Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Garden was established in 1670—that’s an impressively long time ago, when Charles II was King of England, Scotland, and Ireland, just after the short period during which England had no monarchy.
King Charles II was known for his love of art and sciences so it’s no wonder that a Royal Botanic Garden was established under his reign. What is so great is that we can still wander through this garden today.
Located just one mile north of Edinburgh’s city centre, it’s open every day, except December 25 and January 1, from 10am until 4pm in winter and 6pm in summer. Admission is free except to the glasshouses for which tickets can be booked online and all the money goes to research the gardens still carry out in botany and conservation. The glasshouses include the Tropical Palm House built in 1834, and the radically designed modern glasshouses which date from 1967 including The Plants and People house with its giant water lilies, bananas, sugar, and other tropical food plants. There are over 25 glasshouses total.
Naturally the gardens are at their most colorful in spring when the rhododendrons bloom, followed by the lilacs. The woodland areas burst into color too and The Alpine House bursts with delicate flowers.
There are daily guided tours between April and October at 11am and 2pm. These leave from the John Hope Gateway and you can buy tickets in the Botanics Shop or at the East Gate or the Palm House. The John Hope Gateway has a new diversity and information center so it’s a good place to start your visit and pick up maps and information about the gardens.
The gardens also have good places to eat with The Gateway Restaurant, the East Gate Coffee Bar and the Terrace Café which has great views over the city skyline of Edinburgh. Or you can just bring a picnic and stroll through the lovely gardens until you find the perfect spot to sit and enjoy nature, just at King Charles II may have done, over three hundred years ago.