We took a trip to The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh during our visit to Edinburgh and after visiting I can see why it is regarded as one of the finest botanic gardens in the world.
Although it wouldn’t be top of many parents bucket lists to take children when visiting Edinburgh, it’s simply not the case – there is plenty here to keep children occupied.
This is our review of The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.
As we arrived at the entrance to the West Gate we had to walk over disinfectant mats before entering the main building. This we learnt was to protect the plants from disease.
Once inside the impressive John Hope Gateway Visitor Centre, there was an information desk, restaurant and plenty of activities and interactive exhibits.
With the girls leading the way with a map of the gardens in hand we set off to explore its 70 acres of beautiful gardens. As we strolled amongst the awe-inspiring Giant Redwood trees it felt as though you were in California and not in the centre of Edinburgh. As we looked for our next clue on our Easter adventure trail, the girls had great fun spotting the wildlife.
The paths are wide and there are very few signs restricting where you can explore, it’s wonderful.
The gardens offer fantastic alternative views of the capital’s skyline. As we had fun on the lawns outside the 18th-century Inverleith House, we could see Edinburgh Castle dominating the skyline in the distance.
There are lots of family friendly events throughout the year at the gardens and during our visit the girls really enjoyed the Easter trail. At the end of the trail they found their golden ticket plus some delicious Scottish Mackies chocolate.
As we explored the garden we came across the impressive Chinese hillside. Featuring the largest collection of wild-origin Chinese plants outside China it was just beautiful to stop and relax. This together with the world famous rock garden, with their fantastic landscaping, variety of plants and scenery was superb.
The highlight for us was the visiting the stunning glasshouses, starting at Victorian Palm House and was definitely worth the £5.50 admission. Built in 1834 it is one of the tallest traditional palm houses ever built.
As we explored the 10 magnificent Glasshouses, you could instantly feel the temperature change as each has a different climatic zone, from the steamy tropics to arid desert.
The girls were given their own “survival of the smartest” quiz which involved collecting stamps as they tried to find some of the smartest plants of the world. It was a fun way for them to learn and explore the 3,000 exotic plants we encountered from around the world including a 200-year-old palm tree.
Holly really enjoyed looking at all of the exotic plants and took some fantastic photos on her camera.
When Holly spotted some exotic plants, she was convinced they were from Pandora – the fictitious planet from the Hollywood blockbuster movie Avatar. At the end of the visit they had to create a brand new plant, how it would grow and how it would survive.
Alongside every plant were information boards featuring pictures and key facts which was suitable and engaging for all ages.
The Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh is also home to the Queen Mother’s Memorial Garden – complete with a little maze which the girls had great fun racing each other to the end. At the end of the maze was a stone pavilion which added a strong focal point to the garden.
However the beauty was inside, its walls were beautifully decorated with seashells and tiles showing the thistle, the national flower of Scotland. The roof was completely covered in pine cones.
What was so great about the Botanical Gardens was the amount of open space for the girls to run around, explore and have fun.
Parking and Location
As the gardens are located in the centre of Edinburgh, there is no on-site car park so parking can be difficult. There are spaces nearby on Inverleith Terrace and Arboretum Place – which are free at weekends. Alternatively it’s a pleasant 20 minute walk from the New Town of Edinburgh or you can take the number 8 bus from North Bridge, the 27 bus from Princes Street, or the 23 bus from Hanover Street.
Admission to the Garden is free, but if you want to visit The Glasshouse you’ll pay £5.50 for an adult, £4.50 for concession, children under 15 and carers enter for free.
I highly recommend a visit to the The Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh, you won’t be disappointed – it’s an oasis of peace in the centre of Edinburgh.
Since moving away from Edinburgh over 10 years ago we return to visit the city several times a year, and I still can’t believe why I have never visited with the family previously.
There is so much to see and do you will probably need to allocate a whole day visit. With plenty of open space for children to run and explore, there was also lots of fun things to learn about and enjoy in stunning surroundings and scenery.