KEW GARDENS ULTIMATE GUIDE
Open: Everyday: 10:00AM to 4:15PM
Time Needed: 3 hours
Don’t let the word “gardens” fool you, because Kew’s Royal Botanical Gardens are more than just collections of pretty flowers to snap photos of. As a matter of fact, the Kew Gardens are actually a living, breathing collection of some of the most stunning botanical art on the planet, and are a must-see for any visitor to London (whether you’re a nature fanatic or not).
With over 300 acres to explore, Kew Gardens is one of the biggest living plant collections in the world, and even contain the largest display of seasonal flowers in Britain. Not just limited to flowers, the Kew Gardens also contain historic glasshouses, rare specimen trees, serene woodlands, and even playground areas for children to play in.
The Kew Gardens were first created in 1759, and showcase some of the best gardening art from the 18th to 20th centuries. Not only has it become one of the most popular tourist attractions in London, it’s also an environment where plant scientists can study plant diversity and economic botany as well.
Kew Gardens Highlights
Kew Gardens are not simply a place to wind down after a free tour or day of sightseeing. These gardens pack a punch! From waterfalls, lilypads and crocuses (two million of them to be exact), to plant tunnels, treetop walkways and bamboo gardens, one could easily spend an entire afternoon walking around the many attractions in the Kew Gardens and still not see all there is to see.
In May, the Kew Gardens spring to life (literally) and the blooming of bluebells are especially popular among visitors; but it’s during the summer months when the Kew Gardens are perhaps at their most beautiful. During these months, visitors can breathe in the smell of aromatic plants (like lavender, thyme, rosemary, sage and oregano, just to name a few), and also see a collection of Mediterranean fruits and vegetables (including nine different types of aubergine!)
Out of all the different types of plants and flowers species located in the Kew Gardens, none are as famous or as popular as the 250-year-old Old Lions, which are the oldest trees at Kew Palace.
The Bamboo Gardens (located at the historic Japanese Minka House which dates back to the early 1900s) are another fan-favourite, as here you can see the largest collection of bamboos in the UK.
Past visitors also highly recommend a stroll along the Treetop Walkway, which provides visitors with a bird’s eye view of the Kew Gardens from 59 feet up in the air.
For obvious reasons, try to visit the Kew Gardens during the spring and summer months.
It is highly recommended that you arrive between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. to give yourself enough time to explore the gardens in their entirety, and avoid busy entrance times as well.
Don’t miss the lilypads behind the greenhouse!
Address: Station Approach, London TW9 3BZ, United Kingdom.
By Tube: If you are travelling by tube, the nearest station is Kew Gardens station, which is a 15 minute walk from the gardens.
By Train: If you are travelling by train, the nearest station is Richmond Station. From here, you can transfer to the tube to return to Kew Gardens (and when doing so, avoid the stairs at Kew Garden Station).
By Bus: If you are travelling by bus, you can get to Kew Gardens by routes 65, 237 and 267, or 391 (on Sundays during the summer months).
By Car: If you are travelling by car, there is a car park near Brentford Gate which costs £7 for a full day’s use. Please note that the car park closes half an hour before the gardens close.
By Express: If you are travelling by express, you can arrive at Victoria Gate and park on Kew Road, but expresses are not allowed to park around Kew Green.
Visiting Kew Gardens
The majority of past visitors leave Kew Gardens wishing they had more time to explore its many acres, so try to reserve at least a full afternoon to spend at the gardens (or two hours minimum). You may be walking for hours on end, so make sure you wear comfortable walking shoes, and warm clothing during the winter months.
All of the important flowers, trees and plants throughout Kew Gardens have identification labels so you can read more information on them during your visit However, it still may be a good idea to get an official guidebook to read as you’re walking through the gardens; (you can pick up the official guidebook at the Kew Gardens’ entrance). Visitors are also given a map which highlights all the attractions throughout the gardens, and even child-friendly attractions to visit as well.
Be aware that there are four entrance gates to the Kew Gardens which may be confusing for first-time visitors:
- The Victoria Gate is the closest entrance to the Kew Gardens underground station, and is located relatively close to the Palm House and the Princess of Wales Conservatory. Free daily guided tours start from Victoria Gate, and the nearby Victoria Plaza has a café, lockers and toilet facilities as well.
- The Elizabeth Gate is the closest gate to the Kew Bridge rail station, and is convenient for visitors who are using boat services from Westminster.
- Brentford Gate is just across from Kew’s Ferry Lane car park, and is close to the White Peaks Cafe and the Climbers and Creepers play area. Also close by are the Palm House and the Princess of Wales Conservatory.
- Lion Gate is the closest entrance to Richmond Station, and is the only gate at the southern section of the gardens; (thus it is the furthest away from attractions like the Palm House, the Princess of Wales Conservatory and the Climbers and Creepers children’s play area). It is relatively close to the Kew’s Pagoda, as well as the Pavilion Restaurant, and it tends to be less crowded even during the summer months.
Be aware that bicycles, animals and tree-climbing are all strictly forbidden inside the gardens, and perhaps it may go without saying, but avoid touching any of the plants or wildlife at all costs.
Visitors are allowed to have picnics anywhere in the Kew Gardens, except for in the glasshouses or on planted areas. No furniture or barbecues will be allowed past the entrance gates.
When to Visit
Admission into the Kew Gardens cost:
- £15 for adults (or £16.50 with a donation) at the door, or £14 if you purchase your ticket online beforehand.
- For seniors, students or visitors with a disability, tickets cost £14 at the door, £15.50 with a donation, or £13 online.
- For children (ages four to 16), tickets cost £3.50 at the gate, or £2.50 online
- There are also family tickets available which range from £19 to £34 at the gate, or £18 to £32 online.
The Kew Gardens are open every day throughout the year (except December 24th and 25th), and the gates open at 10 a.m.
If you wish to visit Kew Gardens, you might be interested in the many free tours in London that depart daily.