Favorite thing: One thing you should do before visiting Keukenhof, is buy your admission ticket before you arrive. This avoids the long queues. Even when I was there, there were long queues, and this was at the end of the season. When you have your ticket, you virtually walk straight in. This can be done online at www.keukenhof.nl If you do it this way, MAKE SURE YOU CHECK THE WEATHER FORECAST FOR WHEN YOU WANT TO VISIT, because you don't want to be stuck there on a wet day. I bought a Return bus ticket which included the admission at the Leiden Train Station. (tip on my Leiden page) This is another good way to do it.
I went to Keukenhof in mid April 2007 (15-18 Apr) and the flowers were simply beautiful, all were in full bloom.
See the pictures I took here.
There are tulip fields near Keukenhof actually and most were blooming, and even on the way there we could see tulips and tulips and tulips.
I can't predict how it'll be for you but maybe my information has helped you a bit?
Good luck! You'll love the gardens.
Fondest memory: Its beauty of course!
Favorite thing: If you don`t buy one at the entry there are several signs at each pavillon to remind you where you are and where the other meeting points are. We took a picture of one of these so to be helped by the camera during the journey...
To visit and admire the 'Bulb region' in Southern Holland, please follow the season climate.
Best months are April and May, but it can be to early, or to just to late. Evenmore, the weekends are mostly overcrowed. Perfect timing is necessary - this all with a little bit of luck and the weather perfect.
Fondest memory: Pure nature - a combination of modern art and garden engineers.
In the Sports tips you find a book recommendation about the mania that surrounded tulips in the 17th century.
The Semper Augustus tulip bulb was sold for 6000 guilders, which in the 17th century was the same price as a Amsterdam town mansion.
Google for Tulipmania and you'll find plenty of information about this baffling historical period.
Fondest memory: Pieter de Hondt, a poet from Leiden wrote in 1621 :
Dat men in Nederland,
Sooveel sotten bij der hant
Vinden can, die in haer hoven
Deze bloem alleene loven
Om een weke, drye, of vier,
In haer hof gheen enckel sier,
Dan de tulpen aen te schouwen,
Om de tulpen maer alleen;
Sotten die haer hoven bouwen,
Voor één bloeme en anders gheen
That one in Holland
so many fools at hand
can find, who in their courts
only this flower praise.
For three or four weeks
no other than tulips
do their garden grace.
For the tulips but only, the fools bother
to build their courts, for this one flower
and none other.
Keukenhof attracts about a million visitors each year, in those mere 6 or 7 weeks of the year that it is open to the public. They stroll along 15 kms of footpath on 32 hectares and shows about 100 tulip varieties and many other flowers. It is easily one of the most photographed places on earth! It's also the largest sculpture park in The Netherlands and 93 bulb growers participate in what is on show.
Fondest memory: The most amazing colours. Some flowers almost look surreal, or even fake. The red tulips on the photo in this tip seem to be of silk or even plastic, given their shine. But they're real.
How about the upside down tulip?! They came in yellow and orange varieties.
Do enjoy the 5 photos in this tip!
The Keukenhof is very popular with older people, and you'll see many people in wheelchairs being pushed around by their friends and family.
Most of the terrain is flat, and the pavilions are all easily accessible. There are toilets for disabled people as well.
Fondest memory: As I've pushed wheelchairs before, I can appreciate the dedication of those that do. We sneaked a photo of a man lying on one of the gigantic cushions, wheelchair by his side, enjoying the sun...
If you can, buy your ticket in advance at the Keukenhof website. It saves you standing in lines at the cashiers, you can walk straight on to a special entrance for E-tickets.
If you're coming by car, also buy your parking ticket online.
The website is in various languages, full versions.
Fondest memory: Walking past the lines, straight to the entrance!
The name 'Bollenstreek' is dutch for 'Bulb region'. This region stretches from Heemstede to Leiden. As the name says, in this region they grow bulb flowers. The main flowers are Narcissuses, Hyacinths and of course Tulips.
Welcome to "Zuid Holland"
Fondest memory: From Ghent (Belgium) to Lisse, it is about three hours driving. But worthed, only be sure to get there in the right season, april/may.
The gardens are open for only 2 months, roughly from Easter to mid-May. There are also 3 covered (“indoor”) hothouse exhibit pavilions showing variously floral arrangements, cut flowers, potted plants, newer bulb varieties and best of all an exhibit of orchids, anthurium and bromeliads (the Beatrix Pavilion) that must not be missed.
There are other structures that contain cafeteria-style food (of high quality but not low prices) information and places to buy souvenirs and the correct bulbs for where you live, shipped at the correct planting time.
It is an outdoor adventure done best on a sunny day. You can drive there, go by train (see Tips of others) or take a day tour offered by every tour company in Amsterdam (and possibly elsewhere). We took a tour on our first trip (which ran from 10-3PM) and the second time went by our own car of a morning en route to Germany. Allow at least 2 hours for looking plus time for eating, shopping and other activities.
There are pleasant walkways, benches,slim canals, a playground for bored children, a windmill with a view , other bulb-field viewpoints, different other flowers (such as lilies and hyacinths) a noisy mechanical barrel-organ and a giant wooden shoe.
Fondest memory: The Beatrix Pavilion
Althought tulip is always known as the flower of Holland, Keukenhof has large variety of other, bulb, flowers. They grow all around the park and also presented in many exhibitions.
Roses, being my favorites, attracted me the most. Other pavilions had exhibitions of orchids, tulips, dafforidls, irises, lilies etc.
And imagine all that smell!! No chance we'll get such an opportunity anywhere else, especially living in a city
During our visit, there was a hat exhibition in the Royal Orange pavilion. The Netherlands Hat Association had organized an international hat competition with flowers as its theme and the best hats were exhibited in the Keukenhof.
I saw some lovely hats, but the one called "field of tulips" is surely not the one that I want to have on my head. Notice all the needles (pic left under).
Favorite thing: From 1401 to 1436 Jacoba van Beieren, Countess of Holland, owned the area where Keukenhof is located. She used part of the area as a herb garden, so her kitchen was well stocked with fresh herbs avery day. That's where the Keukenhof ('kitchen garden') estate got its name from. The basic design for the present park was made in 1850 by Zocher, the architect of the Amsterdam Vondelpark. In 1949, a group of bulb growers and exporters decided to transform the park into a flower exhibition, as it still is up to today.
At the entrance of the park there was this huge frame placed by the tv-program Man bijt hond, which means Man bites dog. It's a really funny show, broadcasted in Belgium and the Netherlands.
While walking in the park you just cannot stop yourself taking one picture after another. In only one day I made about 150 pictures here. One even better than the other. There are so many opportunities. At the end of the day you would want to frame all your pictures.
Favorite thing: There are more than 7 million flowerbulbs planted in the Keukenhof every year. Not only tulips, narcissi and hyacinths, but also lillies, gerberas and orchids. At the Keukenhof you can see the best of the best of what the Dutch ornamental plant industry has to offer. The trees planted are centuries old and it is great to walk through the whole park. Don't rush and maybe even bring a book here so you can spend your whole day.