When: April 2014
Hotel: Golden Tulip (Amsterdam)
Why Keukenhof: I really wanted to see the famed tulip fields in The Netherlands and the tulip “in-season” happened to coincide with our friends’ trip to Germany, so a plan to visit the tulips and Amsterdam (recap here) was hatched. It included a stop by the Keukenhof Gardens, which are some of the largest gardens in Europe, and is nicknamed the “Garden of Europe.” Sadly, COVID shut down the gardens this year for the first time in 71 years. Thankfully online, Keukenhof has posted a number of videos to visitors can enjoy the gardens virtually here).
The Trip: The trip from Stuttgart to Keukenhof takes about seven hours by car, and the plan was to spend the afternoon there before heading to Amsterdam for two nights. We timed our visit for what is the prime recommended time for visiting the gardens, which is from mid-to-late April.
The gardens were established in 1949, as a way to showcase the flowers of not only the Netherlands but also Europe (and also as a way to export the flowers – which worked grandly as the Netherlands are now the largest exporter of flowers in the world).
Now, the Keukenhof is only open for two months – from mid-March to mid-May, and before going, it’s important to know these things:
- Keukenhof, which means “kitchen garden” in English, is spread out over 79 acres with over seven million bulbs of flowers planted each year. Tulips are obviously the main attraction, but there are daffodils, hyacinths, orchids azaleas, rhododendrons, and many, many more flowers. Not to mention, there are also lakes, sculptures and pavilions throughout as well.
- Because it is only open for eight weeks, timing is everything – too early, and you may not see the display, if you go too late, the flowers may be past their prime. The best bet is to split the difference and aim for late April.
- As with most places in Europe that attract millions of visitors, avoid weekends and European holidays if you can. Unless crowds are your thing.
- Order your tickets online to avoid standing in line simply to get in, especially on a busy day.
- Plan for spending at least a half day in the gardens – 79 acres is huge! And you honestly don’t get tired of the flowers because they are so pretty and vibrant and in a different design around each corner.
- Every year is a different theme. When we went in 2014, the theme was the Canals of Amsterdam.
As I was going through the photos getting ready to write this blog, I realized I had forgotten how pretty the gardens were and how much I really enjoyed the gardens – so much so, I would go back. We timed it perfectly for the gardens, while we were a little late to the game for the tulip fields. A majority of them had been cut by the time we got there, but we were still able to visit the fields (thanks to hopping a canal and fence after being unable to find the entrance), and get a taste of what the rows of colors looked like – with pinks and reds and purples. It’s a timing game, and I’m glad we got it right for the gardens, and would have liked the fields just a little more in bloom because it seemed like we had missed the prime of the tulips.
Now, normally I try to write a little bit as the blog goes on, but from here, I’ll let the pictures do the story-telling. And apologies in advance, I have no idea what most of these flowers are:
Final Impressions: The gardens were super pretty! I am not a gardener, nor do I have a green thumb, nor do I have an interest in gardening. But I love pretty, fresh flowers, so this was right up my alley. If in Europe in late April in 2021…make sure to pay the gardens a visit – it is worth it!