Discover the ‘Garden of Europe’ with its 80 acres of flowers, including 800 varieties of tulips, on a barge holiday to the Netherlands.

One of the highlights of taking a gentle barge holiday through the canals and waterways of the Netherlands is the opportunity to see the beautiful flowers which are grown here for sale around the world.

Since the ‘tulip mania’ of the 17th century when the whole of Europe went crazy for these bright, colourful spring flowers, Holland has been the home of Europe’s flower market.

The slow, laidback pace of a barge holiday through the country’s impressive countryside provides the perfect way to see the beautiful blooms which make up the Dutch flower industry.

One of the most spectacular places to visit in order to see the full range of tulips and other flowers grown and traded in the Netherlands is Keukenhof Gardens in the town of Lisse, to the southwest of Amsterdam.

With more than 80 acres of gardens boasting over seven million flowers, including 800 varieties of tulips and a range of crocuses, narcissus and hyacinths, Keukenhof is the world’s largest flower garden park.

The History of Keukenhof

Originally a hunting ground for the nobility of Castle Keukenhof dating back to the 15th century, the park was converted into a flower garden in 1949 as a place to showcase the different varieties of flowers on offer from Dutch and international flower merchants.

The idea was to provide a space in which flower and bulb merchants could show off their wares by displaying them growing in a natural environment, rather than just at a market or auction.

Today, however, Keukenhof is more than a display garden for traders and flower merchants. It is one of the Netherlands’ most popular tourist attractions with more than one million visitors a year.

When to Visit

Those taking a barge holiday in the spring will see the Keukenhof Gardens at its most impressive as this is the time when many of the different varieties of flowers come into bloom. The best months to visit, in order to witness the most dramatic displays of colourful flowers, are March, April and May.

Exploring the Gardens of Keukenhof

With so many blooms to discover, it is well worth planning to spend a full day at Keukenhof, in order to take in all that the impressive gardens have to offer. The park is divided into different sections, such as the English Country Garden with its bursting beds in full bloom, dissected by pretty winding paths, and a fascinating Historic Garden featuring old, traditional blooms grown from historic bulbs.

Travelling by barge through the beautiful flatlands of the Netherlands is a serene way to take in the country’s horticultural history, particularly its reliance on the tulip industry. Not only is it interesting to see scale of the industry in the country, it also makes a backdrop of beautiful patchwork of colour for your peaceful barge holiday.


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1. In case you have questions while shopping, search for a live chat function on the online store. Many big brands (and even some boutique stores) now have this functionality. You can chat immediately with a customer care representative to repair any issues or answer any questions before you purchase. That can present you with a lot of peace of mind.

2. When shopping online, most places only accept debit or credit cards. Keep this in mind when you are choosing a site to look from. If you don't feel comfortable providing the company with your credit card information, try to look for another site. Try to find a website that offers a good page when you're adding your charge card information.

3. When shopping for a specific item, check several different online retailers. Many times with a little searching, you save as much as 25 %. Look at a number of websites to ensure that you are getting the best offer. When figuring each website's price, be sure you include shipping costs into your calculations.

4. Get engaged in the social media of your favorite online retailers. Brands with big online presences typically put plenty of cash behind their social media, and this includes offering their followers some mega-discounts and exclusive deals. You may be one of the lucky ones scoring these handles just a quick follow or fanning.

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