It’s great to have a bucket list, but how many on your list do you think you’ll be able to fulfil during your lifetime? Well, here’s one that’ll be super easy to tick off; a visit to the world’s largest flower garden, the enchanting and magical Keukenhof.
What is the Keukenhof?
A whopping 32 hectares, packed with more than 7 million spring flowering bulbs, the Keukenhof Gardens are a place you’ll get lost, and quite happily too! Visitors flock from all corners of the globe to enjoy the 8 weeks that the park opens for each year!
How do I get there?
I visited the Keukenhof this year courtesy of KLM UK, the airline who can assist in fulfilling your dreams AND filling your camera SIM card…! KLM offer flights from 17 UK airports, and I chose to depart from Heathrow. There’s something I love about the classy KLM blue colour palette over the gaudy appearance of some other well-priced airlines. The blue is calming and matches the well-oiled service that greets you on board. A quick 45 minute hop to Amsterdam even included a free drink and snack, would you believe it?!
Navigating Schiphol airport is an efficient breeze too, although it’s a humongous space, so make use of a travelator whenever you can! The airport also offers a bus service to the Keukenhof Gardens. However, much to my (slight) regret, I chose to walk from my accommodation in a nearby town. It was a 2 hour walk on the hottest day of the year. However, I got to walk through bulb-fields of perfumed Hyacinths and Daffodils, so it was well worth it! When in Holland at this time of year, it’s always a joy to go off the beaten path!
On the day
Walking into the Keukenhof Gardens is never a disappointment, and the bright sunny 22C day added that extra pizzazz to those displays. The Daffodil mixes, Hyacinths and Crown Imperials looked particularly ‘on fleek’ the week that I visited.
When I was there around 18 April, the Tulips weren’t quite in bloom, however the green lush foliage gave a great show regardless. But, DO NOT FEAR, this means that if you are visiting over the next few weeks, you’ll have a LOT to enjoy. In fact, you’ve got until 13 May, when the park closes for 2018. Hmm, I might sneak back in again if I can…
Getting around the park
Despite visiting the Keukenhof Gardens in Holland every year for around 15 years, I still get insatiably lost. However, that is NO BAD THING! You’ll simply discover extra nooks and crannies that most visitors don’t discover. Hidden gems include the woodland gardens over in the East of the park with vintage car plantings, the delft blue garden within the ‘Get Inspired’ area and the fairytale gardens surrounding the Tulpomania exhibit (where you can incidentally learn a LOT about Tulips!)
With 32 hectare to explore, you’ll need a good pair of comfy shoes. For the less able, there are also mobility scooter options, and all areas are very accessible. If you’ve got luggage too, don’t worry, there are voluminous lockers by the main entrance.
Keukenhof isn’t all bulbs though; the trees and shrubs within the park play an important supporting role. Forsythias glowed golden and Cherry Trees dripped with blossom doing my visit.
The essentials for your trip
There’s a few things I recommend you arm yourself with during your Keukenhof visit, you’ll need; a map so you don’t get lost and a spare charger for your camera or smart phone, as you’ll been taking plenty of selfies. Many areas of the park have extremely good wifi connections, so you can upload your selfies from this magical kingdom straight away! Once you get peckish, you’ll also need to try some traditional Dutch snacks. I can never resist Stroopwafel and Kroket and went back for seconds- of both!
Don’t forget to go indoors too
Don’t neglect the indoor exhibition areas of the Keukenhof Park either, you’ll find 100’s of varieties of Tulips planted into the Willem-Alexander Pavilion. This is where you’ll find choosing your favourites easy, and you’ll see some unreleased varieties too. Everything is laid out methodically, and you can get up really close to the blooms and take those macro shots. Here’s a few of my favourites:
How can the Keukenhof inspire me at home?
Keukenhof can inspire too. The outdoor beds have been laid out by some great designers, and demonstrate ways of mixing up your bulb displays. Some of my favourites include Hyacinths cloaked with Anemones in all colours!
How long do you need at the Keukenhof?
Don’t underestimate how long you’ll need for your trip! I would recommend a full day to fully explore the park, and perhaps even 2 days if you’re a keen photographer (reserve your tickets, including transport, here). Get in early (from 8am) or late (until 7.30pm) to beat the crowds, or plan your day to concentrate on the quieter areas during the busier part of the day.
What else can I do?
Whilst in The Netherlands, there’s so much else to explore too, and it’s all pretty easy to reach, as the country is so small…! Near to the Keukenhof, I would recommend Leiden (which also offers a bus service to the Keukenhof Park) and Haarlem, plus of course there’s Amsterdam just up the road.
If you do decide to rent a cycle to explore the local area around the Keukenhof (that typical Dutch mode of transport!), make sure you drop into De Tulperij, where the stroopwafels are tasty and the koffie (coffee) hot! Sit out away from the crowds and enjoy the heavenly fragrance from the Daffodil fields, and learn more about how the bulbs reach your garden, thanks to a tour of the growing facilities.
I flew back into Southampton on my trip on a KLM City Hopper. Another efficient and easy to navigate airport awaited me, and I was able to board a train just a short walk from the terminal too.
The park is open from 22 March to 13 May during 2018, so you’ll need to book up quick if you want to visit, or indeed plan ahead for next year. I really hope that you enjoy your trip, and please make sure that I get to see your gorgeous photos!! Arrange your trip NOW!