Keukenhof: Holland’s Largest Flower Garden
Being Dutch and living in The Netherlands, the presence of flowers somewhere nearby is almost a fact year through. Where supermarkets and flower stores make sure you’ll be able to buy plenty of flowers even in winter-time – thanks to the proximity of world’s largest largest growers and the flower market in Aalsmeer -, in spring you’ll find blossoming flowers in the parks and gardens throughout the country. Better yet, close to Amsterdam there’s this huge flower garden, Keukenhof, coming into full bloom.
Here we arrive to a point where I have to confess something to you: of all the years I have been living in The Netherlands – which is almost all my life apart from a couple of years of travelling – I have never been to Keukenhof. That’s to say until this week. It’s one of those things that especially the younger generation of Dutch just don’t seem to make the time for, or perhaps just hardly talk about after they have been there, seeing it as some kind of busy tourist attraction or perhaps even something uncool?
Whatever the Dutch think, foreigners from all over the world flock to The Netherlands during the two months the gardens are open, to see the largest flower garden in the world in all its splendour, and you can bet on that they enjoy it. Of course, the Dutch also go there – although seemingly to a lesser extent – and once there they appreciate it as much as the foreigners.
Annually around 800,000 people visit the gardens, which makes it one of the busiest – if not the busiest – tourist attractions in The Netherlands. Not that you really realise this when you’re in the gardens. Yes, it may be busy, but the park of 32 hectares in total is large enough to guarantee everyone enough space and some private flower moments.
ACTIVITIES IN AND AROUND THE GARDENS
With more than 7 million tulips, daffodils and many other flowers spread out all over the park against different settings you’ll find many photo opportunities, either spontaneously or already set-up for you by the garden architects. It’s obvious that a lot of thought has been put into the set-up of the park to make it a pleasant experience for everyone. But of course, the park has some experience already having opened its doors for growers to show their hybrids since 1949.
A free guided tour with more background information of the park and its history starts every day at 2pm from the Bulb Pavillion, during which you’ll hear everything there’s to know about the Keukenhof gardens during approximately 90 minutes.
Of course, when you’ve finally made it all the way to the Keukenhof a visit to the tulip fields in the nearby surroundings is a must and also for this the Keukenhof caters the different type of tourists:
– With the so-called fluisterboot (translated: whisper boat, a super silent electric boat) you can boat through the canals in between the different tulip fields surrounding Keukenhof and have 45 minutes to enjoy the fields in all its silence or listen to the audio tour available. The boats leave from behind the mill within the park. Be prepared to wait for a bit before you can board, as it’s a popular activity and there are limited boats going through the canals to give you the best experience.
– One of the best opportunities to see the flower fields around the Keukenhof in more peace and quiet is to cycle around the area. Bikes are for rent with Rent-A-Bike Van Dam outside the park entrance. Ask for a map with the different biking routes set out on it to ensure you’re driving the right directions. Routes vary from one to three hours, of course depending on how speedy you are.
– Across the road from the garden’s entrance you can actually walk almost straight into some tulip fields. A lot of tourists take this opportunity to have some portraits taken in between tulips in a variety of colours, so do expect it to be busy. But in case you haven’t got loads of time or don’t fancy some exercise, this is your chance to walk in between the tulip fields yourself.
Summarized, there’s enough to keep you busy for a whole day, but if you have limited time there are still enough options to see the beauty of both the gardens and the flower fields.
– To get to the park take bus 858 from Schiphol Airport or bus 854 from Leiden Centraal.
– This year Keukenhof closes 18 May.
– Opening hours are from 8am-7.30pm.
– You can either buy your ticket online here, or at the park entrance.
– In 2015 opening dates are scheduled for 20 March to 17 May inclusive.
LASTLY SOME More PHOTOS:
You can find even more pictures over at my other site, Art Weekenders, where we also give more details about the history of tulips in the country.
Disclosure: we were guests to the Keukenhof, but everything written here is totally my own opinion.