I just got back from a 5 day trip with my mom. First trip we’d been on together and we had a lovely time. She wanted to go to Holland to see the tulips in bloom. And since I’d never been there during that time I was happy to go see them as well. My initial research into flower viewing kept bringing me back to the same place, Keukenhof Garden. “A Must See!” “Do It Before You Die!” “Fields and Fields of Flower.” The internet headline screamed. Sounded exactly like what we were looking for. S that was the plan, spend the day wandering in the fields at Keukenhof. Not exactly what happened. Here’s the real scoop on what Keukenhof Garden (KG from here on out) is all about.
1) It’s just that a garden. Yes, I know that should have been the first, and a dead, giveaway. Garden, not Field, but you know how the internet can be misleading. (You did know that right?) Don’t get me wrong, it is a huge, beautiful garden with many flowers, not just tulips. There are hyacinths, tulips and daffodils too along with others I don’t remember at the moment. They also have about 5 buildings that showcase different flowers. For example:
And whatever these cool flowers are
So the place is absolutely beautiful and a must see but if you are hoping for fields and fields of flowers this isn’t it. Which brings me to point number
2: You can see tulip fields at KG, kinda. There are fields around the KG grounds and you can see them from inside, and even take a boat ride around them, but you can’t really see them. Here’s what I mean:
This was one of the views you could see, not bad, but not that great. And:
This, this is the view from the boat. It was so bad I only took this one photo. You can’t see anything except the bank of the river. I don’t understand why the boat wasn’t a little taller so you could enjoy the fields. A bummer indeed.
3) The journey there was, meh. I’d done some research about how to get there and it seemed you could: take a tour, pricey, rent a car, or take the bus from Amsterdam airport, Haarlem, or Leiden. I’d read a few reports saying it was easiest to go to Leiden from Amsterdam and then take the bus but that made no sense to me. Why go south of where we wanted just to back track? No, we would go from Amsterdam to the airport and take the bus there. Made way more sense. Now I question that. While it was easy it was time consuming. First, at the train station none of credit cards would work in the ticket machines so we had to go stand in the cash only line. That took about 20ish mins. Then we waited for the train to Schipol (the airport), another 10 mins. Then we got to Schipol and walked outside to catch the bus and found this:
A crazy long line of people going to see tulips. With a sigh we got into line to wait. It took about 30 mins to get to the front of the line and on a bus. However, there we no seats and it’s a 45 min drive! We were packed in there like sardines. Not the most pleasant experience but it could have been better. You’re about to walk for hours and hours, you kinda want to sit on the way there.
So from the time we left the hotel to the time we got to KG took about 2 and a half hours. I think if we’d just taken the train straight to Leiden, it may have been faster. Maybe.
4) You can only walk inside the KG! I read multiple times that you could bike the KG, but that isn’t true. No bikes are allowed inside. You can rent bikes outside and bike around the area, but not in the garden. It’s ok, but I was thinking we could do that since:
5) I thought it was to huge for walking. It’s not. It’s very walkable and you can do it all in 3ish hours.
Do I recommend KG? Yes! It was beautiful and a pleasant experience. Was it what I expected? Nope. I wish I’d know about the fields. I wish we had rented a car so we could drive around, on the Flower Route. The Flower Route, which I learned after the trip, is a road between Haarlem and Leiden where you can see tulip fields. If only KG hadn’t kept coming up in my Google search!
So, if you have time and funds, rent a car and make a day of it. Then you can hit up all the good stuff.