Kew Gardens

This is no ordinary stroll around some shrubs.

For a start, these aren’t your bog-standard gardens; Kew Gardens are also known as the Royal Botanic Gardens, a scientific and botanical centre of huge importance worldwide. 

Open all year round, the Gardens cover over 300 acres, on the south bank of the River Thames, between Richmond and Kew (the Kew Gardens station is accessibly by both underground and overground trains from central London). They were originally home to two estates – Kew Estate and Richmond Estate – which were combined to form the Royal Botanic Gardens.

The formal gardens are, of course, a major attraction, each specially planted and themed. They include the Azalea Garden, the walled Duke’s Garden, the grandly-named Palm House Partierre, the Queen’s Garden, the Rock Garden, plus the Plant Family Beds and Rose Pergola.

Aside from the gardens, there are many other attractions to enjoy. In particular, make sure to look out for the Henry Moore Sculpture, the Japanese Gateway, the Pagoda (this 50 metre high octagonal structure dates back to 1762), of course Kew Palace and the Royal Kitchens.

You can enjoy good food – plus a drink or two – here too, in one of Kew Gardens’ dining spots – the Orangery restaurant, Pavilion restaurant, Victoria Plaza café and White Peaks café.

And if you’re after more than a jaunt around the gardens, Kew also hosts a number of special events, throughout the year.

Naturally, there are events focusing on plants and flowers, but if an open-air concert and picnic is more your scene, it’s worth checking out Kew The Music. This festival takes place every July and is now in its sixth year. The line-up for the 2015 festival includes Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra (July 10th), Caro Emerald (July 8th), UB40 featuring Ali-Astro-Mickey (July 11th) and The Specials (July 12th). Tickets for each are priced around £45.

And if you prefer movies to music, keep an eye out for Kew The Movies, which sees Kew Gardens turn into an outdoor cinema for one weekend.

Kew Gardens is open every day at 9.30am, aside from Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Closing times depend on the time of year, so be sure to check out the official website when planning your visit. Ticket prices also vary, dependent on the season, but range from £9.50 to £15 for adults.