With spring coming up, we thought its best you know where SPRING is at its BEST – in the enchanting Gardens of Europe. Now or later, make sure you visit these locations once in your life.
I was only eleven when I first visited Amsterdam in April. It was the day before Koningsdag (King’s Day) or Queen’s day back then. The whole city partied like crazy. There was only beer and the colour orange as far as one’s eyes could see. Orange glasses, orange eyelashes, orange balloons and orange food. Heineken in every person’s hand and portable toilets in every corner. It was crazy and exciting of course, but I thought “Where’s the non-alcoholic part that an 11-year-old can enjoy?”
On Koningsdag, I woke up to a cold morning. The rain had killed the noise and commotion from the previous night, and the only people I saw were a couple of kids in orange wigs, selling candy on their porch. Little did I know about the sights I was about to see that day.
1. Keukenhof, Lisse, Netherlands
Holland’s tribute to the graceful Tulip is nothing short of jaw-dropping. My idea of gardens before Keukenhof was immature, to say the least. Spread over 32 hectares, Keukenhof is home to over 800 varieties of tulips and various other ornamental flowers like orchids.
With flower beds themselves in the shape of tulips, aesthetic fountains and ponds, sublime trees and curious that showcase the exceptional Dutch craftsmanship, this garden sets the bar pretty high. The traditional windmills and the petting farm just add the right charm you’d want to find to forget the modern, urbanised world.
No number of memory cards could capture the essence or beauty of Keukenhof, and it remains one of my favourite places to visit. This picture proves my point.
How to reach: One can take a train from Amsterdam city to Schipol to arrive here.
Best time to visit: April and May
Prices: Travel from Amsterdam and the tickets together cost around 30€ per person (₹2400)
Another famous garden is a jewel of London.
2. Kew Gardens, London
Poise and elegant, pretty much like anything else in London, The Kew Gardens is the ideal escape from our noisy lives. Its quaint and old-school appeal attracts more than 1.5 million people every year.
Home to many exotic categories of plants, ornamental buildings, horticulture and galleries, Kew Gardens may take more than a day to explore. Perhaps, it’s best for travellers running short on time to just unwind on the vast expanse of grass while reading a book or eating a sandwich (I speak from experience).
How to reach: One can reach Kew Gardens via tube in London.
Best time to visit: April to June
Prices: Tickets cost around £18 or about ₹1600
How can we speak of romantic and artistic gardens and not have a mention of France?
3. Monet’s Garden, Giverny, France
Although I haven’t been here myself, this garden stands strong on my bucket list. For art and aesthetic enthusiasts, there’s nothing quite like seeing the inspiration that itself gave life to the art. Perhaps there’s also the feeling of being connected to the past and to the masterpiece itself – “The Water-Lily Pond” – Monet’s prolific work.
After moving to Giverny from Paris, Claude Monet redesigned the garden at the front of his house, planting vibrant lilies, poppies, and other exotic flowers to achieve a wild look. He also famously set up a water garden complete with an arch-bridge, as seen above, to cultivate aquatic plants. The play of light and colours was so entrancing that Monet tried capturing it forever in his painting.
How to reach: Train ride from Gare St Lazare to Vernon and a bus ride to the house.
Best time to visit: May
Prices: Trips cost between ₹4000 and ₹8000
Often, landscaping adds splendour to royalty, and so, many beautifully crafted gardens are found in palaces or castles.
4. Generalife, Granada, Spain
The Generalife is a stunning garden complex of the UNESCO – listed Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain. It is famed for being one of the best post-medieval gardens of Europe. The Islamic touch is what makes this garden stand out. Set amidst the scenic peaks of the Sierra Nevada, the garden has an iconic Lion Fountain at the centre of the courtyard, bordered with white marble pillars and arcs, and other picturesque courts which speak volumes with their architecture.
How to reach: Flight to Granada and then buses or cabs to Alhambra. One might need to walk some part of the distance.
Best time to visit: July
Prices: Tickets cost around £27.5 or about ₹2200
5. Bodnant Garden, Conwy, Wales
Overlooking the glorious Carneddau and Snowdonia mountains, this 80-acre garden is well acclaimed for its extensive plant collections that are sown from around the world. Bodnant has it all—open landscapes, splendid architecture, shaded woods, smooth terraces, and also a waterfall formed in the valley of the River Hiraethlyn, which passes through the garden and into the River Conwy. Visit Bodnant for a tranquil experience.
How to reach: Flight from Cardiff to Conwy and buses to Bodnant from Conwy.
Best time to visit: June
Prices: Tickets cost around £13.5 or about ₹1100
Gardens make for the best travel destinations, and it doesn’t get better than gardens in Europe. They root out all the ills of city-life and rejuvenate body and soul.
So, don’t let this list be another one that only makes you dream for a day; let it be your bucket-list and let these gardens bear your footprints. Go see them all!
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