We planned our trip to the Netherlands this spring to coincide with full-blown tulip mania. Flowers are blooming in batches all over the Netherlands from late January to May. First come the dainty lilac and cream crocuses in January, followed by bursts of yellow daffodils and narcissi, and then hyacinths. The tulips bloom from mid-March to mid-May, depending on the weather and if the bulbs are early, mid, or late season varieties.
Before landing in the Netherlands, I searched every article online to find the best place to see the candy-colored fields of tulips. I wanted to look out and see vast, dense fields striped with bright orange, pink, red, yellow, purple, with every color imaginable. We took the Bollenstreek Route, commonly known as the Bloemen Route (Flower Route). The drive starts in Haarlem, near Amsterdam, and ends in Leiden, with a stop at the Keukenhof Gardens in Lisse. As we were driving down, I started thinking, “where are the tulips?” and then worrying, “where are the tulips??” and then almost felt like crying, “where are the tulips???” We went last week, so mid-April, which we thought would be the safest bet as it’s smack dab in the middle of tulip blooming season. As we drove into Lisse, I could see the tulip fields lining the road; they were just still green! (Don’t worry, there is a happy ending to this story.)
Thankfully, when we entered the Keukenhof, there were beautiful swirls of tulips in every color, shape and size. The Keukenhof gardens started out as a kitchen garden, hence the name, and has expanded into the Disneyland of flower gardens. Over 7 million bulbs, a large pond, waterfalls, a windmill, and interactive displays for little (and big) kids to play on. Aaron kept on saying, “this garden is really cool.” I think he expected it to like someone’s nice backyard garden, with a few rows of tulips and a bench, and not the mega-park showcase that it is. It is called THE Garden of Europe after all, which is saying a lot when you think of all the amazing gardens of the palaces, castles and chateaus of Europe.
Getting back on the road towards Amsterdam, I was determined to find those fields of tulips. This was something that I’ve dreamed about seeing since I did a report on the Netherlands in primary school. If you, too, are searching for the fields, don’t lose heart. We first saw this patch of pastel hyacinths.
.And then, after driving a few minutes off the main road, we found these:
And apparently there is a camper convention there too:
.If you hit the perfect week, all you have to do is look out your window while on the main road. But if you’re a bit early and there aren’t tulips spilling out of every field with stalls selling flower garlands to adorn the hood of your car, keep looking! You can also go super Dutch and cycle the fields around the Keukenhof. Rent bikes from Rent-A-Bike Van Dam right in the parking lot of the Keukenhof. No doubt you’ll find the tulip fields we did on one of their mapped routes.
Like Disneyland, this place can turn into an overcrowded zoo. Try to plan your trip on a weekday. If you plan your trip earlier in the season, the gardens may not be at their peak, but neither are the crowds. When we went on a Thursday it was busy, but it didn’t feel overcrowded and the gardens to the back were fairly empty and peaceful.
Keukenhof is open from 24 March 2016 – 16 May 2016 from 08.00 – 19.30
Tickets are € 16,00, and parking is € 6,00