Tulip Mania - Keukenhof Gardens
It is a scientifically proven fact* that no one, and I mean no one, does spring better than the Dutch. Keukenhof, the Netherlands largest garden, is blooming proof of that!
*not yet scientifically proven.
Keukenhof is the epitome of everything Dutch. Art exhibitions, windmills, clogs, waffles and cheese are all to be found in the spectacular garden, but it is the tulip that takes centre stage here. Over 800 varieties of tulip are carefully planted here in autumn, ready to bloom for everyone to see in the spring months.
Keukenhof opens for just two months a year, when the blooms are at their very best. You can plan ahead and see which months are open to the public here.
Every year, Keukenhof presents its visitors with a special theme. 2015 in the Netherlands is the year dedicated to Van Gogh. Keukenhof reflects this through his gorgeous portraits of different blooms, from his iconic Sunflowers to my very favourite, Almond Blossoms. The bright yellow selfie garden is also a tribute to his self-portraits, and an excellent opportunity for snap-happy visitors!
Keukenhof is huge, and you're in for disappointment if you think you can enjoy all of it in one day. Plan out your visit and stick to the places you love. My favourite area was The Windmill - a vantage point over the tulip fields and a beautiful spot to rest your feet and eat some fresh strawberries! The Windmill is also the place from where you can ride a boat to go around the tulip fields, if you like. It's definitely an experience, but get ready for some queue.
Inside, the Willem Alexander Pavilion hosts an exhibition of 600 kinds of tulips, a total of 75,000 tulips. Caught the tulip fever yet?
Fun fact: tulips originally come from Turkey, but when they were first imported to Europe, their popularity rose like wildfire in the Netherlands. Bulbs were being sold at ten times the wages of a skilled craftsman, and for a while they were an absolute luxury to have - hence the term Tulip Mania in economics. It was the first 'economical bubble' - a huge surge in popularity which eventually has to crash. It has clearly not crashed completely, however, especially in Keukenhof.
With over 32 hectares to see and so many different areas to enjoy, you'll need to plan your visit out. Here are my own tips for the perfect visit:-
Keukenhof Gardens - Practical Tips:
When to go: The park opens from around the 20th of March to the 17th of May. The best time would be somewhere around mid-April, since the garden will be in full bloom.
Timing: Try to visit early in the day, at around 9am. Keukenhof opens for two months per year; it will be busy!
How to get there: The easiest way is by bus. A Keukenhof Express departs from Amsterdam Central Station, Schiphol Airport and Leiden around 4 to 8 times an hour. You can combine your bus ticket to the entrance ticket, making the whole visit cheaper.
Must see: The Orange-Nassau Pavilion for the themed exhibition (it changes every year), the Willem-Alexander Pavilion for a tiptoe through the tulips, the Amsterdam-inspired garden for the urban lover, the Windmill for a taste of authentic Netherlands, and the Romantic garden for loved-up couples!
And of course, keep your eyes peeled for your first sighting of tulip fields from the bus:
Over to you - have you been to Keukenhof? Are you still obsessing over Tulip Mania? Let's share tales in the comment section below!