I was told by a friend that visiting Holland to see the tulips is the biggest cliché of all, something along the lines of having a picture taken wearing a mask in Venice. As if it was only a matter of time until I start travelling with tour groups. Needless to say, hearing this did not dispel my already existing doubts about our visit to the Keukenhof, THE tulip capital of Holland. But seeing this masterpiece of gardening I am happy I remained firm in my decision. Even if you’re not into flowers, Keukenhof offers something for everyone, and if you are travelling to Holland in April or May, you should not give it a miss.
Florist / Gardener / Hobby gardener – For people with any kind of (semi)professional interest in flowers a visit to the Keukenhof is a must. Here you have it all: Beds of tulips planted in form of Van Gogh portrait – check. Themed flower shows with inventive flower arrangements – check. Historical garden showcasing the history and cultivation of tulips – check. Innovation garden where you can witness the cultivation process of completely new tulip varieties – check. Prepare to have your mind blown off. And even if all your gardening experience consists only of growing herbs on your balcony, I bet you won’t leave without at least a couple of bulbs to plant back home.
Photographer – As a photographer you will probably approach Keukenhof from a different angle. Equipped with your camera, tripod, several lenses, and other gear you might spend an entire day kneeing between flower beds, searching for the right perspective. Don’t be surprised if you fill all your memory cards before you realise you’ve only seen half of the park. We were lucky to be there on a sunny day with some scattered clouds adding just enough drama to the pictures. But I am sure that even on a grey day the park is exploding with colours. No filters needed here.
Number freak – You don’t have an eye for the colours, forms or any other physical characteristics of flowers but perceive the world through numbers? No problem, here’s some food for your thought: 30 gardeners plant over 7 million flower bulbs every year. In only 8 weeks the exhibition is visited by over 800.000 visitors from across the world. Adult admission costs 16 EUR, parking an additional 6 EUR and a fresh waffle 4 EUR. Now try to calculate the ROI of the whole project it this is what gets you excited.
People watcher – If your main interest lies in humans not flowers, you will have something to see too. People of all colours and races, young and old, couples, families, groups and individuals – it seems that everyone who visits Holland in spring eventually ends up here. For you, the best time to visit is around midday. We arrived early in the morning when the crowds were still relatively thin. By the time we left we could hardly find our car in the huge parking space, filled with rows and rows of cars and buses.
Family with children – Your kids will have a fun day out following the treasure hunt through the gardens, discovering several playgrounds and a petting zoo, or just chasing around. All the waffles and ice cream sold in the park will keep them going long after you’ve already run out of energy. Just be careful that they don’t trample on the carefully manicured flowers, I doubt the gardeners would appreciate to see their work ruined.
If you don’t fit into any of the above categories, just give it a try anyway. I bet you won’t regret it.