Hortus Botanicus – Amsterdam’s answer to botanical bliss

Hortus Botanicus – Amsterdam’s answer to botanical bliss

Experience tranquil

surroundings in the heart of the busy city centre. Located in the Plantage

district Hortus Botanicus is a great outing for all ages and includes a

three-climate greenhouse and a butterfly greenhouse. For a more impressive and

picture perfect outing we recommend a summer visit when the garden is in full


Amsterdam’s answer to botanical bliss

It was a perfect summer’s day and I really

fancied a wander into the city centre. There was sun, warmth and a cheerful

atmosphere everywhere you turned so we wanted to do something notable with our

time. Since we’d spent the previous weekend hard-core shopping around Dam

Square I thought it would be nicer to go for something more relaxing, slow

paced and in theme with the colourful summer’s atmosphere. Hortus Botanicus

came to mind. I’d seen it online before and it sounded nice enough in print. An

outing to a botanical garden is not usually at the top of the list of exciting

things to do in Amsterdam but it seemed like an ideal outing for a relaxing

afternoon. My tag along was my other half so I did have to include drinks at

the nearby Rembrandtplein to the itinerary to make the outing worth his while

but he was happy enough to admit that he enjoyed Hortus too.

Amsterdam’s botanical garden is a breath of

fresh air; a great way of escaping the city bustle for tranquil surroundings. Hortus

Botanicus isn’t the biggest or the most impressive botanical garden, especially

if you’ve been to the likes of Kew gardens in the UK, but none the less it’s a

little gem and the perfect answer for a relaxing couple of hours to refuel. And

it’s not just for keen gardeners or plant enthusiasts, neither of which we are,

but a light-hearted fun for all activity and you can enjoy refreshments and

organic food at the Orangery café after. It may even inspire you to get

creative in your own garden!

This Amsterdam garden is one of the oldest

botanical gardens in the world with over 4,000 plant species growing on its

premises. You will find it located on a main road called Plantage Middenlaan in

the Weesperbuurt and Plantage district which is only 10 – 15 minutes away from

the central station via public transport and very close to our short stay

apartments in the Plantage district and the Canal Belt around Utrechtsestraat

and Rembrandtplein. The entrance to this peaceful garden is a 300-year-old gate

that allows you to get from the busy city to a peaceful haven in just a few


Interestingly, Hortus Botanicus was originally

used as a medicinal herb garden, founded in 1638 by the council at a time when

herbs were vital in medicine, especially after the city’s plague epidemic. Now

there are over 6,000 plants in the garden and the 7 greenhouses. It was very

fun going from one greenhouse to another seeing the different plant species and

experiencing the different climates each one represents. Our favourite was the

Three-climate Greenhouse where tropical, subtropical and desert climates were

all somehow live under one roof. By ‘somehow’ we mean by modern computer

technology that automatically controls the temperature and humidity in each

section. The greenhouses also have stairs that you can climb to get a better

view of the displays.

Other parts of Hortus include the palm house,

an outdoor garden, a herb garden, a trees section and a crown jewels section

where you get to see nine species of plants and trees that play an important role

in the history of Hortus Botanicus for various reasons such as being rare, long

standing or due to their size. The butterfly greenhouse was a favourite of ours,

as it is for most visitors, and you can get some great pictures of hundreds of

butterflies that flutter around, and of the pupal stage before caterpillars emerge

as butterflies.

Summer is the ideal time to see this garden in

its fully bloomed glory with charming displays but it’s not a bad winter

activity either as most of it is based inside the greenhouses. The outdoor

garden in particular is a let-down in winter as the bad weather can make it look

washed out and unimpressive. Some visitors even take books with them to relax so

if you particularly enjoy a chill-out session absorbed in your favourite novel

then take a book along and pick a good spot.

One thing that is a bit disappointing for

non-Dutch speaking tourists is that the signage explaining the plants and their

origins is in Dutch. But an impressive bit of information is that there is a

plant doctor who is on hand on Wednesdays between 1pm and 2pm to answer any

plant related questions and if you have a sick plant you can take the plant or a

sample to the doctor to evaluate it. Or you’ve just been inspired by the garden

to create something beautiful in your own garden but your plants just never

survive their life span, ask why.

We finished our peaceful outing with a coffee

and pastries at the Orangery which is a museum café right in the middle of Hortus

Botanicus. All the dishes are made with organic ingredients. Perhaps more of

interest to business travellers the Orangery can be hired for receptions,

meetings or presentations. And couples can even tie the knot there too! We

didn’t buy anything at the shop but there is a selection of plants, plant seeds

and other garden related products and now they even sell fair trade food

products such as coffee and chocolate. There is also Hortus honey which is made

by their own bees in the garden; possibly a quirky gift idea for someone back


So, to recap:

If you’ve been overdosing on museums, canals

and typical Amsterdam escapades then Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam is your perfect

answer for a bit of recuperation.

To get the most out of this oasis go in the


Hortus Botanicus only needs a couple of hours

of your time.

Go ahead, be inspired, take away some ideas and

make them your own in your home garden.

Opening Times

: Daily from 10am to 5pm.

Entrance fees

: Adults 8, 50 Euros, children (age

5 to 14) 4, 50 Euros.