A world-class airport always has post-modern and futuristic architecture, state-of-the-art technology, sophisticated infrastructure and facilities, top-notch customer services, and incredible network and reliability. A top-ranking airport, on the other hand, could be the busiest in passenger traffic, the largest volume in cargo freight, or the most frequent in flight schedules.
Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport is among the best range over the years but not the top, yet it wins me over with its “user-friendliness” and proximity to the world. First of all, Schiphol offers good coverage of many European destinations, which makes the city a central hub for travelers to hop over from place to place. Second of all, it has an amazing train network connection (Such as Thalys) to neighboring cities in the Benelux area (Belgium / The Netherlands / Luxemburg) and even Paris, Dusseldorf / Cologne, and beyond. Schiphol is only 20 minutes away from the very center of Amsterdam city! Therefore, it’s perfect to have a short stopover and walk around in the city as a short escape. That’s what I did, I had a night in Amsterdam and had a quick spin in the city (check out here), and then the next day, I simply must have visited one of the most famous and popular gardens in, if not, the world, entire Europe.
The image of boundless colorful tulips (and other flowers), windmills, canals, and nature has always touched my heart. This is my impression of the Netherlands and that’s why I put it on the top of my list when I am in Amsterdam I simply must visit the beautiful fields and gardens. The Keukenhof is a popular attraction for international visitors and it’s very convenient to get to. The garden is a great spot for visitors to get a taste of the country’s beautiful flower fields.
Where to stay?
Consider to you close to the airport for a layover in Amsterdam and last time I chose to stay in the CitizenM, which is merely a 3-min walk from Schipol; there, it has a bus stop to offer a shuttle bus to the Keukenhof. The location is the best of both worlds – either you want to visit Keukenhof or the city center. Transportation from Schiphol to the Keukenhof is even closer to Amsterdam’s city center (for just 15 minutes). Known as the “Garden of Europe”, it is the largest flower garden in Europe for visitors to enjoy the blooming of tulips and many different kinds of flowers from the end of March to mid-May.
Drone-filming the beautiful Keukenhof –
The relationships between tulips and Dutch
I think by now, tulips and the Netherlands are connected by an equal sign. Dutch clogs, boats, windmills, and tulip fields are probably the first mental picture that comes to many foreigners’ minds when they are first asked about the Netherlands. So, why tulip? The tulip is a bulbous plant that has a bold-colored and large flower. Interestingly, tulips are not originated in the Netherlands, given that they could be seen anywhere in the country now. They came from Central Asia (the Tian Shan ranges) and they had been cultivated in the Ottoman Empire for decades before they were brought to Europe. The European were fascinated by the beauty and uniqueness of the flower, and they were officially introduced to the Netherlands at the end of the 16th century.
The first tulip bulb field was created in the garden in Leiden, owned by Flemish botanist, Carolus Clusius, who worked as the director of the Hortus Botanicus in Leiden. Since then, the flower gained popularity across the country and it was frequently used in their garden in the 17th century. The prices of tulips upsurged, with a huge demand that basically drove the development of the tulip industry in Holland. The “Tulip Mania” was the period that happened in Dutch in the 17th century – while tulip has gained huge popularity but also in a scarcity, Clusius’s garden was raided a couple of times. For a certain period of time, tulips were even used as a form of money.
The love and craving for tulips didn’t subside even though the mania ended rather abruptly soon after. Today, the flower still holds an important status in the Netherlands that tulip is the country’s national flower. The country is also the world’s largest commercial producer, The Amsterdam Tulip Festival takes place annually to celebrate the blossoming throughout periods from April to May. As I have already mentioned in the beginning, Keukenhof is one of the best places to view these flowers every year in spring.
I suggest going to the park early in the morning from Schiphol to avoid the roaring crowd and take nice pictures with the beautiful nature – the garden opens as early as 8 am. If you stay close to Schiphol, you are already closer to the garden than the other visitors in Amsterdam.
The best time to view the tulips would be the mid-end of April, so make sure you are there during the good season. Keukenhof has a bit of everything for visitors not only to relax and take photos but also to understand more about Netherlands history and culture. Try on a clog, climb up a windmill, greet the helpers dressed in traditional Dutch dresses, look at the old clocks… The garden has an exciting array of features that you could make a day out of your travel itinerary. The garden also has a mindful and well-designed arrangement of flowers in different settings, the walking trails also have a windmill, canals, pavilions, and flower-arrangement exhibits, with heart-warming farm barn animals roaming in the fields.
The garden was closed in 2020 due to the virus outbreak and it has a devastating impact – especially since all the work that the gardeners had done has gone since the garden received zero visitors.
In 2021, the garden is reopened from March 20 – May 9, with a theme “Paradijs voor kinderen” (Children Paradise), with flowers that were planted in October 2020. Tourists from other continents (like Asia and North America) wouldn’t be able to visit the garden due to travel restrictions, most of the visitors in 2021 are domestic visitors or coming from the neighboring countries including Germany and Belgium. The number of visitors dropped in half, as compared with previous years, but still, it brings the garden life – precautions are still in places like social distancing and mask-wearing. The situation in the Netherlands is relieved in the year 2021 and hopefully, the garden’s reopening will bring some hope and light to the public.
Outside the garden is the long field of tulips and flowers that created the picture everybody saw on the internet. But if you decide to get active, there is a bike rental place (the only bike rental company in the area) across the entrance of the Keukenhof garden where visitors could rent a bike on an hourly basis. Rent a Bike van Dam has a wide range of different bikes that is suitable for many types of visitors. The helpful staff also provides information and free maps about 4 different routes for you to see the flower fields, and dunes (even the coast), and explore the surrounding areas!
Bike Rental route map, check out here.