Did you know that there were 11 commandments originally? The one that didn’t make the cut was: Thou shalt chilleth as hard as thou can affordeth thyself. It’s obvious why this one had to go – people obeyed the word of the Lord, looked over to what they were building and realized it’s all just too much effort. They sat down, cracked open an ancient beer and started hanging out with their ancient homies to pass the long internetless days. Soon, the whole of society became entirely unproductive, and that’s why the scripts were amended.
None of the above is, of course, true. However, chilling really is, and has always, been an integral part of human life. People know that green surfaces mean peace of mind for residents, allowing them to engage in recreational and social activities, or just clear their busy minds with an occasional walk and/or sit down that includes philosophical stares into the distance.
Especially in bigger cities, like country capitals, it’s important to know where to hide away from all the hustle and bustle of the main streets. Of course, the most popular spots often aren’t going to be secluded enough, which defeats the purpose of your intended unwinding in the first place.
That is why we present in this article a list of THE spots in European capitals where you can seek out some peace and quiet and/or a unique chilling vibe, ideally surrounded by nature, possibly with a decent view of the civilization you’re temporarily fleeing. Without further ado, here they are, in alphabetical city order:
Athens – Pnyx
Welcome to Athens, the cradle of Western civilization, where our local Dimitris knows exactly what the word is on ancient chilling. He loves going to Pnyx and envisioning the Ekklesia meetings of the olden BC days, empathizing with the early buds of democracy, marveling at the eternal greatness of the nearby stone structures, and dishing out an occasional speech or two to his buddies. Righteous stuff.
Amsterdam – Westerpark
In a city like Amsterdam, where chilling is the norm, finding a spot that isn’t overrun by tourists can be a daunting task, especially for tourists… Wait, what? Westerpark seems to be a great alternative solution. Tucked away to the west of the city and off the beaten path, myriads of activities await: go to the nearby supermarket and pick up some picnic goods, take a stroll in the woods or camp out in the open space in the middle, visit one of the many bars/foodie spots within like the Pacific Parc or the Mossel & Gin Foodbar, head for the NeighbourFood Market if it’s the first Sunday of the month or come during the summer for an open air festival/winter for an abandoned factory party. In any case, check this local park out – seems to be all about hedonism!
Belgrade – Riverside crane
There are plenty of places to chill out in Belgrade, and its hilly landscape provides for secluded spots on many levels (double entendre intended). The Riverside crane, however, is one such spot whose chillability few souls have figured out and as few will notice you’re there once you get on top – people just tend not to look up! Instructions to climb this delightful structure are in the article and, once you’re there, you won’t be able to resist the gratifying feeling of hanging out in the middle of a busy posh-ish pier, but being completely out of sight due to your vertical displacement.
Berlin – Viktoriapark
How about a damn waterfall in the middle of Kreuzberg? In a city full of alternative spots, the Viktoriapark really stands out due to its natural beauty and, I don’t know if I’ve mentioned the WATERFALL that’s just majestically flowing there for your chilling convenience? A very local spot, you’ll do best to grab some Berliner, meat and a grill and some good friends and spend your whole day dipping your feet in the water and enjoying the soothing sounds of it moving in a cascade-like manner.
Bratislava – Kamzík Hill
Taking the number one spot among Bratislava‘s viewpoints, the Kamzík Hill offers ample nature suitable for hiking and biking, many foodie opportunities including national fast food stands and a TV tower hosting the fine dining Altitude restaurant (with a brasserie, a bar and a gallery as well) that claims to provide “the highest experience“. We think those experiences are to be found primarily in Amsterdam, but seems like the Altitude is pretty high class.
Brussels – Dudenpark
Among Brussels‘ myriad green surfaces, it’s a close call between Dudenpark and Parc Leopold, but the former takes the win due to its diverse landscape and the offering of a panoramic view of the city. You can take a walk in the forest, chill out on some of the logs turned to benches, enjoy the glorious view or sledding in wintertime! The latter shouldn’t be overlooked either, as it’s a more central hideout spot ideal for picnics.
Budapest – Népsziget
Népsziget is a recluse haven if we’ve ever heard of one. Inhabited by a single retired man, this overlooked Danube peninsula offers opportunity for complete peace and quiet, disturbed only by the sounds of fishermen casting their bait. Generally ideal for picnics or camping within the Budapest city limits, this spot occasionally turns into a different chillzone during the summer, with open air parties on boats. Definitely a good place to explore.
Copenhagen – Søndermarken
Our Copenhagen local Elina quotes several reasons to visit the oasis called Søndermarken. A hilly landscape for an otherwise flat city, the picturesque nature, historical value of the underground cistern hall-turned-museum and a mini zoo with all sorts of African wildlife. This huge green area seems ideal for weekend exploration purposes.
Dublin – Dollymount strand
Currently home to the Dublin kitesurfing community and two world class golf links, the Dollymount strand is actually a UNESCO protected nature reserve. Riddled with dunes and paths to explore, this 5km long beach can give you that desert feeling without actually being in the desert. If this is your cup of tea, head out of the city and enjoy a long walk around the North Bull Island.
Edinburgh – Calton Hill
Not exactly the nature hideout that seems to fit the prevailing theme of this article, the Calton Hill in central Edinburgh offers a different kind of chilling – with ancient buildings and monuments surrounding you, you can sit back and ponder the history of it all, scoff at the disgrace that is the failed parthenon attempt dubbed the National Monument, or marvel at the light rays bathing the Castle when the sun sets.
Helsinki – Seurasaari
The Scandinavian nature includes some of the most gorgeous landscapes that exist in the world. Fact. Seurasaari out of Helsinki is there to prove it. This tiny island is well connected to the center of the city, and offers a complete escape from civilization. With its lush pond sprinkled forest, beautiful beaches and even an open air museum, you will enjoy nature here in its full swing, whether in summer or winter time.
Kiev – Park of Eternal Glory
As one of the larger green surfaces of Kiev, the Eternal Glory park stretches for miles along the Dnipro river bank. This colossal relaxation space is best walked at night, due to opportunities for breathtaking city views (according to our local Mariia). Some historical artifacts, such as the Lavra palace, the eternal fire and the monument to famine victims of the 1930’s are there to complete the atmosphere of this Eastern city’s cultural legacy.
Lisbon – Saint George’s Castle
It’s best to take our local Claudio’s words for this chillspot: “The Saint George castle is the most enchanted, extraordinary and magical place in Lisbon to be.” To cite a few features: a gorgeous view of the city and the Tagus river, a picturesque castelejo with a camera obscura, a cafe, a museum, annual concerts and other events and… Peacocks! Definitely the peacocks.
Ljubljana – Reber
It’s a good sign when a place is the go to spot for local “…couples, lonely wanderers and elder people”, according to our Ljubljana local Miha. Reber is just such a destination, setting before you a grueling task of bridging a vertical gap of over a hundred steps. This effort will be rewarded though – with peace and quiet and an amazing view to aid in collecting your thoughts and maximizing your chilling efficiency.
London – Trinity Buoy Wharf
The Trinity Buoy Wharf fulfills many of the conditions that warrant it a place on this list – it’s the only lighthouse in London, conveniently tucked away behind tourist eyes, providing a feeling of ancient solitude with a decent view of the Thames river and a soothing soundtrack of the Longplayer. This is an atmospheric music piece constructed to last for a thousand years and not repeat itself. You can hear what it sounds like and catch the overall vibe in this video.
Madrid – La Quinta de los Molinos
The brainchild of César Cort Botí, a professor of Urbanism at the Madrid School of Architecture in the 1920’s, La Quinta de los Molinos is a self sustaining park that propels its own watering system via wind power, and boasts an amazing variety of flora. Walking around and pondering how such diverse botanical life can exist in utter harmony whereas sentient beings feel the constant need to wage war against one another should make for a good chill session – and if you get bored of that, go climb some windmills! Don’t…
Oslo – Sognsvann
Another Nordic scenic delight! Sognsvann is an easily accessible lake just outside of Oslo, an ideal getaway for locals and visitors with not enough time on their hands to go out for a serious nature expedition, which these parts truly deserve. You can get here on foot from the center (about 9km) and, if you want to extend your stroll, take it from our local Elin and “walk to for instance Ullevålseter or Frognerseteren”.
Paris – Parc Montsouris
A “wild” English park in the middle of south Paris spells out a completely different vibe. The Parc Montsouris is a yesteryear’s cemetery, rehauled at the end of the XIX century in order to give this neighborhood a recreational space. With small falls, a pond and all types of fauna, this park displaces you into a timeless dimension, as our local Tamara would say. Enjoy a tourist free zone with lush tranquil nature in a metropolis of neverending light and buzz.
Prague – Kinského garden
Another English style park, this time in central Europe. Among Prague‘s vast array of green surface options, the Kinského garden stands out with its hilly landscape, offering many amazing viewpoints of the city on the other side of the mighty Vltava. Located on the south slopes of Petřín hill, this arboretum is only the first link in a chain of gardens that form a colossal nature structure brimming with history. Decent chillability rating.
Riga – Meteors garden
According to our Riga local Anete, the Meteors garden‘s zen like potential has been recognized by the city of Kobe, deeming it suitable for future remodeling into a Japanese oasis. Being one of those gems hidden from the highlighted paths, this park is sure to transmit the chilled out atmosphere you’re looking for if you’re reading this article, especially if you come in autumn time to walk the ground covered by a dense sheet of dying leaves, giving their last gift of color, for your viewing pleasure.
Rome – Pineta Sacchetti
As one of an amazing number of national parks within the city limits of Rome (an entire 3!), Pineta Sacchetti is a gigantic stretch of land, boasting a huge pine tree forest and a valley to match, which is dubbed the “Valle dell’Inferno” (no translation needed for this, just look at the picture). Somewhat out of way, this reserve is best left for a long weekend you’ve set up for doing exactly nothing. Go here, take a walkathon or climb up one of the two hills surrounding it for a spectacular view of the ancient megapolis.
Sarajevo – Bijela Tabija
The city of Sarajevo has a cauldron-like landscape, which provides for amazing overlooking options if you just scale up one of the hills surrounding it. Put your hiking shoes on and head east past the cemetery to be greeted by the white fortress, a defense structure first established over 500 years ago. Come here to enjoy the sunset and drink some of the best Turkish coffee you can find in the Balkans in the nearby restaurant named after the fort.
Skopje – City Park
With not that many green areas to enjoy in Skopje, its city park proves to satisfy a much needed imperative for chilling. With a zoo, a dog park, recreational areas and even a bonsai garden at the end, this oasis will surely be the retreat you’re looking for in the city. Stretching alongside the Vardar river and sprinkled with duck inhabited lakes, you’ll do good to get some takeaway coffee or some Skopsko beer and head over here to enjoy the local flora and fauna.
Sofia – Karaulka
Nope, it’s the right image. Here’s a quote from our local Angelina to best explain the situation: “During communist times there were a lot of these police posts in Sofia, but nowadays they are not used for that purpose anymore. […] you can gather for a beer with friends and you won’t be jailed as long as you don’t make too much noise”. Enough said. The chillability factor of the karaulka‘s around Sofia is very high. Find one and chill on!
Stockholm – Skinnarviksberget
As the highest natural point in Södermalm, the Skinnarviksberget is a regular host of youth unwinding after a hard day of studying/work. If the weather is fair, you can enjoy a brilliant sunset view of Stockholm around 22:30 or whenever the summer suns set in the far north, and, since you’ll be high up, you’ll snag a few extra minutes of daylight that the locals like to save up for the winter darkness. Our spotter Elin advises on grabbing some takeout and wine and heading over here to picnic your heart out.
Tallinn – Japanese Garden
No better symbol for chilling than Japanese gardens. Fact. Our Tallinn local Dmitri knows the zen secrets of these oasae (oasises?) and quotes that the “cobblestones, springs and carefully arranged trees can offer an absolutely unique atmosphere which is best enjoyed in the early morning (right after the sunrise when the city is still sleeping and there are no other living souls around)”. Visit the Japanese garden in Kadriorg park and get ready for some meditative vibes.
Vienna – Kahlenberg
Vienna is brutally flat and with very little untamed nature. One spot that counters this is definitely the Kahlenberg. Located on top of one of the few hills on the left bank of Danube, you can enjoy a picnic with a stunning view of the city in its immediate vicinity. If you’re ready for a dip and the weather is cooperating, the nearby Krapfenwaldbad offers an open air pool where you can let the view sink in (pun intended).
Vilnius – Pūčkoriai
Our local Marek dubs Pūčkoriai to be the best hiking spot in the Vilnius area. And we should definitely trust him, as the way he describes this nature outpost reflects his outdoors experience. Enjoy beautiful views of the forest and the river Vilnia and explore the untamed surroundings that host them. Also check out the nearby Belmontas restaurant and entertainment center for a recharge when your energy runs out.
Warsaw – Poniatówka Beach
The Poniatówka Beach may be a tourist hotspot, breaking virtual check in records for its home continent, but the attention it gets is well deserved. The stretch of land on the right side of the Vistula river is the only centrally located beach in a major European city. Locals and visitors flock here to celebrate good weather with bonfires, sports and recreation, sunbathing, biking, hiking, nature watching or crazy night parties – basically anything you can think of in terms of outdoors activities, you can do it in the heart of Warsaw. Plentiful chilling options.
Zagreb – Gorščica
Our Zagrebian spotter Krunoslav describes Gorščica as an “oasis for the urbanized mind”. A long, but undemanding, hike (or bus ride) away from the city, this cottage is a well guarded secret among the town folk, exclusively brought to you by Spotted by locals. You would do well to set this visit aside for the weekend, as you’ll be treated well by the staff who will offer you some traditional f&b in an ambiance supplemented by classical music, adding a classy note (get it?) to the overall chillability.
Zurich – Uetliberg
We end our journey in the classy Zurich, where a downright casual, nature-infused chillable spot is certainly welcome. Uetliberg being the only spot with true altitude in these flatlands is, of course, a rather touristy destination. However, our spotter Roman dishes out a very local tip – don’t use the train to get to the top, but rather soak in the natural beauties on foot, by following the path up from the terminal station “Triemli”. You will appreciate the stunning view much more after an hour of investing your energy into combating the gravitational force, and will be able to recharge your batteries with some greasy food or a well deserved coffee in the nearby service establishment.
There you go, wanderlusters. With the summer around the corner, hold onto this list wherever your travels might take you so that you could use up the nice weather and satisfy that primal craving for chilling.
If you have some better spots in mind for your city, please suggest them in the comments below and tell us why you think they’d be more suitable. They might end up on this list if one of our local spotters picks up your hint!