An endless sea of colors in bloom just forty-five minutes outside of the concrete jungle, a trip to the Keukenhof is worth the short journey from Amsterdam and a great mini-escape from city life. This park is a major tourist attraction and millions flock to the annual display of flowers, which includes sprawling landscapes and manicured gardens as well as indoor floral exhibits, in the North of Holland.
Before visiting, I wondered if it would be another over-hyped national treasure (ahem, Mona Lisa, I’m looking at you) or a tourist trap (where you leave feeling cheated and empty, like after a bad date.)
But alas, I was blown away and fully satisfied with my wise investment of fifteen euros to spend the day wandering around millions of blooms. I was even so mesmerized by the grandness of it all that I was oblivious to the swarms of tourists around me. (This is a hard thing to accomplish, since I’m usually acutely aware of my fellow humans.)
I’d urge tourists and non-tourists alike to check out the springtime spectacle. It is a day out suited to the full range of family members and age groups: the paths hugging the flowerbeds are fully accessible to strollers and wheelchairs and there are play areas dotted around the park for small visitors with short attention spans for flowers.
Before you go, you can check out the website, http://www.keukenhof.nl/en/, to plan out your trip, including hours of operation and current exhibits, but there are a few details that are not listed. Here are my insider tips on how to make the most of your day at the Keukenhof:
– Don’t bother going if the flowers aren’t in bloom or if the weather is so bad you won’t want to be outside. It may sound harsh, but there would be no point. The tulips bloomed late this year and I had a friend who visited before they peaked. She still paid full price for her ticket and was highly underwhelmed.
– Don’t bother buying the map – they will ask you to hand over 4 euros; just print out the free map on the website. There are also large park maps dotted around the park, so you won’t get lost. Promise.
– If you have limited time, don’t waste it in the indoor displays. Compared to the rambling outdoor gardens, they’re a bit lackluster.
– Make sure you take a peek through the tree-lined perimeter of the park into the tulip fields, colorful and planted in uniform rows. Like a rainbow in bloom. You can go on a boat ride to see them up close, but for an extra 7.50 euros, I didn’t bother.
– Bring plenty of water, as I didn’t see any drinking fountains, and bottled water was at least 2.50 euros.
– Pack a picnic – avoid paying for over-priced park food and sprawl out on one of the grassy picnic areas with a blanket or try your luck at getting a picnic table.
Lastly, be sure to bring your camera, as you won’t want to forget your day surrounded by the beauty and bounty of Holland.