One of Shanghai’s biggest parks, this huge expanse of greenery in Pudong is a place to throw down a blanket and kick back with friends. Grassy areas big enough to throw a frisbee around abound, while the lakes and spinneys make for pleasant areas to walk or cycle around. Head to the large patch of waterside grass just inside gate 5, or to the open grass next to the kids’ play area toward gate 3 for some excellent spots well worth the 10RMB (Dhs6) entry fee.
Century Park 1001 Jinxiu Lu, near Fangdian Lu.
East China Normal University campus
East China Normal University’s main campus, a short walk west from Jinshajiang Lu metro station, features tree-lined paths, waterside pavilions and several picnic-perfect patches of grass. Our favourite is the spot in front of the towering Mao statue (just follow the main road straight ahead from the Zhongshan Bei Lu gate). Occasionally the university authorities will rope off the grass to let it recover. If you turn up to find it off limits, head out of the campus’ back gate onto the bustling Zaoyang Lu and you’ll find the entrance to Changfeng Park opposite – a location that’s full of great picnicking spots.
ECNU 3663 Zhongshan Bei Lu, near Jinshajiang Lu.
One of the most charming spaces in the city, this much-loved park is home to regular dancers, musicians, kite flyers and more. Head for the northeastern corner of the lawn towards the Marx and Engels statue and you’ll be able to base yourself just a short walk from the Yandang Lu Alldays convenience store for extra supplies.
Fuxing Park 15 Yandang Lu, near Fuxing Zhong Lu.
Gongqing Forest Park
While it’s not the only forest park in Shanghai, Gongqing remains one of our favourites. The space is simply huge, meaning that even at peak times it’s possible to escape the crowds. There are acres of green spaces that you can spread your rug out on, while activities on offer range from paintballing to electric tobogganing. Although you can set up almost anywhere in the park, we recommend making a base near the north gate where you’ll find barbecue pits if you want to upgrade your picnic, and some wonderfully calm spots beside the water.
Gongqing Forest Park 2000 Jungong Lu, near angshui Lu.
New Hongqiao Centre Garden
As with Century and Zhongshan Parks, this triangle of Gubei greenery between Yanan Xi Lu, Hongqiao Lu and Yili Lu is located right next to a metro station (Line 10’s Yili Lu), making it one of the most convenient picnicking spots in town. If you want to kick a ball around or play frisbee, you’ll need to jostle for space on the two main patches of grass just inside the northern gate (next to a large bust of Mahatma Gandhi, oddly), or head to the nearby Red Town, also a good spot. We recommend joining the fishermen around the edges of the central lake. The banks feature plenty of trees too if you’re in need of some shade. If you’re after somewhere quieter still, Soong Chingling’s Mausoleum is a short walk down the road – yes, it may seem a little odd to suggest a mausoleum as a picnic spot, but it’s actually a blissfully tranquil park and the guards don’t seem to mind you sitting on the grass.
New Hongqiao Centre Garden 2238 Yanan Xi Lu, near Loushanguan Lu.
Shanghai Sculpture Park
If you live downtown, you’ll need to factor in a little travelling time to get to Songjiang’s Sculpture Park and all will need to cough up 120RMB (Dhs71) to get in. But the reward is a dog-friendly spot with plenty of green space for picnicking on. This park doesn’t suffer from the crowds that can afflict more central locations and there’s a manmade beach and lake with adjacent barbecuing facilities. There are also pools you can paddle in, treetop walkways you can explore and a Fuma Fuma dome you can bounce on.
Shanghai Sculpture Park 1158 Linyin Xin Lu, near Linlu Lu.
While the main area of grass at this Huangpu-side development is fenced off for use by music festivals (last year’s Storm Electronic Music Festival for example), there are still some nice spots dotted in and around the climbing walls, the riverside esplanade and the excellent Xuhui Long Museum. Aim for the narrow grass strip behind the climbing wall area or just off to the side of the skate park – pick carefully and you’ll get views of the river and shelter from any wind. The one drawback is the lack of shops (the Family Mart has now closed), so come fully stocked.
Xuhui Riverside Dongan Lu, near Longteng Avenue.
After undergoing some serious renovation work in recent years, Zhongshan Park is now back to its best. The small boating lake and mini fun fair provide good distractions for kids (or the young at heart), while the large central stretch of grass is regularly host to all manner of activities. We recommend getting there early and bagging yourself a spot close to the tree-lined edges, affording you great people watching opportunities, but also some crucial shade.
Zhongshan Park 780 Changning Lu, near Dingxi Lu.
Need to know
Emirates flies direct to Shanghai from Dhs2,485 return.