This spectacular UNESCO site is a gorgeous public park and an important center of botanical research.
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, is a 300-acre (121-hectare) World Heritage Site, home to the largest collection of living plants on the planet. Whatever the weather, there’s lots to enjoy at this special attraction located just 30 minutes from the center of London.
Initially established in the late 18th century, the gardens were opened to the public in 1840. Funded by royals and developed by landscapers, architects and botanists, the gardens have made many important contributions to botanical research over the years.
One of the landmarks in the garden is the 19th-century Palm House, a domed building constructed from wrought iron and curved sheets of glass. It houses a re-created rainforest environment where you'll find an array of exotic species, including rubber plants and cocoa trees. Be sure to find out more about the building; it's an engineering masterpiece.
Take a walk along the Treetop Walkway, which offers a different perspective of a tree canopy from 59 feet (18 meters) up in the air. In the Princess of Wales Conservatory, see species from 10 climate zones, including cacti, orchids and giant waterlilies. Don't miss The Hive, a construction that aims to show you, through sound and visuals, what inside a beehive is like. Talk to one of the Explainers on hand at The Hive to learn more about this extraordinary experience.
There's also a large rock garden and alpine house, spectacular double herbaceous borders, a lake, grass garden, botanical art gallery, veggie plots and more.
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, is open daily, although hours vary by season. Check the official website to find out when there are scheduled closures. Free guided tours are available twice daily. There's also the Kew Explorer land train, which takes you on a tour of the gardens for a fee. To reach the gardens, ride the tube to Kew Gardens station or take one of the riverboat cruises that depart regularly from Westminster Pier during summer.