Last week, we visited my sister-in-law in Amsterdam. Presented with a sunny day at just the right time of year, of course we had to make a day trip to Keukenhof Gardens!
Keukenhof, located in the town of Lisse, about half an hour from Amsterdam by car, is one of the biggest flower gardens in the world, with around seven million bulbs planted annually. (Yes, they replant them every year, I am not sure why.) Originally a palace hunting ground, the gardens were conceived in 1949 as a showcase for Dutch flower producers. It worked: millions of tourists from all over the world pay 16 Euros (about $18) apiece to visit the gardens every spring.
So, yes, it is a tourist trap. But a very enjoyable one, and well worth the price of admission if you have any interest in gardening or photography. Especially on a rare, sunny, warm spring day in northern Europe.
One tip if you visit Keukenhof: because the crowds really are kind of overwhelming, try going on early on a weekday. We arrived about 11:30 AM on a Thursday—we were delayed a bit by traffic on the way there—and had an hour or so of relative peace before the tour buses showed up. It really wasn’t that bad, but if I go again, I’ll try to get started a couple of hours earlier for a more serene experience.
Also, because of the crowds, we were glad that we took my sister-in-law’s advice and packed a couple of sandwiches. It would have been a major hassle to buy any of the overpriced food at the park. I noticed several other people brought small picnics as well. They were probably Dutch.
We got so lucky with the weather that day, because the next two days were cold and drizzly. So, we checked out museums in Amsterdam, and went on a short day trip to Enkhuizen. More about that later.