The World’s Top 5 Best Picnic Locations Revealed
Huayna Picchu, Peru
At an elevation of nearly 9,000 feet, the view from this peak, which towers over the 15th-century ruins of Machu Picchu, is breathtaking in a number of ways. A steep, slippery climb to this rocky summit is a nerve-racking effort—one instantly rewarded with a panoramic perspective of the Urubamba River Valley and the famed city of the Inca. But what should you eat? Certainly not a complicated dish of roasted cuy (guinea pig) or a pisco sour. Instead, a celebratory Inca Kola and a pleasantly portable butifarras—a sandwich of Peruvian ham, onions, chili peppers, and lime.
Villa Borghese Gardens, Rome, Italy
Olives, pizza bianca, marinated artichokes, salumi, and—of course—a bottle of wine are all it takes to make a picnic break from the ancient ruins and Renaissance highlights of Rome. Oh—and a quiet little park. The Villa Borghese gardens, near the Piazza del Popolo, is a picnic-perfect landscape for escape. The Spanish Steps lead up to this English-style garden, but the romantic feel of the urban park is all-Italian—a fact reinforced by the sculptures by Bernini and paintings by Titian, Raphael, and Caravaggio housed within the Galleria Borghese on the broad expanse of these scenic gardens.
Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden, Western Cape, South Africa
Make a quick green escape from Cape Town for a picnic lunch in this spectacularly rugged and refined space on the slopes of Table Mountain. Pack a bottle of wine from Stellenbosch and some biltong (a sort of beef jerky)—a lot easier to carry than crocodile meat or ostrich burgers—and hike the trails through natural forests and fynbos (“fine bush” or shrubland in Afrikaans). More than 7,000 plant species and indigenous plants are cultivated in this expansive botanic garden, with exhibit areas dedicated to medicinal and fragrant plants, as well as the king protea, South Africa’s national flower.
Jardin des Tuileries, Paris, France
Fountains, sculptures, two museums (the Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume and the Musée de l’Orangerie—which houses famed water lily paintings by Monet) and countless comfortable chairs make this garden on the perimeter of the Musée du Louvre a surprisingly tranquil space for staging your own déjeauner dur l’herbe. With the Seine on one side and Rue de Rivoli on the other, the park is a well-placed rest stop. Stop by patisserie Angelina (226 Rue de Rivoli) to pick up a Mont Blanc cake (cream, meringue, and chestnut paste), then relax under a tree for a few blissful minutes or hours. Who needs the Eiffel Tower.
Haleakala National Park, Hawaii
How many picnics can you fit into a day? Beat the sunrise and head to the summit of Maui’s Haleakala volcano—to a 10,023-foot peak called Pu’u ‘Ula’ula—to enjoy a breakfast picnic as dawn unfolds over a massive depression. Then get ready for the volcanic hike of a lifetime; wear layers to deal with the changing temperatures. Hiking around the currently non-eruptive Haleakala is an arid experience, and temperatures can range from near-freezing to balmy, depending on elevation and weather. The descent from the summit is roughly 27 miles, so pack a picnic lunch and plan to see only a small portion of the trail. Or bike: Speedy downhill tours run along a steep and treacherous roadway from beyond the park boundary lines. If you’re hungry for the day’s third picnic, bring dinner: Haleakala affords stunningly clear views of the terrain and sky, which makes stargazing at night an awe inspiring sight.