The Best Botanical Gardens to Visit in Portugal
Portugal is in the south of Europe on the Iberian Peninsula and borders with Spain. Its location on the Atlantic Ocean has influenced many aspects of its culture.
From a delicious array of seafood, to its beautiful beaches of the Algarve area which are a huge draw for many tourists. It’s seaboard location also lead to a thriving maritime empire, the architecture from this wealthy period-1500’s to 1800’s- can still be enjoyed today.
But I want to introduce you to some of the Best Botanical Gardens to Visit in Portugal, stunning, natural and horticultural treasures that are well worth adding to your holiday itinerary.
The two best times to visit Portugal, particularly for enjoying gardens is in spring when the country explodes into bloom and autumn when the temperature is a little cooler than in the hot summer months.
These parks and gardens have been influenced from different eras and cultures, indeed the Montserrat Park at Sintra has a distinct English feel to it and the world renowned Madeira Botanical Garden is understandably one of the best places to visit in Europe for garden lovers.
The Tropical Botanical Garden has an enviable collection of exotic trees and plants.
The Portuguese were legendary explorers, they discovered and brought back diverse species of exotic plants from Europe and the Americas, some examples of which can now be found in their lush public gardens.
In this article I have included the following gardens and travel information for tours and places to stay:
- Tropical Botanical Garden Lisbon
- Estufu Fria
- Gardens of the Palace Of Estoi Algarve
- Montserrat Park Sintra
- Botanical Garden Coimbra
- Gulbenkian Garden Lisbon
- Botanical Garden Madeira
- Iberian Escapes
- Places to Stay
Tropical Botanical Garden Lisbon
Created in 1906 these 7 hectares of gardens are situated next to the Jeronimos Monastery near to the Belem Palace, overlooking the Tagus.
With its own city micro climate it boasts a rich collection of native species as well as plants and trees from tropical and subtropical regions.
The gardens were designed as a colonial garden with the main aim of teaching Tropical Agronomy. They are now home to over 600 plant species from a diverse range of 100 botanic families, including a collection of cycads, several rare palm trees and a 100-year-old Yucca gigantea.
The gardens continue to be an educational site for natural and human sciences in conjunction with Lisbon university.
There is a large greenhouse still in situ, with a cast iron and glass construction which houses an important plant collection. At the top of the garden you can visit the Condes da Calheta palace and enjoy views over the river Tagus.
The gardens allow a few hours of quiet and solitude away from the bustling city.
Estufa Fria Lisbon
Estufa Fria is a greenhouse with three distinct gardens and climates, located in Eduardo VII Park and has become one of the most important garden sites, visited by both locals and tourists.
It includes a hot Glasshouse, cold greenhouse and the sweet greenhouse with lakes, pools, statues and plentiful rare species of plants.
Plants such as azalea, camellia and rhododendron from all over the world thrive side by side in the cold house.
The hothouse boasts tropical species and the sweet greenhouse is home to a wide variety of cacti and succulents such as Aloe Vera.
For more lovely images from Estufa Fria see https://commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Estufa_Fria
Gardens Of The Palace of Estoi Algarve
The beautifully restored Palace of Estoi and its extensive gardens both of which are Rococo in style can be found down a little street in the village of Estoi near Faro.
The charming gardens abound with fountains, statues, wild flowers and a plethora of flowering shrubs and blossom trees. They give you spectacular vistas towards Faro and the Algarve coastline beyond.
The Palace is now a hotel but you are invited to stroll through the gardens and you can also take advantage of its cafes and restaurant. See details of the hotel here.
These gardens truly are a hidden treasure.
To find out about the only remaining Rococo garden in England read my article Painswick Rococo Gardens Cotswolds
Montserrat Park Sintra
Just 4km from the centre of Sintra are the Palace and gardens of Montserrat.
From the lawns at the front of the now restored Palace you can enjoy sweeping views across the vast gardens and park.
The Palace and gardens have enjoyed an eclectic mix of famous residents and visitors including Lord Byron and Francis Cook who became one of its owners.
The gardens are stocked with a varied collection of plants species from across the globe including palms, holly, rhododendrons, camellias, agaves and Yucca.
As you walk along meandering paths you will encounter waterfalls and pools that create an idyllic and romantic setting.
In 2013, the Park of Monserrate was awarded the “Best Development of a Historic Park or Garden”. It is now owned and maintained by the Sintra Parks department.
Botanical Gardens Coimbra
The Botanical Gardens are situated at the University of Coimbra an historic, riverside city in central Portugal
The garden rightfully holds a place as one of the most beautiful in Europe, it occupies 13 hectares which is divided in two parts.
The formal gardens are located at the top of the valley, they are designed in a series of terraces.
The lower terrace, or the central square is the oldest part of the garden and is in the style European gardens of the 18th century. A large stone fountain is its centre piece.
On another terrace are planted flowers beds and borders, these plants are cultivated for the use of botany students and specimens are exchanged with horticultural institutions all over the world.
There are several Greenhouses, where tropical and sub-tropical plants thrive under a variety of different temperatures and humidity.
The second area of garden includes the valley which is now the arboretum.
The arboretum includes a collection of flowering trees, a bamboo forest, exotic trees and a 51 species collection of Eucalyptus.
Gulbenkian Garden Lisbon
The Gulbenkian Garden is located in Lisbon and was created in 1969 as part of the cultural center where the Gulbenkian museum and Modern Art centre are situated.
It also boasts an open air, 1000 seat amphitheater, which is a popular venue for music, dance and plays.
There are two lakes in the gardens which are home to a wide variety of flora and forna, they have been planted well with marginals and Iris. These water habitats attract mallards, moorhens and many other water birds and garden birds.
Some natural streams flow through the gardens to the lakes and access is easy with plenty of pathways and places to rest and enjoy your surroundings.
Well maintained lawns slope down to the lakes.
Botanical Gardens Madeira
I can’t write an article about the best Botanical Gardens in Portugal without mentioning the ones that Madeira has to offer. These beautiful gardens in are indeed a sight for sore eyes. They are world renowned and one does not travel to Madeira without making time to visit them.
The gardens are worthy of our attention at any time of year. The Botanical Garden Madeira covers 80,000 sq metres and houses a fascinating collection of plants. The park includes a Natural history museum and is dedicated to research and conservation.
For information also about the Municipal Gardens in Funchal and a couple of lesser known gardens on Madeira please read my previous article.
10 Best Holiday Destinations with Gardens to Visit.
Places To Stay
To find many more gardens in the UK visit https://PlantBulbsSeeds.com to find out about Royal Horticultural Society Membership.
I hope that I have given you a sense of the lovely gardens worthy of your attention the next time you visit Portugal, some city based and others more off the beaten track.
As always I urge you not to bring home any plants or seeds so as not to spread viruses or disease. What you can bring home from these beautiful, natural green spaces however is a wealth of inspiration and well being.
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Add any comments or questions to the comments box below, I will always reply as soon as I can.
Thank You for reading