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Kew Gardens - All About the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew

Kew Gardens, situated in London, stands as a horticultural masterpiece, spanning 300 acres of diverse landscapes. Home to over 50,000 plant species, its iconic attractions include the Palm House, a Victorian g...

Founded On

1759

Founded By

Sir William Chambers

Kew GardensKew Garden

Quick information

RECOMMENDED DURATION

4 hours

VISITORS PER YEAR

2000000

NUMBER OF ENTRANCES

5

EXPECTED WAIT TIME - STANDARD

30-60 mins (Peak), 0-30 mins (Off Peak)

UNESCO YEAR

2003

Did you know?

Kew Gardens began as a private royal garden in the 18th century. It was initially created by Princess Augusta, the mother of King George III, as a retreat from the pressures of court life.

Kew Gardens was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003 in recognition of its historic landscape and scientific importance.

One of the highlights of Kew Gardens is the Rhizotron and Xstrata Treetop Walkway, a raised walkway that allows visitors to explore the canopy of the trees and offers stunning views of the gardens.




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Royal Botanic Gardens: FAQs

Q. What is the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew?

A. Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew is one of the oldest and most extensive botanical gardens in the world.

Q. Are there any activities for children to do inside Royal Botanic Gardens?

A. Yes, there are activities for children to enjoy here. A few of them are Children’s Quiet Garden Sessions, Little Explorers, and The Little Gardener.

Q. How long does it take to cover Royal Botanic Gardens?

A. With so many things to explore in the Royal Botanic Gardens, you need at least a day chalked out.

Q. What are some of the top things to see at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew?

A. Some of the top things to see here include, The Hive, Japanese Landscape, Lake and Slacker Crossing, Rose Garden, and Kew Garden Cinema.

Q. Are there any Kew Garden parking facilities available?

A. Parking costs £7 per day in Kew Garden and is on a first come first serve basis. Know more about Kew Gardens parking facilities.

Q. Are there any dining options at Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew?

A. Yes, there are five cafes and restaurants here at the Royal Botanic Gardens.

Q. Can I carry outside food or beverage to Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew?

A. Yes, you can carry your own picnic and have designated spots inside the garden.

Q. Where are the Kew Gardens shops located?

A. Kew Gardens shops are located near Victoria Plaza, Children’s Garden, New Pavilion Building, and Victoria Gate. There is an online portal for the shops as well.

History of Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew

The origins of Kew Gardens can be traced back to as early as the 16th century when it was a privately owned garden. The site was acquired by the prince and princess of Wales in 1731, and both of them established it as a garden for exotic plants in 1759. The garden expanded over the years to accommodate specimens from all over the world as it was passed down to Sir Joseph Banks in 1772, a British naturalist. Finally, under William Hooker and his son in 1841, the Kew Gardens became a centre for scientific research and the international exchange of plant specimens. Under them, in 1840, the gardens were conveyed to the nation and expanded to the present size of 300 acres by the early 19th century.

In July 2003 the Kew Gardens was officially inscribed as a UNESCO world heritage site, making it one of the most famous tourist spots in London. Today it continues on its pledge to build a world where nature is protected, valued, and managed sustainably. In March 2021 it will launch a 10-year strategy to carry out this pledge and to protect plants and fungi for the future of life on Earth.

Explore Royal Botanic Gardens

Find out all about Kew Gardens opening times before visiting the venue.

1. Plant Houses

Alpine House

Davies Alpine House

Davies Alpines are hardy trees, able to grow in higher than normal altitudes. The Alpine greenhouse harbors small ferns, lavenders, tulips, and other Alpine species and displays them when they are in full bloom.

Palm House

Palm House

This is a magnificent indoor rainforest that harbours tropical plants from some of the most threatening environments from all over the world. The Kew scientists rely on this collection of plants for medical research and research on sustainable cropping.

Princess of Wales Conservatory

Princess of Wales Conservatory

This greenhouse brings the different climates and wilderness of the world inside one building. You can stroll about the different zones with drinks and canapes from the reception.

Temperate House

Temperate House

It is the world’s largest Victorian glasshouse home to 10,000 species of plants from the temperate zones. It is an iconic venue for events, with a sea-gazing balcony and elegant green surroundings.

Waterlily House

Waterlily House

This is a small, square greenhouse originally made to display the giant Amazon Lily, a natural wonder. Today, it displays colorful water lilies, ferns, papyrus, and hanging gourds in the tropical area of Kew Gardens.

Evolution House

Evolution House

The house was gifted to the crown by the Australian Government. It has a collection of plants by Captain McEachern from the dry climates of southwest Australia.

Bonsai House

Bonsai House

Inspired by the Bonsai Japanese art form, this section includes miniature specimens of temperate woody trees and shrubs.

2. Ornamental Buildings & Palace

Great Pagoda

Great Pagoda

This Japanese architecture-inspired multistoried building provides a birds-eye view of London. This unique building is a testament to British craftsmanship, as it has been standing for over 250 years.

Japanese Gateway (Chokushi-Mon)

Japanese Gateway (Chokushi-Mon)

Chokushi-Mon is a smaller replica of the gateway of the Nishi-Hogan-Ji temple in Kyoto. It was built for the Japan-British Exhibition in 1910 and is surrounded by Japanese gardens.

Queen Charlotte's Cottage

Queen Charlotte's Cottage

Within the conservation area lies the cottage built for Queen Charlotte by her husband George Ⅲ in 1771. It is restored and opens to the public on weekends and bank holidays in the summers. Located opposite the Kew Palace, the cottage is over 300 years old.  

King William's Temple

King William's Temple

In the center of the Mediterranean Garden stands King William's Temple, built in 1837 for Queen Victoria, in memory of William Ⅳ.

Temple of Aeolus

Temple of Aeolus

It was first built in the 1760s for the Greek god of winds. The version today was rebuilt in stone in 1845 and is a serene quiet place, perfect for reflection.

Temple of Arethusa

Temple of Arethusa

This structure was built as a folly for Princess Augusta in 1758. Later it was requisitioned into war service and unveiled as the home of War Memorial, commemorating the lost lives of Kewites in World War Ⅰ.

Temple of Bellona

Temple of Bellona

Situated adjacent to Victoria Plaza, this temple is named after the ancient goddess of war. On the walls of the oval room inside are garlands and medallions commemorating the units connected with the Seven Years’ War.

Kew Palace

Kew Palace

This little palace stands as the smallest of the British royal palaces. It was built by a Duch merchant around 1631 and has a distinctly Dutch appearance. Behind the Palace, we have the Queen’s garden, with medicinal plants, and in front of it is a 17th-century replica of a sun-dial.

3. Galleries and Museums

Shirley Sherwood Gallery

Shirley Sherwood Gallery

 This botanical gallery opened in 2008 and holds paintings from Kew’s artists such as Georg D. Ehret, the Bauer brothers, Pierre-Joseph Redouté, and Walter Hood Fitch.

Museum No. 1

Museum No. 1

It was opened in 1857 and showcases using tools, ornaments, clothing, food, and medicines, the dependence of humans on plants. The upper two floors are now botany education centers and the ground floor a restaurant.

Marianne North Gallery

Marianne North Gallery

This gallery housed the paintings of Marianne North in the 1880s. Even after structural degradation and reconstruction over years, it is the only permanent exhibit in Britain dedicated to the work of a woman.

Royal Botanic Gardens: Art, Science & Entertainment

In an effort to work on their aim of giving back to the environment, Kew Gardens strives to engage and educate the visitors on how essential it is to protect nature. There are events and education drives that are held to do exactly that. Here are some of the things you can expect from Kew Gardens.

Children’s Garden

Children’s Garden

Indulge your child in this fun and interactive adventure which teaches them everything that a plant needs to grow. This program is specially made for children between the ages of 2-12 years. Activities include a treasure hunt for the hidden treasures amidst the 100 mature in the Children’s Garden area, which then lead to a canopy walk around a 200-year oak tree!

Kew Science & Learning

Kew Science & Learning

One of the most important facets of The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew is its relentless research into understanding nature and how to preserve it. They extend opportunities for internships and PhDs, have collaborated with over 400 institutions, and enable visitors to take a peek into their research. All this and more is done to ensure their end goal of a sustainable environment.

Kew Gardens Cinemas & Events

Kew Gardens Cinemas & Events

Enjoy classic movies like, Back to the Future, Dirty Dancing, and more in the serene surroundings of the garden. You can also explore the plethora of activities hosted by the Kew Gardens, where there is something for every age group to do. Some of these include Richmond Runfest, Summer Cycle, and even Ti Chi sessions.

Shopping & Dining
Installations & Walkways

Installations & Walkways

The most stunning installation in the Kew Gardens is The Hive. It is a 1,000 LED light-clad structure that recreates the life inside a beehive. You will also find two walkways in the park. The Treetop walkway, 18 meters above ground, from where you can explore Kew’s trees, and Lake and Sackler Crossing, a serene walkway amidst a lake surrounded by wilderness.

Royal Botanic Gardens Facts 

  • Kew Gardens is plural because King George III inherited and joined the estate with his royal estate in Richmond. Thus, these two gardens became one.
  • Queen Charlotte’s cottage harbored exotic animals such as Kangaroos and Tartarian pheasants in the 1790s.
  • The Tea Pavillion suffered a literal blow when suffragettes attacked the glasshouse in protest!
  • The Kew Gardens have been plane-crash sites not once, but twice. The first in 1928 and second in 1938; neither resulted in casualties.
  • Kew Gardens had its own police force called The Royal Botanic Gardens Constabulary, formed in 1845. It also had its own fire service.
  • The Great Pagoda doubled as a secret place for testing the aerodynamics of bombs during the Second World War!
  • There is a time capsule buried in the Gardens with the seeds of important food crops and several endangered species. Sir David Attenborough had buried this and it will open in 2085 when these species are rare or extinct.

Learn all about how to reach Kew before visiting the Royal Botanic Gardens.