Visiting Europe’s Most Beautiful Gardens by Train

Whether you’re a gardening enthusiast or simply a nature lover, Europe has many beautiful gardens to explore. Here are 10 that stand out.

Keukenhof, Lisse – The garden is open 8 weeks a season and features 7 million spring-flowering bulbs including every variety of tulip. This is one of the best-known gardens in Europe and is a must-see on any trip to Holland.

1. Tivoli Gardens

One of the world’s most famous pleasure gardens is Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens, a classic amusement park that opened in 1843 and is the second oldest in the world. In fact, Tivoli is an exemplar of what the term “pleasure garden” was originally intended to be – a multi-layered hub of social life, with cafes, restaurants, open-air theatres and amusement park rides scattered throughout the beautiful flower gardens.

The park also houses several rough themed lands and rides, including the oldest wooden roller coaster in the world as well as the terrifying Vertigo, which takes you on a looping plane ride at high speeds. Tivoli is also known for its evocative architecture, including its iconic glass hall theater and beautiful pavilions.

Visitors can also enjoy the many rides that aren’t geared towards thrill seekers, as well as the lush garden walks and exotic architecture. The park is a major attraction in Copenhagen and can be busy during peak times, so it’s best to visit early or late in the day. It opens in April through September, from mid-October to around November for the Halloween season and December for Christmas.

2. Peterhof

Often called the Russian Versailies, Peterhof is a jaw-dropping garden and fountain extravaganza that’s a must for visitors to St. Petersburg. Its palace ensemble, Upper and Lower Gardens, and grottoes are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Tsar Peter the Great was inspired by his visit to Versailles to create a similar imperial summer residence in Russia. He brought in French landscape architect, Alexander Le Blond to design the magnificent Peterhof estate that includes a unique set of parks, palaces and fountains.

Peterhof’s highlight is the Grand Cascade, a gilded spectacle of water with 255 golden statues and bas-reliefs. The centerpiece is Samson tearing open a lion’s mouth. It was looted by the Germans during World War II, but a replica was installed in 1947.

Visitors can also stroll the grounds to enjoy a wide variety of formal and playful fountains. The complex also contains several palatial palaces, including the Grand Palace, which links the Upper and Lower Gardens in a single architectural entity. Other noteworthy landmarks include the Chessboard Hill, which is decorated with three chessboard-patterned hills and fountains; and the symmetrical Fountain of Adam and Eve, featuring Italian marble statues representing the progenitors of humankind.

3. Keukenhof

Located in Lisse, Keukenhof is the world’s largest flower garden and features tulips along with many other flowers and plant species. The gardens are open from late March to mid-May, and attract 1.5 million visitors per year.

It is recommended to purchase tickets online in advance of your visit. This will save you time and allows you to skip the ticket lines when arriving at Keukenhof. It is also recommended to arrive at Keukenhof early in the day. This will ensure that you can experience the park at its most tranquil and allow you to capture stunning photos without any crowds.

Aside from the tulips, Keukenhof is home to a huge hedge maze and several sculptures. One of the more unique features is a pathway that looks like you are walking on water. The path is made up of a series of fake ‘lily pads’ that sit below the surface of a large lake at Keukenhof.

Keukenhof is located in the Netherlands’ flower-growing region, known as the Bollenstreek, and is a popular way to see tulips and other flowers in their natural environment. Guests can also tour nearby flower farms to see the fields and learn about how tulips are grown.

4. Kew Gardens

The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Kew Gardens is more than just a gorgeous public park; it’s also an important center for botanical research. This is one of the best places to see the diversity of plants on earth, whether you’re just learning how to tell a quiver tree from an alang-alang or are a seasoned horticulturalist. With its dazzling array of Victorian glasshouses, landscapers and architect follies, the botanical gardens offer something for every kind of visitor.

Among the most significant structures in the gardens are the Great Pagoda (1762) and the Temperate House (1836). The gardens’ founder, Princess Augusta, was a serious collector and worked closely with botanists to build many of the garden’s landscape and architectural features. For instance, she commissioned Sir William Chambers to design the Orangery and other landmark buildings including the Great Pagoda. The gardens are especially beautiful in spring (April to May) when they burst into bloom and during autumn when they display their dazzling foliage colors. At other times of the year, you can visit the tropics in Kew’s conservatories or take in a stunning flower show at the Palm House.

5. Gardens of Versailles

The magnificent gardens of Versailles, including a vast woodland park, occupy an area of around 8,000 hectares. The two formal French gardens and the Grand and Petit Trianon estate are a feast for visitors and were designed by the greatest landscape architect of his time, Andre Le Notre.

The Grande Perspective, a unique east-west vista developed by Le Notre, is one of the gardens’ most impressive features. From the terrace adorned with statues and ornamental basins, you can look out on the vast green lawn of the Royal Walk that stretches westward toward Latona Fountain.

Among the gardens’ many other highlights are the Grooves, secluded salons of greenery that serve as settings for court entertainment. The gardens feature 14 of them, all designed in a variety of styles. To make the most of your visit, consider taking a guided tour with fast-track entry to skip the long queues. A Versailles Palace & Gardens Passport ticket with an audio guide (available online or at the Versailles entrance) offers access to the grounds, the Grand and Petit Trianons and Marie Antoinette’s Estate. You can also upgrade your ticket to include Musical Gardens and Musical Fountain shows on the days that they are held.

6. Gardens of Giverny

Located an hour and a world away from Paris, Giverny is the garden that Claude Monet made famous. The small picturesque village in Normandy whisks you away to a dreamscape of water lilies and Belle Epoque nostalgia.

In 1893, ten years after moving to Giverny, Monet bought the land across the road from his house and had the first small pond dug. Even though his peasant neighbors opposed him, Monet had the pond built to resemble the Japanese gardens he knew from the prints that he collected.

Today the gardens feature over 100,000 perennials, irises, and rhododendrons, and are laid out in color themed borders. There are also tulips, roses, and Oriental poppies in season, with nasturtiums and peonies blanketing the walkways.

You can visit the house and gardens on your own, but it’s a lot easier to book a guided tour. You’ll meet at a designated meeting spot in Paris and the tour organizer handles everything else, including transportation to and from Giverny, your tickets to the gardens, and priority entry through a gate that’s only open for tours.

7. Gardens of Claude Monet

The Gardens of Claude Monet at Giverny aren’t just a tourist attraction—they’re an essential part of France’s cultural heritage. The gardens are a wonderland that inspires the imagination and transports you to a world of vibrant colors, lush landscapes, and serene water features.

Monet’s garden was a constant source of inspiration for the Impressionist painter, and he worked hard to cultivate it into the vision that would become his legacy. His efforts paid off, as the gardens capture the light and beauty that he captured in his paintings.

Visitors can stroll through the Clos Normand flower garden and visit the iconic water lily pond, complete with dramatic willows and wisteria-covered bridges. In the water garden, visitors can see how Monet used light to create the unique interplay of color and shadow that he is so famous for. The garden also has a museum that showcases Monet’s paintings and the evolution of his style. Those who want to take a break from the gardens can visit a 12th-century church in the town of Vernon, situated around 10 km away from the gardens.

8. Luxembourg Gardens

Amid Paris’s busy streets, the Luxembourg Gardens act as the city’s “lungs,” offering a calm respite of flowers and greenery. This garden is very popular with both locals and visitors alike, especially for its wide variety of activities. Kids can enjoy a playground, pony rides and puppet shows; adults can jog or play tennis.

The park also hosts a variety of sculptural art, including the modern replica of the Statue of Liberty and 106 statues. Those interested in flowers will find roses, orchids and a garden of citrus trees – some of which are 250 to 300 years old. There are also greenhouses, an apiary, a garden of fragrant plants and the Medici Fountain.

Perhaps the most iconic aspect of Luxembourg Gardens is its moveable seating. This simple concept allows visitors to relax and linger, making it one of the most beloved public spaces in all of Europe. The chairs are a great example of how a small design detail can make a space feel more welcoming and livable for all.

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