Europe, London

5 highlights from our visit to Kew Gardens

When my parents came to visit me in London, Kew Gardens was one of the first places I took them to. Despite living in London for four years I’d never visited Kew Gardens during daylight hours, having only previously attended for the Christmas at Kew event after dark. Located all the way at the end of the District line, getting to Kew Gardens is a bit of a trek to get to but it’s well worth the journey.

With the gardens covering over 326 acres it’s impossible to see everything in a single day but here are five highlights from our visit that I think shouldn’t be missed:

Palm House

This greenhouse is one of the most iconic buildings in Kew Gardens and specialises in growing palm trees and other tropical plants.

The house mimics the conditions of a tropical rainforest and visitors are able to climb up a spiral staircase to a walkway and view the plants from above.

The Hive

The Hive is a new installation at Kews Gardens designed by UK based artist Wolfgang Buttress. It tells the story of the honey bee and the role of pollination in feeding the planet, through an immersive sound and visual experience.

The Hive was constructed from thousands of pieces of aluminium which catch the changing sunlight. LED lights are dotted around its core which glow and fade, while a unique soundtrack hums in response to the activity of real bees in an actual hive at Kew.

Treetop Walkway

The 18-metre high, 200-metre walkway gives visitors a bird’s eye view of some of the park’s oldest and tallest trees. It was designed by Marks Barfield Architects, who also designed the London Eye.

Princess of Wales Conservatory

This conservatory houses ten computer-controlled micro-climatic zones, allowing it to be home to a collection of rare and diverse plants. There are two main climatic zones: the dry tropics, which represent the world’s warm arid areas, and the wet tropics, featuring plants which feed on moisture from rainforests and mangrove swamps.

The conservatory is named after Princess Augusta who was Princess of Wales from 1736 until 1751. She was instrumental in founding the botanic gardens at Kew. It was opened by Diana, Princess of Wales in 1987.

Kew Palace

Kew Palace was once the favourite family home of King George III and his wife, Queen Charlotte. It is located within the grounds of Kew Gardens and is open to the public during the spring and summer months.

Entrance to the palace is included with your Kew Gardens ticket but they restrict the number of people entering the palace at one time, so there may be a bit of a wait at busy times.

Visitor information

  • Kew Gardens is open daily except for 24th and 25th December. The gates open at 10am all year round but closing times vary depending on the season. Kew Palace and Royal Kitchens are closed during winter.
  • Admission price is £15 for an adult at the gate, you can save £1 if you pre-book your ticket online.
  • If you plan on visiting Kew Gardens a few times a year you might consider signing up for a membership. This gives you free entry to Kew Gardens and Wakehurst for a year, as well as discounts in Kew’s shops.

Have you visited Kew Gardens before? What was your favourite attraction?

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