1. Peterhof Gardens, Russia
When Peter the Great heard of the opulent palace of Versailles with its majestic gardens, he desired above anything else to have a Versailles of his own, and so, with his victories of Sweden, he ordered the construction of Peterhof (German for Peter’s court, pronounced in Russian as “Petergof”) which took centuries to complete.
The “Russian Versailles” is certainly a worthy rival to its French counterpart, with sculpted hedges and gilded statues all over the palatial gardens, the centerpiece of which is a fountain depicting the Biblical story of Samson slaying the lion.
2. Singapore Botanic Gardens, Singapore
The 160-year-old gardens have the distinction of being the only exotic garden in the world to be designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and are the highest-ranked park attraction in Asia, according to TripAdvisor. It includes a rainforest trail, a ginger garden, and a children’s garden (complete with treehouses, fountains and a maze).
But the main attraction is the National Orchid Garden, a center specializing in cultivating new orchid species for export all around the world. The orchid garden is also the only attraction in the park that charges an entry fee, but it's well worth the price.
3. Monet’s Garden, France
Few gardens, let alone private gardens, have a cultural impact anywhere near that of French Impressionist Claude Monet’s. The beautiful garden, with its Japanese bridge and waterlilies, has been eternalized by Monet’s brightly colored paintings.
Since 1966, Monet’s house and garden surrounding it have belonged to the French Academy of Fine Arts which has labored tirelessly to restore and preserve the garden in the image that is reflected in the artist’s paintings.
4. Kōraku-en Garden, Japan
Kōraku-en in Okayama is officially recognized as one of the three most magnificent gardens in Japan. The gardens were completed in 1700 under the directive of the local daimyo (or lord) and have changed very little in the consequent 319 years.
The gardens are built in direct view of Okayama castle and are exemplary of the unique Japanese aesthetic that has become famous all around the world. Needless to say, the park includes a large pond and perfectly-trimmed bushes.
5. Rapaura Watergardens, New Zealand
For a genuinely exotic experience, these gardens in the Coromandel Peninsula of New Zealand are the perfect fit, with meandering paths going through dense vegetation, a seven-tiered waterfall and a plethora of water lilies, orchids, begonias, and rhododendrons.
6. The Grotto, Oregon, USA
Though ostensibly a garden, The Grotto in Portland is actually an open-air Catholic church with the proper name of the National Sanctuary of our Sorrowful Mother. The Grotto was the brainchild of Friar Ambrose Mayer, a Canadian Catholic pastor who purchased the land from a railroading company.
The Grotto is separated into two levels, ground level and clifftop which is accessible via elevator. In the ground level, you can find many statues, the main shrine, and a trail through the park emulating the Stations of the Cross. Above, you can find additional shrines as well as a beautiful botanic garden.
7. Boboli Gardens, Italy
Florence is often considered the world capital of Renaissance art, and for good reason, as about half of Italy’s significant works of art can be found in this Tuscan city. And if The Grotto is an open-air church, then the Boboli Gardens are an open-air museum for Renaissance art.
The Boboli Gardens were built by the illustrious Medici family, perhaps the most famous patrons of art in history, and within can be found sculptures dating from the 16th-18th centuries made by some of the most famed artists of the time, as well as some Roman antiquities and an authentic Egyptian obelisk.