Day 1. Exploring Keukenhof Gardens & Vondelpark, Amsterdam

Amsterdam is one of my favourite European cities, famous for its canals and tulips and somewhere I always enjoy visiting.  The city centre is absolutely gorgeous with its scenic canals, quaint architecture and world renowned museums but did you know that there are lots of idyllic places to visit further afield that are easily accessible by public transport?  Within this series of posts I’ll be introducing you to some hidden gems including an open-air folk museum, a castle and some picture perfect small towns.

KLM Cityhopper Plane
Boarding our KLM Cityhopper flight

We were up at the crack of dawn, in fact it was actually earlier than that as it was still dark when we set off for Leeds-Bradford Airport for our 6.20 a.m. KLM Cityhopper flight to Amsterdam, taking just under an hour.  KLM are a really good airline to travel with as even on short flights, passengers are offered complimentary snacks and refreshments.

Schiphol Airport Railway Station
Schiphol Airport Railway Station

Schiphol airport was very organised and it seemed to take no time at all for us to pass through immigration and board a train into the centre.  Standard single fares cost €4.60 but we each received a €1 discount by purchasing a paperless ticket on our phones.  With a journey time of just 20 minutes we were soon in Amsterdam Central Station where we popped into the tourist office to pick up maps and to collect our 72 hour Amsterdam Cards.

Park Plaza and I Amsterdam Cards
Our attractive hotel room card and I amsterdam pass

These offer excellent value as they include admission to the majority of the city’s museums and attractions, canal boat trips and unlimited free travel within the city centre boundaries.

Park Plaza, Vondelpark, Amsterdam
Our room at the Park Plaza Vondelpark, Amsterdam

We made good use of our cards immediately as we used them to board Tram Line 2 to our hotel.  Do remember that it’s necessary to both tap in and out on public transport with any type of ticket/ card purchased.  We’d arranged to stay at the Park Plaza Vondelpark, located in the city’s sought after Oud-Zuid neighbourhood just steps away from the beautiful Vondelpark.  Although it was only 11.00 a.m. when we arrived, our room was ready and we were able to settle in and freshen up straightaway.

Vondelpark, Amsterdam
Vondelpark, Amsterdam

Leaving the hotel, we wandered through Vondelpark which looked lovely in the spring sunshine.  It’s Amsterdam’s largest park, established almost 150 years ago and home to many old Dutch red chestnut and horse chestnut trees.

Lakeside cafe, Vondelpark
One of Vondelpark’s attractive cafes

The pathways were filled with weekend cyclists and families out for a morning stroll.  We stopped off at one of its attractive cafes for a coffee and pastry which we enjoyed on a sunny terrace before continuing through the park to Leidseplein, one of the city’s most popular squares.  From there we took a tram back to Central Station on our way to the world famous Keukenhof Garden.

Keukenhof Garden

Entrance to Keukenhof Garden, Lisse, The Netherlands
Entrance to Keukenhof Garden,

Nothing says spring more than a visit to Keukenhof which is one of the most popular places to visit in the Netherlands in springtime.  Combination entrance/ Keukenhof Express bus tickets are available from Amsterdam and Schiphol Airport (€29.50 to €33.50 depending on departure point) with frequent services taking visitors to the main entrance gates.  We only had to wait a couple of minutes for a bus to arrive which then whisked us to the garden in Lisse in 25 minutes.

Keukenhof Garden, near Amsterdam
Keukenhof Garden

Keukenhof is the most beautiful spring garden in the world and opens its doors for just eight weeks each year (24th March – 15th May in 2022).  In 2019 Keukenhof welcomed 1.5 million visitors and after two years of the garden being closed and only visible online, everyone seemed happy to be able to wander around the sea of tulips once again.  Upon reading this you might think that it would be crowded but as the garden spans 79 acres there is plenty of room for everyone to spread out away from the main entrance.

Tulips at Keukenhof Garden
Keukenhof Garden

The historic park dates back to 1857 with the initiative for Keukenhof taken by ten bulb growers/ exporters who wanted to create a showcase for their trade, with the present garden being established in Lisse in 1949.  The then-mayor wished to create a space where growers from the Netherlands would be able to display and exhibit their bulbs to increase the export of flowers from Holland.  The Keukenhof garden attracts visitors from near and far and has enabled the Netherlands to become the largest exporter of flowers worldwide.

Hyacinths at Keukenhof Garden
Hyacinths on display in the garden

This part of the country rose to prominence for bulb growing as the peaty soil in the area is ideal for growing flowers, and in particular, the tulip.  Part of this region was reclaimed from the sea, with the flat expansive landscape (polders) once part of the seabed.  Through water drainage and flood control methods the water was removed, leaving behind rich and fertile soil perfect for the cultivation of bulbs.

Tulips at Keukenhof Garden
Purple and White Tulips

A team of 40 gardeners plant seven million flower bulbs each year taking them approximately three months, which is actually longer than the time the park is open.  Planting is done in layers so that there are always beautiful displays to be seen.

Stunning displays at Keukenhof Garden
Stunning displays

After the flowering season is over the bulbs are all dug up enabling the cycle of autumn planting, spring flowering and harvesting to start once again.  The bulbs are provided free by around 100 different suppliers to showcase their products and information on the specific flower varieties and bulb grower are provided on small signs beside each display.

Brightly coloured tulip displays at Keukenhof
Brightly coloured tulip displays in the gardens

The theme for 2022 was Flower Classics, with a new design and layout created each year using 1,600 varieties of bulbs to change the appearance of Keukenhof.  These are combined in such a way that the park is in bloom for the entire eight weeks.

A sea of grape hyacinths at Keukenhof Garden
A sea of grape hyacinths in the gardens

Our visit took place during the third week and the garden looked stunning from every angle with its wonderful displays of spring flowering bulbs including many tulips, daffodils, lilies and fragrant hyacinths.

Tulip displays at Keukenhof Garden
Tulip Displays

We spent four hours walking along the paths criss-crossing the garden which were awash with colour and floral scents.  If you walked along the full length of the paths this would measure 15 km in total but it’s unnecessary to walk so far as the enchanting displays are absolutely gorgeous throughout the park.

Arched stone bridge over the pond at Keukenhof
Arched stone bridge over the pond at Keukenhof

In addition to lawned areas there are ornamental ponds and inspiration gardens for ideas to take back home.  There are also cafes, gift shops, plant sales and four indoor pavilions.  These covered areas are equally beautiful with each of them named after Dutch royalty.

Rose displays in the Oranje Nassau Pavilion, Keukenhof
Rose displays in the Oranje Nassau Pavilion, Keukenhof

The Oranje Nassau Pavilion showcases roses and offers daily flower arranging classes whilst the Willem Alexander Pavilion, located in the centre of the park is the largest of the halls.  In this vast pavilion we admired thousands of tulips, amaryllises, perennials and lilies.  Not to be missed on any visit but especially useful to pop into if it’s raining.

Tulips in the Willem Alexander Pavilion
Tulips in the Willem Alexander Pavilion

The Beatrix Pavilion contained an exquisite collection of delicate orchids all beautifully arranged, some hanging from the ceiling with others in arrangements and vases.

Orchids on display in the Beatrix Pavilion at Keukenhof
Orchids on display in the Beatrix Pavilion

The fourth pavilion, the Juliana Building took on a different theme with an exhibition about the history of tulips in the Netherlands entitled Tulipomania and was equally interesting to view.  Originally cultivated in Turkey, the tulip made its first appearance in the Netherlands in the late 16th century, becoming a status symbol for the Dutch soon afterwards and continues to this day to be a much loved flower.

Tulipomania exhibition in the Juliana Pavilion, Keukenhof
The tulip exhibition in the Juliana Pavilion

On the edge of Keukenhof stands a windmill which is over a hundred years old and was originally used as a pumping mill.  In 1957 a cruise company purchased the windmill in Groningen and donated it to Keukenhof to become a feature of the garden.

The Keukenhof windmill
The Keukenhof windmill

Visitors can climb to the viewing balcony and enjoy views not only of the garden but also of the flower fields in the surrounding area.  These bulb fields produce a delightful striped carpet effect and are another unmissable sight in Lisse during the spring time.

Flower fields surrounding Keukenhof Garden, Lisse
Flower fields surrounding Keukenhof

Visiting Keukenhof is a delight for the whole family as alongside the magnificent floral displays there is a maze, adventure playground, small petting zoo and stepping stones across the lake to keep everyone happy and entertained.

Stepping stones across the water at Keukenhof
Stepping stones across the water in the gardens

Our feet might have been tired as we boarded the bus back to Amsterdam but our spirits were high as spending a few hours at Keukenhof is such an uplifting experience so do try and visit sometime if you can as I’m sure you’ll be as enchanted as we were.

Floral displays with sculpture at Keukenhof
Floral displays with one of the many pieces of artwork

 

If you have enjoyed reading this post you may also like:

Cheung Chau and the Hong Kong Flower Show

Andover and the Mottisfont Rose Garden

 

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Keukenhof Gardens, The Netherlands

 

80 thoughts on “Day 1. Exploring Keukenhof Gardens & Vondelpark, Amsterdam

  1. Amsterdam is also one of my favourite European cities, Marion. I first visited as a young student and I have revisited several times since, although not recently. I remember Vondelpark but not the K Gardens; how stunning are they? I’m looking forward to reading the next instalment!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’m pleased to read that you are also a big fan of Amsterdam June as it’s such a lovely city. Do try to visit one year in the springtime and then you can enjoy Keukenhof as it’s absolutely stunning. Hope you are having a good weekend !

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Absolutely gorgeous! I’ve only visited Amsterdam and Keukenhof once, but it was a beautiful experience. Granted, it was pouring rain during my time in the latter, but the flowers were still vibrant and gorgeous! Can’t wait to see where else you go in the Netherlands!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you for your kind words Laura. I’m so pleased to read that you visited Amsterdam and Keukenhof just before Covid. Seeing photos of the flowers is beautiful but you are right, it can’t compare with being there yourself and smelling the sweet floral fragrance. Hope you are able to travel outside the US next year.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It was a splendid first day of our Amsterdam trip Leighton and wandering around the tulips was so good for the soul and a very uplifting experience. Vondelpark was lovely too and it was so nice that our hotel overlooked it. The sun shone as well which was the icing on the cake.

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  3. Hi! Thank you for igniting long ago memories of a special visit to Amsterdam. I can easily recall the beautiful tulips and other flowers in the bidding market…we attended. What lovely photographs too…even more lovely than I can recall. There was so much to see and taste (hand-made chocolates!) diamonds – strictly to admire, hand-painted china, plus a fun river-boat trip. You certainly are keen travellers and cram so much in. Here’s to your viewing even more beauty-spots .Happy landings. xx

    Liked by 3 people

    1. How wonderful that you also had an opportunity to visit Keukenhof recently. Ve not yet visited Leiden but would like to do so on a future visit. Thank you for taking the time to comment on this post, it’s much appreciated.

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  4. What a beautiful and uplifting post to read this morning! I just love the colors and the variety all around the gardens! There is an expansive garden place in Utah that gets tulip bulbs from this garden and they put on their own tulip festival every year. It was always one of my favorite events because walking through all the beautiful flowers was just good for the soul. Delightful post Marion 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It was definitely good for the soul wandering slowly through Keukenhof garden inhaling the sweet fragrance of the hyacinths along our way. How wonderful to read that a large garden in Utah sources its tulip bulbs from Keukenhof and puts on a display of its own. I imagine that is lovely too! Thanks so much for taking the time to comment Meg, it’s much appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Keukenhof is absolutely beautiful Lyssy and I do so hope you can arrange a visit one day. I’m sure you will! I also loved seeing your tulip photos from Holland Ridge Farm near NYC as it looks gorgeous there too and somewhere I’d also be happy to visit one day! Hope your week goes well.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. ThingsHelenLoves

    What absolutely beautiful images. Having just spent a few days planting and potting to create some colour in my own tiny garden, I am in awe of the amount of work it must take to create this. So much time and planning for such a fleeting flowering season! I did the virtual Keukenhof in lockdown but I’d love to see this in person one day. We used to travel through Amsterdam a lot getting to and from Germany and spent some great weekends in a little town called Wassenaar not too far out- intrigued to see where you are taking us next!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Keukenhof is absolutely delightful Helen and I do hope you have an opportunity to visit for yourself one spring. Viewing it virtually is lovely but nothing to compare for being there yourself and breathing in the aromas of the fragrant hyacinths.

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  6. I like the look of Vondelpark (especially those cafes)! But wow, Keukenhof is just amazing – the colourful tulips (and other beautiful flowers) are a feast for the eyes 🌷. How much fun is that rose display at the car and caravan – love it! And of course one have to see a windmill when in Amsterdam … such a lovely post Marion! Looking forward to the rest of your trip!

    Liked by 3 people

  7. The Netherlands is famous for many things – cheese, clogs, Van Gogh – but the tulip is probably Amsterdam’s most enduring icon. We just came back from a trip to Amsterdam, too and seeing these beautiful blooms was a highlight of our trip. Thanks for sharing and have a good day 🙂 Aiva xx

    Liked by 2 people

        1. Hi Shreyosi, I’m so pleased to read that you have had the pleasure of visiting Keukenhof twice as it’s the most beautiful garden imaginable. Thank you so much for taking an interest in my post, it’s much appreciated.

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