The humble picnic has been a holiday staple for hundreds of years. There’s something special about tucking into new flavours and local delicacies in idyllic settings. Whether you’re grabbing a bite and soaking up the atmosphere on a city break, or leisurely taking in stunning scenery during a road trip pit-stop, there’s always time for an outdoor feast.
Make your next picnic an unforgettable experience by choosing a stunning spot to enjoy an al fresco snack. Here are a few fabulous locations to help you picnic your way around Europe in style.
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Champ de Mars, Paris
The relaxed lawns of the Champ de Mars sit in the heart of Paris, with close-up views of the city’s magnificent centrepiece, the Eiffel Tower. After tucking into a crusty baguette, you can burn it off by climbing the tower’s 704 steps for spectacular views stretching out over the French capital. If you’re still on your picnic blanket when the sun goes down, you’ll see the tower twinkle with lights for the first 10 magical minutes of every hour.
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Praia da Rocha, Lagos
The Algarve’s Praia da Rocha provides a beautiful beach setting for an afternoon feast, surrounded by striking cliffs and caves. You’ll find plenty of space to throw down a picnic blanket on this long, wide stretch of soft golden sand. To the west, majestic rock formations rise out of the sea. Wander towards the east around sunset to admire the 17th century fort with stunning views of the bay below.
Inside your basket: Croquettes and cured sausage with fresh bread, followed by Pasteis de Nata pastries. Or pick up a Portuguese grilled chicken from one of the local “churrasqueira” shops.
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Lake Geneva, Geneva
Set up your picnic post with sensational views of Lake Geneva and the mesmerising snow-capped Mont Blanc. Although there is more to do in Geneva than lounge by the glittering lake all day, it is an inviting option. Explore the picturesque towns that speckle the shores, where you can also pick up some culinary delights. Or work up an appetite with outdoor activities like hiking, kayaking and cycling, before tucking into your tasty treats.
Inside your basket: Various cheese and potato specialities, such as Raclette or Älplermagronen, a cheesy potato gratin with a side of stewed apple. And don’t forget the Swiss chocolate.
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Boboli Gardens, Florence
Enjoy a little luxury as you lunch in the grounds of the opulent Pitti Palace. Essentially an outdoor art gallery, you’ll find it tucked away behind hedges to the south of the River Arno. The vibrantly green manicured lawns are decorated with marble sculptures and fountains, giving the Boboli Gardens an elegant Renaissance feel. Laze under the shade of a leafy tree, take a tour of the palace or go in search of the enchanting art-adorned grotto.
Inside your basket: Find deliciously fresh salads, cheeses and prosciutto to fill your panini at the Mercato Centrale. Or pick up a slice of traditional Florentine egg-topped pizza from the many cafés.
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Park Güell, Barcelona
Park Güell brings a touch of surrealism to snacking in the sunshine with its iconic Gaudi architecture. Colourful, curved lines and leaning columns are interspersed with lush beds of wild flowers and palm trees offering shelter from the afternoon heat. Find a shady spot to spread out your picnic with nearby buskers providing the soundtrack. Or sit on the vibrant mosaic benches that look out over the city.
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Hampstead Heath, London
Get back to nature with a visit to Hampstead Heath Park. Wild meadows, leafy forests, natural swimming ponds and lawns combine to offer a refreshing retreat just outside the centre of London. Walk up Parliament Hill for unrivalled views over the city. You’ll find benches and inviting patches of grass to unpack your picnic and admire the scenery. The public park also offers sports facilities including tennis, cricket and a fresh-water lido.
Inside your basket: Parliament Hill Farmers’ Market is held in the park on Saturday mornings. Be sure to sample traditional British classics, such as strawberries and cream, scones and savoury pies.
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The 1960s saw Westerpark grow and merge with a former 19th century gasworks, reinventing itself as a contemporary haven for city dwellers. Set up your picnic basket beside the water, amid green trees and bronze sculptures. The park has a lively, artistic atmosphere with a jazz café and an arthouse cinema on-site for post-picnic entertainment.
Inside your basket: Pick up a traditional abroodje gezond sandwich. Or if you have a sweet tooth, go for popular Dutch toppings on bread, like chocolate sprinkles, cookie spread or fruity appelstroop.
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