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After reading lists and guidebooks and endless blogs and websites about places one “must” see while in Europe, or actually in this case “before they die” we decided to travel to Holland to visit the flower fields and The Keukenhof the second weekend of April. In a phrase, it did not disappoint and I actually have to say, lived up to the hype.

Prior to leaving we looked at numerous blogs and websites and were trying to get a handle on how to visit the actual fields themselves and how it worked. Could we just park and walk into them? Would we be able to let our 14 month old run in the fields so we could get pictures, and who are we kidding – save some money on professional family pictures this year? Well, the answer was yes we found out once we got there.

We stayed in Scheveningen Beach, which is actually part of the city of The Hague. It was very convenient to the flower fields, The Keukenhof and also the train into Amsterdam while offering some restaurants and things within walking distance. On the first day after arriving we set out to find some flower fields… not sure what to expect but armed with printed maps (our German cell phones don’t work in Holland) and a general idea we set out. Once we got off of the highway and started following smaller roads we happened upon Hyacinth fields first. My absolute favorite as the smell is just amazing! They were next to daffodil fields so it made for wonderful pictures. One of our biggest surprises was how the fields were generally not crowded. The fields are primarily used for bulb growing and harvesting rather than for flowers that are sold so they let them grow then mow them down when they are at peak bloom. This means there is a very limited time for some types of flowers for actual viewing and walking around them.

Hyacinth and Daffodil Field

Hyacinth and Daffodil Field

When we would find one with a scenic area around it (there are lots of greenhouses and industrial buildings that you need to crop out or avoid) we would park and just walk in the fields! We were there on a Saturday through Monday in what I would consider to be peak season and never really ran into crowds in the fields themselves. And yes, we got beautiful pictures of our daughter – for those of you expecting a Christmas card or Mother’s Day gift this year, you may be seeing repeats so just pretend it’s a surprise please.

Sarah and Indi in the Daffodils

Sarah and Indi in the Daffodils

After exploring the flower fields on Saturday and taking the train into Amsterdam on Sunday (more on that in another post, it was lovely.) We headed to The Keukenhof early Monday morning. This was an excellent time to visit, we arrived shortly after they opened at 8:30am. There was a large parking lot just across a small road from the entrance and parking was only 6,50 Euros. We purchased our tickets with no line,but by the time we left about 3 hours later there was a long line so if visiting mid-day in the busy season I would recommend purchasing them online as the wait was about 20 minutes or longer standing in a crowded line.

Water feature in the Keukenhof

Water feature in The Keukenhof

The Keukenhof was amazing. We weren’t quite sure what to expect as the website offered good information but it was just hard to picture this place only open two months of the year that just has flowers. Well, it is worth the 15 Euro entrance fee and more! There are paved paths which made it very stroller friendly and also wonderful food stands and larger cafeteria and coffee shops throughout the park. There are hidden areas as well so even as it got more crowded throughout the day we never had trouble getting pictures with no crowds in them. They have some lovely souvenier shops with all of you necessities including Delft, wooden tulips and other typical Holland items – everyone needs some nice wooden shoe keychains, you know you want one!

Tulips in the Keukenhof

Tulips in the Keukenhof

From the “back” of the park you can view some of the flower fields but if you have the chance to drive around the area there are much better views. There are shuttles to it from Schiphol which we found entertaining- large busses labeled on the side with flowers called The Keukenhof Express. It’s like a two month per year Disney World!

They use a system that is called “lasagne” planting that layers the bulbs so that there is usually something in full bloom during the two months the park is open it seems. We weren’t sure what to expect as some reviews on Trip Advisor UK from last year indicated that in April nothing was in bloom. We had a far warmer winter this year on the Continent so we knew it would be pretty prime when we arrived, but according to the book we read from The Keukenhof it seems that once things start blooming there is usually something in full bloom throughout the rest of the opening time.

I would highly recommend visiting the flower fields if given the opportunity, as well as The Keukenhof. In this case it isn’t all hype.