Visiting Keukenhof Gardens
I’m sure that there are many spectacular gardens in the world, most I haven’t seen, but surely Keukenhof in the Netherlands has to be one of the best. It is the 2nd biggest garden in the world and is 32 hectares of floral bliss. I would say any floriculturist would have had an orgasm if they went to visit Keukenhof! Any colour you can think of, any arrangement of flowers was there all set between trees, lakes, swans and cafes. It is so spectacular they even start the flower parade from there! I hardly can name all the colours so trying to decipher between the hundred different tulip varieties with strange names such as ‘Toyota’ and ‘Kings Blood’ was beyond me. Still though even for the uneducated it is a great place to spend a few hours
Time to do: 2-4hrs
Visit Keukenhof – Fields of Dreams
The Keukenhof Gardens is only open for 8 weeks of the year to mirror the main tulip season of the surrounding fields of South Holland. Of course because of this the gardens are mainly tulips even though there are probably a million bulbs of other flowers out of the 7million in total that occupy the gardens. The gardens are perfectly manicured with interplay between the hyacinths, daffodils and tulips in every possible combination. There are patchwork combinations with a flurry of colour, long endless rows of orange and purple tulips, curving hyacinths weaving in and out of tall yellow soldiers, it is all so colourful and perfect as if computer generated.
Of course the garden isn’t just tulips as the main actor. There is a historical section where some of the oldest bulbs are explained and how tulips came to thrive in the Netherlands 400 years ago. There is also a Japanese section, an orchid section and a huge mill where you can gaze out on the endless colours of the surrounding fields. Throughout the garden there is also a scattering of small buildings which either feeds or educates you. In the main building in the centre the restaurant is flanked by a large shop of flowers, paintings, paintings of flowers and local crafts.
If you want to get a good feel for all the surrounding work that is concentrated in Keukenhof then you should do what the Dutch and I did and that is rent a bike. The whole country is as flat as a pancake so cycling is very easy. There are cycle lanes everywhere so there is no danger involved. There are plenty of places to rent bikes and it gets you out to see the full colour of the fields of tulips. It really is spectacular. See more info below.
I learnt something about tulips while I was there which was something more than I knew before I started but the main reason for visiting Keukenhof is really just to stroll around and enjoy the colours and the atmosphere. The garden is big and would take 4-5hrs if you wanted to see everything but if you are in a rush 2hrs would see most of the important stuff and give a good insight into the wonderful world of tulips
Practicalities – About Keukenhof
Opening Times and Admission: 08:00-19:30 (office closes at 18:00). Admission is €15 for adults and €7.50 for children (4-11). www.keukenhof.nl/en/. There are two entrances but it doesn’t matter which one you enter.
Location: Keukenhof is located just west of Lisse in South Holland (the province) in the Netherlands. It is 35km south west of Amsterdam and about 20km south of Haarlem.
Train: The best way to get to Keukenhof by train from Amsterdam is to go to Sassenheim which is 6km south of Keukenhof. Alternatively if you are in Haarlem you can get off in Leiden which is about 10km south of Keukenhof (bus 854 then to Keukenhof). Trains leave from Amsterdam to Haarlem several times an hour from Amsterdam Central.
Bus: Buses leave Haarlem to Keukenhof several times an hour from the bus terminal outside the train station. (Note: During the Flower Parade these buses do not run the normal routes). Bus 858 runs from Schiphol Airport to Keukenhof. Bus 854 runs from Leiden Central Station to Keukenhof. From Amsterdam the ‘Keukenhof Express’ leaves 5 times daily from Damrak 34.
TIP Cycle: The best way to visit Keukenhof Gardens is by bike. This way you get to see the fields of tulips (before start of May is best) and cycle on flat as a pancake cycle lanes. I did this from Haarlem (it might be a stretch from Amsterdam) and it was great. In Haarlem and Amsterdam there are loads of places to rent bikes. In Haarlem where I rented you could rent at the train station or a block further south on Lange Herenstraat and cost approx €18 per 24hrs. The fun but tricky tandems are also there if you are adventurous. If you stay west of the R208 road then you should see plenty of fields of tulips if there between the middle of March and end of April. There are cycle lanes on all roads and plenty of alternative cycle routes mapped out on signs as you go along.
My Photo Gallery of Visiting Keukenhof