When you feel compelled to answer the call of the wild but don’t want to venture deep into the wilderness, these lush green spaces are the perfect solution. From serene Japanese rock gardens to striking desert blooms, botanical gardens around the globe offer travellers an incomparable introduction to the native foliage of their respective countries.
Jardim Botânico, Rio de Janeiro
With more than 6,500 species of flora, including a number of rare and endangered specimens, Rio’s spectacular botanical gardens are truly a sight to behold. Even if you’re not a budding botanist, there is plenty to enjoy here, including the research centre displaying photos and significant historical moments from the park. Bird-watchers should keep both eyes peeled for more than 140 avian species at the Jardim Botânico.
Brooklyn Botanic Garden, New York City
While many first-time visitors to the Big Apple never leave Manhattan, those who venture into other boroughs will find all sorts of gems. Spend a day visiting the exceptionally well-curated Brooklyn Museum, then wandering through sprawling 52-acre grounds of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, which has been an essential part of the city since 1910.
Na ‘Aina Kai Botanical Gardens, Hawaii
The Hawaiian archipelago boasts a dazzling array of native vegetation that exists no where else in the world. For a glimpse of these spectacular tropical flowers, head to this sculpture park and botanical garden on the island of Kilauea. Founders Ed and Joyce Doty wanted Na ‘Aina Botanical Gardens to educate future generations about the importance of preserving this fragile ecosystem.
Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney
Located in Farm Cove towards the outskirts of the metropolitan area, the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney offers sweeping views of the harbour and the Sydney Opera House. Not only is it a terrific crash course in native Australian plant species, but it’s also completely free. Visitors hoping to delve a little deeper into the country’s past should embark on a guided Aboriginal walk through the grounds.
The Butchart Gardens, British Columbia, Canada
This idyllic fairytale landscape is one of the highlights of any visit to Victoria and a must for lovers of horticulture. With 900 bedding plant varieties spread over 26 greenhouses and 55 acres, there’s plenty to see at The Butchart Gardens. Don’t miss the meticulously manicured Japanese garden and the rose garden.
Nong Nooch Tropical Botanical Garden, Thailand
For travellers to Bangkok hoping to see the beach without boarding another airplane, the coastal retreat of Pattaya makes for an easy getaway. Although the city itself has a somewhat sleazy reputation, there’s plenty of family-friendly fun just off the main drag. Nong Nooch Tropical Botanical Gardens features lovely, landscaped grounds, along with other attractions including elephant shows and life-size statues of dinosaurs.
Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens, Tokyo
Dating all the way back to 1629 in the Edo Period, the Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens are a true masterpiece of landscape architecture. Intricate arrangements of ponds, bridges, paths, and foliage mirror specific Chinese and Japanese landscapes. The best times to visit are in the fall, when the leaves turn scarlet and crimson, or the spring, when the cherry blossoms bloom.
Claude Monet’s Gardens, Giverny, France
Anyone familiar with the dreamy oil paintings of the famous French impressionist will appreciate the lily pad-studded landscape that inspired them. The highlight for many visitors to Claude Monet’s Gardens is the water garden, with its iconic Japanese bridge and drooping wisteria trees.
Kew Gardens, London
It takes a team of more than a thousand groundskeepers to maintain this lush UNESCO World Heritage Site. Given that Kew Gardens features more than 50,000 plants, including 14,000 trees in the arboretum, it’s easy to see why its one of the city’s most popular attractions. Constantly rotating exhibitions, such as a recent display of glass sculptures by Dale Chihuly, and events ensure there’s always something special to see.
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, Cape Town, South Africa
Set against the dramatic backdrop of Table Mountain, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden is a staggering showcase of South Africa’s biodiversity. Regular sculpture exhibitions and a host of well-groomed trails for trekkers and cyclists make this century-old sanctuary a pleasure to explore.