Villa Hanbury, Italy: gardens in Liguria among the most beautiful in Italy

Photo of Villa Hanbury (Liguria region)

Villa Hanbury Hotels

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Visit Villa Hanbury

Villa Hanbury, in western Liguria near the Italian border with France, is a villa well known for its splendid botanical gardens - officially the Giardini Botanici Hanbury - dating from the 1860s.

The gardens were originally established by an English gentleman called Sir Thomas Hanbury with the goal of establishing and integrating plants from around the world and are now managed by Genoa University.

Visiting Villa Hanbury

small temple in Villa Hanbury gardens

Combining elements of the original 19th century garden design and with further specialist input from several landscape designers and botanists, the resulting garden is a very lovely series of gardens featuring almost 6000 species of plant and generally considered to be one of the finest botanical gardens in Europe.

Many of the semi-tropical plants are also among the longest established examples to be found in Europe.

The setting on the hills sloping down to the sea is as impressive as the gardens themselves. The well-planned gardens at Villa Hanbury are full of both native and exotic plants that have flourished here, many scattered along the pathways that lead to the sea.

There are different paths to follow (clearly marked with red and blue arrows) for the outward and return walk so even more chance to see new things!

path through the gardens

There are secret pathways and hidden corners to discover and explore throughout the gardens as well as numerous garden features such as statues, caves and fountains.

You can also see the ornamental tomb of Sir Thomas Hanbury and his wife with its Moroccan style pavilion and there is even a part of an original Roman road, not to mention the views out to sea.

Personally I know little about individual species of garden plant and just like exploring a 'nice garden' but garden enthusiasts will be interested in the collections of plants here, some of which are very famous. The most popular collections are of salvias, agaves and aloes while others include citrus trees, rare orchard trees, Australian palms and cacti...and lots of others whose names I am sure you would recognise if I remembered them!

Villa Hanbury visitor information

Admission costs around 6 euros, which is a bargain given the size and quality of the gardens, and how long you will spend exploring Villa Hanbury. Your ticket enables you to explore the gardens and the villa terrace with the loggia but not the inside of the villa.

cafe near the sea

The garden slopes quite steeply in places so we recommend sensible shoes. Access will be difficult for those with limited mobility. You should also bring a bottle of water if it is hot, because you might find you are here longer than you expect (there is also a small cafe where the gardens are close to the sea).

As with almost all gardens in Europe, ideally you will visit Villa Hanbury between the middle of April and the middle of July, but you will find lots to enjoy at almost any time of year.

I should also mention a couple of 'challenges' that have occasionally been reported by visitors, not to put you off coming but so that you know what to expect.

There is no dedicated car parking for the villa so you need to find a space to park on the road near the entrance which is not ideal but not usually a big problem. Also visitors occasionally report that the gardens are not well maintained and weeded at some times of year, and that the cafe runs out of snacks very quickly in high summer (you can bring a picnic if you prefer)...

...and although it is almost always sunny here, if you visit the villa in the rain in December it is clearly going to be less fun than visiting on a warm afternoon in May or June!

Balzi Rossi

When you have enjoyed the gardens at Villa Hanbury we suggest you visit the nearby caves at Balzi Rossi. These caves were inhabited in prehistoric times and contain burial sites and are one of the most important prehistoric sites in Italy

They are in a very picturesque setting in the cliffs on the coast on the border between Italy and France.

Where is Villa Hanbury?

Villa Hanbury is at Mortola, at the western end of Liguria near the border between Italy and France and close to Ventimiglia.

You can find more local travel ideas in the Liguria guide.

See also:

Map of Villa Hanbury and places to visit

Places to visit near Villa Hanbury

Ventimiglia

Ventimiglia

Almost on the French border, Ventimiglia has a small beach and several historic highlights

Ventimiglia guide

Dolceacqua

Dolceacqua

The charming historic centre of Dolceacqua includes an ancient bridge across the river and a ruined castle

Dolceacqua guide

Bordighera

Bordighera

The town of Bordighera has a pleasant promenade and old town, and 19th century villas and gardens of interest

Bordighera guide

Apricale

Apricale

Apricale is a lovely medieval village surrounded by forested hills in western Liguria

Apricale guide

Sanremo

Sanremo

Once the best known resort in Liguria, San Remo retains a great deal of its belle epoque charm

Sanremo guide

Bussana Vecchia

Bussana Vecchia

The ghost village of Bussana Vecchia, destroyed by an earthquake in 1887, is now an evocative local arts centre

Bussana Vecchia guide