Trsteno Arboretum: The Palace Gardens of the Red Keep

Hands up who knows what an arboretum is.

I don’t know about you, but all I’m hearing right now is a whole bunch of crickets and maybe the faint echo of tumbleweed drifting past in the wind.

An arboterum, for those of you who don’t know, is, according to Oxford Dictionaries, a botanical garden devoted to trees. Although, for the sake of fluffing this piece up a bit, let’s take a look at this bloody fantastic description provided by the Free Dictionary:

A place where an extensive variety of woody plants are cultivated for scientific, educational, and ornamental purposes

I guess somebody out there had a lot on their mind when they apparently forgot the word for “woody plants“.

Given that I sort of maybe kind of have a pretty extensive educational background in Latin languages, I should have twigged (no pun intended) what an arboretum was by the word alone.

Arbor is Latin for tree.

Árbol is Spanish for tree. The first full book I read in Spanish was called El otro árbol de Guernica. It was the bane of my pre-University existence and so árbol is a word I will never forget.

Albero is Italian for tree.

Arbre is Catalan (and French, apparently) for tree.

Arboretum, in Latin, quite literally means a place grown with trees arbor (tree) + etum (the suffix used in Latin to form the name of gardens and woods).

Etymologically it all makes sense.

And as a person who makes a living out of speaking the aforementioned languages, I should have made the link. But I didn’t.

What I expected was a blooming garden full of pretty flowers in exotic colours, maybe some butterflies flying about the place and a hummingbird or two. You know, your typical botanical garden image.

What I got was basically an organised forest. A lot of trees, all neatly planted in little clusters or rows, the occasional hornet and a fishpond.

Situated about 18km away from the city of Dubrovnik, Trsteno Arboretum is the oldest arboretum in that part of the world.

Which part of the world is that? I hear you ask. Well, I couldn’t tell you. I got that fact from Wikipedia, and the tiny writing next to it says [clarification needed] but I assume it means the Balkans? Eastern Europe? Europe in general?

Either way, it’s a really old arboretum, dating back to at least the late 15th century. Super old. It was originally created by the noble Gozze family, local to the area, but since 1948 it’s been the property of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts. It sustained some damage as a result of the Croatian War of Independence and a forest fire in 2000, but it’s still holding out, going and growing strong.

As much as I love a good tree (and I really do!), I didn’t actually visit for the trees. The only reason I went to Trsteno Arboretum was because I’m a bloody big Game of Thrones fan and I mean, how could I not not visit the palace gardens of the Red Keep?!

Is it sad that I visited the arboretum solely for the sake of that view? Maybe, but I don’t even care because I was a Tyrell for the day!

You can walk the whole of the arboretum and pretty much see all it has to offer in less than an hour, which brings about the question of why so many people on TripAdvisor and other review sites recommend it as “the perfect way to spend an afternoon“.

Unless you’re absolutely fanatical about all things trees, I promise you that you’ll be done in an hour! Maybe one and a half in the summer when things are looking a little more lively. An afternoon would be pushing it big time.

Within the grounds of the arboretum, aside from an absolute multitude of trees, there’s also a pretty cute looking building, a former summer residence. These days I think it’s some sort of hotel/restaurant type place. I mean, it has a Trip Advisor recommended sticker so has to be something, right?

There’s also a tiny little church and a pretty jazzy fountain which sort of forms part of the fish pond. I really want to say it’s a koi pond but I’m as much a fish expert as I am a tree expert so I’ll hold off on any potentially inaccurate observations there.

Spending an hour walking around the gardens was nice. Pleasant, even. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it’s the best place where an extensive variety of woody plants are cultivated for scientific, educational, and ornamental purposes I’ve ever been to!

Opening Times & Prices

May to October: 7am-7pm

November to April: 8am-4pm

Entry is apparently 5oKN per adult and 30KN per child. However, I’m not entirely sure how well-enforced that is. I didn’t pay. Not because I’m a criminal, but because there wasn’t a choice. The ticket booth was all locked up but the gates wide open, so either they just didn’t care or I broke all sorts of laws that day!

Evidence there was no option to pay!

How to Get to Trsteno Arboretum

Getting to Trsteno from Dubrovnik is super easy. Obviously if you have a car you can, you know, drive. Otherwise bus is definitely your best bet.

There are at least 7 daily departures from the main Dubrovnik bus station:

7:15am, 08:00am, 10:00am, 14:15pm, 15:30pm, 16:00pm and 21:00pm

The ride takes between 20 to 40 minutes and costs somewhere between 2 to 3 Euros, although in Croatian Kuna of course.

There’ll be signs leading up to your stop, but if you don’t see these and your bus driver isn’t helpful just look for a really big tree!

To come back, the buses leave from the bus stop next to the aforementioned big tree at:

6:17am, 10:16am, 12:20am, 15:30pm and 21:20pm

And finally, the pièce de résistance…

The Really Big Tree

Okay, so this is without a doubt the shining glory of Trsteno Arboretum. This, ladies and gentle folk, is an oriental plane tree and is apparently all kinds of a big deal. There are two at the arboretum and according to Wikipedia (and the sign at the arboretum) they are unique specimens of its kind in Europe and more than 500 years old.


I’ll admit, up close they are frighteningly large. Also, I saw three different Korean couples cycle past, stop to take a gazillion photos of and with the tree and then move on without even entering inside of the arboretum. So yeah, I guess oriental plane trees are famous in the tree world!

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36 Comments

  1. 18th April 2017 / 12:03 pm

    Your write really good – love your sense of humour!

    • rhiydwi
      23rd April 2017 / 3:36 pm

      Thank you so much! 😀

  2. Nicole
    18th April 2017 / 1:55 pm

    Wow. I had never heard of those trees before. They look really cool and this looks like a great lace to explore.

  3. Jean
    18th April 2017 / 2:28 pm

    It looks like an amazing place to grow, develop and enjoy the fruits of your labor with all the big woody trees! That really big tree looks really amazing! I’d love to try hug this tree

  4. 18th April 2017 / 3:51 pm

    Very cool! I love visiting parks and botanical gardens. I must add arboretums to the list as well!

  5. 18th April 2017 / 4:57 pm

    I’m a GOT fan as well and this info. about the Red Keep gardens is awesome. I’d love to visit this place and be a Tyrell for a day also!

  6. 19th April 2017 / 3:47 am

    You’ve done it again, made something quite interesting… trees. Although, I think trees are beautiful. They are just so grandiose and fragile. I saw some architecture in between those trees, sneaky bastards how did those get there? 😉

    • rhiydwi
      23rd April 2017 / 3:36 pm

      I don’t know what you’re talking about – trees are always an interesting day-to-day topic of conversation for me 😉

  7. 19th April 2017 / 3:50 am

    Didn’t know about this place when we went to Dubrovnik … it’s a pity we missed it! Went to the Perediniya gardens in Sri Lanka and I am sure I would have loved this as well. Such an awesome place for a picnic!

  8. 19th April 2017 / 4:36 am

    What a unique thing to do! The look for a really big tree part made me giggle…

  9. 19th April 2017 / 10:54 am

    Oh! That’s a new English word I learnt today. Though I had come across the word when I went to some conservatories, I never bothered to look up its meaning! So, thank you!
    Oh, GoT was shot here?? Again that gets my attention!!!
    And OMG, that tree is indeed frighteningly large, going by the size of the palm trees and hoardings beside it!

    • rhiydwi
      23rd April 2017 / 3:35 pm

      I’ve seen it in some places before but always assumed it was just an un-translatable foreign word. I had no idea we actually use it in English.

  10. 19th April 2017 / 11:49 am

    Really beautiful place and one you did a great job of capturing in your photographs. That being said, I have to admit that I knew what an arboretum was… Guess that doesn’t exactly make me a linguistic genius but this place would be a great day trip out of Dubrovnik.

  11. 19th April 2017 / 12:44 pm

    Wow! I love your pictures. It’s my first time to hear the word arboretum. I would love to visit one someday. 🙂

  12. 19th April 2017 / 2:16 pm

    Hahah, oh man, the place definitely has an interesting vibe! Not sure whether you chose a good day to visit, but it seems like one of those places that receive very little people-which is great for travelers! It seems so peaceful 🙂

    • rhiydwi
      23rd April 2017 / 3:34 pm

      Aside from an elderly couple who gave me an odd look as I walked past (clearly wondering why on earth someone was visiting in Winter!) I was the only one there!

  13. 19th April 2017 / 2:38 pm

    This looks like a tranquil arboretum (new word to add to my dictionary) to walk around, even if it didn’t end up being a colourful garden. I like it and would be a mind cleansing walk. Thanks for sharing!

  14. 19th April 2017 / 8:51 pm

    This is a very charming place! It looks really quaint and peaceful. Perfect for a stroll or quiet escape!

  15. Amanda Tran
    20th April 2017 / 6:16 am

    It’s so strange but I’ve recently become so much more interested in trees so I really enjoyed this post. I particularly love your language lesson at the start (I also had no idea what a arboterum is). That tree looks huuuuuuge, I wonder how it measures up to the “largest tree on earth” which is in Sequoia NP in the US.

    • rhiydwi
      23rd April 2017 / 3:33 pm

      Thanks Amanda, I’m glad you enjoyed! I just searched that tree on Google and now I must visit asap!

  16. 20th April 2017 / 8:51 am

    That’s something new I learnt ! You don’t come across many blogposts that bring out a fresh new concept. Good work 🙂

    • rhiydwi
      23rd April 2017 / 3:32 pm

      Thank you Meghana 🙂

  17. 20th April 2017 / 2:29 pm

    Haha, the only reason why I knew what it meant is because we actually use the same word (arborétum) in Hungarian, and I grew up in Hungary. But I’ve never heard anyone use that word anywhere else, especially the UK (botanical garden, yes, but arboretum? never), so I totally understand your confusion. I love them, mostly because they’re nice and peaceful, but I’ve no idea how you would spend an entire afternoon there. Unless you’re having a picnic? 😀

    • rhiydwi
      23rd April 2017 / 3:32 pm

      Oh wow, that’s interesting! I feel like a lot of the languages in mainland Europe still use a lot of “old” words like this! It’s a shame we dropped it back in Shakespeare’s days!
      I know – a whole afternoon would be way too excessive, even for someone who’s job was to study plants.

  18. Chiara
    20th April 2017 / 7:40 pm

    I’m a tree hugger aka love trees and I’m so sad I missed this when I visited Dubrovnik. The Arboretum seems so beautiful and unique, thanks for sharing 🙂

    • rhiydwi
      23rd April 2017 / 3:30 pm

      It would have been the perfect place for you in that case!

  19. 21st April 2017 / 3:55 pm

    I love arboretums… trees deserve such spaces in every city… and hey its another GoT shooting location! So I must visit it some day.
    Did you try to reenact you favorite GoT scenes in the garden? 😛

    • rhiydwi
      23rd April 2017 / 3:30 pm

      Hahaha, maybe. 😉 I did try to do my own Olenna Tyrell impression, but being there alone meant noone was there to capture it 😉

  20. 22nd April 2017 / 3:02 am

    I’m a landscape architect, I enjoy reading your blog post. You have a lot of great photos in your review. Thank you for sharing, and keep up the good work.

    Halef – the Round The World Guys

    • rhiydwi
      23rd April 2017 / 3:29 pm

      Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed reading.

  21. 22nd April 2017 / 8:05 am

    It looks so nice there, though I can’t really imagine spending a whole afternoon there. Sometimes I wonder what these people on trip advisor see when they visit places haha! I’ve never actually watched GoT, but the view looks amazing anyway!
    xo April | April Everyday

    • rhiydwi
      23rd April 2017 / 3:29 pm

      I know right?! I could have been in and out in 15 minutes had I not had more than an hour to wait for the bus!

  22. 22nd April 2017 / 6:06 pm

    The Arboretums I have been to usually have flowers as well but it is nice to see a place that actually is what the title says it is. Nice photos. I am sure it is even better in person.

    • rhiydwi
      23rd April 2017 / 3:28 pm

      Thank you! I imagine in the summer months there’d be a bit more colour with some flowers and other plants, but mostly it really was just trees.

  23. 24th April 2017 / 11:45 am

    Haha I spat out a bit of my veggie shepherds pie reading this. Going here for the GOT first, woody place second is totally understandable!

    http://amyevans.blog – Amy

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