Kew Gardens

As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, these magnificent London gardens, glasshouses and galleries are a living exhibit as well as an important historical legacy

The London Pass London Pass Benefits: Skip the Line Access to Kew Gardens Normally £18.00 - Included with London Pass

Admire the exotic plants in the Palm House and Temperate House, walk across the Treetop Walkway and visit The Hive in the beautiful surroundings of Kew Gardens

 

Explore Kew Gardens. Entry is included in the London Pass®. 

- Pay nothing at the door - simply show your pass.
- Discover Kew Gardens’ botanical collection of over 50,000 living plants across 300 acres of land.
- Enjoy seasonal exhibits, from botanical paintings to contemporary art.
- Take part in guided tours and interactive workshops.
- Visit the sensational gift shop and the famous Tea House.

 

Skip to...

- Kew Gardens history

- Kew Gardens highlights

- Kew Gardens facts

- Current exhibitions

- Know before you go

- Make the most of your London Pass®

- How to get there

 

Kew Gardens history 

The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, London grow more species in their 132 hectares than any other gardens in the world. As London’s largest UNESCO World Heritage Site, these magnificent gardens, glasshouses, and galleries are a living exhibit as well as an important historical legacy that’s connected to many Royal figures.

Kew Gardens’ modern history begins in the 16th-Century when Henry VII built Richmond Palace in the Royal hunting park and moved his court there for the summer months. As a result, nobles, influential courtiers, writers, musicians, and even artists moved to the surrounding areas. And for the next 100 years, the nearby Kew Village flourished.

 

Have you ever wondered why ‘Kew gardens’ is plural? In 1759 King George II I’s parents, Princess Augusta and Prince Frederick, started the original botanic garden next to Royal Richmond Park. It wasn’t until 1772 that the King inherited the Kew estate, merged it with Richmond Park, and the two gardens became one.

Kew Park first opened its doors to the public in 1840. In 1898, Queen Victoria donated Queen Charlotte’s Cottage to Kew for visitors to enjoy, but she had one special request - that the land remains wild. It has now become the Kew Gardens’ Natural area, where visitors can view its stunning woodland and a sea of bluebells throughout the spring.

In the early years, Kew had strict policies for visitors, such as no food, no smoking, no prams, no playing, and no refreshments. It wasn’t until after the second director, Sir Joseph Hooker, retired that the first tea pavilion opened in 1888. It is a drastic comparison to the gardens now, which offers many family-friendly activities. Children can jump, climb, and swing their way through the new Children’s Garden equipped with trampolines, climbing frames, and a four-meter high canopy as they discover all the things that plants need to grow.

It isn’t just flora that keeps the Natural Area vibrant. In 1792, the paddock next to Queen Charlottes Cottage housed the first kangaroos to arrive in Britain along with Tartarian pheasants and other exotic animals. Today visitors can explore 32 acres of a tranquil landscape filled with 400 native and naturalized wildflowers. If that isn’t enough wildlife to ignite the adventurer in you, there are also 40 resident bird species and 30 seasonal visitors, plus 23 species of butterflies, and nine species of dragonfly.

Kew Gardens is home to the world’s largest seed conservation project which visitors can explore alone or in the walking tours that run throughout the day. The Temperate House has more than 1,500 species of endangered plants from Africa, Australia, New Zealand, the Americas, Asia, and the Pacific Islands. Kew’s efforts in conservation have led to many scientific breakthroughs. In 2018 alone, the scientists and gardeners helped discover 170 brand new plant species. For example, the slipper orchid rescued from a black market in Laos. And the rare Ipomoea prolifera revealed after heavy rainfall in Bolivia caused the plants to flower.

Kew has also devoted itself to a range of teaching programs that have attracted the attention of celebrities. The TV presenter and gardener Alan Tichmarsh was a Kew Diploma student from 1969 to 1972 and was awarded the Metcalf Cup in 1971 for the best academic results. Today this incredible facility offers visitors a world of modern artistry and nature at its best. Join one of the short courses or hear talks on a range of subjects including mindfulness, gardening for beginners, photography, illustration, painting, and more.

Find out more about Kew Gardens in our interview with a Kew Gardener on our London Pass Blog.

Back to top

 

Kew Gardens highlights

  • Visit the Agius Evolution Garden, where you can immerse yourself in the science behind this stunning plant collection.
  • Tour the Great Broad Walk’s colorful borders in the heart of Kew.
  • Explore the incredible plant diversity in the Mediterranean Garden and King William’s Temple.
  • Discover a vast collection of 14,000 trees and a truly unique landscape shaped by the seasons.
  • See the Bamboo Garden and Minka House filled with tall grasses. Or visit the traditional Japanese farmhouse.
  • Feed your fascination with a trip to the Carnivorous Plant Garden.
  • Visit Davies Alpine House, a high-altitude territory, and discover the conditions that allow alpine plants to flourish.
  • Enjoy spectacular views across London from the heights of the Great Pagoda.
  • Discover edible treats in the seasonal Kitchen Garden producing fresh fruit and vegetables all year round.
  • Discover over 2,000 years of plant knowledge in one of the most extensive botanical libraries in the world.
  • And more.

Back to top

 

Kew Gardens facts

  • Kew has a connection to the infamous mutiny on HMS Bounty in 1789. Two of its gardeners were on board the ship as it set sail for Tahiti to collect breadfruit plants, but when the crew returned to see, there was a mutiny against the captain, led by master’s mate Fletcher Christian.
  • The original Kew Gardens Tea House was burnt down in 1913 and the glasshouses attacked by suffragettes Olive Wharry and Lillian Lenton in protest for women’s rights.
  • Kew Gardens formed a dedicated Police force in 1845, consisting of 17 constables and one vehicle, making it one of the smallest police forces in Britain.
  • Kew Gardens is home to the smallest Grade I Palace in Britain, Kew Palace, which reopened in 2006 after a year-long restoration.
  • During the Second World War, the Great Pagoda became the perfect place to test the aerodynamics of bombs in secret. Around 30 high-explosives dropped onto the gardens during the Blitz, and the Herbarium, Temperate Houses, Palm house and Waterlily House suffered damage.
  • Kew Gardens has witnessed two crash-landings over the years. The first was in 1928 when a single-seater Siskin aircraft came down in flames near Syon Vista, and the second in 1938 when a plane pulling an advertisement banner was forced to make an emergency landing. Fortunately, there were no casualties in either incident.
  • During the 19th and early 20th century, horses were the primary mode of transporting trees, mowing, plowing and moving heavy loads. In 1928 hooves became wheels when Kew purchased its first motorized tractor to replace a horse that had died. By 1961 there were no horses left.
  • In 1985 Sir David Attenborough buried a time capsule in the foundation of the Princess of Wales Conservatory. It contains the seeds of essential food crops and several endangered species. It is scheduled to be opened in 2085, when many of the containing plants may be rare or extinct.

Back to top

 

Current exhibitions 

Chihuly
Until 27 October 2019:

The world’s most celebrated contemporary glass artist is back, showcasing his latest work against the stunning backdrop of Kew Gardens.

Exotica In the Shirley Shirwood gallery
Until 27 October 2019:

Experience a diverse collection of paintings of beautifully unusual tropical plants.

Back to top

 

Know before you go

  • Kew Gardens has a few dos and don'ts. Be sure to check out their guidelines before visiting. 

Back to top

 

Make the most of your London Pass®

  • Kew Gardens is perfect for picnics so pack your lunch and settle down on one of the many grassy areas.
  • Kew Gardens is only 30 mins from central London. It is accessible from four different gates by rail, but or river. Parking is limited, so check your closest gate and plan your journey before you set out.

Back to top

 

How to get there

Entrance Gates

Visit the Kew Gardens Site for more Information on entrance gates. 

Tube
Kew Gardens Station - District Line- Richmond branch

London Overground 
Kew Bridge station

South West Trains from Waterloo via Vauxhall and Clapham Junction

Richmond Station

Bus
65, 391, 237, 267

 

Kew Gardens opens daily at 10am. For details about last admission times and any planned closures, please click here.

 

For more things to do in London, check out The London Pass® Blog.


See the full list of attractions.

Back to top

Learn more

Getting to Kew Gardens

Getting to Kew Gardens

  • Kew Gardens Kew Gardens Richmond Surrey TW9
  • Closest Underground Station Kew Gardens
  • Closest Bus Stop Stop H, M, N: Route 391

Opening Times

Monday From 10.00
Tuesday From 10.00
Wednesday From 10.00
Thursday From 10.00
Friday From 10.00
Saturday From 10.00
Sunday From 10.00
Last Admission: Closing Times may vary

Closed:

24 & 25 December

For details about last admission times and any planned closures, please click here.

Attractions Nearby

  • Twickenham Stadium Tour and Rugby Museum

    Twickenham Stadium Tour and Rugby MuseumIncluded with pass - Normally £25

    View attraction
  • Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum

    Wimbledon Lawn Tennis MuseumIncluded with pass - Normally £13

    View attraction
  • Wimbledon Tour Experience

    Wimbledon Tour ExperienceIncluded with pass - Normally £25

    View attraction

Trusted by over 3 million customers, here's what they have to say