Where to See the Best Cherry Blossoms in Europe

From Bonn, Germany to London, U.K. discover where you can see Sakura this spring
Published 04/01/2022 by Becky Mumby-Croft

Sakura season is the delightful time of year when Japan turns a sugary shade of pink. During spring, dormant cherry blossoms erupt into delicate flowers that pop against the blue sky, symbolizing the end of winter and that a new life is on the horizon.

Sakura season has long been important in Japanese culture, with hanami (the art of “viewing flowers”) dating back to the Nara dynasty. Sakura blossoms signify the start of harvest, and due to their fleeting nature, have embodied ancient Japanese philosophies of embracing the fragility of life. The trees also symbolize good luck and hope, something that is more important than ever.

During spring, people in Japan celebrate sakura season by enjoying a picnic (and perhaps a little sake) with friends underneath the pink haze of the trees. If partaking in hanami in Japan seems too far away right now, don’t fret, the cherry blossom phenomenon is alive in Europe, too.

Cherry blossoms in the United Kingdom are bountiful but there is one place where admiring the fabled tree is truly special. The Grange in Kent was home to horticulturist Colin “Cherry” Ingram. On a trip to Japan in the early 1900s, he was beguiled by the beauty of the sakura so he sent back 50 species to the U.K. and planted them in his garden at The Grange, where he tended to them daily. Ingram died in 1981 but his legacy lives on. Once every April, The Grange opens its gardens to the public, allowing people to marvel at his life’s work.

United Kingdom

If heading to The Grange is difficult, you can also enjoy the sakura season more leisurely with a trip to Kew Gardens in London. The famed Royal Botanic Gardens is home to 63 different species of cherry blossom. Walk along the enchanting Cherry Walk, and you’ll inhale the scent of more than 1000 tulips, too. It is a true celebration of springtime.

London

Mutual respect is another reason there are cherry blossom trees throughout Europe. In the small Belgium city of Hasselt, you’ll find the largest Japanese garden in Europe. Hasselt also boasts one of the best sakura seasons, too.

Hasselt

In 1985, Hasselt became a sister city with the Japanese city of Itami. To maintain the bond between the two, they offered to donate a monument to each other. Itami got a carillon tower and Hasselt received their Japanese Garden. Opened in 1992, Hasellt’s Japanese Garden is a place of tranquillity, boasting koi ponds and traditional tea ceremonies. Explore the 225 types of cherry blossoms in the garden. Every April, a communal hanami takes place, which allows the public to enjoy the trees at their most glorious.

As sakura are symbolic, Japan gifts them to countries during times of hardship. After Germany’s reunification, Asahi TV, a Japanese TV channel, launched the “Sakura Campaign,” an initiative to send cherry blossoms to Berlin. The campaign raised around 1 million Euros, and 9,000 trees in total were gifted to the German capital.

Berlin

As sakura are symbolic, Japan gifts them to countries during times of hardship. After Germany’s reunification, Asahi TV, a Japanese TV channel, launched the “Sakura Campaign,” an initiative to send cherry blossoms to Berlin. The campaign raised around 1 million Euros, and 9,000 trees in total were gifted to the German capital.

Outside of the capital, you’ll also find cherry trees throughout Germany. In Bonn, discover Heerstraße in the Altstadt, otherwise known as “Cherry Tree Avenue.” Planted in 1980, the trees were also a gift from Japan. The cobbled street is a popular tourist attraction and draws nearly 50,000 people from all over the world every year.

Bonn

Another country that benefited from Japan’s generosity is Sweden. In 1998, Japan gave Swedish King, Carl XVI Gustaf more than 50 trees, which were planted in the popular Kungsträdgården, right in the heart of Stockholm.

Stockholm

Every April, when the cherry trees are in full bloom, the park hosts a festival celebrating Japanese culture. The event includes a Bunraku puppet theater, traditional music, Japanese cuisine and much more.

It’s not only northern Europe that becomes a cherry tree extravaganza during spring. Many places in southern Europe have a cherry tree explosion, too. One spectacular example is the Jerte Valley in the Spanish province of Cáceres.

Three hours away from Madrid, the drive is more than worth it. The valley has more than 2 million white cherry blossoms and when they’re in bloom, it makes for a stunning vista. Unlike ornamental cherry blossoms elsewhere, the ones in the Jerte Valley produce edible cherries. During March and April, the valley hosts celebrations to bring in the cherry blossom and then once the flowering has finished, visitors may harvest the cherries. What a delight!

Madrid