Utrecht University Botanic Gardens

The Utrecht University Botanic Gardens is the largest academic botanical garden in the Netherlands. It is located on the eastern side of Utrecht and is open to visitors. Book Utrecht University Botanic Gardens tickets here

At 100,000m² in area it is about 8 times larger than the Hortus Botanicus in Amsterdam. It has a spectacular setting including a large rock garden built on the bunkers of an old fort. It has a collection of around 10,000 plant species.

The Utrecht University Botanic Gardens originate back to 1639 and were first located at the Sonnerbergh site in the city centre. In 1723 the garden was moved to a larger spot on the city’s Nieuwegracht.

It came to the current location at Fort Hoofddijk in 1963. The fort was previously part of the military defenses known as the New Dutch Waterline, an 85km chain connecting 45 forts, 2 castles and 6 strongholds – which is now nominated for UNESCO World Heritage status.

The Utrecht University Botanic Gardens is involved in education, research and conservation of endangered plants.

The Botanic Gardens in Utrecht has the following features:

Rock Garden

As you enter into the Botanic Gardens, you will see the 12m high rock gardens across the water, one of the largest rock gardens in Europe. It is built on top of the bunkers of Fort Hoofddijk with rocks from the Belgian Ardennes. It was the first garden to be planted here.

It holds a good variety of rock plants with both wet and dry habitats and there is a small waterfall at the back. You can climb to the top for a good view of the gardens.

utrecht botanic gardens fort hoofddijk
Fort Hoofddijk
utrecht botanic gardens waterfall
Part of the waterfall
utrecht botanic gardens cactus plant
Cactus plant in the Rock Garden

Bamboo Bush and Taxodium Marsh

As you walk towards the greenhouse area the path winds its way through numerous species of bamboo. It also includes wetlands and some Japanese and Chinese plants.

utrecht botanic gardens bamboos

Tropical Greenhouses

One of the highlights of the gardens are the tropical greenhouses which include orchids and bromeliads, tropical climbing plants and food plants. The butterfly enclosure is perhaps the most popular spot in the greenhouses – although it is currently closed awaiting a permit.

utrecht botanic gardens greenhouse
Utrecht Botanic Gardens – greenhouses
utrecht botanic gardens tropical greenhouse
Tropical greenhouse
utrecht botanic gardens butterflies

Discovery Garden

From the greenhouses head through the Wisteria tunnel to the Discovery Gardens. Here are a number of themed garden including a medicinal garden.

utrecht botanic gardens wisteria tunnel
Wisteria tunnel
utrecht botanic gardens discovery gardens
Discovery Gardens

Insect Meadow & Bee hotel

This garden has been made to stimulate insect life and bring in small animals. There are bee hives (honey on sale at the shop) and bee hotels for solitary bees.

Birders Den

This is a small wooden hide where you step inside and can look out for some birds feeding close-up. On our visit we saw common garden birds such as tits and finches.

North American woodland garden

Just before the bamboo walk is a small new area with species from the north-eastern part of USA.

Evolution garden

This is a new Evolution Garden (the Green Time Machine) which is due to open in 2025 and designed with fractal patterns. It will take you through plant evolution from single-cell algae to fully flowering plants.

Facilities on site include the Botanica cafe by the entrance which has an outside terrace. There is also a small shop.

utrecht botanic gardens botanica cafe
Botanica Cafe
utrecht botanic gardens terrace
Botanica Cafe terrace

Due to its size and spectacular fort location, the Utrecht University Botanic Gardens are a must visit for any garden and plant enthusiasts. You can spend a lovely few hours wandering about.

Of further interest in Amsterdam is the small Zuidas Botanic Garden in Amsterdam Zuid. Or the world renowned Keukenhof Gardens in Lisse which is only open in the springtime.

Utrecht University Botanic Gardens Essential Info

Opening Hours

Open daily 1000-1630 between 1 March and 30 November.

Utrecht University Botanic Gardens Tickets & Admission

€10 for adults, €4.50 for youths/children 4-17. Free for children 0-3 and Museumkaart holders.

Book Utrecht University Botanic Gardens tickets here

How to Get to Utrecht University Botanic Gardens

The Utrecht Botanic Gardens are located in the east of Utrecht in the Science Park area. Take U-OV bus 28 from Utrecht Central to bus stop ‘Botanische Tuinen’. On weekdays you can also take U-OV tram 20/21/22 from Utrecht Central to the ‘Padualaan’ stop.

There is a car park opposite the entrance on Princetonlaan which is free at weekends, paid during the week.

Here’s how to travel to Utrecht

Address / Contact

Utrecht University Botanic Gardens, Budapestlaan 17, 3584 CD Utrecht
T: +31(0)20 620 4879,

This article was first published on 17 April 2024.

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