Spring in the Netherlands is a magnificent time of year. Endless fields of colorful tulips line every street, Amsterdam blossoms with floral displays on every corner and the incomparable Keukenhof flower park with its annual flower parade make this a trip you won’t ever forget. Granted, the liking of flowers might be required but you don’t need to be a botanist for this vacation to awaken your senses with a moderate overdose of nature’s beauty. Tulip season lasts until mid-May.
This year marks a special anniversary as it’s Keukenhof’s 75th flower parade and trust me, it will be a big one. It’s the world’s only flower parade featuring spring flowers, complemented by extravagant costumes and music. It starts in the seaside resort of Noordwijk on Saturday, April 23, and travels via the flower fields around Lisse to the historic city of Haarlem on the west coast. The route extends over 42km/ 26 miles. There are several locations along the route where extra entertainment is provided in anticipation of the floats’ passing and you will find street food and attractions at every stop. Visit https://www.tulipfestivalamsterdam.com/event/flower-parade/ for a list of stops and events.
Titled “the most beautiful spring garden in the world” by… well… themselves, Keukenhof boasts about 7 million bulbs planted by roughly 500 gardeners to blow your mind with stunning flower formations. While the focus is on tulips, you will find lots of different flowers, trees and other plants here including hyacinths, daffodils, orchids, roses, carnations, irises, lilies and many more. There are also restaurants, picnic areas and a windmill to make your photos extra Dutch.
The park is open daily until May 15. Tickets cost €18.50 per adult and €9 per child. You must book ahead online for a specific time slot and show up during your designated window. This is to reduce crowds and you will appreciate it greatly as the park is very busy even with this system in place. Car parking is €6, bikes park for free and there are charging stations for e-bikes. Buses and taxis also frequent the park, which is located 35 minutes outside of Amsterdam. The address to enter into your GPS is Stationsweg 166A, 2161 AM Lisse. The best time of day to visit is before 10:30 and after 4p.m. from Monday to Wednesday. Dogs are allowed in but must be kept on a leash at all times.
More things to do in the area
If you’re in the mood for further adventuring, you can book a boat cruise (€9/45 min/adults), guided bike tours or rent a bike and go exploring by yourself. You can even take a helicopter tour for an aerial view of the fields. While Keukenhof is very beautiful, the surrounding fields really add to the experience. Along every road and canal, you will see and smell thousands of tulips of all colors stretching out in front of you. There are guided tours of the park as well but you’re best off buying the guide book and taking it at your own pace. The west coast of the Netherlands has many sandy beaches and interesting museums. A national favorite are, of course, cheese museums. Stop by Haarlem, Alkmaar or Utrecht for all the beauty of Amsterdam and less of the crowds or relax in a secluded cottage in the countryside. The Netherlands has something for everyone.
For U.S. government employees, including service members, remember to always follow command regulations, which may be different than host nation policies when it comes to travel.