Insider’s Guide: 5 Glorious Gardens


Roses are red,
Violets are blue.
We love a garden,
And how about you?

If you enjoy all things bright and beautiful, then we have the perfect holiday for you! Immerse yourself in the colours and wonderful fragrances of some of the most impressive gardens found in our Lakes and Mountains holidays.

Take a leisurely stroll at your own pace, or take a guided tour through one of our carefully selected gardens, the choice is yours. This carefully selected guide will bring you the best of the horticultural delights the Alpine region has to offer.

1. Mirabell Gardens in Salzburg, Austria
2. Isola Bella and Isola Madre in Lake Maggiore, Italy
3. Villa Garzoni in Montecatini, Italy
4. Ljubljana Botanical Gardens at the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia
5. Schynige Platte Botanical Alpine Garden in Bernese Oberland, Switzerland


1. Mirabell Gardens in Salzburg, Austria

 Fans of The Sound of Music will be familiar with the famous Mirabell Gardens, and some of the iconic scenes filmed there. You can re-enact the famous Do-Ri-Mi scene by parading through the Hedge Theatre like Maria and the Von Trapp children. Or hop up and down on the steps in front of the Mirabell Palace pretending it’s a piano!

However, if musicals aren’t your cup of tea, the Mirabell Gardens have plenty more to offer. The Hedge Theatre isn’t just famous because Julie Andrew’s danced her way through it; it is also one of the oldest hedge theatres north of the Alps.

These gardens were opened in 1854 by Emperor Franz Joseph and they have been recognised worldwide as a horticultural masterpiece ever since.

The gardens are believed to be so magnificent due to unique features such as the Dwarf Garden, or Zwerglgarten. These are quirky marble sculptures believed to be modelled on entertainers and servants of Archbishop Franz Anton Harrach, who created the garden in 1715.

Salzburg also plays host to the Water Gardens at Hellbrunn Palace which is renowned for its trick fountains. When the palace was built in 1612, water was always intended to be a definitive feature of the residence, mainly to provide entertainment. 400 years later, these fountains can still be enjoyed by visitors of any age; watch out for the hidden jets of water and mystical grottos!

Inghams recommends: For a stylish and contemporary hotel near to the gardens we recommend the Hotel NH Salzburg City close to the bustling town of Salzburg.

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2. Isola Bella and Isola Madre in Lake Maggiore, Italy

 Talk about being spoilt for choice! Lake Maggiore is a haven for garden lovers! There are two garden islands, Isola Bella and Isola Madra.

Bella (was previously known as Isola Inferiore) was mainly populated by a small community of fishermen. It wasn’t until 1630 that the aristocratic Borromeo family transformed this rocky island into something truly magnificent.

By shipping in soil, the sons of Carlo Borromeo were able to begin working with architects on the gardens and they were finally completed in 1671.

In the present day, when visiting the gardens, you can expect to see spectacular spring time display of camellias, rhododendrons, and azaleas spread across 10 terraces.

Also keep your eye out for the spectacular open air theatre and the unicorn at the top of the hill, which is the symbol of the Borromeo family.

The wonderful Isola Madre, measuring 220m wide and 330m long, is the biggest of the islands in Lake Maggiore. The island is mainly occupied by the fairytale botanical garden which is blessed with a micro-climate. Visitors often feel as though they are in a tropical environment as they are surrounded by wisteria, rare sub-tropical plants, exotic flowers and colourful birds.

Inghams recommends:
Due to its proximity to the town and the lake, the Hotel Astoria in Stresa is Inghams’ most popular hotel for Lake Maggiore.

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3. Villa Garzoni in Montecatini, Italy 

The Villa Garzoni is located on the Tuscan hillside near Montecatini and was the birthplace of Carlo Lorenzini, the author of the beloved children’s tale, Pinocchio. We tell no lies when we say that the Garzoni Garden is one of the most beautiful gardens in Italy!

The gardens took a staggering 170 years to create and construct and are famous for their ornate features, water fountains and statues.

Building into the hillside, these flowerbeds and waterfalls concertina down the hill to the bottom where the gardens open up to show stunning statues and other features.

If you are travelling as a couple, make sure you visit the labyrinth. It is believed that couples who walk through the labyrinth are guaranteed a life time of love, happiness and prosperity.

You can also visit the nearby butterfly house, which is a large greenhouse containing hundreds of different and exotic butterfly species.

Inghams recommends: Over here at Inghams we are garden enthusiasts! We think the best place to stay would be the Astoria Hotel as it is conveniently surrounded by the greenery of the Tettuccio spa gardens.

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4. Ljubljana Botanical Gardens at the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia

© 2015 Slovenian Tourist Board

The Botanical Gardens at the University of Ljubljana are world famous, and renowned for being the oldest cultural, scientific and educational gardens that the country has to offer. Thanks to the country’s climate, they offer an array of stunning gardens to enjoy.

Established in 1810, the gardens contain more than 4,500 different species and subspecies of flora, some of which are considered endangered and in need of preservation.

Enjoy your stroll through the arboretum, tropical glasshouse, water-gardens and a Mediterranean area, the entertainment and attractions of the gardens are endless!

The gardens are now officially part of the University of Ljubljana, but still open all year around for guests and visitors to come and admire the stunning array of plant life.

Not the one to miss is the International Wild Flower Festival in Bohinj each year that runs from the end of May to the beginning of June.

Inghams recommends: Set in the historic town centre of Ljubljana, the City Hotel is the perfect spot to set up camp and start exploring this town and its wonderful gardens.

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5. Schynige Platte Botanical Alpine Garden in Bernese Oberland, Switzerland

Graced with the monumental backdrop of the Eiger, Jungfrau and Mönch mountains, the Schynige Platte Botanical Alpine Garden is a stunning and unique wild garden that encourages you to climb, walk, clamber around and explore.

The garden took only one year to create. Construction work began in 1928 and the area was fenced off. The following year in 1929, the gardens opened their gates to the public.

Accessed by the scenic mountain railway, the garden sits just shy of 2,000m. There are over 600 native species of Swiss Alpine wild flowers to see and, in particular, this garden focuses on the research of high altitude flora.

If you fancy learning more about the research taking place, there is a zoology, geology and botany exhibition on offer. The gardens are open during the summer walking months, usually from May to October.

Inghams recommends: We recommend staying at the Hotel Alpenblick for its rustic Swiss charm and flower-bedecked balconies.

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