For one month every year, hundreds, if not thousands of tourists descend on Amsterdam to experience the vibrant, natural delight of the tulips. For me, I’d always known that tulips were synonymous with the Netherlands, but I’d never made the short hop to experience the natural phenomenon for myself. Until this year.
Dutch tulip growers dominate the world tulip bulb industry: they produce 4.32 billion tulip bulbs each year, 53% of which are grown into cut flowers. For more background information on tulips, see this really great site.
Sure, if you want to see tulips and not venture out of the centre of Amsterdam, then you can visit the market or see the flowers in very many plant pots around the city. However to really experience the volume of flowers that drive tulipomania you need to venture out of the city a short distance.
Buses depart for Keukenhof from the airport. However, a word of caution – get there early in peak season as otherwise queues for the shuttle buses can easily reach 3-4 hours. If a bus queue doesn’t appeal, then hop in a taxi for an approx. 20 minute drive.
Throughout the entire month of April, the Tulip Festival allows visitors to marvel at a variety of colourful (and occasionally rare) tulips in the gardens of museums, private homes and institutions throughout the city. We picked Keukenhof as it was only a short trip from central Amsterdam.
For those of you who have visited any gardens in stately homes, this really what Keukenhof is. There are manicured gardens and lawns with stunning displays of the widest variety of tulips. However, where Keukenhof differs from normal stately homes is on the periphery. 32 hectares of red and yellow and pink and purple tulips stretching for as far as the eyes can see. Whilst you can see these from the edge of the gardens, it is worth spending some time to hire a bike and get up close and personal with the flowers away from the crowds.
A trip to Keukenhof will take around 2-3 hours.