Urban forests provide a much-needed break from the hustle and bustle of modern city life. These dense areas of trees, brush and vegetation are key elements in a city’s urban greenspace. Not only do urban forests offer a breath of fresh air but they are also great for providing habitat for wildlife, climate control and help reduce air pollutants. From Madrid to Tokyo, here’s a look at some of the world’s most impressive urban forests.

The Forest of Seville

Visting The Forest of Seville is a captivating experience. Located along the Guadalquivir River in Seville, Spain, the area is renowned for its lush greenery, sprawling paths and wildlife. Featured in countless movies and TV shows, it even has its own plant-based miniature version in the city center. A perfect spot for morning jogs and summertime picnics, the forest is full of cork trees and stunningly diverse undergrowth.

New York City’s Central Park

Of course, no list of impressive urban forests would be complete without the inclusion of New York City’s Central Park. With over 850 acres of green in the heart of Manhattan, it is one of the nation’s most beloved parks. Along its lake, wooded paths and various landmarks, there is much to explore. The park also features a large variety of wildlife including migratory birds, bats and even coyotes.

Yoyogi Park, Tokyo

Tokyo’s Yoyogi Park definitely deserves its place in this list. With its bright foliage and well-manicured paths, it truly is a sight to behold. Sitting between the Meiji Shrine and Shibuya Station, the area serves as a great reprieve for those who find themselves surrounded by Tokyo’s endless concrete. It’s also home to events such as rockabilly festivals and weekend markets.

El Retiro, Madrid

El Retiro is a stunning park that is situated in the center of Madrid. With its shallow alabaster lakes and large network of trails, it quickly became a favorite of Madrid’s citizens. The park features many interesting attractions such as a puppet theatre, a formal garden and a grandiose monument to Alfonso XII. With its large size, it is used as a venue for running competitions and Summer music festivals.

The Best Urban Forest Hiking Trails  

For those looking to escape city life, here’s a list of the best urban forests with great hiking trails and activities to enjoy.

  1. Victoria Peak, Hong Kong

One of the best urban forest trails in the world, the Victoria Peak trail brings you 5km of spectacular views. Spanning from the Peak Tower to the Lugard Road, the trail features lush vegetation and plenty of bird-watching opportunities.

  1. Parque Nacional do Itatiaia, Brazil

Covering an area over 78,000 hectares, Parque Nacional do Itatiaia provides great looks into Brazil’s rainforest. There’s plenty of great trails and activities to enjoy, including the lookout points of Véu de Noiva, Queimado and Cachoeira do Escorrega.

  1. MacRitchie Reservoir Park, Singapore

The MacRitchie Reservoir Park is one of many urban parks adorning the city of Singapore. Spanning on 15 kilometers, the park is home to many great trails such as the TreeTop walk and the Treetop Canopy walk. Home to stunning wildlife and some of the oldest trees in the area, the MacRitchie Reservoir Park is a must-visit.

  1. Forest Park, Portland

Straddling over 5,000 acres in Portland, Oregon, Forest Park is one of the largest urban forest parks in the US. With its easy to navigate paths, breathtaking views and endless greenery, it is an ideal place for urban hikers. Home to a large diversity of wildlife and plant species, the park is a must visit for nature lovers.

Urban forests offer a much needed escape from city life and are great refuges for wildlife. They are also key elements in a city’s urban ecosystem and help supplement the air quality of their respective areas. From Madrid’s El Retiro to Tokyo’s Yoyogi Park, this list gave a glimpse into some of the world’s most impressive urban forests. With great hiking trails and activities, they are perfect places to take a break from city life.