Everyone knows that water is what makes Venice unique. It’s all part of its mythos and charm – the Serenessima floats in the middle of the Lagoon, with only a strip of land connecting it to the mainland.

Its streets are canals. Its cars are vaporettos and gondolas. And that, mixed with the stunning buildings left behind by more than a millennium of history, might make it hard to think of Venice as a city with green spaces to enjoy.

And yet, Venice has no shortage of city parks where you can stop your walking tour and relax surrounded by trees. Here are some of the best.

Giardini Papadopoli

These gardens located not too far away from Piazzale Roma and from Venice’s main train station, Santa Lucia, can boast their fair share of history since they were ordered by the Papadopoli earls in 1834. Their shape has definitely changed with the World War Two bombings and the expansion of the city, but they can still offer a huge variety of trees for anyone who wants to take a break from palaces and bridges and enjoy some unrushed quiet – or some climbing and swinging around, since it also features a play area for kids. 

Bell tower of Saint Mark from royals garden in Venice, Veneto, Italy, Europe
The bell tower of Saint Mark from royals garden in Venice, Italy, ©

Giardini Reali

Every Italian city that has ever been the seat of a dukedom or princedom or kingdom has Royal Gardens, and Venice is no exception. The Serenissima’s Giardini Reali are located right in its most popular area, just by Saint Mark’s Square. Napoleon was the one who ordered them into being, but after his exile, it was the Austrians who picked up the project and brought it to completion – making the gardens a delightful area for the court to enjoy. After some years of renovations, the gardens have returned to their chic and polished splendor, ready to be enjoyed – just like the coffee house originally planned by Napoleon, where you can stop for a quick espresso (and maybe a couple of Instagram photos).

Parco Savorgnan

Pretty close to the Santa Lucia train station, Parco Savorgnan is beautifully encapsulated in the historic buildings of the Cannaregio neighborhood. Think New York's Central Park, but make it way tinier and older, since the first plans for the park were laid down around the 17th century. It was a very common type of green space when it was first created, and it has only gotten richer through the centuries – with statues, fountains and careful Romantic landscaping. It could be a great stop on your way to and from the city center from the railway station, a chance to rest your feet as you sit down among trees that have seen the history of the Serenissima unfold.

Group of people seat on the Giardini della Biennale publick park in venice, Italy
The Giardini della Biennale hosts the international art exhibition by the same name ©greta6/Getty Images

Giardini della Biennale

Napoleon’s name pops up in the history of these gardens as well, since their construction was ordered at the same time as that of the Giardini Reali. At the end of the 19th century, though, the area was given to the foundation that organized the Biennale exhibition – and the international art exhibition became inextricably tied to the gardens, and vice versa. As you stroll around the gardens today you can see thirty pavilions owned by different countries around the world – when the Biennale is on, that’s where the works of art are displayed. But even when it’s not a Biennale year you can still see the pavilions and explore their sometimes centuries-old history – like that of the Belgium pavilion, which was the first one to be built in the gardens at the beginning of the 20th century.

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coastal Parco delle Rimembranze, Venice, Italy
The Parco delle Rimembranze is also refered to as Pineta di Sant’Elena or the pinewood of Sant’Elena ©Pavel Rezac/Getty Images

Parco delle Rimembranze

Also known as Pineta di Sant’Elena, the pinewood of Sant’Elena, this huge park is located on the island of the same name and just a bridge away from the Biennale area. Facing the waterfront, the Pineta is the perfect spot to reach when one wants to spend some downtime under the pine trees, staring out at the sea and at some breathtaking landscapes of the city. Like the Giardini Papadopoli, the Pineta di Sant’Elena is also equipped with a playground for children.

Parco San Giuliano

It’s true that what most people think of when they imagine Venice is only the part of the city that’s floating on the Lagoon, but the mainland is only a bridge away and very much a part of the greater Venice area. So if you’re intrigued by a location outside of the usual city centre routes, you could take the day off and head to Parco San Giuliano in Mestre, the last city on the mainland before the bridge to Venice. A huge 74-hectare (183-acre) green space meant first and foremost as a flora and fauna preservation area, the Parco San Giuliano is also well-equipped for outdoor activities like skating, biking and football. If you want to organise a day out with family and friends, then this is definitely a place you should keep in mind.

You might also like:
Venice's best beaches: sunbathing on La Serenissima
Venice's most unmissable experiences: sail away with us
How to get around Venice: from gondolas to vaporettos

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