A true European jewel, Portugal is full of surprises and gorgeous sites. While most know the country for being a Mediterranean gem and adore its sandy beaches, areas of rugged coast, and delicious food, it also has some incredible natural treasures for travelers looking for something different.
In this guide to the best botanical gardens in Portugal, we cover the most stunning and impressive botanical gardens Portugal has to offer. From hidden escapes from the hustle and bustle of the big city to sprawling estates with stunning grounds, you’ll find these hidden treasures across the country and make a great addition to any itinerary.
Botanical Gardens in Portugal
1. Tropical Botanical Garden in Lisbon
With so much to see and do in Lisbon, you might need to squeeze space into your itinerary for a visit to the Tropical Botanical Garden, but it is well worth the visit!
Situated between the famous Jeronimos Monastery and the official residence of the Portuguese president, the Belem Palace, the garden is a magnificent sight to behold. It was established in 1906, following a Royal Decree issued by King Carlos. The gardens have seen some dramatic changes over their 100+ year history, but retain their storied beauty.
Containing tropical, sub-tropical, and temperate plants, the garden mostly has stock from far-off countries like Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, and other former Portuguese colonies. These specimens are rare finds in Portugal and pay homage to the incredible beauty and diversity of Portugal’s former colonies.
A huge part of Lisbon’s Tropical Botanical Garden’s continued existence is to preserve agricultural information from the former colonies, making the garden both a unique destination and a space to learn more about this period of Portugal’s history.
We suggest setting aside at least 2 hours to see the estate thoroughly.
Whether you’re traveling independently, living as a digital nomad in Lisbon, or part of Portugal tours, make sure that when you explore Lisbon you spend time exploring this impressive and historic spot, one of the best botanical gardens in Portugal.
2. Botanical Gardens of the University of Coimbra in Coimbra
Would you visit a city just to see its university? You should consider it if it’s one of Europe’s oldest and most beautiful universities! Take a quick train from Lisbon to Coimbra to continue with your search for the most impressive botanical gardens in Portugal, found at the University of Coimbra.
Considered one of the most beautiful gardens in Europe, the Botanical Gardens at the University of Coimbra stretch across 13 acres and are divided into several unique sections for visitors.
The first part of the garden is located at the top of the valley and is considered the more formal part of the garden. In addition, a few terraces guide you through different parts of the garden, which is very helpful.
Start your tour of the garden on the first terrace, designed like any other 18th-century botanical garden in Europe, then carry on to the Order Beds, where the plants are mainly used as an interactive tool to educate students from the University of Coimbra and exchange students.
Finally, check out the greenhouses, containing the most exotic tropical and sub-tropical gardens living in various temperature and humidity stages.
The other part of the garden grants you a view of an immense bamboo forest and other unique trees you won’t usually see elsewhere in Europe.
There is a lot of ground to cover, so take your time exploring the estate and its countless impressive gardens. If you’re headed here for a day trip, make sure to head into Coimbra for this often overlooked but very beautiful city.
3. The Palace and Gardens of Monserrate in Sintra
The Palace and Gardens of Monserrate are a unique Portugal botanical garden destination! Never intended to be a botanical garden but more of a design choice to add some charm to the Monserrate Palace, the premises still take place at the top of the most beautiful gardens in Portugal.
The palatial villa is a traditional summer resort for the Portuguese court, and usually, it is the fortress that brings in tourists, the gardens acting as an added bonus. However, try it the other way around – spend your time enjoying the greens first, then head to explore the palace.
Of course, there is a lot to see and admire; the palace acts as the perfect display of the Portuguese Romanticism, Moorish Revival, and Neo-Gothic architectural styles.
The grounds are rich with various plants from all corners of the world. The main area of the garden is adorned with palm trees, holly, rhododendrons, camellias, agave, and even yucca.
The gardens are helpfully divided into geographical regions, allowing you insight into different kinds of greenery from different regions of the world. For example, sections filled with vibrant camellias, bamboos, and azaleas represent Japan, while agaves and yucca are from Mexico, and palm trees, tree ferns, and araucaria are representatives of Australia and New Zealand!
A visit to Sintra can be a great way to break up a road trip from Lisbon to Porto, or up the coast of Portugal. However you visit, you’re sure to enjoy your time here!
4. Gardens of the Palace of Estoi in the Algarve
If you are in Portugal for a week or more, the warm, beachy haven of the Algarve is probably already on your itinerary, so visiting the garden at the Palace of Estoi will be an easy addition to your trip.
Known as the “Pink Palace,” the lavish Palace of Estoi was transformed during 19th-century renovations, making it into what it is today. The grand castle is designed in Romantic style with the Roccoco facade and Versailles-style greenery around it.
The gardens are filled primarily with lush flowers, mixed between impressive statues and fountains, giving them a specific and lavish touch. The blossoming wildflowers and flowering shrubs make for a lovely addition to the grounds and gardens.
Spend time exploring these stunning grounds – don’t rush through them on your way out of the Palace!
5. The Botanical Gardens in Madeira
Even in Portgual’s warm island paradise of Madeira, you’ll find stunning gardens with an impressive display of flora, making for a great visit between trips to the beach.
Covering an impressive area of nearly 115,000 square feet (35,000 square meters), Madeira’s botanical gardens offer visitors a wide variety of striking flowers, trees, shrubs, and other unique flora to discover in a beautiful setting.
Over 2500 species of various plants are arranged into beautiful and unique settings and divided into five sections to tour the gardens more effectively.
The space is framed by Funchal’s amphitheater, with the most exotic-looking trees looming over it. Madeira’s Botanical Gardens certainly have the charm and color palate that keeps bringing in visitors, so you will not be disappointed by the whole display.
Make sure to bring your camera, as the various trees and flowerbeds make the perfect backdrop for your vacation photoshoot! Plus, the botanical garden’s cable car is worth a ride even if you’re not interested in visiting the gardens themselves – it’s one of the best things to do in Funchal, Madeira.
Exploring Portugal’s Gardens
For those looking for an off-the-beaten-path addition to a Portugal itinerary, visiting one of the lovely botanical gardens in Portugal on this list will be an unforgettable experience. From unique palace gardens to greenhouses stocked with specimens from far-off countries, you’re sure to find something special when visiting these stunning destinations.