15 Best Botanical Gardens in the UK
The UK (where I was born and raised) has some of the best botanical gardens in the world, with lots of flora-flaunting green spaces across the entire region.
So in this petal-packed guide, we’ve brought you the 15 best botanical gardens in the UK. We’ve covered places in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, so there’ll be somewhere perfect no matter where you’re visiting.
Today, Travelness is transporting you to a flora-filled smorgasbord of scents and sights. Bring your watering can and come join the fun!
Here’s a quick fun fact, before we go any further: just in case you’re curious, there’s no real difference between the words ‘botanic’ and ‘botanical.’ The first is more of a retro term, but both words mean exactly the same thing.
1. The Eden Project
Probably the most famous botanical garden in the UK, the Eden Project is most well-known for its alien-like spherical pods—they look more like something from a sci-fi movie than a garden.
Inside these kooky biomes, you have the world’s biggest indoor rainforest along with a massive Mediterranean area, and plenty more. You also have great outdoor gardens, with vegetables, trees, art installations, seasonal border areas, and 20 individual plant-based exhibits. All in all, the Eden Project is home to more than 1,000 different plant species, with stuff from all over the world.
But it’s way more than just a basic botanical garden. More of a jam-packed day out than most other places on our list, it’s also home to performances, storytelling sessions, live music, festivals, a zipwire, aerial assault courses, and loads of fun for kids. You can easily spend a full day here (and you should!).
- Address: Bodelva, Par, PL24 2SG
- Opening Hours: Various, so always check before visiting
- Entrance fees: £29.50-£35 for adults, £10 for kids
- Website: https://www.edenproject.com/
2. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Also known as Kew Gardens, this place is iconic. Although it’s situated in a busy part of west London, it feels like a hidden haven, and it’s surprisingly peaceful and serene.
Set in 500 acres of woodland, it’s home to the biggest seed-conservation project on the planet. An officially-designated UNESCO World Heritage site, it’s home to over 50,000 plants, with a huge variety of stuff.
One of the most popular parts of Kew is the excellent rock garden, a massive valley featuring plants from six of the world’s most mountainous zones.
There’s also a Japanese garden, a bamboo garden, an excellent section with carnivorous plants, and plenty more. Because there’s such a variety of stuff (and in such a large area!), this place feels more like it’s own little forest than a city-center garden. Massively recommended!
Pro tip: while you’re in this part of London, you should also visit nearby Richmond Park, a vast green hangout with lots of free-roaming deer.
- Address: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, TW9 3AE
- Opening Hours: Opens at 10am, closes between 4pm and 6pm
- Entrance fees: £12.10-£21.45 for adults, £4.40-£5.50 for kids
- Website: https://www.kew.org/
3. Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh
Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Gardens are the most famous botanic gardens in the nation. The whole place is free to enter (apart from the glasshouses).
Set in 70 acres of land, and home to nearly 300,000 plants, it’s absolutely huge. Some of the best bits are the rock garden, the Chinese garden, and the glasshouses (which have areas ranging from rainforests to deserts to alpine stuff).
And best of all, the place has some brilliant views of Edinburgh’s skyline. I reckon it’s one of the city’s best vantage points—and it’s a prime spot for grabbing excellent photographs.
Top tip: Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Gardens are also closely affiliated with three other excellent gardens in Scotland: Benmore, Dawyck and Logan. They’re all managed and operated by the same team, and they’re all worth a visit. I’ve unpacked Logan Botanic Garden in much more detail later in this guide.
- Address: Arboretum Place/Inverleith Row, Edinburgh, EH3 5NZ
- Opening Hours: Always opens at 10am, closes between 4pm and 6pm
- Entrance fees: Glasshouse entry is £5.50 for adults, and free for kids. Everything else is free
- Website: https://www.rbge.org.uk/
4. Glasgow Botanic Garden
Glasgow Botanic Garden is another massive (and excellent!) free-of-charge option in Scotland.
Its most famous feature is Kibble Palace, a sprawling glasshouse with orchids, carnivorous plants, strange sculptures and plenty more.
Aside from that, Glasgow Botanic Garden also has a rose garden, an arboretum (which, if you’re not up on all the lingo, is just an outdoor area with lots of trees), and a cute little children’s garden with herbs, fruit and more.
It’s also a lovely place for a wander, with some excellent waymarked trails around various parts of the garden. And on top of all that, the River Kelvin runs along one of the garden’s edges, and has lots of excellent bank-side picnic spots.
- Address: 730 Great Western Road, Glasgow, G12 0UE
- Opening Hours: 7am until dusk, but the glasshouse times vary
- Entrance fees: Free!
- Website: https://glasgowbotanicgardens.co.uk/
5. St Andrews Botanic Garden
Another Scotland option, this one is a little smaller than most other Scottish gardens we’ve covered, measuring in at 18 acres.
But it’s still surprisingly eclectic, with lots of great stuff packed into its budding borders.
Set in the golfing town of St Andrews, the place features a cute pond, a rhododendron area and a lovely rock garden. There’s also plenty of wildlife, including some of Scotland’s elusive and alluring red squirrels.
The team at St Andrews Botanic Garden are currently putting together a so-called Tangled Bank zone, which will feature a great selection of the local area’s best natural flowers and habitats. It will largely focus on the area’s endangered species, and it’s due for completion in spring 2022. If you’re interested in Scottish flora and fauna, you’ll absolutely love it.
- Address: Canongate, St Andrews, KY16 8RT
- Opening Hours: Always opens at 10am, and closes between 4pm and 6pm
- Entrance fees: £6 for adults, free for kids
- Website: https://standrewsbotanic.org/
6. Cambridge University Botanic Garden
Set inside one of the planet’s most famous educational establishments, Cambridge University Botanic Garden has almost 40 acres of flower-based fun, including 8,000 different species of plants.
It was initially built as an educational resource for students of the university, and it still offers workshops, clubs and events for people who want to learn loads about plants, trees and wildlife. If you’re serious about agriculture and the environment, you’ll probably think it’s one of the most interesting places on the planet.
One of the main highlights here is the so-called Bee Border area, which is packed with lots of bee-attracting flowers. There’s also an excellent rose garden, great tropical glasshouses, and semi-regular Wellness Walks to promote positive mental health.
There’s also lots of stuff for kids, including a maze and a child-friendly school garden.
- Address: 1 Brookside, Cambridge, CB2 1JE
- Opening Hours: Always opens at 10am, and closes between 4pm and 6pm
- Entrance fees: £7.50 for adults, free for kids
- Website: https://www.botanic.cam.ac.uk/
7. Durham University Botanic Garden
From one university garden to another, Durham University Botanic Garden is your best bet if you’re looking for a great garden in northeast England.
With 25 acres of varied stuff, there’s plenty to explore. Highlights include the glasshouse cacti, the large woodland area, and all the strange and surreal artwork dotted throughout the garden. They also have lots of activities on most weekends, and always place a focus on local seasonal flowers.
Lots of visitors also love the tropical bugs & insects section, packed with creepy creatures and critters including spiders, scorpions, tarantulas, and plenty more.
Pro tip: there are also some excellent gardens in the grounds of Alnwick Castle, not too far from Durham. It’s one of the best castles in Northumberland, and one of the region’s most beautiful places.
- Address: South Road, Durham DH1 3DF
- Opening Hours: Always opens at 10am, closes between 4pm and 5pm
- Entrance fees: £15 for adults, £6 for kids
- Website: https://www.dur.ac.uk/botanic.garden/
8. Birmingham Botanical Gardens
If you’re looking for a botanical garden in the English Midlands, this is it.
Birmingham Botanical Gardens is just outside the center of the city, and has 16 acres of stuff to see and do. They have 4 separate glasshouse environments (tropical, subtropical, Mediterranean and arid), along with seasonal walks, a butterfly house, and plenty more.
Events include seasonal-specific introductions to certain plants, and practical workshops on garden design, indoor flora, and how to attract wildlife into your garden. They also offer science-based talks on various plants, flowers and environments.
Overall, it’s quite a quaint little place. With a bandstand in the center, and a Victorian-style design, it offers a quintessential slice of old-school English life.
- Address: Westbourne Road, Birmingham, B15 3TR
- Opening Hours: Opens at 10am, and closes between 5pm and 7pm
- Entrance fees: £7.50 for adults, £5.25 for kids
- Website: https://www.birminghambotanicalgardens.org.uk/
9. National Botanic Garden of Wales
Unsurprisingly the best botanic garden in Wales, this Carmarthenshire flowerfest is absolutely jam-packed with stuff. It has a massive arboretum, a bee garden (with half a million honey bees!), and the biggest assembly of Mediterranean plants in the entire northern hemisphere.
It’s a huge place, set in 300 acres of varied (and beautifully landscaped) parkland. Most botanical gardens feel like botanical gardens—but this one feels more like a trail-packed forest, featuring lakes, dams, bridges, a beautiful waterfall, lots of dense forest, pretty water features, and loads of lovely walks.
They also have a British bird of prey center and an Edwardian pharmacy (filled with strange and unusual healing herbs). But most notably, the place is home to the largest single-span glasshouse on the planet, measuring in at 110 meters by 60 meters (360 feet by 197 feet).
If you want to visit a huge and unusual botanic garden, this place is absolutely perfect.
- Address: Middleton Hall, Llanarthne, SA32 8HN
- Opening Hours: Opens at 10am, and closes between 4pm and 6pm
- Entrance fees: £13.75 for adults, £6.60 for kids
- Website: https://botanicgarden.wales/
10. Happy Valley Botanic Gardens
Set in a lovely little pocket of Llandudno, Happy Valley Botanic Gardens is probably the cutest garden in Wales, perfect for a family-fun day out.
Set in a steep valley, it’s not an educational establishment, but it’s quaint and cute, with tree-lined paths, colorful flower beds, lovely landscapes, excellent views of the sea, and an Alice in Wonderland trail. Because it’s a public garden rather than an actual venue, you can visit any time—and you don’t need to pay.
Compared to most other places on this list, it’s much more of a mixed day out than a pure botanical garden. Perfect for families with kids (or just anyone who doesn’t want to spend all their time looking at plants), it’s also home to an open-air theater, a putting green, two mini golf courses, a ski slope and a toboggan run.
That said, if you’re interested in actually learning about plants, don’t bother with this place.
- Address: Happy Valley Road, Llandudno, LL30 2QL
- Opening Hours: Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
- Entrance fees: Free
11. University of Oxford Botanic Gardens
The team at University of Oxford Botanic Gardens have been educating plant-lovers for more than 400 years. It’s the oldest botanic garden in the UK—and one of the oldest scientific gardens on the planet.
It only measures in at around 4.5 acres, but there’s 5,000 different plant species at the place, so there’s still plenty to see. They have seven glasshouses, a walled garden, a water lily area, lots of nation-specific displays, and much more.
Founded with the intention of using plants and flowers for medical research, the main purpose here is still education, and you can learn a lot. They host lots of walks, talks and workshops, where you can learn about health, sustainability, preservation, ornamental tactics and plenty more.
Top tip: when you’re in the area, make sure you also check out nearby Harcourt Arboretum, which features more than 130 acres of endangered and rare trees.
- Address: Rose Lane, Oxford, OX1 4AZ
- Opening Hours: Opens at 10am, and closes between 4pm and 6pm
- Entrance fees: £7 for adults, free for kids (when with an accompanying adult)
- Website: https://www.obga.ox.ac.uk/
12. University of Bristol Botanic Garden
This garden was redesigned back in 2004, making it the first university-based botanical garden to be (re)built in the 21st century. They have 4,500 different species of plants, all set in almost 5 acres of fun.
Some of the Bristol Botanic Garden highlights include various collections of local habitats and species, 4 different glasshouses, a Mediterranean area, and the biggest collection of traditional medicinal Chinese herbs in all of the UK.
They also have a section focusing on the ways we use plants and flowers as both food and medicine, expertly demonstrating how a huge number of plants and trees are intrinsically linked to our everyday lives.
The garden also houses five excellent displays telling the story of evolution through various plants.
- Address: Stoke Park Road, Stoke Bishop, Bristol, BS9 1JG
- Opening Hours: 10am until 4pm (sometimes 5 days per week, sometimes 7 days per week)
- Entrance fees: £5 for adults, free for kids
- Website: https://botanic-garden.bristol.ac.uk/
13. Ventnor Botanic Garden
For something a little different, head to the 22-acre Ventnor Botanic Garden. It sits on the Isle of Wight, a small island in southern England.
But here’s where things get good: the unusual island has its own little microclimate, so it’s much warmer than most other parts of the UK. Because of that, Ventnor Botanic Garden is (and has named itself!) ‘Britain’s Hottest Garden.’
Because of its strange climate, the place has naturally-occurring flowers that don’t naturally occur in any of the other botanical gardens we’ve featured on this list. They also have lizards, secret gardens, Britain’s oldest palm trees (which grow here naturally!, and lots of great walking trails.
Some of the place’s other highlights include lots of magnolias and hops, and some really strange and unusual plants that look like something from a different planet.
- Address: Undercliff Drive, Ventnor, PO38 1UL
- Opening Hours: Opens at 9am, and closes between 4pm and 6pm
- Entrance fees: £9.50 for adults, free for kids
- Website: https://www.botanic.co.uk/
14. Belfast Botanic Garden
By far the best of its kind in Northern Ireland, Belfast Botanic Garden measures in at 28 acres. It’s right in the heart of the city, but it’s a surprisingly peaceful retreat.
Some of its best attractions include an excellent alpine garden, the rose garden, and some really-rare oak trees.
But for most people, the best part of the entire garden is the excellent Palm House, which is home to two separate wings (one cool and one tropical). In here, you get lofty plants, ancient flowers, unusual birds, giant bird feeders, and plenty more. Architecturally, it’s also pretty interesting—it was one of the world’s first cast iron glasshouses.
They also have regular live music, hosting some of the biggest musical names on the planet. Past players have included U2, Kings of Leon and Snow Patrol.
If you’re in Northern Ireland, you should absolutely visit.
- Address: College Park Avenue, Botanic Avenue, Belfast, BT7 1LP
- Opening Hours: Always opens at 7:30am, and closes between 5pm and 6:30pm
- Entrance fees: Free!
15. Logan Botanic Garden
We’ve already mentioned Logan Botanic Garden earlier in this guide, but it definitely deserves an entry of its own.
Owned and managed by the same team behind Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Gardens, the place is nestled on a tiny southwestern peninsula of mainland Scotland. It’s relatively close to Portpatrick.
Because of the area’s proximity to the Gulf Stream, Logan Botanic Garden (like Ventnor Botanic Garden) has a near-subtropical climate, and plants that can’t thrive in most parts of the UK can thrive here.
In the garden, you can see species from New Zealand, Australia, Southern Africa, South America and Central America. They have palm trees, a fish pond, eucalyptus groves, tree ferns and plenty more. On a visit, you feel like you’re walking through a tropical island.
It’s definitely the most unique and unusual botanic garden in Scotland. If you want to see strange plants and flowers, I totally recommend it.
- Address: Port Logan, Near Stranraer, DG9 9ND
- Opening Hours: Always opens at 10am, and closes between 4pm and 5pm
- Entrance fees: £8 for adults, free for kids
- Website: https://www.rbge.org.uk/visit/logan-botanic-garden/
Final Words and Further Reading
There they are boys and girls—the 15 best botanical gardens in the UK! I 100% recommend visiting a couple of them, and learning all about plants and flowers of the UK and beyond.
If you’re looking for similar attractions across the UK, check out our guides to the best zoos and wildlife parks in the UK, and the best aquariums in the UK. Or for stranger stuff, wander over to our article on the most unique and interesting things to do in the north of England.
A massive thanks for reading, and we’ll see you next time!
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