I have written previously about our trip to the Netherlands, including our time in Delft, Leiden and Haarlem. As I mentioned then, a big reason for our trip to that region at that time (spring vacation) was to visit the Keukenhof Gardens in Lisse.
Springtime means tulips in Holland! I knew that Holland (this particular region in the Netherlands) is known for its tulip production, but I learned while I was researching for this trip that it is the world’s leading producer of tulip bulbs, and the main growing region is from Leiden to Haarlem. I found these facts, and more, in this article by CheeseWeb.
The Keukenhof Gardens are a beautiful showcase for the many flower bulb producers in the region. Keukenhof is only open for eight weeks every year. This limited opening makes sense since the gardens can only bloom for a short period of time. The site is huge and contains pavilions for indoor exhibits and shows, outdoor inspiration gardens, and of course, tulips (and other flowers) as far as you can see.
Keukenhof is a popular attraction for tourists and photographers, and is definitely worth visiting if you enjoy beautiful gardens and/or if you’d like to learn more about the Netherlands’ floral industry. The gardens and exhibits are based on a unifying theme each year. You can learn more about the history of the gardens, as well as how to visit, on the Keukenhof website.
In addition to the gardens and exhibition halls, Keukenhof has family friendly features including a play area with zip-line swing, a maze, a petting zoo, a working windmill, and plenty of places to eat. We took a few trips to the petting zoo throughout the day for my son – lots of walking and looking at flowers isn’t always exciting for little boys! I have a hard time passing up the chance to look at cute animals, too. But please, PLEASE, be kind and respectful to the animals. Nothing annoys me more than to see kids chasing poor, scared animals around, or adults relentlessly annoying alpacas for thirty minutes in order to capture the perfect “here I am with a farmyard animal selfie.” Be cool, people, be cool.
Prior to visiting, I made note of these Photography Tips for Avoiding Crowds at Gardens and Tourist Attractions from CheeseWeb. I knew I wanted to take some nice photographs at Keukenhof and these tips came in handy. I can add one more … go when it is raining!
It started to pour rain as soon as we arrived and, as it does in this part of the world, it rained on and off all day. While this doesn’t make for pleasant strolls, it did keep people inside during the heavier downpours, which meant I had some great opportunities to catch (almost) crowd-free shots of the gardens. We did purchase some new umbrellas from a gift shop to make it bearable, and we have since used those handy umbrellas all over Europe!
My biggest regret from our visit is that we did not purchase or order any bulbs while we were there. There are kiosks at which you can order bulbs and they will properly and legally ship them to your destination. There are shipping and export regulations on bulbs so this is really handy. I wish we had purchased some for our own garden and as gifts for flower-loving family members!
Keukenhof is a beautiful destination for flower-lovers wanting to learn more about flower production in the region, to see the many varieties produced, and to be inspired by gorgeous gardens. Another great destination for flower-loving tourists in this region is the flower auction at the Royal FloraHolland Aalsmeer in Aalsmeer, Netherlands. We did not visit this, but Rick Steves has some great information about this and other Netherlands attractions here. I also wish we had taken bike tours through the area’s tulip fields, but we didn’t have enough time. Perhaps we will return!