The World’s Top-Rated Botanical Gardens

If you live in the U.S., there might be one not far from you.
Villa Taranto in Verbania, Italy.
Villa Taranto in Verbania, Italy. / Stefano Guidi/GettyImages
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The ideal place to go for a mildly educational stroll through some curated flora is probably a botanical garden. (Or a botanic garden: The adjectives mean the same thing, though botanical is the slightly more common modifier for garden these days.)

But before we get to the best spots, it might be helpful to cover the basics—namely, what actually is a botanical garden?

What Is a Botanical Garden?

In 1963, the International Association of Botanic Gardens defined a botanic garden as a garden “open to the public in which the plants are labeled.” According to Botanic Gardens Conservation International’s 2019 definition, other criteria may include “having a reasonable degree of permanence,” “an underlying scientific basis for the collections,” and “exchange of seed or other materials with other botanic gardens, arboreta or research institutions.” The organization also reiterated that the plants should be labeled and the garden open to the public.

In short, a botanical garden is generally one you can visit and know what plants you’re looking at; and many botanical gardens have a focus on research and preservation.

The World’s 20 Best Botanical Gardens

To determine the world’s best botanical gardens, UK-based travel insurance company InsureandGo compiled a list of 100 famous gardens and ranked them based on what percentage of Google reviews were four stars or higher. (A garden needed at least 500 reviews to be included in the rankings.)

It’s not exactly surprising that the United States, the third largest country by area, boasts a high concentration of really great botanical gardens. There are nine in the top 20, from first-place finisher Boyce Thompson Arboretum in Arizona to both members of the last-place tie: Illinois’s Chicago Botanic Garden and Florida’s Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. That gamut is also an illuminating illustration of just how different a botanical garden can be from the archetypal temperate and meticulously landscaped expanse of, say, London’s Kensington Gardens (12th on the list). The Boyce Thompson Arboretum, naturally, is full of cacti and other desert plant life; while the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, as its name suggests, is a lush oasis of palm trees and moisture-loving flowers.

Australia has three entries in the top 20—Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens, and the Adelaide Botanic Garden—and Wales has two. Spain, Singapore, Italy, and South Africa each nabbed a spot. See the whole list below, and find out more about the entries via InsureandGo.

Rank

Name

Location

Percent of Ratings 4 or Higher

1.

Boyce Thompson Arboretum

Arizona, United States

97.7

2.

Plas Cadnant Hidden Gardens

Anglesey, Wales

97.5

3.

Missouri Botanical Garden

Missouri, United States

97.4

4.

Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne

Melbourne, Australia

96.9

5.

Jardí del Túria

Valencia, Spain

96.7

6.

Bodnant Garden

Tal-y-Cafn, Wales

96.6

6.

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

Pennsylvania, United States

96.6

7.

National Orchid Garden

Singapore

96.5

7.

Trebah Garden

Cornwall, England

96.5

7.

Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden

Hawaii, United States

96.5

7.

Longwood Gardens

Pennsylvania, United States

96.5

8.

Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney

Sydney, Australia

96.4

9.

The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University

Massachusetts, United States

96.1

9.

Villa Taranto

Verbania, Italy

96.1

10.

Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden

Cape Town, South Africa

96

10.

Adelaide Botanic Garden

Adelaide, Australia

96

11.

Naples Botanical Garden

Florida, United States

95.8

12.

Kensington Gardens

London, England

95.7

13.

Chicago Botanic Garden

Illinois, United States

95.5

13.

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden

Florida, United States

95.5

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