Escaping crowds by visiting botanical gardens

When I travel and want to avoid crowds, I always try to find a botanical garden. Botanical gardens are usually an oasis of calmness in the middle of a busy environment. There is lots of beautiful to enjoy. These gardens have collections of precious and peculiar plants, trees and flowers. In my experience  “of : in my imagination “ a stay in a botanical garden is close to a stay in paradise.

Most botanical gardens are historically connected to a university. They are founded to support those universities’ research and education. That was also the case for the oldest botanical garden in the world: Orto Botanica di Pisa which was founded in 1544. Nowadays, most of these gardens have many more functions. In a world of environmental change, these gardens protect special plants from becoming extinct.

Henk Schrama's botanical gardens

My father, Henk Schrama, has traveled around the world for over 50 years. Through a series of blogs he now shares one of his ways to beat the crowds: visiting the world’s most beautiful Botanical Gardens. 

History of botanical gardens

Many botanical gardens also serve an educational purpose. The gardens are open for the general public who can learn about the many precious flora. This is also the case for the oldest botanical garden in my home town in the Netherlands. Founded in 1590, the botanical garden of Leiden, has been open to the general public since its foundation. It is also the foundation of my love and passion for botanical gardens. I started visiting the gardens as a child and have been continuing those visits the rest of my life.

In most cases you can visit botanical gardens four seasons per year. While you can walk outside during the summer, most gardens are winter proof as they are home to massive tropical greenhouses. These greenhouses are usually beautifully designed and host many special flower collections. Most of them are truly palaces of glass.

What to expect?

Where to visit my favourite gardens

You can visit botanical gardens around the world. Globally there are several hundreds of botanical gardens and about 800 are connected to Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI). No matter where I go, I always research whether there is a garden to visit. My first website to visit is www.bgci.org. BGCI offers a global database of all connected gardens and allows you to filter for city and even type of plants. The database also has basic information such as opening hours “and a direct link to the website of most gardens.

Another useful website is www.garden.visit.com as well as Wikipedia. To make my choice whether I want to visit a garden, my first criteria is to see whether the collection of plants is attractive enough. My second criteria: is it truly the oasis of peacefulness that I am looking for.

Additionally, there are some practical requirements. The location of the gardens is of vital importance. The gardens that I visit needs “ meervoud:  need “to be centrally located and must be easily reachable by public transportation. And, as a Dutchman, who cares about his wallet, the entry price needs to be attractive as well. As some gardens don’t allow you to make photos or consume your own food or drinks, I need “ liever : want “to know that too. In addition, I research how many benches to sit on.

Your visit during the pandemic

I have visited many botanical gardens in my life. Now I want to take you on my journey to my favourite gardens around the world. Even during the COVID-19 crisis, there are many gardens we can still visit. You have to do some research. Many gardens have put protective measures in place. You for example need to buy online tickets that could have a set timeslot. At some gardens there are also mandatory walking routes and mandatory social distancing rules. All these rules have been put in place to make our visits safe even during these challenging days. In my experience, visiting my beloved botanical gardens have helped me through COVID.

The first garden on my list is the botanical garden of Leiden. This garden lies in the heart of my hometown. The garden, which is part of the University of Leiden, is the oldest botanical garden of Western Europe and home to a very special collection of plants.

Leiden Botanical Garden

Botanical Garden, Paris, France

Located in Paris’ 5th arrondisement, the botanical gardens offer the perfect attraction to get away from the crowds. I have visited these gardens on many of my trips to the French capital. Especially during spring and summer these botanical gardens are the perfect escape for a hot and busy Paris day. 

Paris Botanical Garden

In the heart of Sri Lanka, lies Kandy. This botanical garden is one of the most beautiful garden that I have ever seen. The garden lies next to a rapidly flowing river and is incredibly large. The botanical garden is home to beautiful trees, plants as well as monkeys and snakes.

Botanical Garden Kandy

Marimurtra Botanical Garden, Blanes, Spain (coming soon)

One of the most beuatiful botanical gardens lies just north of Barcelona in a costal town called Blanes. This extensive garden lies directly at the Mediterranean Sea which you can see throughout your visit to the garden. The perfect excape from the craziness in Barcelona.

Botanical Garden Blanes Costa Brava

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