Museum. Many tourists head to the outskirts of the city to see the Holmenkollen ski jump. In the centre of Oslo, on the other hand, the largest groups of visitors can be seen around the opera house. The unique design of the building, which sinks into the water, will satisfy the most sophisticated architectural tastes. A longer trip or city break in Oslo is also a great opportunity to see the Royal Palace and the surrounding park filled with monuments. After all, visiting the monuments in a picturesque setting is the main purpose of our trip along the green route in Europe.