On our very last day in Amsterdam it was supposed to rain and we were flying back home in the evening, resulting in this somewhat inappropriate all black outfit that made me feel a little bit kooky or like a beatnik. I had a very cute yellow outfit all planned out for blog photo purposes and it just didn’t happen; the weather forecast was for rain all day so I dressed in warmer clothes and thought I’d make the best of it, only for it to be the warmest day of the trip. The Keukenhof Gardens was one of the things I was really excited about in the run-up to the holiday, having read about it in lots of blogs and been blown away by some of the photos. The reality was a little different.
I should really know by now that creative angles and editing can make a place look very different to reality, and the many photos of bloggers and Instagrammers stood in front of neat fields striped with vibrant colours is completely inaccurate. If you want actual fields of flowers you’ll have to head out into the surrounding farmland, while Keukenhof itself is truly a garden.
What I mean by that is that Keukenhof is a structured garden; it’s flat, like most of the Netherlands, which I never thought of as an issue but I found that it really made a difference to my enjoyment of the area. My favourite kinds of parks have trees and enclosed zones, small wooded areas and variations in the landscape. As beautiful as the gardens are, they’re crowded, and the flatness of the land means no matter where you look there are people. As someone who tends to get a little frustrated by large crowds, this made the experience much less enjoyable.
We intended to go to the Keukenhof Gardens early one morning, but after realising how much of a pain getting the bus to the airport then get another bus to the gardens would be, we combined it with our flight home. After checking out of our hotel and a last wander around the Museum Quarter, we hopped on the bus to the airport which was covered as part of the Combi tickets we had bought ahead of time. We stored our luggage for a few euros at the airport before catching the bus to Keukenhof, again covered by our tickets. It doesn’t take particularly long, half an hour at most, and was a pleasant ride as we saw some of the Dutch countryside, including some spectacular flower fields and a few classic windmills. When I undoubtedly return to Amsterdam I’d definitely like to get out of the city a little and see more of the rural Netherlands.
Manicured flower beds and trickling streams abound, along with the occasional creepy sculpture, but actually taking a photo without an abundance of tourists is difficult. Even finding a moment to pause and take in the beauty of the gardens is nigh impossible, as you can easily get swept up in a tide of old ladies in wheelchairs and pushing zimmers, or have to dodge a gaggle of families all pushing prams. I bear no ill will towards anyone else who would want to visit these stunning gardens, but it felt like it wasn’t really laid out as well as it could be.
Ultimately, we didn’t hang around very long. The stress of trying to take photos really shows in the few we managed to take with my face in them, and we didn’t honestly have a great time. Had we got there very early in the morning or late at night perhaps things would have been different, but I doubt the gardens are ever very quiet.
I would only really recommend the Keukenhof Gardens if you like open plan gardens and don’t get frustrated when stuck behind slow walkers. There’s no denying that it’s beautiful, but I prefer my gardens wilder and more organic. I want more trees and something a little less tame, and it just wasn’t my thing. If you do decide to go I’d get there as early as possible and be prepared for crowds nonetheless.
Have you visited the Keukenhof Gardens and did your experience differ from mine?