The earth was designed to be explored. No matter where you are, there’s likely a nearby botanical garden ready to remind you of that. But some historically do it better than others. And if you’re a nature enthusiast, your standards are probably pretty high. I’d consider these globally-cherished, award-winning landscapes absolute must-strolls.
Here are the 16 most beautiful botanical gardens on earth.
Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn, New York City
If you’re eager to escape the concrete jungle, you won’t have to go far to commune with nature’s bounty. Wandering through the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, you’ll breeze by thousands of flora varieties around its stunning 52 acres. But springtime is by far the most showstopping season.
During the Sakura Matsuri Festival, 70 flowering trees bloom along the Cherry Esplanade. After that invigorating stroll, head over to more serene spots like the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden. It’s the first Japanese-inspired garden ever built in the United States. And the quintessentially romantic flowers of the Shakespeare Garden should not be overlooked.
Arctic-Alpine Botanical Garden, Tromsø, Norway
The Arctic-Alpine Botanical Garden looks a lot like its name implies but in the most uniquely stunning of ways. For those looking to explore the natural world as it finds impressive and interesting ways to survive and thrive in adverse conditions, this is the garden for you.
In spring, vibrant and hardy desert flowers burst in nature-made bouquets from cracks and cliffs. As the seasons change, the Arctic’s ecology continues to evolve. By the time summer arrives, it’s a whole new world with surprise bursts of flora around every turn.
Atlanta Botanical Garden, Atlanta, Georgia
Botanical gardens all over the south have their own special brand of natural southern charm. But the masterful artistry of the Atlanta Botanical Garden keeps it a cut above the rest.
Take a 600-foot-long canopy stroll beneath the majestic oaks, the hickories, and poplars trees. Breathe in the bushels of native azaleas, camellias, hydrangeas, and perennials. But don’t overlook the orchid center. It boasts the largest collection of orchid species on permanent display in the United States.
Singapore Botanic Garden, Singapore
This almost 200-year-old botanical garden is the only tropical garden listed as a UNESCO world heritage site. It’s also an orchid lovers’ paradise, with upward of 20,000 types of orchids all adorning the well-kept grounds.
The Singapore Botanic Garden is 183-acres of fauna and flora fun for everyone. There’s a children’s garden, an evolution garden, a ginger garden, a rainforest, and the occasional monkey sighting when you least expect it.
Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix
The desert landscape is a wild and wondrous place that rarely gets credit for just how beautiful of a natural wonder it really is. At the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, they take showing off all the desert has to offer seriously.
Focusing solely on desert plants, all 145 acres of this botanical garden are devoted to showcasing more than 50,000 plants, including one of the largest collections of cacti on earth. While you’ll get way more than what you came for year-round, the annual butterfly exhibit and wildflower blooms kick off the spring.
Royal Botanical Gardens, Sydney, Australia
The Royal Botanical Gardens are perched on the perfect Sydney Harbour locale and wear a very notable crown. Opened in 1816, this gorgeous garden is the oldest scientific institution in Australia.
This flower-loving hotspot has been collecting exotic plants from all over the world since they opened their gates way back when. And today, there’s truly nowhere quite like it.
Jardim Botânico, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
At Rio’s Jardim Botânico, you’ll be surrounded by 6,500 species of plants. Founded in 1808 by King John VI of Portugal, this 140-hectare garden was initially intended to acclimatize spices from the West Indies before exportation to Europe.
Opened to the public in 1822, it remains one of the most significant botanical research sites in Brazil and one of the most magnificent in existence, especially for avid birdwatchers.
Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, England
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Royal Botanical Gardens is now believed to be home to the world’s largest collection of plants. Founded in 1840, over 30,000 plants varieties call its glorious grounds home.
It boasts one of the largest herbariums and special libraries of any garden, housing important texts by famous botanists like Joseph Banks. There’s also a Water Lily House, a Temperate House, a Palm House, and a must-see Conservatory.
San Francisco Botanical Garden, San Francisco, California
Each distinct time of year offers its own special San Francisco Botanical Garden experience. For instance, magnolias are the main event from mid-January through March, where 100 rare magnolias emerge in pink and white hues.
Located in Golden Gate Park, the expansive grounds allow you to feast your eyes on all sorts of rare flowers, trees, and plants from across the globe, including some of the most coveted cloud forest plants rounded up in one collection.
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, Cape Town, South Africa
Against the jaw-dropping backdrop of Cape Town’s Table Mountain, the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden is like no garden you’ve ever been to. The first to be listed as a UNESCO world heritage site, it’s set itself apart in a number of ways. For instance, it’s the world’s only site of its kind to cultivate indigenous plants.
One of its most recognizable details was built during the centenary of the park’s founding in 1913. Inspired by a snake skeleton and nicknamed the “The Boomslang” (tree snake) by locals, The Centenary Tree Canopy Walkway was built in celebration. Today, the curved steel and timber bridge weaves its way around the evergrowing trees of the Arboretum.
Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden, Florida
Florida’s climate allows lush, year-round opportunities for plants to thrive and reach epic proportions. Nestled near Miami, you’ll find the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, home to exotic and beautifully flowering fruit species like mangosteens, cacao, and vanilla orchids.
This 83-acre garden also is a hit with the locals and tourists for its bountiful butterfly conservatory, showcasing almost 3,000 butterflies. Once a year, guests can watch them hatch and be released.
Read More: America’s Most Beautiful Butterfly Gardens
Montreal Botanical Garden, Canada
Founded in 1931, the Jardin Botanique de Montréal is an otherworldly oasis smack-dab in the heart of the city. Versatile and vibrant in plant varieties and art installations, it’s also big on the distinctive magic.
For example, the Chinese Garden is a perfectly pristine collection of bonsai and penjing. The Japanese Garden is brimming in only Japanese plants and details. And the First Nations Garden is populated by Canadian plants.
Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, Missouri
If you’re planning to attend a major event in St. Louis, there’s a solid chance it’s being held at the Missouri Botanical Garden. While home to a plethora of annual events, this 79-acre, picturesque garden stands out from the crowd by itself.
In addition to its applause-worthy 14-acre Japanese garden, it’s rooted deeply in local history. Founder Henry Shaw originally called its 1850 estate home. Also taking up residence are the world’s largest collections of rare and endangered orchids.
Nongnooch Tropical Botanical Garden, Thailand
On 500 hilly acres and dipping valleys behind Pattaya, the Nongnooch botanical garden exists primarily thanks to Mrs. Nongnooch. Inspired by other globally-celebrated gardens, she transformed her fruit orchard into a tropical garden of ornamental flowers and geometrically-plotted plants.
The fruits of her labor were opened to the public in 1980. It’s remained one of the region’s most beloved attractions ever since. It’s a stunning display of the natural world’s collisions with the built world, with Thai architecture intermingling with various style gardens, most of which are European. There’s a classic French Garden, various tropical valley playgrounds, an orchid garden, and even a newly added Dinosaur Valley, which is home to life-size replicas of the prehistoric wonders.
Jardin Majorelle, Marrakech, Morocco
An art lover’s paradise, this garden is recognized most immediately by its Moroccan blue and all-around vibrancy. Purchased as the personal garden of Jacques Majorelle in the 1920s, the famed French painter turned designing the garden into his life’s work.
Sixty years later, fashion designer Yves Saint-Laurent and his partner took over this plant-filled passion project. In addition to the rare cacti collection and more than 15 bird species from North Africa, you can ogle the très chic exhibition of YSL’s collection of regional fabrics and textiles from North Africa.
Fondation Monet, Giverny, France
In a case of life-inspiring art, the father of impressionism’s home garden gave birth to his iconic water lily paintings. The unforgettable pond and the eye-popping, peony, cherry blossom, and poppy-filled gardens can all be found here. Today, a not-for-profit foundation keeps the gram-worthy grounds pruned, preserved, and feeling like Monet’s home (which is also well-preserved.)
It’s the only one on this list that’s not technically a botanical garden, but those who visit can tell you; it’s undoubtedly a work of art. Take the Japanese-inspired water garden, for example. Shaped by Monet, local legend has it that he redirected a local stream and planted wisteria to create the dreamy mood he was after.