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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Tips For Shopping Online

1. When shopping online, most places only accept debit or credit cards. Keep this in mind when you are deciding on a site to purchase from. Should you don't feel comfortable providing the company with your credit card information, try to find another site. Try to find a site that offers a secure page when you're adding your credit card information.

2. Although it may look tedious, make sure you read the contract and terms before you purchase with a website. These documents have valuable info on what you can and cannot do when you have a problem with the item that you bought. Read them thoroughly in order that you do not have an unwelcome surprise when trying to return items.

3. Read customer testimonials before you buy anything. People are more than happy to complain about bad service online, so search for sites and testimonials which are terrible so that you know what you're getting into. You ought to take bad reviews using a grain of salt, but if you see many, you know you will find a problem.

4. When searching out the best price to get a big ticket item, make sure you check the store reviews to find out if other customers experienced a good experience with them. It is also a good idea to talk with the Better Business Bureau too. You want to make certain that the business is legitimate and values you as a client.

5. Be mindful where you submit your credit card information. When you find yourself shopping online, always use secure sites. These are sites that have taken steps to protect your valuable information. A secured website will begin with HTTPS as opposed to the standard HTTP. There will also be a locked icon, in both your address or status bar, depending on which browser you use.