Qype: Parque del Retiro in Madrid

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Monument to King Alfonso XII, Parque del Retiro

The Parque del Retiro is an absolutely stunning space, situated close to the Paseo del Prado in Madrid. Full of winding pathways, huge statues, gorgeous fountains and row upon row of trees, this has got to be the nicest green space in the whole city.

Whether you want to sit and read a book on a bench, take a picnic and sunbathe on the grass, or hire a boat to row around on the huge pond, this is a great place to spend a day. And you would need to entire day here in order to see everything, as it’s an absolutely huge park.

The most striking part of the Parque del Retiro is the monument overlooking the lake, which was erected in 1922 by King Alfonso XII’s mother. It looks like something straight out of Ancient Greece, with its huge columns and statues of cherubs and mermaids, fitting in with the grand neo-classical architecture that’s so popular around the city.

It’s such a shame that the weather wasn’t warm enough for us to just lay about here for hours on end, as this is most definitely a summer place. Probably most like Regent’s Park in London (just to compare it to something in the UK), it’s in actually far more impressive than even the grandest of London parks.

Check out my review of Parque del Retiro – I am Alice_Reeves – on Qype

Qype: Stanmer Park in Brighton

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After spending a year living on the Sussex campus, I became very well acquainted with Stanmer Park. Whenever the thought of being glued to my computer screen writing poetry essays was just too much to bear, I’d head out for an hour or so to this beautiful green space on the edge of the Downs. Living on campus often felt pretty claustrophobic, but a brisk walk over to Stanmer was always the best way to blow away the cobwebs.

Stanmer Park is directly next to the University of Sussex and can be easily accessed from the routes served by the 25, 28 and 29A buses – hop off the bus just before you reach the campus. Within the park, you’ll find the stunning 18th century stately home Stanmer House (which is available to hire for weddings, conferences and other functions) and a gorgeous little church where several previous Earls of Chichester were laid to rest. There’s also a lovely little cafe in the tiny Stanmer Village where you can have a nice hot mug of tea and a slice of cake.

One edge of the park (behind Stanmer House) is bordered with woodland which is a favourite spot of dog-walkers. I love traipsing through the trees, kicking the leaves about on an autumn day – it makes me feel like a kid again. On the other side, you can head up through fields and straight into the Downs. Being surrounded by such an expanse of greenness and fresh air is fantastic when you’ve become a little too accustomed to the buzz of central Brighton.

Check out my review of Stanmer Park – I am Alice_Reeves – on Qype

Qype: Preston Park in Brighton

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Once a year, this gorgeous green space of bowling lawns, tennis courts and flowers is transformed into party central as Brighton Pride hits Preston Park. On the first Saturday in August, the park becomes absolutely crammed with death-defying fairground rides, clothes stalls, outdoor bars, food stalls, live music and performance tents in addition tens of thousands of people. Such a blast!

During the rest of the year, Preston Park is rather more sober and a great place to head if you need a bit of a break from the city. Although it’s a really popular spot for picnics, sunbathing and general chilling out, it’s never anywhere near as busy as the beach during peak tourist time. Also, despite the fact that its outskirts are so close to the main road, you can quickly head deep enough into the park to escape most of the noise.

A great place for picnics, outdoor sports or even just relaxing with a good book in the sunshine, Preston Park is an excellent way to spend an afternoon off in the open air.

Check out my review of Preston Park – I am Alice_Reeves – on Qype