There’s no longer need to take long drives to find a green shelter from the shouting of the city. In the last few years, many large industrial cities went through the reforesting of dismissed urban areas and the creation of doorways to wild nature reachable within biking distance. Urban biodiversity develops mindfulness and empathy, giving everybody the chance to discover refreshing, dreamy refuges just behind the corner. Here you can find some special urban landscapes that can be found without facing draining, adventurous journeys, but just taking a easy bike ride through the city center.

1. Garden Island, Sydney

Located 2 km away from Sydney’s business district and originally a separated isle in Sydney Harbour, Garden Island is the green alternative for those who are not about to go surfing in the weekend. While the southern far end of the isle is on restricted access, the northern half is a public tree-covered haven of rest from city life frenzy. Apart from one of the largest naval museums in the world, Garden Island offers an emotional landscape on the harbour from its very top, where bridges, coves and the Opera House can be seen — all surrounded by the crystal clear blue of the sea and the lively green of the park.

2. Vertical Forest, Milan

Due to its residential end use, the Vertical Forest is not open to the general public, but can be admired while having your happy hour in the business district of Milan. Inspired by the majestic, legendary hanging gardens of Babylon, the Vertical Forest consists of two skyscrapers entirely framed by hundreds species of plants. Each tower houses almost 1000 trees, about 5000 shrubs and over 10000 floral plants, resulting in an independent ecosystem, capable to contain the pollution and to produce oxygen. Completed in 2014 and awarded as 2015 Best Tall Building Worldwide, the Vertical Forest gives an extraordinary exotic touch to the skyline of Milan and can be enjoyed just walking through the streets of the city center.

3. Zaryadye Park, Moscow

Tundra, steppe, forest, wetland: these are the main typologies of landscapes you can find in Russia. However, there is no need to travel far and wide through the Country to see them all… just go to the Zaryadye Park! Completed in 2017 and located just behind the Red Square, the park hosts over 900000 perennial plants (including birches, larches and lichen pines) and many more unmissable attractions: a floating bridge from where it is possible to admire Saint Basil’s Cathedral and other wonderful buildings of Moscow’s city center, a media center structured along the Russian History, a stylized ice cave to live an Extreme North experience, a concert hall, an amphitheater, and the mind-blowing “Flight Over Russia”, a 4D-attraction to discover the most astounding natural locations in Russia.

4. Krupp Park, Essen

The time is ripe to forget the old, outdated idea of central Germany’s cities as grey and industrial conurbations. In recent times, the major German centers of heavy industry have started processes of urban greening. Krupp Park, in Essen, is an outstanding example. Located in the heart of the city, the land measures 22 hectares and hosts leisure zones, sports field and a lake exclusively fed from rainwater. Uniquely biodiverse in terms of flora and fauna, Krupp Park is the perfect place where to park your bike in the motor lodge and reconcile yourself with nature.

5. Liu Hua Hu Park, Guangzhou

Placed in the city center of the so-called “Pearl River Delta Mega City”, Liu Hua Hu Park reflects the triumph of colors and fragrances of Far East. There you will find Taiwan acacia, eucalyptus, bamboos, red pines, flowers of all kinds and sizes, as well as surprisingly colorful bird species. Actual Garden of Eden, the park provides many facilities as fishing areas by its wonderful natural lakes, restaurants, kids’ play places and much more to be discovered on the spot.

6. Discovery Green, Houston

Opened in 2008, Discovery Green is a wonderful green area located in the very center of Texas main city. A typical day in Discovery Green starts with a walk through the paths enclosed by enchanting ancient trees, then proceeds having a picnic sitting under the shade of a hundred-year old oak. After that, you can choose among the multitude of attractions offered. You can hire a kayak or a paddleboard and sail on the lake, or just get a cool wave of fun from the mobile water fountains, much loved by the kids. Almost everyday from spring to fall, an outdoor concert takes place as the sun sets.

7. Kinderdijk, Molenwaardn

Situated 15 minutes away by motorbike from downtown Rotterdam, Kinderdijk is a real windmills paradise. If you are about to meet the wondrous world of Dutch nature, this UNESCO World Heritage site is definitely a must-see! Apart from the splendid 19 traditional mills conceived to drain the polder, it is possible to take a walk or hire a bicycle and get lost through the over 320 hectares of the area. Some of the windmills are open to the public, the get a full experience before getting back on the saddle of your bike and easily return to the eventful Rotterdam city life.

8. Sagano Bamboo Forest, Kyoto

Sagano Bamboo Forest is a peaceful haven located in the western edge of the so-called “city of thousand temples”, Kyoto. The park is one of a kind in the world for its proximity to built-up areas and its wealth of greenery. A stroll through Sagano Bamboo Forest will be able to feed and please all your senses. Your sight will be enchanted by the splendor of the countless bamboo plants. Your smell will be mesmerized by the thousands scents spread in the pure air. Finally, more surprisingly, your hearing will be caught by the sounds generated by the bamboo stems fluttering in the wind.