Barbican Conservatory: Green escapes in Central London

Barbican Conservatory Travel Guide Europe Great Britain England United Kingdom London

London is full of hidden gyms.and secret locations. Despite spending years working around the corner. Even when I found out about it, I couldn’t get tickets. I did eventually get tickets for the Barbican Conservatory when they hosted an art show using lights in the gardens. Unfortunately for this to take full effect, it meant it had to be dark. So I couldn’t enjoy the flowers in full bloom.

But a few weeks back the days were getting brighter and I saw some spaces available so I booked a couple of tickets. This hidden gem in London is free to visit and with cities being so expensive something fun and free is always appreciated. Cities are fantastic if you want to do a lot of things quickly, but I always find I am seeking out green spacies. Especially in London which can feel like a overcrowded concrete jungle when you spend a lot of time there.

The Barbican Conservatory is actually above the Barbican Theatre which makes it unique. Across the city you can find a lot of rooftop gardens, but being above a theatre is definitely a rarity and definitely stands out as a unique attaction in London. I actually couldn’t believe I was in the right place as I walked through the Barbican Centre. It is an older building, having been built in the 1970’s. The Barbican’s architecture does now feel a little dated compared to some of London’s newer attractions. But the staircase has big windows overlooking the water gardens just outside. I had missed these on my previous visit. It was too dark to notice on my first visit, but it was London’s first beautifully sunny day after a particularly bitter winter when I visited so it became a beacon to Londoners who wanted to bask in the sun.  

A walk in the Garden

I was looking forward to coming back here. Last time I visited at night and enjoyed it, but I was more excited to see the flowers during the day. I made my way up the stairs to the promised tropical oasis in London, at the entrance if you already have a ticket there’s a seperate queue, but there was some space for walk-ins if you wanted to try on the off-chance. Tickets are free although they do kindly request a donation to help support the gardens, which is more than reasonable. After showing my ticket, I was allowed to enter and explore at my own pace. 

Barbican Conservatory Travel Guide Europe Great Britain England United Kingdom London

The heat really hits you though as you walk in. It is a greenhouse after all, and the heat is to accommodate the flora and fauna. There isn’t a set route to follow, rather one that you end up going naturally through. But being surrounded by so much greenery in the heart of London is fantastic to wander through. The plants tower over and encompass you in the flora, making it easy to forget you’re actually in the middle of a city. There are a few benches for you to sit on whilst exploring and just enjoy the flowers. Travelling often involves a lot of rushing about, so it is nice to sit and relax occasionally. Botanical Gardens always smell amazing too, all those exotic flowers together make a symphony of scents that is always uplifting. 

You won’t find much in the way of wildlife at the Barbican Conservatory, although there are a few animals. You can see fish swimming in the ponds, and looking down from the walkway you can see some turtles relaxing in a few shallow pools. 

Grabbing photos for the gram

A friend of mine joined me as I walked around the conservatory. I had just treated myself to a new camera lens and was excited to test it (Sony 18-105 f/4 for anyone interested). So we used the flowers as a backdrop for a model shoot. If you want some photos of yourself then the Barbican Conservatory is definitely one of London’s most instagrammable locations. 

When I was finished with my photos I took a stroll outside to the water gardens outside. There are loads of places to sit and enjoy the weather, as well as a bar and restaraunt with outdoor seating. I took a seat by the water and took a few snaps whilst I checked my map. My next destination was a rooftop bar nearby called the Aviary. My friend had been urging me to go for months and I thought after the heat of the conservatory I deserved an ice cold beer. I would recommend leaving by goimng back through the theatre, I tried to fin an alternative exit and ended up getting lost. The Barbican itself is a bit of an urban jungle and I very quickly got turned around.

The Barbican Conservatory is worth visiting on any trip to London. If you are a tourist then it would be easy to put into your schedule. But if your a local and have plans already in the evening then set aside a few hours in the afternoon and visit here first. If you are a photoghrapher as well its a fantastic place to visit as there are so many photo oppourtunities at the Barbican. On my list of London’s green spaces it is one of my favourites to visit and perfect if you fancy a day of London sightseeing on the cheap.  

Barbican Conservatory FAQ’s

How much does admission to the Barbican Conservatory cost?

Tickets are free but it is suggested you make a donation to help with the running costs.

How do I book tickets?

You can book tickets directly with the Barbican. I have attached a link to the booking page below. 

Do I need to book in advance?

If you want your entry to the Barbican Conservatory gauranteed it is advised to book, but you can always walk up and try. They do have a walk-ins only time between 9 and 12 each day. 

Where should I go next?

There are loads of places nearby that you can visit in London. You can check out more London Guides using the link below, or for some of the latest activities I have attached a link  to Get Your Guide. By booking through the link I will receive a commission from your purchase. 

What else can I do in the Barbican?

There are so many things to do in the Barbican. It is a theatre so you can book tickets to see a show. If you are hungry theres a lovely restaraunt just below. Lots of people like to come and sit in the water gardens. With a few drinks and the water providing a bit of cooling its perfect on a hot summer day.

Does the Barbican conservatory have wildlife?

There are only two animals in the conservatory, fish and tortoises. Both are kept at a distance so if you are uncomfortable with animals you will be fine. 

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