When spring approaches, our thoughts turn to gardens.
We love visiting gorgeous gardens on our travels.
And we’ve been fortunate to stroll through some fabulous examples of the great gardens of the world, including in England, Hawaii, France, Mexico and South Africa.
So today, we spread our wings to bring you 23 of the most beautiful gardens in the world.
Most beautiful gardens in the world
Note that the following gardens aren’t covered in any particular order. We’ve grouped them by country or continent only.
Most beautiful gardens in Europe
1) Claude Monet’s Garden
Just a quick train ride away from Paris, you’ll find some of the possibly most famous gardens in the world.
These are the romantic gardens that feature in the glorious paintings of Claude Monet.
And like his paintings, Claude Monet’s gardens at his home in Giverny, France, aren’t “manicured” or contained. Rather, they flow like brushstrokes in a profusion of textures and color.
There are two parts to the Monet Gardens – a flower garden in front of his pink house and the famous Japanese-inspired water gardens across the road.
(Try not to visit on a holiday weekend, however. We had to contend with loads of other keen visitors – the garden was truly packed!)
Monet Gardens: Website
2) Gardens of Versailles
These formal gardens in France boast some 600 fountains, 370+ statues, 55 water features, 21 miles of canals and hundreds of acres of flower beds.
It’s impossible not to be dazzled by the stunning gardens of the Palace of Versailles! This is formal French-style gardening at its best.
Created by King Louis XIV, the “Sun King,” the Versailles Gardens took 40 years to complete.
Perhaps the world’s largest flower garden, Keukenhof is located in Lisse, Holland. It’s celebrated for its hyacinths, tulips, crocuses, daffodils and other spring flowers.
More than 7 million flower bulbs are planted every year!
The Keukenhof Gardens are only open for two months of the year, from the end of March to mid-May, and they’re hugely popular. To avoid the crowds, plan your visit for the late afternoon.
4) Generalife Garden
You’ve no doubt heard of the Alhambra in Granada, Spain?
This Moorish fortress complex was the summer palace of the Nasrid dynasty. The Nasrid sultans ruled Granada for more than 200 years from 1230 to 1492.
Well, here at the Alhambra, you’ll find one of the world’s best gardens, the Generalife.
Generalife means “garden of paradise” or “garden of feasts.”
And it’s perhaps the most charming part of the former sultans’ palatial estate, thanks to its water garden courtyard (with a long pool framed by flowerbeds and gorgeous archways), fountains, pebbled walkways, groves of orange trees, colonnades and pavilions.
5) Villa d’Este Gardens (Tivoli Gardens)
Villa d’Este is a sumptuous 16th century mansion in Tivoli, about an hour outside of Rome. It’s home to a breathtaking Italian Renaissance garden.
And oh, these terraced hillside gardens – one of the best gardens in Italy – are magical!
Sculptures of frolicking nymphs, along with more than 500 fountains, catch the eye.
The most marvelous water feature is the Fountain of the Organ, complete with a 1571 water organ installed inside that trumpets and plays Renaissance music.
It’s little wonder that the villa and gardens are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Another one of the most beautiful gardens of the world, the Villa d’Este Gardens are definitely a contender for the top spot!
Villa d’Este (Tivoli Gardens): Website
6) Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild Gardens
On the French Riviera, the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild is a palace set amidst nine enchanting themed gardens.
Once the home of Baroness Beatrice de Rothschild, the pink palace was built in Italian Renaissance style.
Tour the apartments, and your jaw will drop when you see the salons with rare antiques, gold-rimmed Sèvre porcelain, tapestries and paintings by Fragonard, Caravaggio and other Old World masters.
As for the gardens, you’ll find possibly the most beautiful rose garden in the world.
It features more than 100 varieties of roses, with fragrant blooms in every color imaginable.
The other gardens include the Florentine Garden, Japanese Garden and Spanish Garden.
Breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea serve as a dramatic backdrop.
Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild Gardens: Website
Beautiful English gardens
7) Kew Royal Botanic Gardens
Founded in 1840 by Princess Augusta, Kew Gardens in southwest London are the most famous English gardens – and definitely one of the most beautiful botanical gardens on earth.
The site is home to the world’s largest collection of living plants. And like some of the other gardens on our list, it’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Spend the day exploring the enormous Victorian glasshouses and wandering the miles of paths leading to rose gardens, one of the world’s largest herbariums, a tranquil Japanese Garden (with stone lanterns and a dripping water basin) and more.
You’ll also find Palm House, where many rare palms and other tropical plants are grown – some now extinct in the wild.
Kew Gardens: Website
8) Alnwick Garden
Once part of the estate of Alnwick Castle, these spectacular gardens date back to 1750. They’re located in Northumberland, England.
Reinvented by the current Duchess of Northumberland, they are today a source of inspiration for all lovers of gardens.
Delight in water sculptures that bring science to life, quirky antique furniture in the country garden, one of the world’s largest treehouses (the lunch restaurant), a cherry orchid, the vegetable garden and the popular bamboo maze.
Beautiful gardens in Canada
9) Butchart Gardens
On Vancouver Island in western Canada, Victoria is dubbed the “City of Gardens” (it’s where we live).
Victoria’s most famous gardens are the Butchart Gardens.
They were created by Jennie Butchart, the wife of a wealthy miner, who wanted to beautify a limestone quarry.
And so, in 1912, she started turning the abandoned pit into a garden.
Today, the family-run gardens include a rose garden (with 2,500 rose bushes), Italian garden (with a flower-studded pond), sunken garden and Japanese garden (with bamboo and fiery Japanese maples).
Butchart Gardens: Website
10) VanDusen Botanical Garden
In the heart of Vancouver, Canada, this 55-acre botanical oasis boasts over 7,500 plant varieties from around the world.
Discover an Elizabethan hedge maze, rose garden, rock garden and other wonderful themed gardens. Artfully arranged pathways take you on a delightful journey through each garden.
By the café, you might even see hummingbirds feeding!
When we lived in Vancouver (before moving to Victoria), we’d take out-of-town visitors to VanDusen.
Needless to say, they loved it. (See our post on Vancouver’s VanDusen Garden.)
So we may be slightly biased. But we think it also deserves a spot on our list of the most beautiful flower gardens in the world.
VanDusen Botanical Garden: Website
Best gardens in the U.S.
11) Allerton and McBryde Gardens
One of our favorite gardens in the world, the Allerton and McBryde Gardens are two side-by-side gardens on the lush “garden isle” of Kauai, Hawaii.
Indeed, visiting them is one of the top things to do in Kauai!
The Allerton Garden, in particular, enchanted us with its whimsical garden “rooms” and fascinating history.
(Jackie Kennedy Onassis loved her visit there – partly because of the garden owners’ collection of ballet slippers!)
12) Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
South Florida is also home to one of the best gardens in the U.S.
The 83-acre Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden was named after plant explorer and botanist David Fairchild. It’s found seven miles from Miami.
It showcases a palm tree collection, a tropical fruit collection and rare tropical plants around the world, like the “Pride of Burma” with its orchid-like pink flowers.
Its butterfly conservatory, with thousands of exotic fluttering butterflies from Central and South America, is especially magical to visit.
You can even watch caterpillars inside chrysalises turn into butterflies.
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden: Website
13) Atlanta Botanical Garden
Do you have a crush on orchids? Well, the orchid conservatory at the Atlanta Botanical Garden will set your heart aflutter.
These gardens, in the center of Atlanta, Georgia, are home to one of the world’s largest collections of orchids.
Shady woodlands, rose gardens, winding trails, sculptures and a 600-foot-long canopy walk also add to the garden’s appeal.
Atlanta Botanical Garden: Website
14) Desert Botanical Garden
If you’re in Phoenix, Arizona, check out this 14-acre desert botanical garden.
It features over 50,000 plants, including many rare and endangered species.
The impressive collection includes cacti, succulents, wildflowers and other desert plants from around the world.
You can view these remarkable plants on five themed trails – each takes you through a different ecosystem.
Desert Botanical Garden: Website
Beautiful gardens in Africa
15) Le Jardin Majorelle
It took French painter Jacques Majorelle 40 years to create these beautiful walled gardens surrounding his villa and Cubist art studio in Marrakech, Morocco.
He created a labyrinth of alleyways that crisscross and planted exotic varieties of plants from around the world.
He also patented the deep cobalt blue color used on the buildings throughout the garden – called “Majorelle Blue.”
In 1980, fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Berge bought the property and restored and added to the gardens.
When Saint Laurent died, his ashes were scattered in the rose garden.
Today, the non-profit Majorelle Garden is open to the public.
It comprises the gardens – complete with burbling fountains, towering palms, crimson bougainvillea and interesting cacti – plus a Berber Museum.
Majorelle Garden: Website
16) Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden
Regarded as one of the best botanical gardens in the world, Kirstenbosch spreads out over 1,300+ acres at the base of Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa.
You’ll find landscaped gardens, along with hiking trails up Table Mountain that wind through natural forest.
Kirstenbosch showcases more than 7,000 native South African species unique to the region – the magnificent King Protea flowers are the crowning glory.
Also popular is the Tree Canopy Walkway (known locally as “The Boomslang” or “tree snake”), where you walk along a raised curved bridge high above the treetops.
Beautiful Asian gardens
Situated in Kanazawa, Japan, the spacious Kenrokuen gardens were once the outer part of Kanazawa Castle.
They were created over two centuries to be the “perfect” garden.
Indeed, the name “Kenrokuen” means the garden containing the six elements of a beautiful garden – spaciousness, tranquility, artificial construction, antique elegance, water features and a magnificent view.
One of the three most beautiful landscaped gardens in Japan, these gardens feature almost 9,000 trees, man-made winding streams, the oldest fountain in Japan and a teahouse built in 1774.
Kenrokuen Garden: Website
18) Singapore Botanic Gardens
Take a walk on the wild side. The Singapore Botanic Gardens are a tropical Eden!
Spreading out over 200+ acres, these world famous gardens are made for walking or jogging in a forest-like setting in the heart of the go-go city of Singapore.
There’s the tropical rainforest. And a ginger garden. And a children’s garden.
We were particularly fascinated by the carnivorous plants.
And we were wowed by the orchid garden with its incredible collection of beautiful orchids in a rainbow of colors.
Singapore Botanic Gardens: Website
19) Nong Nooch Tropical Garden
A blend of Thai landscaping and European-style gardens, these beautiful 500-acre gardens are found in Pattaya, Thailand.
They’re more than just a place to visit. They’re like a theme park, encompassing restaurants, hotels and cultural shows.
See everything from cacti, bonsai, orchid nurseries and a French garden modeled after Versailles.
The Nong Nooch Tropical Botanical Garden is huge, so you might want to rent a bicycle to pedal around.
Nong Nooch: Website
Beautiful gardens in Mexico
20) Vallarta Botanical Gardens
Just 11 miles south of Puerto Vallarta, the Vallarta Botanical Gardens feature more than 3,000 different species of plants.
Registered with Botanic Gardens Conservation International in England, these beautiful natural gardens include roses and orchids, a field of 6,000 blue agaves and a carnivorous plant collection.
You’ll also find a a vast area of tropical forest, woven through with short hiking trails to a river where you can swim.
Walking past tangled vanilla vines, we were amazed by the symphony of birdsong and cicadas and the variety of butterflies flitting about.
Be sure to have lunch on the outdoor deck of the gardens’ La Hacienda de Oro restaurant.
We loved the mojitos, made with basil and mint (picked fresh from the gardens). We also dined on avocado stuffed with shrimp salad and organic wood-oven flatbread – delicious!
It’s delightful to watch all the colorful birds from the deck too.
Getting to the 250-acre preserve, nestled 1,300 feet above sea level in the Sierra Madre Mountains, is part of the fun.
The drive by taxi (or local bus, which is inexpensive and easy to catch) winds along lush mountainous coastline.
21) Floating gardens of Xochimilco
Truly a beautiful place, the floating gardens of Xochimilco are reminiscent of the canals of Venice, or perhaps even Thailand’s floating markets – but with a Mexican Twist.
Made up of a series of waterways about 45 minutes south of downtown Mexico City, Xochimilco means “Place of the Flowers” in Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs.
In wetland areas, the Aztecs built floating gardens called chinampas for growing corn and other food crops.
Weaving sticks together, they created large rafts, which they anchored to the bottom of the lake, then piled weeds and soil on top to form raised garden beds.
On the edges, they planted willow trees so the roots could help contain the beds.
Today, Xochimilco is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And the chinampas are used for growing flowers.
Here, you can float down the canals on a brightly colored flat-bottom boat like a gondola (called a trajinera), which the boat driver propels using a long pole.
As you ride around, you’ll come across other trajineras with food sellers and mariachis to serenade you with music.
Oh, and if you’re looking for other things to do, see our Mexico City itinerary for the best places and attractions to hit if you have three or four days in the city.
Note: Xochimilco is popular with Mexican families on weekends, which can make for a joyous outing. But if you want a quieter experience, visit during the week.
Beautiful gardens in Australia
22) Brisbane Botanic Gardens
For a breath of green life on the edge of Brisbane, step out into these lush subtropical botanic gardens, previously known as “Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens.”
Spreading out over 138 acres, they feature a standout Japanese garden, waterfalls, fern house, arid garden with aloes and succulents, bamboo grove and the largest collection of Australian native rainforest trees in the world.
Don’t miss the new Spotted Gum Trail, a 1.5 mile scenic hike (one way) through eucalyptus forests and across bridges spanning deep ravines.
Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mt Coot-tha: Website
23) Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria
These gardens in Melbourne are home to two sets of gardens: Melbourne Gardens and Cranbourne Gardens.
Dating back to 1846, the inner-city Melbourne Gardens span 94 acres of garden beds, sweeping lawns and lakes blanketed by water lilies.
Among the 8,500 plant species from around the world? Camellias, stunning roses and succulents.
Walking through Fern Gully – an oasis of rainforest – is a highlight.
Set in native bushland, the vast Cranbourne Gardens celebrate Australia’s flora and landscapes. There are walking trails through eucalyptus woodlands, picnic areas and bird lagoons.
Chances are excellent you’ll see lots of cute wallabies!
Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria: Website
That wraps up our list of the prettiest gardens in the world!
So there you go – an introduction to some of the best gardens in the world.
We hope you found it informative and inspiring.
Gardens are a fantastic way to connect with nature, and they provide a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
We’d love to hear about your experiences visiting amazing gardens around the world while traveling.
Have we missed any of your favorite gardens? Please let us know in the Comments section below!
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Photo credits: 3 © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase | 30 to 32 Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden | 47, 48 Vallarta Botanical Gardens | 55 to 57 Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria