The Netherlands is known for the tulips they grow and export around the world. The best place to experience all the varieties and colours of these beautiful flowers is Keukenhof. Located in Lisse, Keukenhof is the largest bulb garden in the world, it covers 32 hectares and boasts over 7 million hand planted bulbs. The tulip festival runs from late March through early May with the best time to see everything in full bloom in late April, as this is also prime tourist time so expect the park to be busiest on the last two weekends of April, through the week is less busy.
Large planters overflowing with long stem tulips line the gate and are the first indication that you have reached your destination. Stand in large traditional Dutch wooden shoes to get your tourist shot if this is your first stop in The Netherlands. This is the place to get a guide book or guided tour of the park through a rented headset with recorded information on each of the gardens. It may be worth it to plan your route to ensure you see everything you are interested in.There are some souvenir shops and snacks at the gate including stroopwaffels and poffertjes.
Make your way around the gardens on the 15 km of footpaths. You will see over 4.5 million tulips in over 100 varieties provided by 91 Royal Warrant Holders. The park features 2,500 trees of 87 varieties and the largest sculpture garden in The Netherlands. Stop along the way to watch swans swimming in the lake or catch a duck running through the tulips. The plantings throughout the park including the mosaic gardens, Japanese garden and inspiration garden provide great ideas that can be transplanted at home. For me it was the understanding that you can plant bulbs in planters.
Stop into one of the gazebos along the path to find the bulb store. Here there are pictures and descriptions of all of the tulips, categorized by region where they will flourish. If that is not enough they will ship them to you when they are ready to be planted in the fall before winter hits. In the spring you will have great memories of your trip with a garden full of tulips that put your neighbors tulips to shame. Stop into the Juliana building for care information for your bulbs and expand your knowledge in the Tulip Museum.
The Beatrix building features the Orchid Show, Anthurium Show and the Bromlea Show while the Willem-Alexander Building hosts the world’s largest Lilly Show in May. The other buildings on site have restaurants, exhibitors, washrooms and souvenirs. There is even an area for the little ones to play with a playground, labyrinth and children’s farm. You can even introduce your kids to Miffy the bunny, an iconic Dutch children’s brand.
Whether you start your trip in The Hague, Leiden or in Amsterdam you can purchase Connexxion’s all-in Combi-ticket which includes round trip bus transfers and entrance to Keukenhof for just over 20 Euro. If biking is more your style, it is about a 2 hour bike trip from Amsterdam or The Hague and there is lots of bicycle parking at the entrance gates. There is also a car park if you are looking to drive. The return trip will include sights of many farmer’s fields of flowers along the way.
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