Green space is so vital to our health and wellbeing — and it feels more important now than ever. Recent events have shown how important outdoor space is for our bodies and for our minds, with a lot of people yearning to move somewhere greener.
Those who live in rural or suburban areas are often used to large gardens or gorgeous hillsides on their doorstep. But for people in cities, green space can be harder to come by. The good news? Some cities out there are chock-full of parks and forestry, so you can have the best of both worlds. In fact, a look at the best UK cities for green space shows that you can have world-class restaurants and amenities right next to a tranquil oasis.
So where can you go to get a bit of green? Well, the capital doesn’t make the list — but if you’re willing to head a bit north (or a lot north), you can find some very tempting options. Some of them have plenty of parks within their borders and some have the benefit of the rolling countryside right outside, but they all offer some great opportunities to stretch your legs and do some exploring.
If you want all of the benefits of city living, you shouldn’t have to sacrifice on green space. "
What is the greenest city in the UK?
The UK has a lot of amazing green cities — but it depends on exactly what you mean by green. Places like Bristol, Sheffield, Edinburgh, and Glasgow all have a lot to offer on the green front, but in different ways. We'll talk you through the benefits of each.
A recent study of satellite imagery showed that Edinburgh has the largest ratio of green space to built environment of any UK city, with natural areas accounting for a whopping 49.2% of the city. That means that half the city is green — and it’s a massive lead over its closest rival and nearby neighbour Glasgow, which is 32% greenery. (Though that's still a breath of fresh air compared to a lot of cities.)
It’s hardly surprising that Scotland’s capital is so flora-friendly, given the UNESCO World Heritage site at its centre, the sprawling Meadows park, and Arthur’s Seat overlooking Holyrood. It seems there’s no shortage of wonderful places to live in Scotland, especially if you’re someone who loves the outdoors.
England’s second-largest city ranks fourth for urban green spaces, but an Ordnance Survey study says it’s top of the pack when it comes to accessible green spaces within the great city boundaries.
So Brummies don’t quite get the size or scale of parks you’ll find north of the border, but it’s easier for them to escape urban life now and then. There are plenty of forest trails, golf courses, and hilly hikes that make it easy to get away from it all. Plus, you have all of the benefits of a major city with great transport links.
Sheffield had to make the list, with the amazing (and jaw-dropping) Peak district right on its doorstep. If you’re a fan of the great outdoors, Sheffield could easily be the home for you. In fact, a BBC Countryfile poll voted the city the best in the UK for countryside lovers. As an added bonus, the local area has lots of farmland and natural spaces — perfect for foraging and farm-to-table dining. It’s also a booming property market, both for first-time buyers and those looking to expand their families.
Bristol definitely walks the walk when it comes to the green lifestyle. With plenty of green space and lots of countryside right on your doorstep (quick trip to Cheddar Gorge, anyone?), it’s an incredibly liveable city for those who love walking, biking, and being outdoors.
The city has comparatively low CO2 levels, growing supplies of green energy from wind farms and solar panels, and consistently good recycling records. It’s known for its love of independent shops and is a magnet for foodies, so you can indulge while supporting local businesses. This West Country hub proves that a city can be green in more ways than one.
If you want all of the benefits of city living, you shouldn’t have to sacrifice on green space. Picking the right city can give you the best of both worlds — and plenty of nature right on your doorstep.