While the diverse landscapes, rich history and varied cuisine of the continent make for a charming visit at any time of year, the blue skies and beautiful blooms of summer are particularly hard to resist. If you’d rather relax amongst lush greenery and exotic plants than bake on the beach, a trip to one of these five beautiful gardens in Europe should be added to your holiday agenda – perfect for green-fingered travellers.
Fairytale Sintra is brimming with visually striking sights, but Monserrate Palace and its spectacular gardens are right up there with the best. Seamlessly blending Gothic, Arabic and Indian architectural styles, this palatial summer villa is nestled within tangled woodland, sumptuous collections of roses and picturesque plants from all over the world, grouped together in geographical families. It’s just the sort of wonderland that will have budding botanists wandering for hours.
Art aficionados with a penchant for the works of Monet can admire the scenery that inspired the famous painter by planning a trip to the small village of Giverny, 75 kilometres north east of Paris. Here, you will find nature at its finest with more than just Monet’s iconic waterlilies waiting to win your heart. Wild wisteria, dancing dahlias and sublime sunflowers are just some of the brightly coloured specimens that can be found in this traditional garden. Inhale the scent of one of the world’s most famous gardens as you while away an afternoon, or even try your hand at a bit of painting and sketching yourself.
If a holiday isn’t a holiday without a hefty dose of history, a trip to Padua’s Botanical Gardens, the oldest in Europe, has to be on the cards. Founded in 1545 by the Venetian Republic as a garden for medicinal plants, this fascinating collection spans around 22,000 square metres and is renowned for its specialised collections and historical design. Look out for the insectivorous plants, which catch tiny creatures in their leaves for sustenance, as well as the exotic orchids, flourishing in their humid greenhouse micro-climate.
Mainau Island, perched in the midst of Germany’s Lake Constance takes its gardening game to the next level with a collection of postcard-perfect parks and gardens, dedicated to beautiful blooms. The unique climate allows palm trees and other Mediterranean plants to flourish on the tear-drop shaped island while the 150-year-old Arboretum houses 500 species of deciduous and coniferous trees. Highlights of the collection include the giant Californian redwoods, fragrant hyacinths and the geometric Italian rose garden.
While some visitors may head to the Netherlands for hedonism and history in equal measures, nature enthusiasts make the trip to witness the famous tulips of the country in full bloom. Keukenhof Garden is the ideal location to realise this dream with more than 7 million bulbs of 800 different tulip varieties blooming each spring, across 79 acres of land. Every year, the park plants new flower-beds, set to a theme, with renowned floral designers creating world-class arrangements that are certainly worth writing home about.
Once you’ve booked your next great escape, be sure to lock down your travel insurance. Medical Travel Compared can help you find the perfect plan for your circumstances, even if you have a pre-existing medical condition to consider.