There’s something so wonderful about exploring a botanical garden! Whether you’re interested in plants or just out for a stroll, wandering through a beautiful garden can be a great escape from city life. Reconnecting with nature always feels good, and a botanical garden can help you achieve that feeling. It’s the perfect item to add to your travel bucket list. Rare plants, a calming oasis, and gorgeous lush colours – a trip to a garden can be filled with so much wonder. These are 10 botanical gardens you must visit at least once in your life.
Fun Facts About Botanical Gardens:
Botanical gardens serve a greater purpose than just being a wonderful place to visit! They actually store a huge array of genetic diversity, which helps conservation, restoration, education, and research projects. Often, the plants work with each other to exchange things like pollen, which can help preserve rare or endangered species.
By visiting a botanical garden, you are contributing to the success of all these species of plants!
10 Botanical Gardens for Your Bucket List
1. Jardim Botânico, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
This 345-acre garden in Rio de Janeiro is home to over 6,500 species of plants and continues to be one of the most important botanical research sites in Brazil.
This garden features plants from specific regions of Brazil, a Japanese garden, a sensory garden, and a greenhouse that is home to bromeliads and orchids. In the garden, there are several sculptures by famous artists as well as a few fountains. The Avenue of Royal Palms, made up of 134 palms, is worth adding to your bucket list!
If you’re a birdwatcher, you are in luck because the garden is home to 140 species of birds, including the rare white-necked hawk.
Garden bonus: From the garden, you get an impressive view of the Corcovado Mountain and Christ the Redeemer (another bucket list item).
2. Singapore Botanic Garden, Singapore
The Singapore Botanic Garden is truly an oasis in the middle of the city and a definite item for your garden bucket list.
Free to enter, this 200-acre botanical garden is divided into four core concepts. There’s the historic section, the “tourist” section, the educational section, and a Learning Forest. Attractions inside the Singapore botanical garden include a tropical rainforest and a Swan Lake, which is home to many aquatic plants and fish (and two swans).
The orchid garden has more 60,000 plants and orchids (more than 600 species and hybrids), making it the world’s largest orchid display.
The Singapore Botanic Garden is right down the street from Orchard Road, a famous luxury shopping district with over 5,000 establishments.
3. Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, Cape Town, South Africa
A highlight of the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden is the 426-foot-long steel and wood canopy walkway, known as the Centenary Tree Canopy Walkway or “The Boomslang,” shaped like a tree snake. As you walk along the canopy over dense foliage, flowers and tree, you can see gorgeous views of False Bay.
Along the eastern slopes of Cape Town’s Table Mountain, this 90-acre botanical garden grows flowers from all over southern Africa. It is also one of the few botanical gardens in the world to only cultivate indigenous plants, including an amazing collection of proteas. We recommend visiting Cape Town in January when it’s their summer season!
Another reason to add this botanical garden to your bucket list? There are several indoor and outdoor art exhibitions. One of the longer exhibits includes five life-sized dinosaurs and a pterosaur. The Sculpture Garden is home to a permanent collection of African stone sculptures.
4. Nong Nooch Tropical Botanical Garden, Pattaya, Thailand
This 500-acre garden is located on hills and valleys near Pattaya, Thailand. The Nong Nooch Tropical Botanical Garden focuses on Southeast Asian, Tropical American, and Central African plans called Cycads. However, the entire botanical garden has several themes, with an emphasis on European-style gardens like the French garden modelled after the gardens of Versailles and a Stonehenge garden. Make sure to visit the cactus and succulent plant garden! We highly recommend this beautiful oasis if you find yourself in Thailand!
Within the garden complex, there are restaurants, a small zoo, a hotel, rental houses, a swimming pool, and a place for massages. Daily activities include martial art demonstrations, classical Thai dance, Muay Thai, or ancient drum performances.
In order to explore the entire garden, you will most likely need to rent a bicycle as it is too large to walk around. Not enough to do in this enormous botanical garden? You can rent a paddle boat or check out Dinosaur Valley!
5. National Botanic Garden of Wales, Carmarthenshire, South Wales
Rain or shine, this botanical garden should be added to your must-see list because the whole garden is almost 570 acres large!
On top of their dedication to research and conservation, the garden features the world’s largest single-span glasshouse. It measures 110 metres long by 60 metres wide and is filled with plants from Mediterranean climate regions like Chile, Western Australia, South Africa, and of course, the Mediterranean.
The National Botanic Garden of Wales hosts several community and social events, including special days where you are allowed to bring your dog!
6. Arktisk Alpin Botanisk Hage, Tromsø, Norway
Ever thought you would go to a botanical garden in the Arctic Circle? The world’s most northerly botanical garden is located 200 miles into the Arctic Circle in Tromsø, Norway. This provides an exceptionally unique experience during the summer months where the midnight sun provides 24 hours of daylight from mid-May to late-July.
The garden displays Arctic and alpine plants from all over the Northern Hemisphere and is only open from May to October. Try to head there for the bloom of the Svalbard/Arctic poppies.
7. Kew Gardens, London (Formerly Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew)
Based in southwest London, this botanical garden houses the largest and most diverse botanical and mycological collections in the entire world. The collections include more than 30,000 different kinds of living plants in the 300-acre garden.
There’s a treetop walkway, a Victorian Palm House, a giant multi-sensory 17-metre tall Hive, and so much more to explore!
The Kew Gardens host events like a winter lantern trail, an after-dark light show, or music picnic concerts during the summer. There are also several talks and courses (including art and photography courses) throughout the year.
8. Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens, Kandy, Sri Lanka
This 147-acre garden is near the longest river in Sri Lanka, the Mahaweli River. These gardens used to be exclusively for Kandyan royalty, but are now open to the general public. Come here to enjoy what the region has to offer as Sri Lanka’s largest garden, making it an excellent addition to your travel bucket list!
The Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens in Kandy contains more than 4000 species of plants, including orchids, spices, and medicinal plants. Highlights include the avenue of royal palms, a 40m-high Burma bamboo tree and a giant Javan fig tree. Your visit might even include seeing fruit bats and monkeys!
Interesting fact: During World War II, the Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens became the headquarters of the South East Asia Command.
9. Botanical Gardens in Kingstown, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
This garden dates back to 1765, making it one of the oldest botanical gardens in the Western Hemisphere. The garden is only about 20 acres but it is one of the most visited attractions in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. One of the many idyllic islands in the Caribbean Sea, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is less-visited than popular Barbados to the east and St. Lucia to the north. This southern Caribbean paradise offers so much natural landscape to explore on your next trip.
As part of the garden, the Nicholas Wildlife Aviary Complex has a breeding program that aims to conserve the St. Vincent Parrot, the national bird.
If you decide to add this garden to your travel bucket list, make sure to hire a guide that can tell you all about the history of the garden and its many plants and animals.
10. Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix, Arizona
For something completely different, head to the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona. This desert garden has over 50,000 plants (over 4,000 species) across 140 acres. It focuses on plants adapted to desert conditions, like Australian collection, Californian, and South American species. There are almost 400 rare or endangered species under the care of this garden.
While there is plenty to do during the day, there are even more activities at night with the plants becoming an “Electric Desert” filled with lights. There are also concerts, wine nights, and special events. In case it couldn’t get any better, there are days where you can bring your dog to the garden!
Whether you already search for gardens in every destination or you are trying out something new for 2019, these botanical gardens make a great addition to your travel bucket list!