With its long history of horticulture, Europe features some of the world’s most spectacular formal gardens. No matter which corner of the continent you’re in, there’s a wealth of gardens to choose from — to help you pick the next one you’re going to visit, here’s our pick of four must-see European gardens.
Kew Gardens, London, UK
London’s Royal Botanical Gardens, also known as Kew Gardens, features more than 30,000 different species of plants across its 300 acres. This collection, which is one of the largest in the world, is maintained year-round by a staff of more than 700 of Europe’s foremost horticultural experts.
A visit to these magnificent 250-year-old gardens, which were named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003, will expose you to some of the world’s most unique and exotic plants. While you’re here, you can also enjoy the sights from the treetop walkway, which was created by the designer of the London Eye. Buy tickets to Kew Gardens on its official website to avoid the queues.
Versailles Gardens, Paris, France
In 1682, the ill-fated Louis XIV made Versailles the seat of French political power. Its gardens — the finest existing example of classical French horticulture — are certainly fit for a king, and we highly recommend joining the six million visitors who enjoy the 800 hectares of breathtaking floral arrangements each year.
On a visit to Versailles, you’ll find perfectly planned gardens that mirror each other exactly. These idyllic formal arrangements make the perfect escape, and while here you’ll find manicured lawns, delicate flowers, and magnificent statues. You’ll also be entertained by the fantastic fountain displays, which are still powered by the original hydraulics system that was fitted in the 17th century.
Versailles lies just 12 miles outside of Paris — if you’d like to visit the gardens as part of a trip to the French capital, take a look at this guide to the fastest way to get from Paris to Versailles.
Peterhof Palace, St Petersburg, Russia
If you’re looking to visit one of Europe’s hidden gems, look no further than “the Russian Versailles” — Peterhof Palace. The stunning grounds of this colossal palace are studded with shining gold statues, and they are famous for their grand water features, which culminate in the Grand Cascade.
A visit to Peterhof will not only give you a chance to experience the splendour of its upper and lower parks, but also its three captivating palaces. You’ll also get to see the Petrodvorets watch factory, which is not only one of the world’s oldest watch factories, but, having been founded in 1721, is also Russia’s oldest active factory.
Prepare for your visit with a virtual tour from Airpano.
Keukenhof Gardens, Lisse, Netherlands
Known as ‘the garden of Europe’, Keukenhof features over seven million bulbs made up of 800 different variety of tulip. When they bloom in Spring, these gardens create one of the world’s most spectacular horticultural sights, as rivers of colour run as far as the eye can see throughout the delightful grounds.
Each year, these beautiful gardens attract over a million visitors — if you’re in the Netherlands during spring, make sure to join them. If you are planning on making the trip to Keukenhof, a great way to extend your trip in the tulip capital of the world is on The River Cruise Line’s Dutch Towns and the Spring Gardens of Keukenhof cruise. This will not only take you to the garden of Europe, but also some of the continent’s most picturesque towns and villages while they’re in full bloom.
If you’re an avid horticulturalist and a seasoned traveller looking for something different, make sure you visit these four gardens — you won’t regret it!