When we decided to turn my boyfriend’s work trip into a mini-vacation by spending four days in London, we had a huge list of things to see. But the first thing we put on our list was the Kew Royal Botanical Garden. And after spending six hours there to see only half of it, I would return there in a heartbeat. So keep reading to find out why and get some tips to plan your visit.
My boyfriend is passionate about everything related to nature. And although I am nowhere near as knowledgeable as he is on this topic, I got inspired by him. Now I love watching documentaries and observing everything around us when hiking or taking a walk in nature.
And our favorite documentaries are the ones made by David Attenborough. He is a living legend and of course when we decided to visit London we had to see one of the places where he filmed his documentaries. That place was the Botanical Garden where he filmed Kingdom of Plants, and we were not disappointed.
Planning Your Visit
First, let’s talk about how to plan your visit there.
You need to know that London’s Botanical Garden is located in South West London and you can get there by taking the subway, a train or a bus.
We took the train, and I’ll tell you why in a bit, and then a bus for another few stops. It left us close to Lion’s Gate and a nice elderly couple suggested we should enter through that gate rather than walk to Victoria Gate. It meant that we got to see more of the garden and of course they were right.
Now here’s why we took the train. I found the best website, Days Out Guide, where you can download vouchers for many of the attractions in London. With one train ticket, you get 2 entry tickets for the price of 1. Isn’t that genius? So we basically only paid one ticket at Kew, as we already had to pay for the transportation.
As you might have noticed I am a planning freak. I like to make lists and document as much as I can when traveling. I’m always left with the regret of not having seen more (or everything!). But at least I can prioritize better when I have a list of things I want to see.
My suggestion is to go to the Kew Botanical Garden website and take a look at their map. Then, research every attraction and make a list of things you want to see. Taking the map into consideration will help. Not all attractions are close to each other. So you’ll want to consider a route that makes sense and lets you see most of the garden.
What To See
With that said, here’s how we planned our six hours spent there. We walked almost non-stop, but we had the best time. At the end of the day, we both agreed that was probably the best day ever!
The Palm House
Probably one of the most iconic attractions at the Botanical Garden, the Palm House does not disappoint. It is gorgeous from outside, but the inside is breathtaking.
I expected it to be warm inside, but not as hot and humid as it was! So it was helpful that I was wearing layers and didn’t have to sweat my way out of there haha.
Filled with tall, exotic trees and gorgeous flowers, this jewel is a must on any visit to Kew. Whatever you’re planning to see, you can’t miss it!
Behind the Palm House, you can admire the beautiful Rose Garden, while in front of it lies a pond where you can take a break and feed the friendly ducks and geese.
The Waterlily House
As the names suggest, this little greenhouse is made of an indoor pond holding many types of waterlily. From large pink ones to little purple waterlilies or yellow species, it is a delight to take a moment admiring them.
The Princess of Wales Conservatory
A short walk from the Palm House and the Waterlily House is the Princess of Wales Conservatory. Besides that it looked gorgeous in the photos, I really wanted to visit this one as it was inaugurated by Diana, Princess of Wales. I might have a small obsession with her, so the fact that I walked the same paths she did made it so special!
The Conservatory displays plants from ten different climate zones. Amongst others, I was especially impressed with the cacti and orchid rooms. But you could also see carnivorous plants, exotic flowers, a waterlily pond, fishes and turtles in an amazing natural display.
Davies Alpine House
Walking through the Rock Garden from the Conservatory, you will get to Davies Alpine House. It’s a modern looking glasshouse, designed to create the cool, dry and windy condition necessary for alpine plants to thrive.
Luckily we visited in spring when most flowers are in bloom. So here too, we admired a very colorful display of plants and flowers.
The Treetop Walkway
Next stop was the Treetop Walkway. It’s a bit of a walk from the Alpine House and we took the main alley from Victoria Plaza Cafe and Shop. We took a turn to the left on the Holly Walk and there we were.
I honestly thought the Treetop Walkway would be a bit more impressive. But my boyfriend was mesmerized by the experience. You climb up on stairs or an elevator to the walkway and take a short walk through the top of the trees. Maybe because the trees weren’t yet very rich in foliage or maybe because it’s just an 18-meter walk, but I wouldn’t say it was my favorite stop. The view is lovely and my boyfriend was very excited so it was definitely worth it.
Back to Victoria Gate
By this time we had already been walking for about five hours. We had close to an hour left until closing time so we decided to get back to Victoria Gate and grab something to eat before we left.
On our way back we passed through the Mediterranean Garden and King William’s Temple. It was a wonderful walk through a field of tulips and lush greenery. We couldn’t really have asked for more from our way back.
We also got a close view of the Temperate House, but unfortunately, it was closed for renovation. There’s always the next time.
Victoria Plaza Cafe and Shop
On our way from the Lion’s Gate to the Palm House, we passed by Victoria Plaza. We stopped shortly, just to check out the store and buy a tote bag to put our coats and souvenirs. We took a look at the plant shop, bought some for our parents, and decided we’d get back at the end of the day.
After walking through all the attractions above we returned and had a delicious, yet overpriced, chicken curry sandwich. Neither of us had the energy to check out the souvenirs again. But if you do, you’ll see there are a lot of options to take back home. From homeware to books, jewelry and clothes, there’s an option for every budget.
We loved our time spent at the Botanical Garden so much, that we always recommend it to people visiting London. And although we were lucky to see it in spring, I think all seasons bring something special. And if you’re thinking winter is not the season for a tour of the Garden, think again. They have a special light display for Christmas, so if you’re in London make sure to stop there!
If you liked this article, make sure to keep an eye on the blog. I’ll post another article on the Bucharest Botanical Garden soon, plus a little secret: a new tradition my boyfriend and I have that started at Kew. Stay tuned!