I cannot believe I’m finally getting the chance to write this post and say these words… I made it to the Keukenhof in the Netherlands!
It’s been on my list for years but with a busy wedding season in Spring 2019, and cancellations due to Covid in 2020 and 2021, 2022 was the year. My family and partner purchased the trip for my 30th birthday in 2021 to go for my 31st birthday in 2022. I’m an April baby which meant two lockdown birthdays in a row. The first year we of course went into full lockdown in late-March and the second year we were just coming out of that long second stretch.
I decided to take my mum with me as it had been ages since we’d done a trip just us and she’s also getting stuck into photography, so it was a great opportunity to take the camera out. We’re not too far from Manchester airport so did the MAN – AMS route, opting for the 6am flight out on a Sunday and 6pm flight back on the Monday. We planned for a day at the Keukenhof and a day in Amsterdam.
I believe the flight time is a bout 55 minutes but we had a slightly longer journey. There had been strike action at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam so our 6am flight out turned into 9am. With the delay and +1 hour time difference we finally landed around 11am.
There’s a number of ticket options for the Keukenhof and we went for the combi ticket which included a shuttle to the main gates from right outside the terminal. After a short wait (there was a bit of a queue but buses are really frequent) we were on our way! The bus journey to the Keukenhof is around 30 minutes. Ours was a little longer due to opting for a weekend day and there’s of course the additional traffic that comes with this. It wasn’t a problem for us though, we were just glad to have actually made it!
As we’d come straight from the airport, we each had a small bag with us so went on the hunt for the lockers I’d read about online. To my absolute amazement these were completely free! There’s a couple of cafes on the way in for those much-needed coffees (we’d been on the go since 3am) and we were met at the gate by the friendly ticket team. Once these had been checked we were let in…
The Keukenhof is beautiful and it was so worth the wait. We were there for around four hours but you could spend double that in the gardens. There’s lots of different areas and 100s of varieties of tulips to check out. We were lucky to be there on a lovely, sunny day but if you happen to go when the weather isn’t too great there is plenty of tree cover.
You can take your own picnic in but there’s a few cafes dotted throughout the gardens if you want to eat there. We stopped off at one of the main ones and there were lots of options from fresh salads to an array of hot food. We shared a large vegetarian salad, fries, some snacks and a couple of drinks which came to around 20 euros total. After this we explored the central area of the Keukenhof where there are lots of lovely fountains and displays.
At one end of the Keukenhof there’s the iconic windmill and you can see out into the fields. I would highly recommend going up the windmill and onto the viewing platform to get the best pictures! There’s lots of other great photo opportunities throughout the gardens including this cute arch…
After an amazing few hours it was time to say goodbye and head into Amsterdam for the rest of our trip. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express Amsterdam City Hall, which was just a few train stops from the city centre. If you don’t want to stay right in the middle then this area is a great spot. Just over the road there are some fantastic restaurants, including a little Italian called Verena which we went to on the evening. It was run by a lovely older couple and everyone who came in seemed to know them. The prices were fantastic and we weren’t rushed at all.
The next day the weather wasn’t as good so we decided to go on a canal boat tour and check out some local markets. We went for lunch at Cafe Wester which is right by Anne Frank’s house and the Tulip Museum. For an area with heavy tourist presence the prices were great and like with our evening meal the day before, we weren’t rushed out. We shared a couple of sandwiches and sides, had drinks and coffees and it came to around 30 euros.
Here is where we got the phone call. The phone call which said our 6pm flight back to Manchester had been cancelled. We quickly got ourselves sorted with another flight back at 9pm but to Liverpool, but were advised to get to the airport as early as possible in case anything changed. We didn’t let this dampen our last few hours in Amsterdam, so we headed out and explored the city with the time we had left. Getting back to the airport was really easy – there’s trains every 15 minutes or so from Centraal Station.
Our trip didn’t end there. Our 6pm to Manchester turned 9pm to Liverpool, then turned into a delayed 10.30pm departure. We didn’t let this affect out trip though and simply snacked our way around Schiphol airport, and I found someone’s passport in the toilets and managed to get it back to them!