While Amsterdam may often suffer from the dismissal of being merely a city of pot and hookers, the Netherlands as a whole often gets dismissed as a land of tulips and windmills. But both of these generalizations have origins in truth – just as Amsterdam attracts many tourists for its legalized marijuana and prostitution, the Netherlands attracts many sightseers for its windmills and vast tulip gardens. And for the avid flower watcher, there is no better attraction than the Keukenhof.
Located near the small town of Lisse in South Holland, the Keukenhof (“Kitchen Garden”) is the largest flower garden in the world. Named on of the world’s top tourist destinations in 2012 by CNN, the spring gardens of the Keukenhof cover 32 hectares (79 acres), with 7 million tulip bulbs in 100 varieties each planted by hand by the groundskeepers.
The gardens are situated on 15th century hunting grounds around Castle Keukenhof, it was also the herb garden for the castle of Jacqueline, Countess of Hainaut’s, hence its name. In addition to the flower gardens, the grounds of the castle also opened in 2012, featuring sculpture gardens.
In 2012, Keukenhof will be open daily from 8 am-7:30 pm from March 22-May 20. The flowers should be at their prime, based on weather, in late April.
Adults – € 14,50
Children (4-11 years) – € 7,00 per person
Advance tickets are available through the website.
Getting There From Amsterdam:
Located between Amsterdam and The Hague in Holland’s Bulb region, Keukenhof is easily reached by public transport from Shiphol Airport or Leiden Central. In addition, the park offers a combination ticket that includes a round-trip bus ticket and park admission, allowing visitors with the combination ticket to avoid the lines. Many travelers opt for organized Keukenhof Tours.
The bus from Shiphol Airport runs four times an hour on Monday-Friday, and eight times an hour on weekends. The journey lasts 35 minutes.
Prices for combination bus/admission tickets from Schiphol Airport:
Adults – € 21
65+ – € 18
Children (4-11 years) – € 11
Combination tickets can be ordered here.
In addition to exploring the grounds to see the multitude of Holland’s famous blooms, many additional activities are available for tourists including sculpture gardens, boat rides and bike rental (many of these have an additional charge). For children, the park offers a petting zoo and a playground.
2012 Calendar of Events
24 – 25 March
Dutch costume festival
30 March – 1 April
Bird of prey show
6 – 9 April
The Easter Hat Parade
Summer bulbs market (weekend)
13 – 15 April
The Polish dance
28 – 29 April
Five-day Artists at Work event
2 – 6 May
17 – 19 May
Barrel Organ Festival