The Kingdom and its Flowers
Like some other parts of Europe, the Netherlands is still a Kingdom. And like a true Kingdom from the tales of old, Netherlands still exudes that majestic and royal vibe. It is a country where modern progress is tempered by a rich culture that can be seen as plain as day. Nowhere is this more evident than in its capital, Amsterdam.
But for this one, I’d like to veer away from the capital city and into one of the country’s western municipalities. I headed over to Lisse to visit what people call the “Garden of Europe” — Keukenhof. One of the biggest flower gardens in the world, Keukenhof covers an area of 32 hectares (roughly the size of 32 standard sports fields!) and has around 7 million flower bulbs. If you love those Holland tulips, this place is your paradise.
How to get there DIY
Like all great tourist spots, Keukenhof is well-travelled. There are a lot of tours offered to get there. For example, a tour advertises a trip to the gardens for around 55 EUR. However, we opted to do the DIY route and went to the place ourselves. It was a great thing, too! We got to visit the magnificent garden for much less.
The best way to get to the garden is from the Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, via bus. The national transport system (the “Connexxion” buses) offer a ticket from the capital to Keukenhof plus an entrance ticket to the garden itself for — guess what — only 19 EUR! You can buy the bus tickets from the Amsterdam Tourist Information Office (better known as “VVV” office). The bus is labeled Bus 58, and leads directly to Keukenhof. It leaves every 15 minutes, so it’s only a short wait.
Touring the Garden
Did you know there are hundreds of varieties of tulips alone? Keukenhof has around 800 varieties. This makes it stand out not just because of sheer size but because of the quality of its collections.
Aside from the flower shows, there are also lots of different things you can do in the massive garden. If you opt not to walk the whole 32 hectares, you can enjoy the colorful vista on one of the “whisper boats”, so named because they travel in almost complete silence. These take you around, and it’s only 8 EUR per adult (4 EUR for children).
You can also bike around Keukenhof, which is an amazing experience. There is a bike rental service out front near the car park and entrance. There are even tandem bikes, if you are travelling with a special someone! There are signs around the garden so you don’t get lost, and so you can follow the best routes.
Aside from being a flower garden, Keukenhof is also noted for playing host to a variety of artists’ sculptures. There are several pieces exhibited in any given day. While some of them require an additional fee before they can be viewed, some of them are free and are out in the open.
And of course, you’re in Holland! There’s no better way to remind you of the fact than an entire exhibit dedicated to this floral beauty. The “Tulipomania” shows you the magnificent history of the tulip, right in the garden’s Juliana Pavilion. Also get to know how these flowers are cultivated and grown, in case you are interested in planting one back home!
But of course, since we’re talking about flowers that bloom in the warm sunshine of spring, there’s an ideal time to visit Keukenhof. Because flower growth and bloom is very much affected by the weather, it’s difficult to say when the “best” time would be. But it’s usually around the middle towards the end of April and the first week or so of May. And that’s just for the tulips, as other flowers may bloom earlier, starting February and March. If you go at any other time (summer, fall, winter), you won’t see any of these flowers.
A Sight To Behold
It was a relaxing and enjoyable stroll through Keukenhof. I, personally, love gardens and picnics. Keukenhof seemed to be the ideal place! I loved it a lot!
My friend, Kay, and I spent the afternoon with Johan, our host. He claims the garden is a way to bring you back to humanity and nature. The sheer beauty of the blooms lulls you into reflection. And while there were lots of people around, the garden was big enough for one to enjoy moments of silence and admiration in what nature has to offer.
Maybe someday I’ll say yes to a date in this garden! Being in a kingdom with acres of fairy tale flowers all around you — now that would be any girl’s dream.