Touring European gardens for couples and solo travellers
From the Chelsea Flower Show to the tulips of The Netherlands, many European countries take pride in their horticulture. Visiting gardens, parks, and flower shows can make for a peaceful and fascinating trip, allowing you to discover a culture and its people through unusual means. Odyssey brings many expert guides on its collection of tours that visit European gardens each Northern hemisphere summer.
Gardens of The United Kingdom
The best gardens of England are often attached to equally wonderful country homes and castles. The Alnwick Garden, for example, is adjacent to Alnwick Castle. It includes water features, an incredibly large wooden treehouse, and over 200 species of flower. We visit there on the English Country Houses and Gardens Tour. On our Gardens of Ireland small group tour Odyssey visits Powerscourt. This is one of Europe’s most splendid gardens. Powerscourt includes an Italian and a Japanese garden and Ireland’s highest waterfall at 121 metres!
A highlight of Odyssey’s small group tour of British Gardens is a visit to the opening The Chatsworth Royal Horticultural Show. Because this is a new show, it aims to be revolutionary, and involves the work of sculptors and visual artists.
Gardens of France and Italy
Italy and France have a centuries-long history of cultivating beautiful gardens. Odyssey’s small group tour of Italian and French gardens journeys from the Vatican to the Loire Valley in order to explore this history. The exquisite Vatican Gardens include a building constructed in 1558, once used as the Pope’s hunting lodge and summer residence. Located near Florence, the gardens of Villa di Castello, once a Medici country residence, is built on an elegantly constructed garden with statuary and about 500 rare plants. Also in Florence, you’ll find the magnificent Boboli gardens, attached to the Pitti Palace, which were constructed between the fifteenth and nineteenth century. They include the magnificent Neptune’s Fountain, an ampitheatre, and the Grotto Grande or Large Grotto, which includes key examples of mannerist sculpture.
During our visit to France, the Chateau de Villandry provides an excellent example of a French chateau and its large accompanying garden. The Chateau’s website provides an excellent resource, showing you what to expect from the beautiful location. Odyssey’s tour finishes in Paris where we of course visit the Palace of Versailles. The tour also stops by the famous Roseraie de l’Hay, a gorgeous and historic rose garden, the Jardins de Luxembourg, and much more.
For inspiration for your European gardens holiday (or perhaps for your own garden), check out these lists. They include many of the most beautiful parks and gardens in Europe:
Travel & Leisure: The Most Picturesque European Gardens
The Guardian: The Best Gardens You’ve Probably Never Heard Of
The Guardian: The Best Sculpture Parks in Europe
National Geographic: Top 10 Gardens
To view Odyssey’s wide range of garden-focused small group tours, ideal for couples and solo travellers, click here.
Our small group guided tour in the Netherlands provides us with a delicious taste of its delights. We view the main sights of old Amsterdam, a World Heritage Site, first on foot and then from the comfort of a cruise along its 17th century canals. Our exploration of Dutch gardens includes the Hortus Botanicus, an impressive university garden. Timed to enjoy what is perhaps the highlight of the program – a visit to Keukenhof’s bulb gardens. They contain more than 7 million tulips, daffodils and hyacinths which fill over 32 hectares.
Odyssey’s small group tour explores some of the classic gardens of Italy and France that reflect changing fashions and garden designs throughout the ages. This fully escorted tour features an Odyssey Program Leader and a handful of local guides who will examine, discuss, compare and contrast the cultural and temporal similarities and diversities between the gardens of Italy and France and the historical influences on their design.
This small group escorted educational tour combines visits to France, Belgium, Luxemborg, the Netherlands, and Germany. During the 26 days, we will discover a selection of the finest gardens and chateaux in Europe. Our destinations also include several UNESCO World Heritage Sites, for example the royal palaces built by the Prince-Bishop of Cologne in Brühl, Germany.