For some reason, despite repeatedly staying at a hotel only a few short blocks from Munich‘s Schloss Nymphenburg, I never made time to visit the Munich Botanical Garden. It’s surprising because the two attractions are neighbors. The garden is only a short walk along a gravel path north of the palace park with only a quiet wooded area separating them.
The nearly 53-acre Munich Botanical Garden features many different kinds of gardens as well as a greenhouse of more than an acre. There’s so much to explore that you could get lost in a maze of rhododendrons. Well, “lost.” The Munich Botanical Garden is so pleasant that you likely wouldn’t mind being lost for a while. It only took a single visit for me to realize this is a special spot in the city.
Alter Botanischer Garten
Today’s botanical garden is actually a replacement, so to speak. The city’s original garden, the Old Botanical Garden (Alter Botanischer Garten), was founded in 1812. Landscape architect Friedrich Ludwig von Sckell spent eight years planning and constructing the garden prior to its opening. Although it is no longer an active botanical garden, you can still visit the site. It’s just a few blocks north of Karlsplatz. Today it serves mostly as a park that is open to the public. But there are still some exotic species of trees growing there. A mere hint of the site’s past.
About Botanischer Garten München-Nymphenburg
Over the years the size of the Old Botanical Garden was decreased and eventually it was decided it should be relocated. In 1914 the Botanical Garden was moved to its current site in the city’s western Nymphenburg neighborhood. The current garden has approximately 16,000 species of plants. The Botanical Garden is fun to explore because you don’t know what you’ll find next. Beautiful plants can be found around each and every turn.
And there’s more than just plants to enjoy at the Botanical Garden. The gardens are decorated with beautiful porcelain figures from the nearby Nymphenburg Porcelain Factory. You can find, for example, colorful parrots and an accordion player adorning outdoor pedestals. Woodsy bee houses hang on walls both to intrigue guests and keep the local ecology buzzing. (If you’ll pardon the pun!)
The Gardens of Munich Botanical Garden
The outdoor area is a lovely place for a stroll regardless of the weather. And there is a section that will satisfy nearly every taste or plant preference. There are more formal gardens as well as more wooded areas. A huge rhododendron collection welcomes visitors from the southern entrance, just near Nymphenburg Palace Park.
There are endangered species gardens and a rose garden. There is a lake as well as a pump house from 1910 in the western part of the grounds. Seasonally, different areas will be in peak bloom at different seasons of the year. This means there’s always something special to see. Obviously the garden is arguably at its most beautiful during spring when the landscape is covered in blooming flowers in seemingly every color of the rainbow. It’s striking and simply lovely!
In addition to flowers and small plants, there is a large collection of trees and animals. I crossed paths with several squirrels and a snail.
Inside the greenhouse, there is a wide range of different species on display. From cacti and succulents to beautiful orchids to water plants with fish and shrimp. The species on display are from around the world.
Visiting the Munich Botanical Garden
Being a foreigner, I found the collection of plants at the Munich Botanical Garden really fascinating. Was I looking at a plant that, to locals, was especially odd or exotic? Was a plant that looked unique to me just a common everyday species for someone else? It forced me to evaluate each plant myself on its own merits. It was a thought I’d never had before.
Similarly, the Botanical Gardens have a small exhibit of local Bavarian plants. I found it especially interesting to be able to look at native species.
The garden is also home to unique, exotic plants. Just a day or two before I visited the Munich Botanical Garden (Botanischer Garten München-Nymphenburg) someone decided to rip off a chunk of a corpse flower that was about to bloom. To protect it, the garden placed a plastic bag over the flower. But the flowers do what flowers do. The flower attack is a good reminder of how exposed these plants are to the public. The Garden has several others that bloomed in the days and weeks following.
There are also fun events held at the Botanical Garden. The day I visited, a crowd was watching an a capella group sing. This ended up serving me well: everyone was watching the talented singers and the greenhouse was relatively empty. Be sure to check their schedule to see what fun events may be happening that you can enjoy.
Tram 17 and Bus 143 both have a Botanischer Garten stop. For those driving, there are some parking spaces near the main entrance on Menzinger Straße 65.
There are two entrances to the Botanischer Garten: a northern gate and a southern gate. If you’re visiting Nymphenburg, it’s only a short walk to the south entrance.
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All opinions, as well as all photos, are my own.