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I love tulips. Together with lavender, they are my favorite flowers. I am a big fan, especially of all these pastel ones – white, light yellow and light pink. I must confess that we don’t have plants in pots at home, but there is always a tulip bouquet in the vase. It immediately gives my room some spring vibes and makes the interior looks so cozy and girly… It is not surprising that I have always dreamed of visiting all these colorful fields of tulips in Holland. Finally, during our last visit to Amsterdam – we made it!
Tulips in Holland
Although we visited Amsterdam several times (but we had only airport transfers), we never made it to the city itself. I used to buy these big bags of tulip bulbs at the terminal stores (I told you, I’m a big fan). White with violet dots on petals, pink and yellow, and even black tulips – I have never seen so many varieties in my life. I just could not resist them! Finally, I decided to see tulips in Holland live… and rumor has it, there is no better place to see them than the Keukenhof gardens!
Tip: don’t make a mistake like me and never buy bulbs at the airport – they are horrendously expensive! If you plan to visit Amsterdam city, go to the Blumenmarkt, you will get 50 tulip bulbs for 5 EUR instead of 25 EUR… that makes a difference!
Visiting Keukenhof – a bit sad reality
You can imagine how excited I was – we planned to spend the whole day at Keukenhof! We arrived at the place where the city bus departs to this garden… And it quickly turned out that 100,000 other people had the same idea. I was slightly disappointed – it wasn’t the first time in Amsterdam, where we were stuck in a queue for 1,5 hour.
I was surprised that so many places in Amsterdam sell tickets without any limits. In other cities, the entrance to popular attractions is very limited and only a certain number of people can visit Alcatraz in San Francisco, the Sistine Chapel in Rome or see the Last Supper in Milan. Sincerely? I would rather NOT see some popular spots than visiting them in such conditions… As you may guess, the crowds inside the Keukenhof are really bad. The worst part? Some people walk straight into the tulip beds, breaking all the flowers on the way… Ouch! 🙁
Tulips at Keukenhof
The history of Keukenhof dates back to the 15th century. In 1949, a group of Dutch flower producers decided to show their goods here – as there was no better advertisement than the flowers themselves. Nowadays, several hundred exhibitors show their tulips, popping up from 7 million bulbs! However, if you expect that Keukenhof is filled with large tulip fields, you may get disappointed. Flowers grow in intricately arranged beds or rather small gatherings. When it comes to giant, colorful tulip fields like the ones you see on the postcards, we passed only on the way here… There are some fields next to the Keukenhof as well, but rather of dimly looking daffodils.
Keukenhof – our experience
Although I am a big fan of tulips, I left this place with mixed feelings. Yes, the flowers are beautiful and stunning. There are plenty of them, not just tulips, but also muscari, hydrangeas and orchids. Every step I took, I stumbled upon some totally new variation of them. What I really missed was… the lack of possibility to buy all the presented bulbs (you can buy only very standard versions)!
Another thing, I really don’t like exploring a place in a giant crowd. At Keukenhof, sometimes there isn’t even a place to stand on the path… I hope it was only the “sunny-Sunday” effect which encouraged so many visitors. The Keukenhof is a very good option for a hassle-free trip from Amsterdam (the place is well-connected), so if you aren’t discouraged by the crowds, it may be a good option to see the tulips anyway, if you’re eg. lacking time to visit some other places.
Tip: Keukenhof is open only during 2 months a year, from the end of March to the end of May, and I read a lot of reports that until mid-April there is basically no reason to come here… flowers don’t bloom yet! If you were in this period, let me know if that’s true! We visited Keukenhof in early May and it was perfect 🙂
Any alternatives to Keukenhof?
Tulips in Holland are definitely a must-see, but is it really necessary to visit Keukenhof? If you aren’t a flower enthusiast who has to take a pic of 1000 tulips varieties, you have a little more time than we had and you’re more mobile, look for free tulip fields on your own! Here you may find a “floral radar” – showing exactly where flowers are blooming right now (not necessarily tulips, but, hey, we are in the Netherlands, chances are high). Visitors make a photo of the fields and upload on this page, so you can see which flowers and where are blooming in almost real-time. What a brilliant idea to see tulips in Holland – free and without any crowds.
How much time do you need? All day, somehow have to see these 32 hectares of flowers in Keukenhof…
How to get there? Many people commute by car, but as I saw these queues to the parking lots… I think a bus is a better option. The Keukenhof Express (line 858) departs from Amsterdam Schipol Airport (you have to go to the entrance to the Arrival Hall 4 to find a stop). Other transport options are described here.
Where to stay? Accommodation in Amsterdam is expensive and you have to book well in advance if you want to hit something cheap and cool. In the city center there is a lot of Airbnb options (you can even sleep in the fancy boat on the canal, look for it!), which are cheaper than the hotels, but… the city center is also a mega noisy, filled with the crowds from hen and bachelor parties. On the other hand, you have all the major attractions nearby. As you see, the choice is hard, you have to think what is more important to you. We eventually decided on the Mercure Hotel Amsterdam City South, a little away from the center, 7 minutes walk from the Overamstel metro station. Nice decor and very good breakfast buffet. You can also go to the city center by bike from the hotel 🙂
Fee: Bus ticket plus Keukenhof entrance fee 24 EUR per person, other combos described here.
Are you planning to see tulips in Holland?
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