Highlights of this 63-hectare park include the Wallace Education Centre which houses both the Wallace Environmental Learning Lab (WELL) and an interpretative centre where you can browse the exhibits and try the hands-on activities. But get out into the open and trek the trail towards the scenic Singapore Quarry at the park’s south-western end. Keep a lookout for the striking red and yellow heliconias as well as the monkeys, pangolins (if you're lucky!), dragonflies around the quarry and butterflies.
Take a walk on the wild side as you step foot on one of Singapore’s last surviving kampongs. At a sprawling 1,020 hectares, Ubin boasts lush greenery and abundant wildlife, drawing nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts to explore the many wonders of the granite island. Whip out your binoculars to spot birds at Pekan Quarry, wander through nature trails, and hike 75 metres up Puaka Hill for a breathtaking panoramic view of the islet. Though it's much easier and faster to get around the island on a bike, it's still pretty much walkable with friendly inclines and well-made paths.
Located in the far end of the North East, Coney Island is deliberately left rustic to preserve the island's natural character. This ecologically sustainable park also uses timber from fallen trees for all the signage in the park, benches and the boardwalk over the mangrove swamp. Keep your eyes open for native macaques, rare birds and butterflies on the island while you explore the woods and the hidden beaches.
If you're looking for a leisurely hike with the family, head to Hindhede Nature Park located next to Bukit Timah Nature Reserve which has easy trails and well-defined footpaths perfect for families, children and hiking beginners. Scenic and serene, it is also an excellent spot for wildlife watching as it is home to inhabitants like the banded woodpecker, clouded monitor lizard and plaintain squirrel so it pays to keep your eyes open when taking a walk. The main highlight of course is the picturesque Hindhede Quarry which is located at the end of the park.
Split into North and South regions, Chestnut Nature Park covers 81 hectares, making it Singapore’s largest nature park. The park has separate mountain biking and hiking trails that are clearly marked out, too. The former has winding slopes and a pump track where bikers can practise their stunts, while the latter, especially along the 2.1km Southern Loop, takes you through varying terrains and steps.
The TreeTop Walk at MacRitchie Reservoir takes you through the different stages of a mature secondary forest. It’s the first of its kind in Singapore and South-East Asia. The bridge part rises as high as 27 metres, and you can see as many as 80 bird and eight reptile varieties, and 18 rare species of trees. National Parks Board calls it one of the best hiking routes, but be sure to wear the right shoes; it’s graded moderate-to-difficult. Getting to the bridge, and walking it and back is a 10.5km journey. Make the most of your time there and check out our guide to the best things to do and eat at MacRitchie.
This 1.64sq km (0.63sq mile) nature reserve is renowned for having one of the richest and most diverse ecosystems in the world. Besides hundreds of animal and insect species, it also contains more tree species than the whole of North America. Weekends are busy with walkers, nature lovers and mountain bikers, so come on a weekday if you prefer a quiet trek. There are four walking trails. A steep paved path takes you directly to the peak, but more interesting are the unpaved trails; route 3 (green) follows a winding forest path, past caves used by Japanese soldiers in World War II. Look out for long-tailed macaques, squirrrels and snakes, and listen for the incessant ‘chonk-chonk’ of the striped tit-babbler. Cyclists should wear protective gear as the biking trail is extremely rugged. The visitor centre has toilets and souvenirs, but no food.
Strap on your best walking shoes and trudge through the swamps of Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve to learn more about the flora and fauna that call this mangrove forest home. Weekly, volunteer-led tours – they regularly change – introduce the plants, birds, insects and other indigenous species found in this ASEAN Heritage Park (Singapore has two, the other being Bukit Timah Nature Reserve). This wetland reserve of mangrove swamps, ponds and secondary forest is also home to 140 species of birds. Take a spot at observation hides or rent binoculars to bird-watch. There are also nature trails where you can also spot mudskippers, monkeys and climbing crabs on the mangrove boardwalks.
Home to 170 species of birds, 54 types of butterflies and 33 different kinds of dragonflies, this nature reserve is the perfect recreation area to observe and enjoy the island's wildlife. At 57 hectares and with a range of natural and green habitats, Kranji Marshes is Singapore's largest freshwater farmland. If you do want to check out the core conservation area which is not open to the public, do make an appointment with NParks via the website – it's worth it.
Take a trip down one of the boardwalks at Windsor Nature Park and discover the different flora and fauna, including fruits such as jackfruit and bananas. The three trails are relatively easy – you can finish walking the park in 2 hours. On your path, look out for the dragonflies, too. NParks has recorded 56 species of the insect in the park, almost half of the 122 dragonfly species found in Singapore.
Prefer cycling instead? Check these out
A cycle through the Eastern Coastal Park Connector Network is a tranquil, easy and leafy experience
Bring a camera along when you take this green-swathed route through parks and temples
You’d be surprised by the number of nature parks and quarries on the Western Adventure Loop
More outdoor activities
Singapore isn't just a concrete jungle, there are pockets of green to seek out the wild, urban walking trails and unique group sports activities – there are plenty of reasons to go outside in this city. Strap on a good pair of shoes and embark on one of these land-based adventures.
Spending 24/7 in the thick of city life can take a toll. Hop on a boat to these offshore islands and breathe in the fresh air. Set up camp – or a picnic mat if you don't intend to stay the night – and relive those kampong days at these uninhabited islands that are ripe for exploration. Just don't forget to mozzie repellant and sunscreen.
Singapore may be small in size but you'll be surprised to find plenty of green spaces including farms (yes, we've got farms!) and outdoor activities indulge in – if you know where to look. So leave the car at home, hop on a bicycle (get a cool one from one of these bike shops or do a bike-share) and explore these cycling trails in and around the city. Don't worry, we've included plenty of leisure beginner-friendly options (with a good view to boot), intense mountain biking tracks and everything else in-between to suit all abilities.