The main reason we decided to come to the Netherlands in April was because we wanted to get a glimpse of the world-famous tulip fields, which bloom around this time. Word on the street is that THE place to see the tulips is in and around Keukenhof Gardens in the town of Lisse. Luckily, after a few days of gloomy clouds, we caught a stretch of sunny weather, so we left our Amsterdam apartment and set off to… the Amsterdam Schiphol Airport! (Where we would take a bus that would take us to Keukenhof.)
Note: This blog post will be about 90% flower photos. But afterwards, we went to the town of Leiden, so make sure to scroll and read about that!
Second Note: No actual skipping through tulip fields were done by us! Because that’s against the rules! We follow rules and respect the local farmers!
We took the train from Amsterdam Central to Schiphol Airport, where we bought a “Combo Ticket” that included entrance into Keukenhof and roundtrip bus transportation to the park. If you’re in Amsterdam around springtime, it won’t be hard to find Keukenhof workers in bright orange jackets directing tourists to the ticket stand and busses. That’s where everyone is trying to go!
Keukenhof is a huge flower park that showcases over 7 million spring-flowering bulbs (mostly tulips, but actually, a really diverse range of flowers are included.) It’s a really large park, and on this particular day, the sun was beating down on us pretty hard. As a result, we didn’t explore every nook and cranny of this park, but I think covered a good chunk of it! Enjoy these flower pictures!
Biking around the Tulip Fields
After exiting Keukenhof, we decided to rent bikes to ride around the nearby tulip fields. If you’ve ever seen those amazing Instagram photos of seemingly never-ending, colorful rows of tulips, they were probably taken in one of these fields!
An interesting fact is that these tulips are grown for the bulb, not for the flower! In fact, after the tulips bloom, the farmers will cut them to direct more energy into growing the bulb. The bulbs will be sent to garden centers all over the world so everyone can enjoy growing their own tulips! For some reason, I find the idea of growing plants to get the end result of seeds to be very interesting, maybe because it’s a little counter-intuitive?
Anyways, there is a bike rental shop in the parking lot area of Keukenhof, so getting our bikes was very easy. You can go anywhere on those bikes (as long as you return by the rental shop’s closing time), but they also directions for routes that range from 10km to 25km, giving you lots of options depending on how much time you have (and maybe how fit you are??)
There are signs everywhere instructing visitors to not enter the flower fields, but of course, we saw people who did 😦 bad people! I have a soft spot for farmers since I work for an ag-tech company, and it breaks my heart to think about their hard work being trampled by tourists. Though I would be lying if I said I wasn’t tempted. Just think about the Instagram opportunities!
We didn’t make it very far on the bikes to be honest, but the little glimpse of the tulip fields was well worth it! I highly recommend doing this bike ride.
After Lisse, we made a *surprise visit* to the small town of Leiden. We discovered that the Combo ticket we bought earlier in the day included roundtrip transportation through several bus lines, which meant that even though we came to Keukenhof via Schiphol Airport, we could use the return ticket to head to Leiden. So that’s what we did!
And I’m so glad we did, because Leiden turned out to be my FAVORITE town that we visited in the Netherlands.
The best way I would describe Leiden is that it’s like Amsterdam’s younger, chiller sister. It is the home of the Netherland’s oldest university, Leiden University, founded in 1575 (!!!) and it really has a “college town” kind of vibe, with young people hanging around and enjoying the picturesque canals and cafes. It didn’t hurt that we visited on a (probably rare) sunny day, so everyone was out and about, enjoying that sunshine.
I really wish we were able to rent a boat and do a canal ride, but alas, everything was booked up as we came here on a whim and didn’t really plan. But if you are planning to go to the Netherlands, please visit Leiden on a sunny day and take a boat ride around the canals with a group of friends! Then take lots of pictures and show me! Let me live vicariously through you!
For dinner, we went to a pancake house called Oudt Leyden. We’ve been in the Netherlands for nearly a week and we haven’t had pancakes yet! We’ve been saving our Dutch pancake experience for Amsterdam’s Upstairs Pannenkoekenhuis, where we had a reservation for the last day of our trip. But we didn’t just want to have pancakes once, so we said screw it, let’s have pancakes now!
They have a huge menu of both savory and sweet pancakes. I went the savory route with my spek/ham/kaas/ei, or bacon, ham, cheese, and egg pancake. As you can see in these pictures, the pancakes were HUGE. I had leftovers for DAYS.
And that concludes our sunny, flower-filled day spent in Lisse and Leiden! (Arrgh, allergy attack!)