The Best Big Cities for Nature Lovers

5th October 2012

Finding nature in a big city is sometimes difficult. That doesn’t matter to most travelers, because they choose an urban destination for its shopping, restaurants, skyline, nightlife, and other big-city traits. Wouldn’t it be nice, though, to sometimes have the best of both worlds: the excitement and lights of the big city and the peacefulness and beauty of nature? While you won’t find completely remote, untouched wilderness near major cities, you will find nature if you know where to look. In fact, some large urban areas have great parks, large nature preserves and protected natural areas that can, indeed, make it possible to enjoy the big city and beauty of nature on the same trip.

Here is where to find those place that offer the best of the urban and natural worlds; the best big cities for nature lovers.

Vancouver, Canada

Vancouver is often referred to as one of the most livable cities in North America. Yes, it is a compact and easy to get around place with loads of public transportation options and plenty of attractions. Tourists often overlook this city’s nature. Stanley Park is an expansive green-space that features numerous trails, green forest landscapes and even some local wildlife. Also, since Vancouver is a well-planned city, it does not suffer much from urban sprawl. The areas outside the city remain quite natural. As a result, visitors are able to explore the mountains and lush coastal ares of this part of the Pacific Northwest without having to travel too far away from the city.

Taipei, Taiwan

Taipei is a bustling place. Tourists might not have any thoughts of nature as they weave through the urban environments of central Taipei. But nature is found just outside this core area. A collection of mountain trails, complete with forests, scenic overlooks that allow hikers skyline views of the city, and even a collection of hot springs, offer endless hours of nature-filled experiences for people who want to take a break from Taipei’s exciting but sometimes-overwhelming urban jungle.

Portland, Oregon, USA

Portland is another city on the northwest coast of North America that earns rave reviews for its natural features. Like Vancouver, this city has managed to avoid the urban sprawl that characterizes most large cities in the US and Canada. Portland is a nature-lovers dreamland in many respects. It is a biker-friendly city that has more gardens and parks and overall greenery than most cities. Yes, part of that “greenery” is due to the copious amounts of rain that fall on the city (your suitcase MUST include a raincoat if you are visiting Portland). The headlining green attraction is Forest Park, one of North America’s largest urban parks. It has plentiful hiking and mountain biking options. Meanwhile, the undeveloped lands outside the city center boast equally impressive outdoor adventure options.

Auckland, New Zealand

Auckland is the capital of New Zealand. This bustling but surprisingly laid back city has become a popular stop on the tourist trail. While parks and gardens sit in the city itself, the Auckland metro has some of the best scenery of any metropolis south of the equator. There are many volcanic hills, with cone shaped slopes, in Auckland. Some of the most famous, including One Tree Hill, can be hiked quite easily. Auckland harbor can be explored via kayak, while a short drive outside the city leads to some wonderful scenery in the Waitakere Ranges. Here, secluded beaches, rugged coastal trails and crashing waterfalls make for some amazing nature-themed sightseeing.

This blog post was written by guest blogger Josh Lew. Josh writes about places to visit in Barcelona, things to do in Peru and similar topics for Tripify – travel blog giving you inspiration for your travels.

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