Regardless of what generation you belong to, if you are a Bollywood buff, you’ve probably watched Amitabh and Rekha romancing each other in stunning tulip fields in Silsila’s ‘Dekha Ek Khwab’. It was heaven on earth. And unlike most Yash Chopra films made back in the day, it wasn’t filmed in Switzerland. This picturesque locale was a small town called Keukenhof, near Amsterdam, in Netherlands.
The Keukenhof Garden is what makes Keukenhof so special, even today. Also known as the Garden of Europe, this is one of the world’s largest flower gardens, situated in Lisse, South Holland, Netherlands. Covering an area of 80 acres, approximately seven million flower bulbs are planted annually in the park. What makes these gardens even more special is that they’re open for only about eight weeks every year, starting end of March to early or mid May. Apparently, as many as 800,000 visitors visit the gardens in this limited time every year. In 2019, Keukenhof is open from March 21 to May 19 but every year the tulips bloom at slightly different times and therefore the dates vary slightly. The best time to view the tulips is around mid-April, depending on the weather.
You can see a variety of different gardens and garden styles at Keukenhof. There is a glimpse of the English landscape garden, which features winding paths and unexpected see-through points. The historical garden at Keukenhof is an enclosed garden with old types of bulbs. The nature garden consists of a water garden with shrubs and perennials combined with bulbous plants. The Japanese country garden is a non-traditional garden in a natural environment.
Convinced to visit? I bet you are! Here is how you can plan a trip to Keukenhof.
Booking your flight
There is no point getting into ticket costs for Amsterdam because that varies from time to time and flier to flier. However, it is always wise to use Google flights for a comparison of different airlines to pick the most convenient and cost effective option. If you’re in London around this time (like a majority of Pakistanis are), a Eurostar train can take you to Amsterdam in just around 4 hours. Amsterdam is also on a 3-hour direct train from Paris (another popular destination for Pakistanis) so getting there is not a challenge.
While staying in central Amsterdam can be quite expensive, if the main purpose of your trip is visiting the gardens, you don’t really need to book a hotel in the city center. You can get away with a really good deal for a 3-4 star hotel near the Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. These hotels provide a free shuttle service to the airport, which not only comes handy while getting to the hotel from the airport but will also be helpful in getting to the Keukenhof Gardens. In the tulip season, these hotels can range between 80 to 200 euros per night, depending on how early on you plan and book.
Getting to Keukenhof Gardens is actually very simple! The first step is to go online and book a combi ticket. The Keukenhof website offers combination tickets which include transportation and your Keukenhof ticket; it’s cheaper than what you’d pay buying them separately. If you end up staying near the airport, you can just hop on the free airport shuttle, get to the airport and then go to the Keukenhof desk to check where buses depart from. Buses to the gardens depart every 20 minutes so you will never have to wait too long but it’s wise to show up early in the morning to make the most of your Keukenhof experience. Speaking about wise things to do, it is also helpful to plan your trip to Keukenhof on a weekday! It can be too crowded on weekends and quite a nightmare.
Keukenhof is a very accessible attraction. Much of it is flat (like most of the Netherlands!) and most of the paths are wheelchair accessible. I saw a couple of old people on wheelchairs and it was a beautiful sight to see. Disability or old age shouldn’t hold anyone back from enjoying life. Wheelchairs can be rented from the park. The best thing to do in the park is stroll leisurely looking at flowers, so you can definitely go at your own pace while taking pictures. The Keukenhof Gardens have the tendency to turn every visitor into a photographer. You’ll be stunned to see the variety of gorgeous tulips at the park.
The gardens have a couple of food stalls here and there and snacks are up for grabs readily. There are several gelato stands as well and I highly recommend gelato in Europe. It spoils your taste buds forever and you’ll never be pleased enough ever again but it is definitely worth it.
If you are a lover of tulips, flowers, bright colors, beautifully manicured gardens, and Instagrammable locations, Keukenhof should be on your bucket list! The gardens are open right now. It isn’t too late to start planning!