When we moved to Germany, thanks to reading a fellow Travel Blogger’s site, I learned about this place that I knew my wife would absolutely love to visit!!
Imagine….7 million spring, flowering bulbs spread out over 500 acres of gardens that come in full bloom during an 8-week period. And, if timed just right, you will see all the peak colors from the hundreds of flower varieties. Our visit during May 2nd worked out perfectly for us to see all the peak colors.
When we decided we wanted to go to Keukenhof during our 3-day holiday weekend for May Day, we were happy to learn that Keukenhof was projecting that weekend to be the peak time to see all of the flowers in full bloom. And, we were not disappointed!!
Since we read that Keukenhof allowed dogs as long as they stayed on leash and on the pathways, we decided to take our dog Barney with us. From where we live in southwest Germany, it was a 6 hour drive to the town of Noordwijk aan Zee. Noordwijk (on the sea) is a beautiful, seaside tourist town, and is located in the state province of South Holland in The Netherlands. Noordwijk (Nord-vick) is situated halfway between the cities of Amersterdam & The Hague along the shore of the North Sea.
A quick comment about some confusion that exists: the country is called “The Netherlands”. There are two large provinces called “North” & “South Holland”, which became a very rich area during the 17th & 18th centuries due to shipping. Therefore, “Holland” is sometimes incorrectly used in referencing the entire country. And, the people are called and speak “Dutch”. The language to me sounds like they borrowed all of the vowels missing in the German language.
Since we planned to bring Barney with us, we looked for a hotel that allowed dogs. After researching hotels on TripAdvisor.com, we settled on the Radisson Blu Palace Hotel. It was very easy to find the hotel, as Noordwijk is not that big of a city. We parked our car in the underground garage, and the three of us went to the lobby to check-in. The hotel even gave Barney his very own welcome gift of dog treats and a map of where he was allowed on the beach. Once we entered the room, the Hotel had already laid out a doggy bed and bowl of water for him. Our stay in the Palace Hotel was excellent, and it is located within an easy 5 minute walk to the beach and from the shopping streets in Noordwijk.
Our first evening, we decided to walk along the beach to watch the sunset. This was especially nice for us, since this was the first time we had brought our dog onto the beach. With Holland being basically at sea level and the very wide beach, to me the North Sea felt very huge with such a large view of the sky. The beach is very wide with powdery sand. The time of year that we visited is not exactly “beach weather” as it was about 60 degrees Fahrenheit and very windy, making it feel a little on the chilly side. The best time of year to visit the beach here is in July & August. We were not disappointed, as we got to see a very peaceful sunset and watch our dog play in the sand.
The next morning after breakfast at the hotel, we drove 15 minutes to Keukenhof. We had read that at this busy time of year, it is best to arrive early before 10am. Keukenhof opens at 8am and there are acres of parking. The issue can be the 2-lane road to Keukenhof can get backed up with traffic. But, if it does, you get to enjoy tulip fields for as far as you can see while being stuck in traffic. Since we had left early, we had no troubles getting through traffic and finding a parking spot almost in front of the main entrance.
TIPS FOR A GOOD EXPERIENCE AT KEUKENHOF: the following are some of the things we did that really made our time there very easy and enjoyable.
- Buy entrance tickets & pay for parking online before arriving. The cost is 16 Euro per adult. Our dog was free. This is the link to the ticket costs. For parking, you pay the attendant directing cars out of the lot when you leave. That can seem a little confusing about how to pay. Checkout the website for Keukenhof for all the details about how to get there, tickets, and information.
- Buy online the Park Guide for 5 Euro and pick this up at the information center at the main gate. It is a 75 page booklet explaining the park, its history, and the flowers. It is well worth the cost.
- There are onsite restaurants and food vendors, but maybe bring a small sandwich and snack to enjoy the atmosphere around the windmill area.
- Checkout this website tulipsinholland.com/ and sign-up for weekly newsletters to determine how close to peak all of the flower blooms are before your visit.
- Definitely arrive before 10am!! As we were leaving, it was extremely packed with people near the main entrance. Be sure to take your pictures of the main entrance area when you arrive because if you take the pictures as you leave, there will be a lot of people in your shots…and let’s face it…it’s all about the flowers!
- Take your time and wander around the park. We were there for about 5 hours, and even still did not see everything. Since we had our dog, one of us had to stay with him and could not go inside the pavilions together, and he was not allowed on the boat that takes you around the large tulip fields. So, you can easily spend a full day to see everything.
We enjoyed our time at Keukenhof during the day on Saturday! After enjoying a relaxing evening at the hotel and breakfast the next morning, we left for our drive back home to Germany. Our drive home was a little more challenging because we had rain the whole way, making it an 8-hour drive. But, we would take the drive in the rain, since it meant that the day before we experienced absolutely gorgeous weather!!
We highly recommend a visit to Keukenhof, even if you do not like flowers, it is hard not to be impressed with the sights and smells of millions of flowers!! And, it is an easy day-trip if you are visiting Amsterdam, and well worth the visit. It is said that a flower will attract bees….well, millions of flowers attract people like bees, and it is a sight to see!