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Keukenhof: where to see 800 varieties of tulips in the Netherlands

Keukenhof: where to see 800 varieties of tulips in the Netherlands

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It’s automatic – when you think Netherlands, images of endless fields of tulips bloom in your mind. But where can you see the best example of these neat Dutch gardens and 7 million bulb flowers in one place? Plan a day trip to Keukenhof Park in the town of Lisse (28 mi/45 km from Amsterdam, 20 mi/32 km from the Hague) for a day of flower-gazing beyond your wildest dreams.

Keukenhof | ©Maria Angelova/www.203challenges.com

What to do at Keukenhof

Before you head to the gardens, charge your batteries and bring a second memory card, because you’ll want to take thousands of photos. Besides walking around the flower beds (outdoors and in several pavilions), you can also take a flower photography course, take a canal boat tour or join a guided walking tour around Keukenhof. There’s also a retro-style labyrinth where you can lose yourself.

A special corner is dedicated to the favorite Dutch children book character Miffy the rabbit, and there’s even a mini zoo. Don’t miss the more than 120-year-old mill, whose squeaking stairs lead you up to a beautiful view. If you’re obsessed with treasure hunts like I am, take a map from the entrance and enjoy discovering the secrets of the park.

History in five sentences

Jacqueline, Countess of Hainaut in the 15th century, loved horticulture and had a special garden with herbs and spices for her castle’s kitchen. That’s where the name Keukenhof came from – meaning the ‘kitchen garden’. After changing ownership a few times, the area became an English-style garden in 1857 and a tulip garden in 1949. It was the idea of the then-mayor to create a special place where Dutch growers could showcase their tulip hybrids. Nowadays, more than 800,000 visitors tick off Keukenhof from their bucket list every year.

The 120-year-old mill in Keukenhof | ©Maria Angelova/www.203challenges.com

Best time to visit Keukenhof

Keukenhof is open only two months a year, when the spring flowers bloom – usually between the end of March and mid-May (2018 dates: March 22 to May 13). The best time to visit is in the middle of April, because in March many of the flowers are still buds.

Three challenges for Keukehof:

1. Find the tulip Walk of Fame.

2. Climb the mill for a panoramic view of the park.

3. Find your way through the labyrinth.

Practicalities

If you’re coming from the Hague or Schipol Airport in Amsterdam, look online in advance to buy a combined bus and entry ticket. You’ll get a free map of the park from the ticket office. There’s free Wi-Fi all over the park, so you can share your photos as you explore. The walking lanes are 10 mi/15 km long, but you can’t ride a bike in the park. You can, however, rent a bike and explore the surrounding tulip fields outside the park. More information here.

Flowers in Keukenhof | ©Maria Angelova/www.203challenges.com

Keukenhof | ©Maria Angelova/www.203challenges.com

Flowers in Keukenhof | ©Maria Angelova/www.203challenges.com

A piglet at the mini zoo in Keukenhof | ©Maria Angelova/www.203challenges.com

Flowers in Keukenhof | ©Maria Angelova/www.203challenges.com

Flowers in Keukenhof | ©Maria Angelova/www.203challenges.com

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