I have been living in Greece for almost seven years but until now I never even heard about the Diomedes Botanic Gardens. The gardens lie in the Chaidari neighborhood in the western part of Athens and are easily accessible by public transport. To get there take the blue line of the metro to Agia Marina station and then the bus number 866, 811 or A16. The opening hours are 10:00 – 15:00, at least on the weekends and the gardens are closed during the summer months. There is a cafe at the entrance and surprisingly, there is no entrance fee.
The Diomedes Botanic Gardens first opened to the public in 1975 on the grounds donated to the Greek State by the politician and economist Alexander Diomidis. On its 1860 acres, one can admire up to 2500 species of plants!
From the entrance, the gardens look just like one big beautiful park with large trees and paths zigzagging underneath them. But after a bit of exploration, we discovered flowerbeds with colorful blossoms, herb gardens, pools filled with Water Lilies and turtles hiding underneath their leaves, greenhouses full of various cactuses and a beautiful bamboo grove. All this accompanied by a delicious scent of the flowers and the ever-present multicolored butterflies. There is a network of narrow paved paths passing through the flowerbeds and over the pool so you can get a closer look.
The gardens are a great place to escape the hustle of the city for a while and to enjoy a walk through the woods or a picnic in the grass next to the flowerbeds. Or, if you are a passionate photographer like me it’s a great opportunity to get lost for hours between the flowers in the pursuit of the perfect picture.
To add a bit of a history to the trip visit the stunning 11th-century Daphni Monastery just outside of the grounds.