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Spring in Holland means flowers and the world’s largest garden and showplace is the Keukenhof Gardens with over 7 million spring flowering bulbs on display. There are also acres of commercial fields around the gardens growing tulips almost as far as you can see.
The gardens are located in Lisse only a short distance southwest of Amsterdam. The festival runs from mid March thru mid May and is serviced by buses from Amsterdam airport with entry included in the fare. If you are staying in Amsterdam you can take a bus or tram to the central station and catch a train directly to the airport. Once there it isn’t hard to figure out – just look for the crowds and the red buses. You can check with tour agencies or your hotel but that will probably cost you an extra $5 or $10 and you will end up traveling the same route (bus, train, bus and return).
The Keukenhof is a trade fair whereover one hundred growers display their flowers. The name actually means “kitchen garden” and the place is fondly referred to as the Garden of Europe. The annual event features restaurants and coffee shops along with gift shops and, if you enjoy gardens, do not miss this. We’ve spoken to a number of people that didn’t go because of the crowds and they had regrets. The best thing is to anticipate a lot of people, go early in the day and be patient.
At the Keukenhof and the flower markets in Amsterdam, many people question if they can buy tulip bulbs and bring them back through U.S. Customs. The answer is yes and no. Some vendors sell bulbs with U.S. and Canada certificates that allow them through. These are a small selection and many of the same items are readily available back in North America and probably at a better prices. A majority of the bulbs will not have the certificate and are not allowed to be brought in.
If you are cruising across the Atlantic on a spring repositioning cruise headed for northern Europe, there is a good chance you will end up in Amsterdam around tulip festival time. Besides the Keukenhof, Amsterdam also has a city wide tulip festival around the same time that features dozens of gardens and grounds to visit, so keep that in mind as well.
More on Amsterdam at another time…