Relax after sightseeing among the exotic plants and Victorian greenhouses of this swath of nature in the heart of Edinburgh.
The Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh, 70 acres (28 hectares) of tranquility in the center of a lively capital city, is the ideal spot to relax during a museum-hopping vacation. Enjoy the sheer diversity of flora growing there, with plants hailing from the Scottish Highlands, Canada and even China. Learn about plants that thrive in different microclimates in the elegant glasshouses, which host several rare species.
When the gardens were established in 1670, they covered an area equivalent to a tennis court. See them now with glasshouses, arboretums and over 10,000 plant species.
Join one of the guided garden walks or explore the green terrain at your own speed. Amble around the winding paths of the Rock Garden or rest beneath the shade of the Arboretum's colorful trees. The Queen Mother's Memorial Garden separates its flower beds into different geographical areas, growing plants from Asia, Europe, North America and the Southern Hemisphere.
Experience the wilderness of the Far East on the Chinese Hillside. The Royal Botanic Garden shares close links with two similar organizations in China and, as a result, Edinburgh's garden is bursting with oriental flowers. Traditional Chinese features, including a pavilion and waterfall, complement the collection of exotic plants.
Step inside the glasshouses, which create special environments for growing even more plants. Sniff the remarkable titan arum, an example of the world's largest and smelliest flower. Walk among palm trees in the Victorian Palm Houses, where stone walls support a domed glass roof.
Enjoy the contemporary artwork displayed in Inverleith House. The 18th-century mansion hosts temporary exhibitions throughout the year. Afterward, talk for hours over coffee with friends in one of the on-site cafés.
The Royal Botanic Garden is located north of the city center. Drive for about 10 minutes by car or take a 30-minute walk through the pleasant surroundings of New Town. The gardens are open throughout the year except for Christmas and New Year’s Day. Opening hours are shorter during winter. Admission to the gardens is free but additional costs apply for entry to the glasshouses.