Europe’s Best Gardens by Train
If you’re aiming to add some tranquility to your next city stop or would like to venture out in search of flowers on a day trip, there is a veritable profusion of beautiful gardens to choose from in Europe. With styles ranging from formal to English to wild and botanical, the options are endless. Here are a few of our favourites, in no particular order.
Giverny Gardens – near Vernon, France
Created by impressionist painter Claude Monet and featuring in many of his paintings, the gardens at Giverny are set out in a simple but pleasing grid formation. The most popular spot is the well known green arch bridge over the lily pond that inspired Water Lilies, a series of around 250 paintings.
How to get there by train: There are regular trains from Paris St Lazare to Vernon (a journey of 45 minutes). From here, a short bus ride will get you to Giverny. You can also take an escorted tour to the gardens from Paris.
Keukenhof – Lisse, Netherlands
Keukenhof is one of the world’s largest flower gardens, with a history dating back to the 15th century when Countess Jacoba van Beieren gathered fruit and vegetables from the Keukenduin for the kitchen of Teylingen Castle. Keukenhof Castle was built in 1641 and the estate grew to encompass an area of over 200 hectares.
In 1949 a group of 20 leading flower bulb growers and exporters came up with the plan to use the estate to exhibit spring-flowering bulbs. The park opened its gates to the public in 1950 and was an instant success, with 236,000 visitors in the first year alone. During the past 70 years Keukenhof has developed into a world-famous attraction, covering an area of 32 hectares and home to over seven million flower bulbs.
How to get there by train: You can reach the gardens by taking a short train from Amsterdam Centraal to Schiphol Airport, and then connecting to Lisse via the hourly 361 bus. There’s also a regular bus service from outside the main station in Leiden. There’s a direct service to Leiden from Rotterdam (which you can reach on a direct train from London on the Eurostar).
Mainau Island – Konstanz, Germany
Welcome to the Garden Island on Lake Constance, which boasts a year-round display of flowers. Along with landscaped gardens and parkland, there is also an arboretum with 500 different types of trees, Germany’s second largest butterfly house, a baroque palace and a ‘waterworld’ for children. There are plenty of options for eating and drinking here too, often with stunning lake views.
How to get there by train: You can catch a train from Brussels to Konstanz, via Karlsruhe. The No. 4 local bus from Konstanz train station stops at Mainau. You can extend your stay in Lindau and visit here on our Vienna via Lake Constance holiday.
Generalife Gardens – Granada, Spain
Located on the hill Cerro del Sol, adjacent to the world-famous Alhambra, the Generalife is composed of a series of large formal gardens. The name ‘Generalife’ means ‘garden of the architect’ as it was believed that it was most probably an architect’s house that later passed to the royal family.
The most beautiful and striking features in the Generalife gardens are the plants, the water features and the stunning backdrop of the Sierra Nevada mountains.
How to get there by train: Granada is on the train line from Madrid to Malaga or Algeciras. You could also visit the Alhambra and Generalife Gardens as part of our Andalucia in Detail Holiday.
Kew Gardens, London, UK
Kew is London’s largest UNESCO World Heritage site with plenty of areas to visit. The arboretum has a collection of over 14,000 rare and ancient trees. The Minka House is home to the largest bamboo collection in the UK.
And the final must-see attraction here is the Princess of Wales Conservatory where you’ll discover 10 different climate zones featuring ferns, rare orchids and a whole area dedicated to carnivorous plants like the venus flytrap.
How to get there by train: You can travel to London from your local station. The gardens are a short walk from Richmond station , or you can hop on the tube for one stop on the district line to Kew Gardens or Kew Bridge station.
Boboli Gardens – Florence, Italy
Opened to the public in 1766, the Boboli Gardens are a short walk from the famous Pitti Palace and can be considered an outdoor extension of this museum.
There are a host of Renaissance statues, grand fountains and grottos dotted around formal Italian gardens that became the model for the courts of Europe. During the summer, the gardens are a shady retreat from the Tuscan sun and there are fabulous views over the city to be had throughout the year.
Lost Gardens of Heligan – Cornwall, UK
The Lost Gardens of Heligan are so called because they lay undiscovered since the outbreak of World War I and were re-discovered by chance in the 1970s. The gardens are typical of the 19th century Gardenesque style with areas of different character and design. They have become one of the most popular attractions in England.
How to get there by train: Enjoy a visit to the Lost Gardens of Heligan during a holiday to Devon and Cornwall by Rail.
Atocha station is a bustling transportation hub but what you find here is unexpected but beautiful. In the midst of moving people is an indoor jungle that fills the station. With winding paths and many benches to take a moment to relax from your day or bide some time before your onward journey, the lush greenery is a wonderful escape from the hubbub of the city.
How to get there by train: You will naturally have time to visit here on our Barcelona and Madrid by High Speed Train holiday!