Every year, between March and May, people from all over the world travel to Keukenhof in Holland to admire its beautiful tulip displays. Scattered around 32 hectares, there are more than 800 varieties of tulips in many colors arranged in beautiful patterns all around the park.
In addition to the open-air displays, more flower arrangements together with artworks and interactive installations can be seen in five pavilions in the park: Juliana, Wilhelmina, Beatrix, Willem-Alexander and Oranje Nassau; each pavilion has also facilities like public toilets and outlets selling food and drinks.
Keukenhof is not only all about flowers; every year artists are encouraged to submit some of their artworks to be displayed around the park so look out for sculptures dotted all around the park.
Given the size of the park and to maximize the time spent there, careful planning is advised. Keukenhof is near the town of Lisse and transport can be arranged from there; for people flying to Amsterdam Schipol Airport, there is a shuttle bus leaving from outside the Arrivals (Hall 4); it connects the airport with the park up to 12 times a day and the trip takes about half an hour. Tickets can be purchased in advance online to include transport and the entrance fee to Keukenhof.
Once at the park, visitors can make their own way around the various displays (maps are handed out at the entrance) or, join a free guided tour starting at the Juliana pavilion every day at 2 pm. Photographers will have a busy day taking pictures of the colorful displays along the park paths, around the small lake and in and out of the pavilions. Before getting lost in the tulips, right after the main entrance to Keukenhof, there is a beautiful garden musical organ playing tunes to set the atmosphere to the visit to the park.
Every year Keukenhof has a theme and reference to it can be found all over the park and in its pavilions in the form of sculptures, flowers arrangements and artworks. In 2015 the theme was an homage to the famous Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh which included a portrait of the artist made up by a mosaic of tulips and hyacinths viewed from a raised platform.
This being Holland, of course you are never too far away from a windmill and Keukenhof has got one too; visitors can access the mill and get good views the tulip fields around the park from its terrace. But to get a closer look and a different perspective of the tulip fields a boat trip is highly recommended. For a small fee (€8 in 2015) electrically propelled boats take visitors on a 45 minutes round trip with a running commentary in many languages; brief stops are made along the way to allow for photographs to be taken.
Keukenhof is very family friendly with a petting zoo, a playground and a maze; food and drinks are available not only in the five pavilions but also at the Tea Pavilion and at Poffertjes House where the famous poffertjes (delicious traditional dutch mini pancakes) are served.
Visitors on a budget or people who prefer to take advantage of the open air setting of Keukenhof can bring a picnic as many areas are provided for it; away from the flower displays, Keukenhof has seven inspirational gardens including a Japanese country garden and quiet spots where people can rest after walking around.
A visit to the park will probably take the whole day and can be combined with a few days in Amsterdam to take a break from the tulips overload and explore the beautiful city and its many attractions; if you suffer from tulips withdrawal symptoms, Amsterdam has got a tulip museum and, bags of tulip bulbs are sold all around the city for you to take home and created your very own mini Keukenhof!