Lonely Planet review for Jardim Botânico
This exotic 137-hectare garden, with over 8000 plant species, was designed by order of the Prince Regent Dom João (later to become Dom João VI) in 1808. The garden is quiet and serene on weekdays and blossoms with families and music on weekends. Highlights of a visit here include the row of palms (planted when the garden first opened), the Amazonas section, the lake containing the huge Vitória Régia water lilies and the enclosed orquidário, home to 600 species of orchids. Also on-site is the Museu do Meio Ambiente, which opened in 2008 and houses temporary environmentally focused exhibits. English-language tours can be arranged by appointment. A pleasant outdoor café overlooks the gardens. Be sure to take insect repellent.