Happy New Year!! So, let’s talk a little bit about what cherry blossom trees are and why they are so popular. You may have come across these beautiful pink (or white) blooms already, which normally signal the start of spring. But have you ever wondered about their history?
There is more to these magnificent flowers than meets the eye. The most well-known species of cherry blossom is the Japanese cherry, which is commonly called Sakura (桜) and is one of the most important plants in Japan.
These trees have powerful ties with Japanese religion, history, culture and identity. Adding to their magic and mystique, the Sakura are usually in full bloom for a very short time, compared to other trees and plants.
Cherry blossoms are flowers that remind one of the beauty – and fragility – of life, as the falling petals are said to be a symbol of fleeting beauty in life. The mentioned trees have quickly gained popularity outside of Japan and are nowadays well known for their radiant, delicate and transient beauty all across the globe, and have also been planted in various places throughout Europe.
Seeing these Cherry Blossoms in all their beauty is a spectacular experience. In Japan, “Hanami” is the name given to the practice of eating and drinking to welcome the arrival of spring and enjoy the warm spring weather anywhere the gently falling cherry blossoms can be found, such as parks or by the riverside.
The good news is, you too can experience and celebrate Hanami, and you don’t even have to travel as far as Japan! As mentioned above, there are a few cities where you can observe these magical trees in Europe. We will list 10 of the best places below, if you are inclined, you can even take to a blossom European tour to the cities below.
10 Beautiful Places(Besides Japan) To See Cherry Blossoms In Europe That Will Surprise You
The timing of cherry blossom or sakura in Europe varies and it is hard to predict exactly, but in this article, you will find out during which periods the chances of blooming are the highest. Just to be sure though, you may want to check for an update on that specific place just before your trip to Europe. Be sure to also check out the essential travel accessories to pack for a trip to Europe as well as what to wear in Europe in Spring and Summer.
Okay, now that you know a little bit about why they are so important, let’s look at where you can witness their beauty with your own eyes!
First on the list, Budapest. There are a few places where you can find ornamental flowering cherries in the Hungarian capital. A European spring in Budapest brings beautiful blooms across the city.
A site that provides great postcard views of blooming beauty. To get there, hop on public transport to Szent Gellert Hill and walk up the hill where you see a large cross. There’s a cherry tree next to it, and if you walk upright to it, a spectacular view will open.
Füvészkert (25 Illés Street, 1083, Budapest)
The oldest and one of the most beautiful botanical gardens in the whole country. Have a picnic under cherry blossoms as you admire the scenery here at your own time, or attend the annual Cherry Blossom Festival which takes place in early – mid-April. Visitors can spend a weekend celebrating traditional Japanese art and culture, including origami and calligraphy exhibitions. Authentic Japanese tea is served and there are plenty of programmes to keep the little ones engaged. Learn more about Japanese culture surrounded by the Sakura in this botanical oasis away from the bustling city center… Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?
If you’re looking for a nice spot on the Buda side to admire the captivating flowers of the Sakura, take a stroll through Tóth Árpád Sétány, which is a wonderful promenade in the Castle District not far from Matthias’church and Fisherman’s Basiton, while at the same time enjoying the beautiful view over Buda. Basically, there will be two things pleasing your sight at the same time!
A popular recreational area stretching for around 2.5 km on the river Danube. It can easily be accessed by the historical Margaret Bridge on the south and the Arpad Bridge in the north. The Japanese Garden on Margaret Island’s northern end is one of Budapest’s most delightful places. Sometimes, the Tea School from Kyoto comes and holds traditional tea ceremonies here. Definitely one of the most proper and unique locations to discover the real beauty of Japanese cherry trees?
When to see them: depends on the weather. If March is warm, cherry trees could bloom as early as mid-March. If March is cold – and it usually is – April is more likely.
Next up, London. There are many locations in this big city and some of London’s best parks, that will make you feel almost like you’re in Japan. II have shared a posts showcasing the European cherry tree including that from our picnic in St James’ park which also has plenty of Cherry Blossoms in London.
I have covered the cool and secret place to find in Regents Park but, cnce you enter through Chester’s Road entrance, you will immediately notice a beautiful alley with tall Sakura trees on both of it sides. As the sun casts rays of sun on the cherry blossoms, you will not resist wanting to catch the beauty of the moment by taking a picture or two.
There are plenty of things to do in Greenwich and just behind the cricket ground in Greenwich Park, there is a road with Sakura trees planted along it that leads to a Georgian villa known as the Ranger House. The intertwined branches of flowering trees create a cotton candy-like arch that transforms your photos into a work of art.
This botanical paradise in London is in bloom from mid-April until the end of the month. Finding the Sakura here is easier than anywhere else – Kew Gardens have a very own cherry promenade, which begins at the Rose’s Garden, considered to be home to the Japanese cherry blossoms in London. Two rows of blooming trees form a pretty pink path toward the Temperate House, the world’s largest Victorian glasshouse.
We picked what we thought were the best locations, but you can also find cherry blossoms at St. James’s Park in Westminster, Kensington Gardens, Alexandra’s Palace, near St. Paul’s Cathedral and Kyoto Garden in Holland Park.
When to see them: Generally, April is cherry blossom month in London. But the blooms can appear as early as March — and last as late as May. If it’s been a mild spring, blossom arrives earlier.
Perhaps the best place to see the Sakura blossoms. An annual Japanese festival also takes place at Kungsträdgården in mid-April, with craft stands and snack stalls setting up just beneath the trees. It’s free to wander through the park – this also means a higher number of tourists and locals gather in the area at this time than during the days when there are no festivities. Luckily, there are other places to enjoy the gorgeous colour of these beauties.
200 meters from the heart of Mariaberget, there is an elegant oriental garden with Bonsai Trees that perfectly complement the Japanese cherry blossoms in the middle of the city.
The Luma Park
You’ll find around 50 of the gorgeous pink trees (and none of the crowds) at Lumaparken, just southeast of the city centre in Hammarby Sjöstad. To get there, take bus 74 from Skanstull, or take a short ride on the Tvärbanan from the city center directly to the center of the Luma Park, where you will find yourself surrounded by the Sakura immediately after you get off at the stop.
And if all the already mentioned locations won’t satisfy your needs, there is also Humlegården Park. One of the biggest parks in the city center, also home to cherry blossom trees that will make your time there magical.
When to see them: The official Day of the Cherry Blossom is on April 28th, but the trees can start blooming from as early as late March.
While it may seem like a surprising choice, Frankfurt is actually a great place to see cherry blossom trees and celebrate the beginning of Spring in Germany.
A beautiful avenue of cherry trees in the middle of a shopping area.
Cherry trees bloom at the Main River in Frankfurt am Main. Grab a cup of coffee or some delicious gelato and go for a stroll along the river, you will be amazed by the beauty of lines of the blossoms here.
As you walk through an ornamental gate in Bethmann Park in the east of the city, you are transported to a different world. Imagine the sun shining, birds singing, ducks chattering, and the cherry blossoms waiting just waiting to be admired in their full beauty.
When to see them: early March through April
Even though there is no official festival held to honour these trees in Paris, there are a lot of them scattered throughout the city during the time of their bloom.
Jardins du Trocadéro / Trocadéro Gardens
While Trocadero might offer a great place to watch the Parisian Sunrise, here you have the opportunity to enjoy the view of cherry blossoms with the Eiffel Tower in the background. These blossoms are some of the first to blossom (around the end of March) and longest lasting (through to the middle of April) in the city.
Near Notre Dame
Despite Notre Dame being under construction since the fire, it is still an important location, surrounded by a picturesque park on its eastern and western sides, which is a popular Sakura watching spot.
Jardin Des Plantes
One of the world’s leading botanical gardens, offering the widest variety of flowers, plants and trees which can be admired in Paris. And of course, it is also home to cherry blossoms. Here they are in bloom for a shorter period than in most places, often only for a few days. Choose this option for experiencing the cherry blossoms along with a big variety of other plants!
Square Gabriel Pierné
A peaceful corner with unique benches, located just behind the Institute de France, a few steps away from the Pont des Arts. A good option for cherry blossom experience if you want to avoid the crowds.
A handful of cherry blossoms, along with palm trees and fountains, a lovely place to visit. Grab a cup of coffee and sit on the bench surrounded by the trees in tranquility, watching as the passengers go by.
When to see them: From late March to early April
AMSTELVEEN IN HOLLAND (NEAR AMSTERDAM)
Kersenbloesempark (Cherry Blossom Park) at the Amsterdamse Bos is the best place to see cherry trees blossom in Holland. The 400 Sakura trees that stand at the Kersenbloesempark were gifted by the Japan’s Women’s Club in 2000. The cherry Blossom Festival takes place here every year, but it is a rather exclusive event, so it may be better to pick a random day in April and organize your own picnic under a cherry tree of your choice.
It is important to choose the right time to visit, you can keep an eye on this page which announces the time of the festival, which is a good guideline for when it is the best time to see the blossoms, of course it can be within a week’s window or so.
Getting to Kersenbloesempark from Amsterdam is about an hour-long journey. If you travel by public transport, you should get a bus to Amstelveen (the 347/348 leaves from Museumplein) and then walk just over a kilometer towards the woods. The park is easy to find and locals would help you with a smile on their face. Amstelveen is actually a cute town to explore, so you may want to take that into account when deciding whether to go. There are so many cherry trees here that it almost creates a tiny cherry blossom forest! What can be better than that?!
Alternatively, if you don’t feel like travelling outside of Amsterdam (although it is worth it!), you could visit Wester Park in Amsterdam, where you can also picnic and take picture on a pink carpet laid by the light pink petals and imagine you’re in a fairytale for a little while.
When to see them: Mid-March to early-April
Pack a picnic and go have it at the Meadows, a large public park in Edinburgh’s south is an absolute must, with avenues here lined with heavily laden trees. Have the best lunch ever as you soak in the pink scenery or stroll along the avenues of cherry blossoms.
Princes St. Gardens
An enchanting place, nestled in the shadow of 12th century castle, and divided into eastern and western sections by William Playfair’s monumental galleries on the Mound, the gardens have flower displays that are legendary. Observe them in blossom towards Edinburgh Castle – an unforgettable image that will stay with you forever.
When to see them: From late March to April or even early May.
A long arch of big pink boughs over a cobblestone street, makes you feel like the blossoms are in a way shielding you from the rain or anything that may come from the sky, they create a magical image. Heerstrasse is located in the Nordstadt neighborhood which is also home to the famous Beethoven House. It is relatively easy to find as the city center is walkable, and the public transportation network is well developed. Also, the locals will be able to tell you where to find the avenue as it is popularly known as the Cherry Blossom Avenue.
When to see them: April to early May
King Tomislav’s Square by the Art Pavilion
Among many cool things to do in Zagreb is checking out what this city looks like in Spring. In this elegant square in the centre of the city, one end is overlooked by the grand central train station, and at the other end stands the majestic 19th-century Art Pavilion.
Find cherry blossoms right by the King Tomislav’s statue to catch a panoramic view of the Art Pavilion and the Japanese cherry trees in one image
A handful of cherry trees tucked away from the city center on this lesser-known street, where you can take photos without fearing of other tourists photobombing. Also, it is a great opportunity to explore Zagreb’s neighborhood that you normally wouldn’t choose to go to, if it weren’t for the blossoms (definitely the most important thing though).
Also See: A Weekend In Zagreb
You can find two avenues of cherry blossoms along a section of where the Berlin Wall once stood, gifted by the Japanese when the wall came down. The trail is called the “Mauer Weg”. One is located around Lichterfelde Süd Station and the other around Bornholmer Straße.
Here is how to find it: after exiting the S-Bahn station, walk down Holtheimer Weg. You will pass a playground on the right-hand side with some cherry blossoms, but this is not it. Eventually continue west along Holtheimer Weg until it’s about to curve. At this point, you will aready see the cherry blossoms, which continue as far as the eye can see in both directions.
A ‘Hanami’ festival is held on the Berlin Wall Trail usually towards the end of April, Berlin’s longest cherry tree avenue every Spring between Teltow and Lichterfelde which combines art, culture and crafts.
However, these are not the only Sakura trees in Berlin. Here come other locations where you can find more of them, and even attend a festival:
Gärten der Welt (Gardens of the World)
Located in the Marzahn neighbourhood in East Berlin, it is a piece of paradise within the city. As you can probably already tell from its name, this is a place where you can experience different cultures in the form of a garden, as it is home to various small gardens from different countries.
The garden hosts a cherry blossom festival every spring. Check this website for the timing of the festival for the particular year.
When to see them: April to May, depending on weather.
There you go, these are the best places to see the Sakura trees in Europe, a lot of them! So, you see? It is not necessary to spend lots of money or worry about whether you will be able to have long vacations to go to Japan to see these magnificent trees and their blossoms! You can experience a little bit of Japan in any of these cities, and still have an undoubtedly amazing experience.
On a final note, cherry blossoms are a reminder for us, to pay attention to the small things as we live in the ever-fleeting moments, so we should appreciate the small details that aren’t going to stay around forever, and because of that, make life more wonderful.
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