Attraction Reviews,  Things to Do

Chelsea Physic Garden Review: Horticulture Haven or Ho-Hum?

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As you may know, London is considered a forest, thanks to its large green spaces and the plethora of trees across the city… but that doesn’t mean there aren’t still lovely gardens to explore if you’re interested in flora.

Founded in 1673 to study medicinal plants the Chelsea Physic Garden is England’s second-oldest surviving botanical garden (and the oldest in London). In addition to being a lovely green space, it’s also interesting enough for rock stars – literally! (Mick Jagger celebrated his 80th birthday here.)

Chelsea Physic Garden Review

As quite a small garden, I wasn’t expecting much when I visited, but I was pleasantly surprised! Read through my Chelsea Physic Garden review to learn about visiting and hopefully, it will help you decide whether or not to add it to your London itinerary.

Bonus! As part of the London Pass, you can receive free admission to Chelsea Physic Garden (valued at £12.50pp in 2024!). Click here to read my London Pass review and click here to buy your own London Pass and save during your London trip.

Basics of Visiting Chelsea Physic Garden

Photo courtesy of Chelsea Physic Garden via Facebook

Before we dive into this Chelsea Physic Garden review, I’d like to mention a few pieces of info I think will help you decide whether you should throw a visit to this place in your itinerary.

Location & Transport

Chelsea Physic Garden is a short walk from the famous King’s Road – and very near the cafe Charlotte’s Cloud (which I dined at during my trip to the UK in November 2023 and highly recommend for brunch.)

If you’re traveling by Underground, the closest tube station is Sloane Square, which is a 17-minute walk away. For a more direct route, take Bus 170 (towards Victoria Station) instead, which will stop right outside the garden. If you’re driving, there is parking around the garden or over at Battersea Park, which is a 10-minute walk across Albert Bridge, over the River Thames. 

Hours, Admission & Tickets

Chelsea Physic Garden is open Sunday to Friday – it’s closed on Saturdays – from 11am to 5pm, with the last entry at 4:30pm.

Adult tickets cost £13, or £15 with a voluntary donation. The ticket includes a free 45-minute guided tour, which was my favorite part of my time at Chelsea Physic Garden. There are a few sessions a day, and the timings will be indicated on a blackboard as you arrive. (Unfortunately, as the tours are run by volunteers, there is no guarantee that one will be running at the time and day of your visit, so I recommend checking online before you visit.)

For something special, the garden runs special events, such as an After Dark Nature Walk and Soap Making Workshops. However, most involve an extra cost.

Food Options & Facilities

Photo courtesy of Chelsea Physic Garden via Facebook

Any review of Chelsea Physic Garden wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the cafe-restaurant, which has both outdoor and indoor seating. 

I had drinks and cake outside, and it was lovely. (The food is fresh and tasty, but London-priced. Also, keep in mind that the food served on the terrace is different from the food served inside.) When the weather is good, sitting outside with a book, and maybe afternoon tea (for £28) is a great way to relax and get away from London’s hustle and bustle. 

Gift Shop & Souvenirs

To make this Chelsea Physic Garden review complete, I made sure to check out the gift shop too. It’s small, but lovely, with some unique gift offerings, such as local honey, as well as the standard tea towels and other home goods (all plant-themed). My friend ended up buying some of the botanical soaps as souvenirs. 

My Experience at Chelsea Physic Garden

Photo courtesy of Chelsea Physic Garden via Facebook

A friend suggested visiting Chelsea Physic Garden when she visited London. It was a bit of a last-minute meeting so I didn’t have time to look the garden up before visiting – I hadn’t heard of it before as it’s a bit of a hidden gem – and, to be honest, wasn’t expecting much.

Thankfully, I was mistaken and very much enjoyed my visit, as I learned a lot about plants and the history of the garden. (The guide is super knowledgeable!)

For example – did you know that the original name of Chelsea Physic Garden was Apothecaries’ Garden and that it was established by the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries to grow plants to use as medicine?

I really enjoyed exploring the sections dedicated to edible, useful, and medicinal plants, as well as the garden’s famous greenhouses (which have recently reopened.) However, keep in mind that these are useful plants, and not ones grown for their beauty, so don’t expect bountiful flower blossoms.

As the tour only runs for 45-60 minutes, it can’t cover everything in the garden so don’t forget to check out the UK’s largest olive tree and the beautiful Pond Rookery, which is next to the Garden of Medicinal Plants. (It was built in 1773, and thought to be the first of its kind in the world.)

So, the million-dollar question: is Chelsea Physic Garden worth it? 

It is one of the smaller gardens I’ve visited (only four acres in size) but, if you’re interested in plants, science, or photography – the garden is a beautiful backdrop for photos – then yes. (It’s also a great place to keep cool when London is experiencing a heatwave in summer.) Just bear in mind that it is much, much smaller than somewhere like Kew Gardens.  

I would highly recommend trying to visit on a day when the guided tours are run as that was the best part of the visit. (If not, there are also information labels on the plant beds, but some people may feel that the ticket is overpriced given the garden’s petite size.)

Still have questions about visiting after reading my Chelsea Physic Garden review? Let me know in the comments below!

Don’t Forget! As part of the London Pass, you can receive free admission to Chelsea Physic Garden (valued at £12.50pp in 2024!). Click here to read my London Pass review and click here to buy your own London Pass and save during your London trip.

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Zhen fell in love with London when she first visited at the age of 4. After that, she was lucky to have the opportunity to live in UK for 11 years, 7 of which were spent in London. (She particularly adores the areas around Kensington, Southwark and Baker Street!) As someone who loves both food and travel – don’t we all? – you can find her sharing her Asian food recipes over at greedygirlgourmet.com.

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