Are you looking for an amazing day trip outside of London? I recommend a visit to Kew Gardens, in Richmond. Richmond itself is a great day trip outside of London. It’s a picturesque London suburb right on the river. It’s home to Richmond Park (full of deer!) and Kew Gardens. So one summer day my friend and I decided it was time to get out of the city and explore somewhere new.
From central London, you can get to Kew Gardens in about 30 minutes. You’ll be able to take the underground from Victoria Station (the District line) or you can take trains from Waterloo via Vauxhall and Clapham Junction. You’ll be able to get off at the Kew Gardens stop, just one stop before Richmond.
From the station, you’ll just need to walk about 10 minutes to the entrance of the gardens. We went on a Monday around 1 pm and didn’t have to stand in line at all to get in. You can buy your tickets in advance for £16.50 or wait and get them at the door for £21.45.
The staff at the entrance were so helpful and friendly. They gave us recommendations for how to spend our time, and what their favorite corners of the gardens were. We already knew that we wanted to visit the treetop walkway and the Botanical Brasserie for afternoon tea, but other than that we were excited to just see what the gardens had to offer.
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Quick Facts about Kew Gardens
– Opening hours: Kew Gardens has varying opening hours depending on the time of year, but if you’re visiting in the summer you’ll be able to go on Weekdays, 10 am* to 7 pm (last entry 6 pm) and on Weekends, 10 am* to 8pm† (last entry 7 pm)
– Keep in mind that the glasshouses close an hour before the gardens close! So if you go a bit later in the day, visit the glasshouses first.
– The opening times for the Treetop Walkway are on Weekdays, 10 am to 6 pm (last entry 5.45 pm) and on Weekends, 10 am to 7 pm (last entry 6.45 pm) – This is a must-see in my opinion!
– There are 5 restaurants and a few popups stands for grab-and-go food items
– Kew Gardens was opened as a royal botanical garden in 1759!
Recommended times for visiting Kew Gardens
I would recommend that you go earlier in the day than we did, I could have easily spent even more time in the gardens. We arrived at Kew Gardens at 1 pm and stayed until 7 pm (closing time that day). What I’d recommend is arriving around 10:30 am and eating brunch at one of the cute coffee shops around the station. Then you can walk to the gardens and arrive around 11:30 am for the day!
If you can go during the week – which is definitely my recommendation, then arriving around 11:30 am will be great. If you’re going on the weekend, I would arrive as soon as they open, because as the day goes on they’ll get much busier.
Pick the things you really want to see, and see them first. As the park fills up you’ll be glad you got to see those things before it was too busy.
On a Monday, by 5 pm there were hardly any people left in the gardens.
Must see attractions and ‘installations’
The Princess of Wales Conservatory
This was one of the last glass houses that we were able to go in before Kew Gardens closed and it ended up being one of my favorites that we saw. The Princess of Wales Conservatory is HUGE and it’s designed really cool over multiple levels. You pass through several climates starting with dry dessert and ending in tropical orchid gardens. It closes at 6 pm so we had to rush through this one but trust me, it’s worth the visit!
Now the lily house was my absolute favorite. It’s very small with huge, huge lily pads right in the middle that you can walk around. I’ve never seen lily pads that big in my life. Beware it was very hot in there so most people bailed pretty quickly, but it meant I got to have it all to myself.
The Treetop Walkway
We actually decided to go to Kew Gardens specifically because of the treetop walkway. It was so cool! There’s no lift (yet – they were building one when I was there in June 2022) so you have to walk up several flights of stairs, to get to treetop level. The treetop walkway definitely lived up to the hype, and when we were there (on a Monday) it was pretty quiet.
The Temperate House
This is the first glass house that we walked through. I loved the staircases that you go up and walk along the top of the conservatory. However, it was very hot in all of the glass houses, so make sure you take and drink lots of water!
The Palm House
You should also walk through the Palm House. It’s one of the smaller glass houses, with just one room but you can also walk up some stairs that lead you to a rooftop walkway. I liked the Palm House because even though it’s a bit smaller, there were fewer people so we really enjoyed it.
Finally, make sure you walk through the rose garden. The smell, as you walked through the entire garden, was incredible. You could smell roses all around you and they were really beautiful. Around the rose garden, a lot of people were sitting to drink and eat something which seemed like a great idea to me!
Japanese Pagoda & The Hive
Lastly, if you have time, make sure to check out the Japanese Pagoda and the surrounding peace gardens. They’re very beautiful and won’t take you very long to explore. But you should also definitely visit the Hive before you leave. It’s an installation that you can walk inside of, that mimics the symphony of sounds of a beehive. More specifically, the beehives directly from Kew Gardens!
Eating at Kew Gardens
As I already mentioned, there are 5 restaurants at Kew Gardens. Since we were just there for the day, we decided to have afternoon tea at the Botanical Brasserie. I really enjoyed the tea and the cakes, but I will be honest I thought that the sandwiches were lacking. They were mostly quite dry and without much flavor. We had the vegetarian version, so I don’t know if the meat and cheese would have made the sandwiches much better… but probably (lolz).
The afternoon tea at the Botanical Brasserie cost us £37.35 / $45.09. You can add a glass of prosecco for £9 / $10.87.
The other restaurant that I would have liked to try was the Orangery. They looked like they had a really nice menu and lots of outdoor seating.
Going into Richmond for sunset drinks
After spending the day at Kew Gardens we decided to walk to Richmond for a sunset drink by the river. The walk into Richmond once we left the gardens took about 20 minutes. You can also walk back to the Kew Gardens station and take the train one stop into Richmond.
The waterfront was very busy (we got there at prime after work hours) but we were lucky to get an outdoor table at Pitcher and Piano where we had a delicious Aperol spritz with the sunset. After a couple of drinks there it was just a quick 5-minute walk up to the station where you’ll be back in downtown London within half an hour.
The only thing we missed this day was going to see Richmond Park and the deer that live there. Definitely, something to go back for!
I think that Kew Gardens is the easiest day trip from London, and it is beautiful! I would definitely go back to spend more time exploring Richmond as well, which would also be a great day trip option on its own!
Book your day trip from London at Kew Gardens here!
What would you do with a day trip from London? Let me know over on Instagram (@justynjen) so I can check it out!
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