PHOTO: Keukenhof, the world’s largest flower-filled garden is only open for two months a year. Here are some tips to maximize your visit. (photo by Worldwide Scott)
Can you smell it?
It is the most wonderful floral fragrance imaginable, the essence of springtime. And it is coming from Holland.
Okay, maybe you can’t technically get a whiff of the wonderful bouquet wafting from Keukenhof Gardens until you arrive, but once you get there, you’ll understand why it wouldn’t be too much of a surprise if you could.
In a nation known for its steadfast dedication to floral affairs, Keukenhof Gardens is Holland’s undisputed crown jewel. This magical place, which is the world’s largest flower-filled garden, only opens for approximately two months a year and is home to more than seven million bulbs (and more than 800 varieties of tulips).
A visit here has become bucket-list-topping item for flower lovers and world travelers alike, but there are a few things you should know before you go.
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Expect a Crowd
Keukenhof Gardens is not a hidden gem. This place is famous with a capital “F”, and since it only opens its doors for two months a year, overflow crowds stream in each and every day.
On the plus side, the crowds help keep the ambiance at Keukenhof Gardens festive, creating an atmosphere more reminiscent of a theme park than a quiet botanical garden. When I visited, there was an old-fashioned organ (the precise kind you hear at carnivals) being played just inside the front entrance.
If crowds aren’t your thing, aim to get there just after opening in the morning, when the tour buses and their passengers are yet to arrive.
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It's Bigger Than You're Probably Expecting
Even if you know ahead of time that Keukenhof Gardens is more than 80 acres in size, the vastness of it all is bound to surprise once inside. In addition to the rows of colorful flowers outside, there are impressive indoor flower displays and educational exhibits, the most enlightening of the latter being about Tulipmania, a crisis brought on by financial speculating on tulips.
You will also find floral art, lakes with lily pads for walking, mazes, quintessential Dutch windmills and even a petting zoo. There are also several places to sit down and have a meal, with one stand selling the quintessential Dutch favorite that you just have to try (at least once): herring.
Don't forget to explore the entire gardens, because you never know, you may find a corner all to yourself.
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Stepping in the Flowers for Selfies Is Not Recommended
Needless to say, trampling through the flowers is strictly prohibited at Keukenhof Gardens.
The signs didn’t stop a few people during my visit though, so please don’t be like them.
Opening Dates: In 2017, Keukenhof Gardens is open daily from March 23rd until May 21st. The opening hours are 8:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Admission: Adult tickets are 16 euros (approximately $17) each, while children are 8 euros (approximately $8.50) each. Discounts are available for groups of 20 or more. All admission tickets include a free map of the sprawling grounds and WiFi access (because you’re definitely going to want to Instagram this place).
Getting There: Keukenhof Gardens is located on the outskirts of the town of Lisse, and as a result, is best reached by rental car or bus. There are buses that set off from Amsterdam, Schiphol International Airport and other spots in The Netherlands.
Combination tickets are available that include an entry to the gardens and a return journey.
Details on how to plan your journey there can be found here.