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Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrKeukenhof, Holland (or rather Netherlands) is one of the most sinfully colorful locations on Earth, at least during flowering season that is! Keukenhof, also known as the Garden of Europe, is the home of the world famous Dutch tulips. The Keukenhof gardens are only open to the general public for a few months during the year but considering that over 7 million flower bulbs are planted here each year, one can only imagine the colorful panorama the scene presents when everything is hale, hearty, and blooming. It is not just the tulips that captivate visitors here, for a wide variety of roses, daffodils, hyacinths, irises, carnations, lilies, and orchids (amongst other flowers) are also there to drown you in exotic perfumes and vivid, bright colors. When in full bloom, this well-kept garden is truly a vision unlike any other!
How To Get ThereFor over 60 years now, visiting Keukenhof has become the highlight of a tour of Netherlands. Many even go on to claim that if you haven’t seen Keukenhof, you really haven’t seen Netherlands (so what if you've enjoyed Amsterdam!). So if you really want to indulge your senses with a spring tour that will awaken you to an unworldly experience, you must get yourself to Keukenhof, located in Lisse , a small town in South Holland.
The park is only open from mid-March to mid-May, but the best time to view the tulips in full bloom is usually around mid-April. Keukenhof can be accessed from multiple locations and with multiple transportation modes. By car, you can easily get there within an hour, by following the well marked road signs, from Amsterdam, Den Haag, Leiden, Delft, and Haarlem.
If you are a tourist and do not wish to hire a car, public transport buses are available from Leiden Central Station and Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. Several private tour operators also run their tours to the location if you prefer to go there as part of a group. If you are not short of days, you can even choose to stay in Leiden, Noordwijk, or Zandvoort, from where the Keukenhof gardens can be accessed via bikes as well!
If you choose the public transport option, more information on the buses can be accessed from any of the tourism office location at all the important stations, including Leiden and Amsterdam. The Arriva buses are comfortable and depart every 15 or so minutes.
Travelers who wish to visit Keukenhof also have the option of purchasing the Holland Pass, which offers free entrance to Keukenhof gardens (fast track entry that does not involve waiting in long queues) along with the option of either going for the free, public transport round-trip or opting for a windmill ticket at the gardens.
Things To See And ExperienceNeedless to say, the Keukenhof gardens is all about experiencing the beauty of flowers and colors. Yet, Keukenhof is so much more than just a well-kept garden of local and exotic flowers. Keukenhof is a park that covers approximately 79 acres of land! Apart from the park, which includes beautifully landscaped flower patches, water features complete with ducks and swans, and a flower exhibit that showcases flower hybrids, there are several real and authentic tulip farms all around this region. These can be enjoyed on foot or with a bike ride. Be careful of irate farmers who sometimes do not like insensitive tourists to trample on their prized properties or harm their precious tulips. But if you are careful and indeed lucky, these farms offer exciting photo and ‘selfie’ opportunities, truly profile photo material too!
The park itself consists of numerous gardens and four grand, flower-filled pavilions. If you have already visited Keukenhof once, it most definitely does not mean that you no longer need to visit it again. You’ll probably fall in love with it anyway, wanting to go there again and again and enjoy the beauty and tranquility offered by these millions of display flowers. But even if your love does not overpower your opinion of not visiting the park again, this fact certainly will! Each year, the park officials create a completely new look for the landscape and gardens, and this look is usually based on some central theme. So if you have caught last year’s theme, this year’s might awe you even more!
The gardens are large and long winding pathways, lined with colorful landscapes, are a delight to walk through. There is a beautiful windmill that’s worth climbing up on at one end of the garden, and during spring bloom, the top afford views of lines and lines of colorful tulip farms.
Things To Do And EnjoyEvery year, the Keukenhof garden holds a flower parade on one pre-decided date in May. The parade involves beautiful feast of flower arrangements that are displayed on 20 giant floats and 30 well decorated cars. The parade involves a slow drive along a 42-kilometer stretch of road between Haarlem and Noordwijk. The parade is truly a must-see and it is also theme based and involves a lot of music, youth centric fun and innovative (and of course floral), corporate advertising.
By the way, free WiFi is available throughout the park, which makes life all the more convenient there (for people who just cannot live without their tablets).
Things To Avoid And Local TipsKeukenhof gardens are truly really large, and if walking is not your forte, you might want to explore the biking options. Good and comfortable walking shoes are a must and so is a jacket. The weather might be deceptively bright and sunny but the open landscape means that it is often windy and hence chilly.
There is lots of interesting snack items such as popcorn, ice cream, etc. in small stalls throughout the gardens so it is not essential to carry any snacks or water when you go there. There are quite a few restaurants within the gardens too that allow you to enjoy filling meals after all that walking has exhausted you out.
If you are planning a trip to Keukenhof, purchasing your tickets ahead of time will save you a considerable amount of money.
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Author: Sayali Bedekar Patil. Last updated: Feb 26, 2015