I know it’s autumn already, but I can’t stop thinking about my visit to the Keukenhof flower garden last spring. Keukenhof is located near the town of Lisse in the Netherlands and is home to the world’s second-largest flower garden. It is situated in the heart of the so-called ‘Dune and Bulb Region’ in the province of Zuid-Holland.
Each year from mid-March to mid-May the park’s 32 hectares are covered with seven million flowering bulbs, such as tulips, daffodils and hyacinths. This year’s theme was ‘Holland’ and there were more tulips than ever: a dazzling thousand (!) different species.
History of Keukenhof
The Keukenhof area used to be a part of the Teylingen Castle estate. The surrounding woods and sand dunes were hunting grounds and supplied all sorts of foods in the fifteenth century. Gathered food and game was used in the castle’s kitchen – Keukenhof translates literally to ‘kitchen courtyard’.
A team of two landscape architects was given the job to redesign the gardens in 1857. The first real flower exhibition, however, didn’t take place until almost a century later, in 1949. That first display was organized by the mayor of Lisse and local flower growers. It was a tremendous success and turned into an annual event.
The Keukenhof flower garden is now world-renowned for its flowering bulbs and attracts thousands upon thousands of tourists each year in spring.
Visit Keukenhof Flower Garden
When I was there, there were literally hundreds of tour buses parked in the parking lot. There are organized tours from Amsterdam and other major Dutch cities. The amount of people was overwhelming sometimes, but still didn’t take away the magnificence of the beautifully landscapes gardens.
Tickets for adults are 15 euros and it is well-worth the money. You could easily spend an entire day walking around and visiting the dozen exhibitions held in pavilions throughout the park. The park has nice canals, a windmill, playgrounds and information boards. Numerous food stalls sell typically Dutch food. In addition, you can also rent bicycles and go for a ride in the surrounding countryside. The flowers are grown in huge flat fields that in spring create a wonderful colourful spectacle.
After visiting the windmills in Kinderdijk, which I really liked, this was my second quintessentially Dutch destination of this year. It was spectacular. I honestly had never seen gardens this colourful before.
A suggested place to stay is Leiden, a beautiful university city a short distance from Lisse. It is a popular destination and you can find plenty of accommodation in Leiden.