Visit the Kew Gardens, London's largest UNESCO World Heritage Site
A great respite from the city life
· 4 min read
Green spaces in London is more than just Hyde Park and the Kensington Gardens. Located in southwest London, the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, often referred to simply as Kew Gardens, is one of the best places in London to visit if you are looking for some nature and respite from the bustling city of London. Kew Gardens is a haven of natural beauty and biodiversity, and you really don't have to be a plant or flower person to be able to enjoy Kew Gardens.
Kew Gardens is one of the most renowned botanical gardens in the world, spanning over 300 acres and housing an extensive collection of plants, trees, and flowers from across the globe. Its rich history dates back to 1759 when Princess Augusta, the mother of King George III, founded the garden. The garden started a nine-acre botanic garden, but has since expanded and today, is London's largest UNESCO World Heritage site. It is also a leading center for plant science and research.
What to do at the Kew Gardens?
There's a lot to see at Kew Gardens, and you can easily spend at least half a day there exploring the gardens. Walk through the various climate zones and glasshouses and be awed by the wide variety of plants and flowers.
Highlights at Kew Gardens
- The Palm House: A stunning Victorian glasshouse, it houses a vast collection of tropical plants, including towering palm trees and colorful orchids. The iconic iron and glass structure is a masterpiece of engineering.
- The Temperate House: Known as the world's largest surviving Victorian glasshouse, it's home to a diverse range of plants from temperate regions. The sheer scale of this structure is awe-inspiring.
- Princess of Wales Conservatory: This modern glasshouse showcases a variety of exotic plants, including cacti, orchids, and carnivorous species. It's a great place to explore unique and rare plants.
- Treetop Walkway: Don't miss the 18-metre-high (59ft) Treetop Walkway, which offers panoramic views of the gardens from above the trees!
- Great Pagoda and Kew Palace: The Kew Gardens is more than just plants and flowers. Discover the history of Kew at the royal palace, which once served as the summer residence for King George III. It offers insights into royal life during the 18th century.
- The Hive: A mesmerizing installation that simulates the life of bees and provides a sensory experience with sound and light. It's both educational and artistic.
- Marianne North Gallery: Marvel at the incredible botanical paintings of Marianne North, a 19th-century artist who traveled the world to document plant life.
Wet weather can be a pain when traveling, but you don't have to worry about being caught in the rain at Kew even when it rains! Many of these exhibits are sheltered, so you will still be able to admire the plants and flowers even when it's raining. There's also a library and reading room in the gardens, where you can spend some time looking through the extensive collection of books and works!
Guided Tours and Walking Tours
Kew also offers guided and walking tours throughout the year. These tours are a great way for you to explore the garden, gain deeper insights into the garden's history, and learn more about the vast collection of plants.
Depending on the time of year, Kew Gardens may host seasonal events and exhibitions, such as the Orchid Festival early in the year, and the Christmas at Kew at the end of the year.
In particular, the Christmas at Kew is one of the highlights of the UK's festive calendar, and if you happen to be in London during the end of the year, this is a great way to spend Christmas! This year, the Christmas at Kew will take place from 15 November 2023 to 7 January 2024 Note that there will be limited capacity with timed entry to Christmas at Kew, so be sure to make your reservations early!
Refer to the events calendar for special activities during your visit.
Dining at Kew
There are restaurants and cafes available at Kew offering a variety of dining options, ranging from light snacks to hearty lunches. Alternatively, you can also choose to pack your own food and have a picnic in the gardens!
Kew Gardens is conveniently located in the Richmond upon Thames borough of London. You can get to Kew Gardens from Central London in less than 30 minutes:
- By Tube: Take the District Line (Green Line) to Kew Gardens Station, which is a 500m walk away from the Victoria Gate entrance of the gardens.
- By Overground: The Kew Gardens Station is also connected to the London Overground line.
- By Train: You can also take the train to Kew Bridge station, which is 800m away from the Elizabeth Gate entrance of the gardens.
- By Bus: Several bus routes serve Kew, including the 65, 237, 267, and 391.
Admission and Opening Hours
- Opening Hours: Kew Gardens is generally open every day, with varying hours depending on the season. Note that some exhibits may be closed from time to time due to maintenance works or other reasons - so be sure to check in advance before your visit.
- Purchase your tickets in advance: Admission fees help support the garden's conservation and research efforts. It is advised to purchase your tickets in advance, as tickets purchased 48 hours or more before your visit are entitled to discounts. Concessions and family tickets are also available.