The dream of any travel enthusiast is to explore all corners of the globe, discover new exotic cultures in foreign lands and marvel at some of the world’s greatest structures. While tours of the gleaming Eiffel Tower or the golden Great Pyramids might satisfy a traveler’s desire to see incredible feats of engineering, a visit to one of the hundreds of magnificent gardens scattered across the globe will amaze them just the same. These breathtaking gardens are worth discovering, as they offer more than a simple stroll along cobblestoned paths.
1. Miracle Garden, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
It seems unfathomable that the world’s largest natural flower garden is located in the middle of the desert, but the team of botanists, gardeners and environmentalists has made the impossible possible with the help of recycled wastewater. The Dubailand district of Dubai is home to the Miracle Garden that joined the long list of must see tourist attractions in 2013. The 45-million flowers planted across the 18-acre site create some memorable and magical displays such as the flower cars, the umbrella pathway and the large peacocks. Paying homage to one of Dubai’s most popular attractions, the Miracle Garden also features a replica of the Burj Khalifa adorned with colorful flowers. Even if your itinerary is already packed with visits to other attractions in the cosmopolitan city, there’s always time to stroll through this “piece of Eden.”
Photo courtesy | Srilatha Sharma
2. Gardens of Ninfa, Latina, Italy
The Latina province of Italy, approximately 40-miles southeast of Rome, is home to the Gardens of Ninfa. The old city of Ninfa was founded as a small village, but abandoned due to widespread malaria during the Middle Ages. The ancient city was brought back to life in the 20th century, when the desolate lands transformed into the romantic gardens it is known as today. The Gardens of Ninfa received recognition as a Natural Monument of the Italian Republic in 2000 and are also considered to be one of the most beautiful gardens in the world. The diversity of the flora and fauna within the gardens allows for visitors to experience various scents and colors each month, as the plants rotate their blooming cycles. The sweet fragrance, the cheerful chirping birds, the vibrancy of the flowers, the old trees and the crystal clear streams are all part of the experience at Ninfa. Although exploring the pristine garden can only be done under the supervision of a guide, these tour guides help visitors understand the history and significance of the charming Gardens of Ninfa.
Photo courtesy | Sean Perry
3. Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Cape Town, South Africa
If the locals had their way, tourists would not be allowed to board their flight home if they did not visit the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens during their trip to Cape Town, South Africa. Established in 1913, the gardens grandeur comes from its location on the slopes of Table Mountain National Park. Visitors can wander through the 89-acre estate on their own, admiring the rich and diverse flora native to South Africa, or hop aboard the free shuttle car tour that will guide them through the gardens. The bold and brave will enjoy trekking along the narrow Centenary Tree Canopy Walkway that will take them from the base of the forest, through the trees and up to the canopy where stunning panoramic views of the gardens and the neighboring mountains await.
Photo courtesy | Derek Keats
4. Butchart Gardens, Brentwood Bay, Canada
After her husband grew tired of working with limestone deposits, Jennie Butchart saw an opportunity to transform an abandoned quarry into a remarkable piece of beauty. From 1906 to 1929, Butchart worked tirelessly to develop the Sunken Garden, the Japanese Garden, the Italian Garden and the breathtaking Rose Garden that come together to form the Butchart Gardens. This award-winning site attracts over a million people, and their dogs, each year, eager to spend some time in the peaceful gardens. From the blossoming flowers of the spring, to the lively entertainment of the summer, to the colorful transition of the fall and to the festive holiday decor of the winter, there is always something new to see and experience at Butchart Gardens.
Photo courtesy | Nschouterden
5. Nong Nooch Tropical Botanical Garden, Chonburi, Thailand
The plantation, once used to grow local fruits, opened its doors to the public in 1980. The Nong Nooch Tropical Botanical Garden is located in the Chonburi Province of Thailand. Although meandering through the park is an option, it’s unlikely that guests will be able to see all the attractions within the gardens on foot so it’s recommended to rent a bike before venturing into the Nong Nooch. Guests must visit the orchid nurseries that house over 670-native species and hybrids, the largest collection in the country. Following the perfectly manicured shrubs of the French Garden, modeled after the Garden of Versailles, will lead visitors to the Cactus and Succulent Garden where they will have an educational experience learning about different shaped leaves and blossoms.
While the main focus of this attraction is the various gardens, there are a handful of other activities available for guests to partake in. The Nong Nooch Garden features daily cultural shows at the Thai Cultural Hall, where visitors can enjoy classical Thai dance and drum performances, as well as elephant shows. Other tourists might be interested in paddle boarding, riding elephants and cycling. The beauty of the gardens coupled with the array of activities will exceed the expectations of the guests coming to visit the Nong Nooch Botanical Garden.
Photo courtesy | Kashmirhare