Other than canals, windmills, and clogs that are famous in the Netherlands, this special European country is also famous for tulips. Keukenhof is the largest garden in Europe, every year around 7 million are planted in it and attracted tourists from all over the world. The garden is situated in Lisse, somewhere between Amsterdam and The Hague. For tourists touring around Amsterdam in Spring (middle of March to middle of May), they would definitely be recommended to check it out.
It may not be a bad idea to rent a car to drive there if you are in a group. There are also many tulips field around Keukenhof, in the Lisse area. So if you have a car, you can drive around and see one of those most colorful and beautiful farms in the world. However, even if you can’t drive there, it is still accessible by public transportation. If you are going there on a weekend or during public holiday, be prepared that there will be traffic jam when you are close by the garden or it takes some time to queue up for the tickets or express bus to go the garden from Amsterdam.
When I went there, it was one of the holidays, and I couldn’t arrange to drive there. So I took public transportation to go there for a day trip. I took a bus from Germany to Amsterdam (Sloterdijk Station) arriving at around 11 in the morning. From Amsterdam Sloterdijk Station, I bought the ticket (4.4euro one way) and took the Intercity train to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. At the airport, there is a ‘Holland Tourist Information Center’ at the Terminal (right next to the Airport Information center). From there, you can buy a combined ticket (23.5euro per person, as of 2015) which include the returned trip of express bus from the airport to Keukenhof and the entrance tickets. There are also combined tickets from Amsterdam Central and Leiden Station. Either you could buy the tickets at the Tourist Information Center, or you could purchase it online in advance. When I went there, I was a bit worried if the weather will be good or not, so I don’t want to buy the tickets until I am sure it’s a sunny day. If you are going by public transportation, I would highly recommend you to buy a combined ticket. The only downside is you have to take the bus back to the same place you get on. For example, you can’t take the bus from Schiphol Airport and want to go back to Amsterdam Central.
I was told at the Tourist Information Center that the queue for the express bus to go to Keukenhof will take 45mins to 1 hour. Since it was a sunny day, and I came all the way to the Netherlands for the garden, I decided to wait. Before queuing, I also bought a sandwich from ‘La Place Express’ as lunch. They only have a few combinations for the sandwiches, but the staff was really friendly, and the few combinations are quite nice actually.
After all the waiting and traffic jam, I arrived at Keukenhof at 2pm. I took a free map after I entered the garden. There was not a very big sign indicating where the maps are, it was around some small food stands. (If you couldn’t find it, just ask the staff, they are really friendly and speak good English.) The garden was divided into a few parts: Innovation garden, Amsterdam garden, Herb garden…etc. Every year there was also a special theme. Since 2015 is the 125th anniversary of Vincent van Gogh’s death, this year is dedicated to him. Although the garden was a bit crowded due to the fact that it was a holiday, it is still very beautiful.
In the garden, you can take a cruise to view the garden from the canal. There are also many attractions and interesting decorations. If you are interested to grow your own tulips, some bulbs are also available to purchase. For 10euro, you can also rent a bike outside the garden and visit tulips fields around. There are proper restaurants that visitors can have lunch or there are stands for snacks. Like many other tourist attractions, the foods are slightly more expensive than usual. Almost every weekend or holidays, there will be some events. One of the biggest events there is the Flower Parade, which is held on 25th April for 2015.
I spent around 3 hours just to walk around the park, take pictures and enjoy the nature a bit. Leaving at around 5pm, the sky was still bright, but many tourists were also leaving happily. Even though the line for the express bus to go back was a bit long, buses came every other minute, it didn’t take a long time to leave. In April, the sun started to set at around 8.30pm near Amsterdam. So visitors will have plenty of time to enjoy the beautiful garden.
Keukenhof is indeed a beautiful place for flowers lovers. Even if you don’t love flower that much usually, the colorful flowers and the smiles you see from other visitors will just make your day!