The 121-hectare (300-acre) gardens, with many expansive lawns, earned a spot on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 2003. As you’d expect, the glasshouses are world-class—there are 2,000 varieties of plants, many descended from specimens collected in the earliest days of international sea trade. Of the seven conservatories, the domed Palm House, built from 1844 to 1848 and jungle-warm, is probably the world’s most recognizable greenhouse, while the Temperate House is the world’s largest glasshouse containing the world’s largest indoor plant (the 17.7m/58-ft.-tall Chilean wine-palm, planted in 1843—and that’s not a typo). It just completed a £41-million restoration, and it’s full of some 1,500 species of incredible plants, some once thought lost, like the Dombeya mauritiana, and some, like the Encephalartos woodii cycad, extinct in the wild. Other attractions include a bamboo garden, a water lily pond, Treehouse Towers (a treethemed play area for children 3–11), and, it must be said, a heartwarmingly charming village outside the gates. The gardeners are champs; in 1986, they coaxed a bloom from a portea that hadn’t flowered in 160 years. Kew’s contributions to botanical science are ongoing since 1759, but not mired in the past; it also provides a free app that lets you scan labels to learn more and find blooms. Unless you’re a fevered horticulturalist, however, it will ultimately feel like a park you have to pay for—and pay a lot, at that. Also be aware that many of the goodies clamp down in winter (including Kew Palace, included in the price,), so this is best in the summer.
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Kew, Richmond, Surrey
Our Rating Hours Daily 10am–7pm (closes at 6pm in fall and 5:15pm in winter); last entry 1 hr. before closing Transportation Tube: Kew Gardens Phone 020/8332-5655 Prices Admission £16 adults, £14 seniors and students, £4 children 16 and under; posted prices are higher and include “voluntary donation”; discounts sometimes available online Web site Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
MapKew, Richmond, Surrey London
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.