Exploring Sweden’s Göta Canal

Exploring Sweden’s Göta Canal

Ever thought of the Göta Canal for your Swedish itinerary? I suspect not – it certainly didn’t make our initial agenda.  In fact I didn’t even know Sweden had a canal until we crossed over from Denmark. That’s why I love travel so much – it expands your mind and horizons. And like many, up until recently I was sure Sweden’s Top 6 were; Abba, Ikea, Albert Nobel, the Ice Hotel, herrings and meatballs. Now I seriously know better. 

We hope after delving into this little visual storyboard and video, that you would consider putting the Göta Canal on your Swedish adventure.  Let’s see if we can inspire you.  

Click below to see our video footage.

 

 

When we arrived on the south westerly shores of Sweden as part of our 2019 Summer in Scandinavia road-trip we had a choice; turn right and head along the southerly coast or left and head north towards Gothenburg. After a bit of Googling to find something off-the-beaten-track, I found the Göta Canal! Decision made, we turned left. 

Having grown up from the age of 12 around canals and narrow boats in England, I am pretty used to the waterway network and the sublimely tranquil way of life. So how perfect to visit something so close to my heart and my family roots. Plus I had never seen the Göta Canal profiled anywhere on any other blogs. We love going along the road less travelled and although my research suggested that it was popular with the locals, it didn’t have a tourist destination feel about it at all. This had our names written all over it.

 

Göta Canal Background

Sweden’s southern canal system is a man-made waterway constructed in 19th century connecting Gothenburg in the west with Söderköping in the east, just south of Stockholm. The entire stretch is 382 miles (614km) and its navigation takes on three very distinct personalities;

  • The Tröllehätte Canal from Gothenburg (now officially under the Göta Canal umbrella)
  • Two major connecting lakes, Vänern and Vättern
  • The Göta Canal

The canal’s vision was the brainchild of Hans Brask in 16th century although it took another 300 years for it to come to fruition. Thanks to the efforts of Von Platten, a German-born officer in the Swedish Navy, the revived plans got royal approval with King Charles XIII believing that it would give Sweden a modern edge. So in 1810 the canal’s construction began. It took a massive 22 years to complete with the help of canal guru Thomas Telford from England and was mostly dug out by hand, by 58,000 men. It was officially opened in 1832 although sadly it never really became the success that Von Platten had anticipated. The railway soon took over as the favoured form of transport given that it was quicker and was unaffected by the winter, unlike the easily frozen canal. 

Now the Göta Canal’s only commerciality is its tourist value – which ranks as one of the most popular destinations for Swedes. With its route crossing the entire country, this is an incredible way to experience Sweden; whether alongside the waterways on it’s well organised tow-paths or with a watery perspective, aboard boats or cruise liners. 

 

Göta Canal exploration

Starting (or ending depending on your perspective) officially at Sjötorp at the easterly edge of the Vänern Lake, the Göta Canal begins its journey. Winding through gorgeous countryside, through small towns that have grown up along its path it takes you on a colourful cultural experience with a historical shading. Ending up at Mem where the canal then accesses the Baltic Sea, where the salt tantalises the canal’s fresh waters. This canal is a beautiful work of art to be admired and enjoyed.

The 58 locks along its 120 mile route (190km) offers the sailer a challenge of manually operating these feats of engineering. With two or three locks in close or immediate succession, this is a steep learning curve for the inexperienced boat handler.  Although with plenty of marinas en route to offer sanctuary for frayed nerves, the canal soon casts its magical spell. After all who can be stressed going 3 kph? 

 

For the Active and Leisure Seekers

From start to end, the canal provides an opportunity for cycling, hiking or cruising – letting someone else navigate the tricky locks. The tow-paths are a great way to experience the Göta Canal. And along the way you will come across beautiful Slusshus (Lock Houses), churches, castles and small country roads that criss cross the waterways with swing bridges allowing the nautical traffic to pass.

 

The Lakes

Whilst there are two major lakes that the Göta Canal crosses through, there are a number of smaller lakes too, such as the Viken.  They all have their individual characters and offer sailors navigational challenges to reach the next stage of the canal. This is boating heaven and for those behind the wheel of a land vehicle, the drive around the lakes is also wonderful. Through forest and on deserted roads with teasing glimpses of the lake between the trees, it’s just delightful even by road.

 

Art and Nature 

Across the canal you will find artwork structures to catch your eye. Local artists offering their talents to the canal’s landscape. And then there’s nature’s own artwork. With lupins, carpets of pink blossoms and rhododendron in spring, this is a veritable feast for the eyes and the soul. And for a more historical marker, check out the 200 year old Ell Stones that are positioned at 600m intervals across the whole length of the canal. These were used to measure the fee payable by the ships as they sailed across the country. 

 

The Vessels

One of the things I love about waterways is the variety of boats that people choose to cruise in. You might be lucky to see ancient clippers, like the MS Mina we saw at Sjötorp, one of the oldest sail boats in Europe dating back to 1876. More likely SUP’s, kayaks, sail boats, motor cruisers and cruise liners, you name it, Göta got it all! 

 

For Campers

And finally…. If you, like us choose to bring your camper and explore the canal as landlubbers, then there are plenty of places to park up. There are marinas along the whole stretch of the canal and here you can stay for a fee of 225SEK per night (£19) which gives you electricity hook up, showers, service facilities and a gorgeous view. So you can navigate around the lakes and weave over the canal and get a feel for each stage without getting your feet wet.

 

Closing thoughts

So, there we have it. Our visual storyboard of our experience of the Göta Canal.  If you are looking for something different, a destination without hordes of tourists where you can watch the world go by, as you meander from east to west, then you’ll not be disappointed by the Göta Canal. It epitomises peace, tranquility and history and is a great feature for your Swedish road-trip. We urge you to consider it. 

 

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Denmark Highlights & Interactive Map

Denmark Highlights & Interactive Map

Denmark is not a destination – it’s a lifestyle.  Pintrip.eu

Let’s be honest for a moment about Denmark… Why would you want to put it on your European itinerary? Surely there are more exciting destinations to visit, like the Swiss Alps! Or more dramatic locations like Norway! Yet perhaps for you a trip to Denmark is about heading to Legoland with the kids or may be just a city-break to Copenhagen. Perhaps you see it just as a transitory country to pass through en route to Sweden or the Norwegian fjords! 

Although before you read any further, let me be clear! Come to Denmark! Explore! Stay awhile! Denmark may well be an unassuming country on the European stage, although a visit here is a must. I feel so passionate about persuading you to come here that our 7 Reasons to visit Delicious Denmark’ must be enough to whet your appetite.  If not, then perhaps this more in-depth look at our road-trip may seal it for you. We share with you our Interactive Map that gives you our route, POI and overnight stopovers. Now surely there are no excuses – come you must.  Join us as we cover all corners of this Danish journey and invite you along our 900 mile exploration. Come on in!

 

Interactive Map

 

As with any road-trip, it is never a complete journey as there are so many roads, miles and corners that you can’t possibly cover. Although we hope that following our path will give you an insight to some of the off-the-beaten track places and some of the more tourist ones that you could build into your trip. And whatever your passions, there is something for everyone. The sporty types, the historians, the nature lovers and everyone in between. 

 

Our Regional Highlights

Denmark has five main regions that are neatly organised into; South, North, Central, Zealand & Copenhagen/Bornholm.  Whilst we decided against Copenhagen, we did visit each of the other four regions and we have split our highlights into those nicely organised categories. So sit back, fasten your seatbelts and let’s get that engine roaring!

 

1.  South Denmark

Rømø Island

Crossing into Denmark on the south-west fringes gave us our first opportunity for an off-the-beaten-track destination. For sure Ribe – Denmark’s oldest town, is a major draw as you cross the border. Although turning left across the five mile causeway to Rømø was perfect for us. Rømø is famous for three things; Being part of the UNESCO Wadden Sea National Park, home to the smallest school and Lakolk beach – one you can drive onto! Whilst the drive can result in a bit of ‘stuckage’ for larger vehicles, generally driving on this compact beach is a real experience. Just having some time to chill out whilst parked up on golden sands is pretty unique and surreal. Definitely one to put on your list. 

We stayed at any beautifully manicured Aire alongside a lake with the best showers we’ve ever experienced. 

 

Ribe

About 45 minutes further north, you reach Ribe. Now this will undoubtedly be on everyone’s must visit list. And who can blame them. Think classical old town, cobbled streets, coloured facias, iconic steepled cathedral and a soul that is 1100 years old. Just imagine how many ghostly footsteps you’ll be walking in. Yet for something different, if you time it right, (unlike us sadly) at 8.00pm you can have a 45 minute walking tour with the Night Watchmen, whose role it is to keep the peace. These days it’s more of a tourist attraction although worth doing for a stroll around the old streets. Tours depart from the Restaurant Weis Stue in the Market Place during summer months. 

We stayed in the main car park for the town, which has allocated motorhome spaces. Although used by college kids until 3.00pm.

 

Billund

Surely on every child’s list must be a visit to Legoland in Billund. Home to the world’s most famous brand, Billund has a theme park to satisfy every child curiosity – both young and old. Although if muscling your way through summer crowds at the park isn’t your cuppa, instead venture into the town centre where you will find Lego House. The outside terraces of this lego building are free to explore and with its six different roofs to enjoy, what’s not to like? If you want to expand your experiences to something a bit more interactive, then you can enter the bowels of the house, although this will set you back £27pp for ages 3+. Babies up to 2 can go in for free.

 

Fåborg

Part of Denmark’s south region is strangely the island of Funen or Fyn as it is often referred to. Funen is one of Denmark’s 400 islands that forms its archipelago and is home to castles, quaint thatched villages and coastal delights. The islands take on a slightly different feel to the Jutland peninsula with a more curvaceous shape to them. Middelfart is the gateway to the island (famous mostly for being one of only 3 places in Denmark where you can get LPG. And for those campers amongst us, this is like liquid gold in DK!) Thereafter it is worth taking the coastal road that winds you through towns like Assens and Fåborg. With its atmospheric port to the boutique style high street with charming shops, it’s worth an hour’s mooch. The Ymerbrøden statue is one of those pieces of artwork that just needs to be seen. Whilst the main square offering is a bronze replica, exploring its symbolism will have you staring in wonder. Just think man suckling from a cow! Yes not an every day occurrence. The rest of the town is gorgeous with its yellow painted church and medieval cobbled streets.

 

Astrup

As you pass Astrup, your breath will be taken away by the Stofmollen. An 1863 windmill that today is home to an incredible emporium of fabric. Every colour imaginable is stored in this charming mill. Whatever you imagine goes with sewing, this place has it all. It’s pretty unique and definitely worth a little stop for coffee. Or if chocolate is more your thing, then drop into Konnerup Chocolatier just five minutes up the road. Handcrafted chocolate to satiate every sweet-toothed lovely out there. Why not grab a coffee, indulge in a bit of Hygge and some sweet treats.

 

Egeskov Castle

And finally in this southern region, a castle to end all castles; Egeskov. Ranked as one of Europe’s Top 50 most beautiful places to visit, Denmark’s Egeskov is a dream – an expensive dream although worth  it.  With a £23pp price tag, you want to make a day of it, although with the gardens, classic car museum and the castle itself, there’s plenty to do for you and the kids. Not our usual attraction although every now and again it’s good to indulge. 

You are allowed to stay in the car park overnight. 

Check our Southern Region gallery below.

 

2.  Central Denmark

Denmark’s Lake District

Our first view of Denmark as we headed from Ribe to Billund was flat and agricultural. Whilst the endless fields of rape seed certainly broke up the view of green, the Lake District was a welcome sight. With a gently undulating landscape, forest and mirror lakes, this is a region unique to Denmark. This area holds the country’s longest river – Gudenå at over 90 miles long, the highest point – Møllehøj at the heady heights of 171m, Denmark’s largest lake – Mossø to name just a few of its best bits. For its outdoor pursuits and water heritage this area alone is worth visiting. 

 

Himmelbjerget

Just 15 minutes drive from Silkeborg, a short diversion to see Sky Mountain (Himmelbjerget) is worth doing. It is Denmark’s second highest point and the views from the tower across the countryside is lovely. Himmelbjerget is particularly famous for being the seat of many political discussions and strategic decisions over the course of history. You can take a boat from Silkeborg to Himmelbjerget if you don’t fancy the drive and 10DK parking fee.

 

Silkeborg

Whilst as a town there is not much to hold your attention, there are a couple of highlights that make Silkeborg a worthy stop for an hour. The first is its Hjejlen the world’s oldest coal-fired paddle boat. Then there’s one of only two sluice locks in Denmark and finally, its piece de resistance is Mr Tollundman. The preserved body of a 30 year old man, murdered and buried in the peat soil close to Silkeborg dating back to 400BC. That alone is worth the 60DK entrance fee.

We stayed overnight at a parking area in the forest and alongside the river, with toilet facilities. 

 

Viborg

North west of Silkeborg is the quaint cathedral town of Viborg. Alive with its luscious gardens, cobbled streets and magnificent cathedral, this University town has a lovely energy. Although compact you will still need a couple of hours to enjoy all its aspects. From the Bibelhaven and Latinerhaven gardens, to the lake, the elegant shopping street and weekly market, there’s plenty to enjoy here. A beer in the Nytorv Square is a must, if for no other reason than to sup a Danish beer and watch the world go by. 

Free parking in the University is allowed for motorhomes for 24hrs.

 

Denmark’s Fjords

Whilst perhaps not on the scale of New Zealand’s fjords or its neighbouring Norway, Denmark has plenty of them. And if you want a bit of off the beaten track exploring, walking or camping, then go no further. This Central Region of Denmark has a plethora of fjords to choose from where the sea is master of all. Except perhaps the wind, which seems to have a dominant role in Denmark’s economy because there is so much of it. Try exploring Ulbjerg Strand and Nymølle Strand where you and the wind can be alone with your thoughts. 

We stayed at Ulbjerg Strand and Nymølle Strand for two nights. Alone and in the most stunning areas alongside the fjord.

Check our Central Region gallery below.

 

3.  Northern Denmark

Cold Hawaii and Thy National Park

The north western coast of Denmark is a landscape shaped entirely by nature. With North Sea winds whipping up tempestuous seas, this is stark yet beautiful scenery. Classed as Denmark’s last wilderness, you will experience a unique coastal perspective that takes you through ancient sand dunes that are constantly shifting and reshaping, forests that do their best to protect the land and lakes. And with more hours of sunshine than anywhere else in the country and thanks to the wind – there’s waves. Lots of them! Waves that attract surfers! Lots of them! Kitmølle or Cold Hawaii as it is endearingly known, is a curvy bay where fishing is still the ancient art. They ably retain their grasp over the surfing camps that have more recently emerged, attracting those wishing to master the waves. 

 

Hanstholm Bunker Museum

During the German occupation of Denmark during World War 2 German armies made their presence known along this coastline. Evidence of their coastal defences against the Allies are everywhere in this northern region. Huge concrete bunkers that look like something from an alien planet, occupy strategic positions poised for attacked. The outdoor bunker museums, like the one at Hanstholm, are free to explore; the museum houses have a nominal entrance fee if you want to learn more. 

 

Lys og Glas – Tranum

For one of those unique artisan crafts that allow you a peak into a country’s culture, then take a little diversion to Tranum. Here you will find an old candle factory that has since been turned into a Guest House and Ceramic Workshop. This is a feast of colourful loveliness and if you adore hand-made crafts, then this is a gorgeous off-the-beaten-track visit.

 

Rubjerg Knude Fyr

In 1900, the lighthouse at Rubjerg Knude was built and since that time the sand and sea have taken their toll on this magnificent building. A hundred years ago it was 200m inland and now it teeters on the edge of the five mile sand dune awaiting its inevitable fate. A fate that will have the sea reclaiming its hold. It is one of those places that needs to be seen much like the Dune du Pilat in France. Whilst this may be second to the French giant, these dunes are incredible and with their natural shaped artistry, treading this fragile yet tenacious land is quite an experience. And do it soon as they predict within the next couple of years, this lighthouse will disappear forever. Be one of those people who can say ‘I went there before it fell.’

 

Grenen Point

Grenen Point is Denmark’s most northerly point and it is far more than just a spit of sand. This area has a very special quality that, like so many places around the world, has to be experienced rather than described. Although I’ll do my best to craft a visual description. The visitors aside, imagine a place where two seas converge, each one searching for supremacy. The angry sea gods fight as if on a front line, each side wearing different battle colours. Undeterred by their wrath, sea life continue their daily routines as they dive bomb the sea’s surface looking for their next meal. And the winds that punish the lands whip up the sands like you’re in a desert sandstorm. There’s a eery silence here that blends with the noise of nature that just needs quiet reflection and of course the odd selfie. The 30 minute walk from the car park is an easy saunter along the coast where gannets and seals can be spotted. Or you can take the tractor taxi if you  need to for a mere 30DK (about £3.50). 

We stayed at the Grenen Point car park for free.

 

Voergaard Castle

As you head on the E45 south, a small diversion will break up your journey. Voergaard is a 15th century castle surrounded by a moat that oozes opulence. Although not open until 11.00am for Guided Tours, you can wander around the moat alone, for free listening to the serenade of the cuckoos. Whilst Denmark boasts 177 castles, this one is rarely on the tourist list and so you can share this with just your thoughts and plunge yourself into Danish history. 

 

Hobro and Mariager

We love going to places that others may by-pass for the bright lights of a cityscape. Given that built up areas are not really for us, we tend to search out the quieter places and are always rewarded with a treasure. And this is so true of Hobro and Mariager. Situated on Denmark’s longest fjord, they each hold a space in the country’s history book. Hobro with its Viking settlement and museums and Mariager – known as the City of Roses is Denmark’s smallest merchant town. Legend has it that this humble fishing village is named after Maria who tragically drowned herself after two rivalling knights died in a duel fighting for her hand in marriage. Mariager also has a Cittaslow title, showing the depth of its historical soul. Also if you’re here, the Salt Mine is apparently worth experiencing. 

We stayed at the Marina for the night that had free services for a 150DK payment.

Check our Northern Region gallery below.

 

4.  Zealand

One of Denmark’s most important and largest of its 400 islands, Zealand is accessed by the Storebælt Bridge at Nyborg. Like the Øresund Bridge to Sweden, this is a magnificent structure that will set you back 370DK/£43 if in a vehicle over 6m.  Zealand is classified into north and south. In the north you have the important town of Roskilde and of course the infamous Shakespeare setting for Hamlet at Kronborg castle. In the quieter south you have a multitude of islands to explore before you hit the inevitable city lights of Copenhagen.

 

Island of Enø

We loved our little saunter over to the island of Enø, which was more by luck than judgement. With its Kroen Canal and draw bridge, this is a fisherman’s haven. With fishmongers everywhere, artisan bakeries and coastal paths strewn with nesting swallows in the cliffs, Enø will delight. It’s only 3 miles long, which is easily hiked or cycled and is known for its musical festivals. 

We stayed at two spots overnight. One night was at the Marina with full services for 165DK (£19.50) and the other was a wild spot at the furthest end of the Island, which you will see on the interactive map. 

 

UNESCO Stevns Klint

Stevns Klint is a geological and historical delight. Its church, that balances on the cliff edge toppled into the sea in 1928 and has since been rebuilt. With a steep descent to the bouldered beach beneath that is not sadly disabled friendly, although if you can reach it, you will see millions of years history embedded in the chalk cliffs. It is classed as one of the best exposed Cretaceous-Tertiary boundaries in the world. That means fossils to you and me. The colour of the water, best seen from the cliff-top walk is just amazing when the sun’s out. Also to top it all, Stevns has a Cold War/Nato history, given that it was Denmark’s first line of defence in the protection of Copenhagen. So plenty to experience here.

It is possible to stay in the large car park overnight for 40DK – just under £5 payable with credit card, DK or Euro coins.

 

Denmark to Sweden – Øresund Bridge

Bridges are pretty important to a Dane’s life as whether crossing from the archipelago or hopping across to Sweden, they provide a cultural and practical lifeline. We have always loved these incredible structures; there’s something spiritual about them; from the design, build and the symbolism of leaving and arriving. So we were excited about heading south around Copenhagen, avoiding the Low Emission Zone and across over to Sweden on the Øresund Bridge. As you leave Zealand you drive through a two and a half mile tunnel and then emerge into the bright light revealing the technically brilliant architecture. Øresund is five miles long and is a great feat of engineering. It’s not cheap though. If you go on line you can save money although for any vehicle between 6-10m, it will cost 704DK (£83.00). You can get a reduction on this if you buy an annual Bropas for €43 entitling you to a 50% reduction. This is only cost effective if you intend to return back over the bridge. 

Check out our Zealand gallery by clicking the image below.

 

Closing Thoughts

Denmark with its coastline, forests, history and archipelago is a must. Be willing to look at Denmark with new eyes. Eyes that see its potential, its limitless beauty and its understated depth. You’ll not be disappointed. Give Denmark a chance and linger longer. We did and we’ll be back. For an even more detailed perspective of your trip to Denmark, keep your eyes open for our soon to be launched free eBook. 

 

 

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7 Reasons to visit Delicious Denmark

7 Reasons to visit Delicious Denmark

When we first started planning our trip to Scandinavia, Denmark was always on our radar. The appeal of their World Happiness ranking and uncovering their Hygge was enough to peak our curiosity. After three weeks exploring all corners of the country, we are so happy that we made this an integral part of our journey. So join us as we meander around Denmark’s countryside and discover the joys that an extended visit to Denmark can offer you. Our purpose – to entice you to come, explore and stay a while.

Introducing Denmark – 10 Interesting Facts

I feel that in order to sell a place, first I must offer a preliminary sales pitch, just like any good tourist brochure. Although I’ll be honest, our entry into Denmark didn’t give us the instant wow that I hoped for. In truth I had few expectations, which I guess is a good thing, yet I was just not bowled over. We could put it down to hormones or travel weariness although the fact remains that Denmark was definitely a slow burner for us. Yet the longer we stayed and the further we travelled, the more we began to connect. Whilst it’s true that much of Denmark is flat, I’m not adversed to flat, as I mentioned in our recent post on the Netherlands. Flat can offer the most amazing topography if we stay open minded to its beauty.  You don’t have to be Marilyn Munro to be alluring; and in the same way there’s more to travel than mountains and hairpins! Or at least this is what we’ve found to be true.

 So what can we entice you with? How about some fascinating facts as starting point?

  1. Denmark in 2019 ranked the second happiest country to live in, according to the 2019 World Happiness Report.
  2. Denmark is host to two of the world’s most powerful brands; Lego (which when translated means, Play Well!) and Carlsberg beer. Add to that Danish bacon and Lurpak butter and Denmark begins to raise its world stage impact.
  3. Did you know that Denmark is also known for the Christmas Tree market and Cat Litter? Yes that’s right, cat litter! Now we have to go back 55 million years to find the origins of this product which is called moler. To save you from the full geology lesson, quite simply the North Sea marine environment back then created perfect conditions for the formation of shell and clay deposits. When combined they created a substance with an extraordinary absorption factor. Moler landscapes are only found in the archipelago of Limfjorden of northern Denmark. 
  4. Denmark has the oldest flag in the world.
  5. Denmark is the home of Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
  6. The Faroe Islands belong to Denmark.
  7. Denmark has 5,440 miles of coastline to lure you, much of which is under the protection of National Parks.
  8. Denmark’s most famous Dane is Hans Christian Anderson (although the world’s largest shipping company Mærsk, AP Møller might have something to say about that). Anderson, born in 1805 is famous for his childrens’ fairytales and also, did you know, for his travelogues? 
  9. Denmark was the inspiration of Walt Disney’s theme park Disneyland, inspired by his visit to Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens.
  10. Did you know that Denmark distilled whiskey and has a thriving wine industry?

 

7 Reasons to visit Denmark

When I started loosely planning our trip, I was shocked to see, in a very well known Travel Guide, only 80 pages dedicated to Denmark, 20 of which were about Copenhagen. Surely there had to be more to Denmark than this minuscule profile? Perhaps we had made a mistake by putting this on our itinerary; perhaps like so many others with their sights set on Norway and Sweden, it should just be a drive-by?

Remaining resolute if not a tad stubborn, I was serious about spending more time in Denmark and exploring. So with determination to giving Denmark space in the Motoroamer’s storybook, we started to uncover its treasure little by little. Here’s the seven reasons we believe you should come to Denmark and stay a while.

 

1.  Its coastline, fjords and archipelago

With over 5000 miles of coastline that weaves its way around Jutland and Denmark’s 400+ islands, this Scandinavian country is a serious coastal contender. I had never associated fjords nor archipelago with Denmark – it’s more akin to the likes of Greece and Norway.  Yet if you take a look at the Danish map, see how many bridges and ferry routes knit this small country together, like a jigsaw puzzle.

With coast comes an affiliation with the forces of Mother Nature. The North Sea to the west and the Baltic Sea to the east, the coast faces some severe weather and with it the creation of some extraordinary sights. Like the Rudbjerg Knude lighthouse that is fighting the force of the sand. This Danish landmark was built in 1899 together with 71 other lighthouses around the coast. At the time, this building was 200m inland and today, as you can see from the gallery below, is close on becoming consumed by the ocean. It is expected that this iconic building will be devoured by the eroding cliffs within the next couple of years. So go soon before it disappears completely.

Denmark’s island network sets up a fabulous exploration; across bridges, causeways and with ferries waiting to transport you, its patchwork of archipelago is a treat. Rømø in the south west, which sits in the Wadden Sea UNESCO site houses a beach you can drive on and the smallest school. And Enø in the southern reaches of Zealand is a fishing and farming island that rarely cares whether you come or not. Check out our gallery below.

 

 

2.  Water/Wind Sports

With so much coast and the full frontal experience of the North Sea, is it any wonder that Denmark has a lot of windmills and turbines? Where the Netherlands has an intimate relationship with the sea, Denmark’s affiliation is with the wind. Another Danish fact… Denmark has the highest proportion of wind power in the world, producing in 2015 42% of its electricity from it. Anyway I digress. With wind and coasts come an array of water and wind sports and Denmark is a haven for them. From the Annual Kite competition on the southern island of Rømø, to the west coast Klitmøller’s hosting of the PWA World Surfing Cup in September where 32 of the world’s best surfers compete here for this prestigious award. Aptly named Cold Hawaii this is heaven for all types of water sport opportunities. 

Elsewhere Denmark’s fjords offer cosy harbours and marinas where sailing is an almost guaranteed activity for a Dane. Kayaks, speed boats, windsurfers and any other water and wind based activity is a major draw for this lovely country offering us wanderlusters a little taste of sporting wonder whilst on our vacation.

 

3.  History and Museums

Denmark oozes history and you need look no further if you want to experience the spiritual home of the Vikings. With the unique Rune Stones at Jelling to iconic Viking fortresses around the country, Viking evidence is clear. From 793 for nearly four hundred years the Viking race dominated this Scandinavian region, pillaging their way into the history books. Denmark has much to offer if you want to learn about this important bedrock of their culture. Head to Hobro for three great Viking sites where activities for young kids – and the old will delight, especially if there is an inner historian in you. For more sites that focus on Viking culture click here.

Every town we visited has a museum that, in part has a Viking story to tell. And although we are not great fans of  museums, the understated building at Silkeborg in Denmark’s Lake District is not to be missed. It is here that you will stumble upon the most incredible discovery of 1950 – the uncovering of Tollundman. Tollundman is the preserved remains of a man in his 30’s thought to have been murdered in the 4th Century BC according to carbon-dating. His body was buried in a peat bog which has kept the integrity of this man’s body for us to gaze upon in some sort of macabre awe – and he is on display at Silkeborg’s museum. 

And for a more recent look into history, World War 2 has made its mark here in Denmark too. Despite declaring itself as neutral in the outbreak of war, Germany occupied the country in 1939. Denmark was allowed to continue as normal, taking on a protectorate role up to 1943 when Germany took military occupation until the Allied victory of May 1945. Evidence of German warfare is to be found all along the northern coast particularly. Open-air Bunker Museums are open to the public to explore. You can walk through trenches, into bunkers and touch the ammunition that shaped the German’s protection of these northern borders from invasion. Why not check the museums at Hanstholm, Hirtshals and Grenen.  See our gallery below for visual stimulation!

 

4.  Hiking, Cycling and Nature

Denmark’s flat and softly undulating landscape makes it a joy for cycling and hiking. With forests, lakes and dedicated cycle paths, for the active amongst us, then Denmark will delight. With 7000 miles of cycle routes navigating around the country you’ll not be bored. So take your time to enjoy the gently rolling Lake District region and cycle for miles through the beech and pine forests. 

Amidst the countryside that is laced, in May with acres of sunshine-yellow fields of rape and purple lilac bushes fringing the roads like cheerleaders as they dance in the wind, you can’t help smiling. With hen harriers hunting, hares alert like meercats and plovers elegantly flapping across the wheat crops, wildlife is abundant. Deer in the forests, gannets on the oceans, flocks of geese in the salt-flats and porpoises in the fjords; you begin to see the natural potential of this beautiful land. When you look beyond Denmark’s agricultural landscape, nature speaks in volumes.  Click below for our gallery.

 

5.  Old Town charm and thatch cottage delights

Whilst Denmark’s modern architecture doesn’t really excite me with its square, characterless designs, the old medieval towns are beautiful. Brightly painted and wonky buildings that framed with cobbled stone streets just exude charm and intrigue. Denmark’s oldest town Ribe on the south west edge of Jutland is a prime example. Where ancient past meets modern thinking Ribe has a story to tell dating back to 800AD.  Other towns around the country compete for our affections as their chocolate-box alleyways and town squares just look primed for a TV period drama. Viborg and Mariager are firm favourites and need to be explored. And then there’s the thatch cottages that are dotted around the countryside. What is it about thatch cottages that work their magic on us? Check out our gallery to lure your photographic eye.

 

6.  Let’s get Hygge with it!

One of the biggest reasons for me visiting Denmark, was to satisfy the curiosity of my happiness coaching vocation.  The only true remanent from my ‘old life’, I am passionate about happiness and help others tap into their inner joy. So what better place to come and learn about Denmark’s reasons for happiness. Especially given their second place ranking from the World Happiness Report of 2019.

The first thing to strike me was how much the outdoor life influences their culture and lifestyle. From being at the beach, to having a picnic along side the river, people are outdoors all the time. Communities have regular social gatherings where they light a fire-pit and eat together. Many school children have a weekly excursion outdoors. The working day starts early, between 7.30-8.00am yet finishes at 4.00pm. And with the long spring and summer days this leaves plenty of time for being outside. The roads are a breeze to drive, partly because they’re such good quality also because there’s just no one on them. And we have felt the safest here than in any other country in Europe. 

And then there’s Hygge (pronounced hewge). This is a tricky word to translate, although the best we can do is to say it’s about creating coziness, well-being and contentment. Time away from ‘doing’ and just ‘being’. Well this is heaven for me in my coaching world and forms the very basis of my work. People I’ve spoken to have their own unique ways of creating hygge; from having a bench in the sun with beautiful flowers around it, to a fire-pit where the family gather of an evening to share their food. Others also described it as a tradition; one family have a regular ‘date’ each Friday where they make home-made pizza and cuddle up on the sofa to watch a film. Others describe how the community has a bar-be-que to celebrate the collective. Candles, blankets, benches, quiet space to contemplate and warmth, all contribute to making this Danish culture one of calm, well-paced, reflective and a community-based influence, which is infectious.  Why wouldn’t you want to come experience that? 

 

7.  Castles and Monuments

Denmark might not roll off the tongue when it comes to castles, yet it should. With 177 of these majestic buildings, each one having its own historical tapestry and regal story, you’ll be easily satisfied. And to top it all, the most famous of all, Shakespeare’s Hamlet castle, UNESCO Kronborg must qualify Denmark for a castle itinerary?  Many of the castles’ grounds are free to explore although if you wish to venture inside to gaze at the artwork and listen to the tales of a bygone era, tickets are required. One of Europe’s 50 most beautiful places is Egeskov castle with its fabulous gardens, adventure park and classic car museums, this will entertain the whole family for the day. Check out our gallery.

 

 

Are you coming?

So there we have it; an introduction to the deliciousness that is Denmark and that’s before we’ve even talked about Copenhagen. That’s for another day. Whilst Denmark has been a slow burner, it has also been an endearing experience, one that will entice us back to explore the many more islands and miles not yet covered. So if you are thinking of coming just to see Copenhagen on a city trip or thinking about transitioning through the country en route to Norway or Sweden, we implore to stay a while. There is so much to explore and discover here and we hope that perhaps we have whetted your appetite just a little. 

 

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The Netherlands – our Road-trip Guide

The Netherlands – our Road-trip Guide

The Netherlands is one of the best places in the world for challenging the irrational belief that ‘flat is boring’. The Netherlands is most certainly not boring – albeit it is mostly flat. Yet this small country in northwestern Europe will continually implore you to stay a while and soak up its culture, its hospitality and its natural beauty.  We have visited on three separate occasions and each time it draws us in like the Pied Piper of Hamelin – we fall in love just a little bit more each time we venture into the land of windmills, canals and clogs.  Check out our Guide to the best bits we’ve found so far, starting with our interactive map below…

 

Interactive Map

Click on the map to explore some more.

 

Basic Information

The Netherlands is split into 12 different provinces – one of which is Holland, which the Netherlands is often mistakenly labelled as. Its name is translated as ‘the lower countries’ because of its topography. According to Wikipedia, only 50% of the land reaches 1m above sea level and 26% is below sea level. Back in 16th century work began to reclaim this lower level land from the sea and their efforts resulted in the polders. This region is typically speckled with windmills and canals as part of their land and sea management. The country has an intricate relationship with the sea, both in terms of protecting its inhabitants from the forces of the ocean and for their ability to trade on the world’s economic stage. Their web of canals and rivers that run from the North Sea through to Germany are critical to their economic status. With fertile soil, the Netherlands is second only to US for the exporting of agricultural and food products. So whilst it may be small, it is a force to be reckoned with.

Interestingly alongside many of their Scandinavian cousins, in 2019 the Netherlands ranked fifth out of 156 countries for happiness and wellbeing, according to the World Happiness Report.  So they are doing something right. 

If you want a real blast of culture, then visit the Netherlands around 27 April. This is their Koningsdag festival. King’s Day is an annual affair, often starting the night of 26 April. Then throughout 27th it is one big party, honouring their King’s Birthday. Since 1885 the Royals’ birthdays have been celebrated and it is classed as a national holiday across the whole country. Each town and region celebrate in different ways, although it is expected to dress in orange, the country’s national colour. Events are staged, parties are thrown and music is put on by local communities. It’s just one of those events that needs to be experienced at least once in a lifetime.

 

 

Our Highlights

My dad used to work for a Dutch company and often he would travel there on business. I have vivid memories of him returning with Dutch gifts for me, one of which was a treasured doll in traditional costume that was packaged up in one of those little plastic tube containers. It was that that piqued my interest for this northwestern European country and to follow in my dad’s footsteps.

Paradoxically, my first trip was also for work – after which we extended our visit to see Amsterdam and some iconic Dutch villages that you see in the brochures. Towns interlaced with canals and protected by windmills offering cheesy delights to hungry passers-by. This was where my love affair for this fair nation began and it is a book that we just keep adding chapters to. 

 

 

Amsterdam

Whilst Amsterdam is the Netherland’s capital, it is not where the Government is located. You will find this at the Hague. Although that has no impact on this stunning watery city that gives Venice a run for its money. Its 17th century Golden Age heritage is clear to see as you weave your way around the network of canals on slowly chugging boats. Towering buildings fringing the canal banks with facades shaped and coloured like variety pack of sweets. Church spires reach high above the city roof-line and bridges interlink streets across the entire cityscape. And bicycles – let’s not forget Amsterdam’s bikes!  In fact it’s hard to forget as they are strewn everywhere. This is the capital’s main source of transport, as indeed it is across the Netherlands. This country seriously knows how to cycle. 

We arrived on a murky day in March and even with soft wafts of fog caressing the water’s edge you could sense the city’s beauty. Flower markets selling every kind of tulip bulb you could imagine from the iconic fields close to Lisse, just  east of the city. Museums galore satiate the appetite of any curious traveller, from Van Gogh to World War 2 Anne Frank’s house. And if that’s not your cuppa, then perhaps a coffee would be better? The Koffie Huis need caution as this is no ordinary tea-house selling cappuccino and cake. Well not that type of cake at least. Amsterdam’s wild spirit throbs in these ‘special’ cafés offering you a warm welcome and a heady experience – if you dare. And the Red Light District seems a perversely voyeur activity although it’s a cultural experience to wander the area and see the ladies standing in the windows as still as manakins. 

Amsterdam can satisfy the needs of every traveller and is a sight to behold. Check out our small gallery below. 

 

Holland’s iconic villages

Amsterdam is without doubt a major draw for the tourist intent on a perfect city-break, although for an authentic glimpse into Holland’s provincial culture, you need look no further than the surrounding villages. Volendam, Edam (yes of the mighty cheese fame) and Monnickendam all to the north of Amsterdam show you the Dutch sea-farers’ life. Where the sea meets the canals, the locals work in harmony with the water, mastering as best they can, the strength of this indelible element.

Mini versions, it seems, of their capital giant, these small villages cry out tradition and authenticity, as their daily work goes on regardless of the onlookers. Whilst there are tourist shops here, it’s done so tastefully and without the all too often cheap tat that they think we love.  

Further west from the city you have the charm of Delft with its wonky church that rivals Pisa and Gouda (pronounced Howda) that will tempt you with their fare at the church square market. And it is a must to buy just a little bit of their nectar produce! Dutch cheese. With rounds of delectable dairy delights, you will be at a loss as to which to buy. Although try the green pesto cheese – it is divine. Either way you will not be disappointed by the exquisite taste of their sumptuous offerings. Beyond the cheese, check out their churches, waterways and cobbled streets that have a knack of transporting you back to some sort of Dickensian era, such is the atmosphere of these amazing places.

If you want a true taste of Holland, these coastal and inland villages are definitely worth exploring. Check out our gallery by clicking on the image below. 

 

 

Holland’s iconic tulips and Keukenhof

One of my bucket list trips was to see the tulip fields of Holland. Known throughout the world for their patchwork quilted fields of colour I could only imagine their beauty. After the joy I experienced seeing Provence’s lavender I knew I had to see the Netherland’s carpet of colour. And so April 2019 we finally managed to get there in our camper. Whilst I think we probably timed it two weeks too late, there were still some amazing blasts of technicolour enchantment. It was everything I had hoped for. And then there was Keukenhof. Whilst the fields may well be the commercial side of tulip bulbs, Keukenhof is all about the mastery of the blooms themselves. A landscape of sheer artistry, as lakes, fountains, curvaceous beds and steams provide the backdrop canvas to these incredible flowers. 800 varieties of tulips and 7 million bulbs conspire with a bit of human intervention to create the joy that you will behold at Keukenhof.

Only open from mid March to mid May, undoubtedly the Netherland’s most famous spring tourist attraction, it is a rare experience that visually will blow you away and give you an overwhelming sensory experience. Check out our tulip video below.

 

 

Zeeland

Staying up north, well west if you want to be geographically correct, there is a region of the Netherlands that is a water power house. A region that has defied nature and resiliently honours their motto ‘I struggle and emerge.’ 

Zeeland is a set of 3 finger-shaped peninsula that have been gradually reclaimed from the sea over time. They are classed as the least populated region of the country, that is until the summertime when their population doubles. Don’t let that fool you though, because Zeeland has plenty to offer the adventurous types. With its intrinsic connection to the sea, Zeeland is well positioned for water sports and you will find this aplenty on each island you travel to. Middelburg, its capital, is a Dutch delight with its clean-line streets, waterways and central plaza. Music vibrates out of the cafés and the cathedral’s imposing stature stakes its claim on the skyline. 

As you ‘island hop’, each one takes on a different feel and yet holding them together are their battle scars and historical heritage. And you might think these rivalling factions are people based, although no! These are wounds from the sea’s impenetrable dominance.  Years of flooding have consistently shaped the land formation, the dykes and technology that now holds the sea firmly at arm’s length. 

A fascinating place that really needs exploring. So don’t avoid this area for the sexier appeal of Holland’s other charms. For more info on Zeeland, check out our comprehensive blog here

We stayed at Wolphaartsdijk, Camping De Heerlijkheid (51.54217 3.78037).

 

The Netherland’s iconic windmills – Kinderdijk

Every image of Holland in particular is framed by a traditional windmill in some form or another. And whilst in other countries they may just now be a pretty feature, for the Netherlands, they still hold an important role albeit they are superseded by the modern structures. One place that must go on your Netherland’s itinerary to really appreciate these mechanical magicians has to Kinderdijk – a UNESCSO site and museum that is free to the public. This area just a short boat ride from the Netherland’s oldest town of Dortretch, and it is a photographer’s haven. With the right light you can produce some stunning images. And the history of this place is so intriguing, as these 19 windmills from the 15th century are working museum pieces, presenting the role they played in securing the safety of the local inhabitants. 

Catch the 202 water-bus from Dordretch and for €8 per person (bicycles are free) you get to explore this incredible UNESCO site. Check out our gallery by clicking the image below.

We stayed at Jachthaven Westergoot (51.813818 4.724003) at the marina.

 

The Netherland’s star-fortresses

One thing you expect to see in the Netherlands are windmills. Loads of them especially up in the polder regions of Holland because of their water-management role. Although what surprised us most, in our third visit to this fair land were their fortresses. Throughout Europe you often see towns protected by the archetypal walled-cities such as Evora in Portugal and Carcassonne in France to name just two. Yet in the Netherlands, they did things slightly differently. With their water affinity, of course it makes sense that they would protected themselves with moats. And moats designed with the most incredible flamboyance.  Whilst they are often best seen from an arial perspective, Heusden, Bourtange and Loevestein are still incredibly beautiful places up close and personal. 

Take yourself back to medieval times, when wars and invasions where prime in the battle for national supremacy and  where protection of your land was a primary goal. What better way to shield yourself from the enemy than with moats and draw-bridges. It’s like something out of a fairytale. And yet today these impressive places still hold the shadows and battle scars in their cobbled streets. 

We stayed at a free camperplaats at Loevestein (51.814377 5.02747). There were two places at Heusden to park overnight; the west car park was only suitable for campers under 6m (51.73496 5.13404)  and the east car park for campers over 6m (51.734599 5.145048)

 

 

Giethoorn

To find the right words to convey the charm of Giethoorn, I would need to use half the dictionary. Adjectives like delightful, cute, serene, peaceful and unique would just be a few. And I’m sure you would be well within your rights to call me a bit gushy. Although visit for yourself and see that it’s true. 

Although Giethoorn is known as ‘Venice of the north’, I think this is wholly inappropriate. Yes Giethoorn has waterways, yes there are no cars here, although Venice it is not. The comparison somehow undermines both stunning locations and Giethoorn deserves a place in a tourist’s agenda, all by itself.

These northern reaches of the Netherlands have a wild feel about them as you see the landscape change from its westerly neighbours. The polders give way to marshland and peat bogs that have served this region so well for hundreds of years. In fact Giethoorn was born from this industry. When local workers started to dig up peat from the soil  they stumbled across remnants of goat horns from animals killed by floods. And from that moment Giet (goat) hoorn (horn) was born.

The 6km elongated village is strewn with narrow waterways, rickety wooden bridges and the most gorgeous thatched cottages, that would look at home on a box of chocolates. With the ‘whisper boats’ that silently glide up the canals, you get a real feel for the peaceful existence in this charming village. Arrive here early before the coach parties of Chinese turn up. So popular is it to this eastern nation, that shop signs are in Chinese and there is a dedicated Chinese restaurant to boot. Apparently it’s all due to the successful YouTube documentary Ni Hao Holland where Cherry, who lives in Beijing, dreams of swapping the stress of life there for the serene life of ‘quacking ducks’ in Giethoorn.

We stayed at Jachthaven Kuiper (52.72141 6.073414), which one of three Aires along the canal that allows motorhome parking. We paid €11 for a pitch and €1 per person with water, EHU and showers all costing extra. Wifi was free. 

Anyway Giethoorn… Go! It’s a must see when you are travelling to the Netherlands and only 90 minutes east of Amsterdam. You’ll love it. Check out our gallery below to see it for yourself. 

 

 

Final thoughts

The Netherlands will always be close to my heart and each time we go, it embeds itself deeper into my affections. And I defy anyone to come to this ‘flat’ land and describe it as boring. The Netherlands is so far removed from boring as you can get. It’s one of those countries that oozes personality and culture and leaves us wanting to return for more delicious Dutch delights. With its ease of access by plane into Schipol Airport close to Amsterdam and by road from UK and Europe, the Netherlands cries out to be explored. And with Dutch hospitality sure to make you feel at home, this charming northwestern European country needs to go on your list, soon! And we hope we’ve elevate it onto your agenda.

 

 

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Flower Power – visit Holland’s Tulips

Flower Power – visit Holland’s Tulips

 

The Dutch province of Holland is famous for many things; windmills, canals and of course tulip fields and Keukenhof. What better way to immerse yourself in Dutch culture than a springtime visit to this northern European destination, becoming part of the visual tulip fairytale. Why not join us on this Bucket List adventure as we share the colourful highlights of this veritable Dutch feast in this visual storybook. 

 

A teary sight

There are a handful of our travel experiences that have made my eyes leak and my first sighting of Holland’s tulips is certainly up there with the best of them.  There’s something very special about that first sight, first taste, first burst of an emotional connection to a new place – once seen, never forgotten.  And that is how Holland’s tulips will be for me. 

Great Easter weather brought the crowds to Holland and I was concerned that it might feel too claustrophobic. Especially as trying to find somewhere to stay was looking tricky. We finally managed to get the last spot in a great little campsite, which happened to be a tulip farm – how perfect was that? From our courtyard position, the vibrant yellow stripes made the darkest of moments light up.  Like an excited puppy ready for its walk, I felt like skipping to my first, up-close-and-personal tulip experience. 

As I stood amidst a field of tulips with the heady scent like freesias, my bucket list entry firmly got a tick and with sighs like a love-sick school girl, I drank in the vision.

Rows and rows of sunshine yellow, deep purple, scarlet and pink stripped flowers filled my sight. And adorably the rogue pink tulip that made its unwelcome appearance in a row of homogenous yellow blooms gave me a sense of allowing myself to ‘stand out amongst the crowd’. 

It was lovely having a field of tulips beside our ‘home’, yet my insatiable appetite craved more. I wanted to expand my experience. So with our bicycles (no electric needed here), we tootled off in search of the technicolored carpets and we were not disappointed.

 

Where to find them

While the corridor of colour reaches from Den Haag to Haarlam, the main concentration of fields can be found between Noordwijk and Lisse. 

And our advise? Park up somewhere and get your bikes out, as the smaller roads between these carpets are often narrow and busy with onlookers. To really experience these parcels of pleasure, riding the excellent network of cycle paths gives a totally sensory experience.  Go to the Tourist Information or any hotel or campsite in the area and you will be given a map that shows you the current year’s fields and the best cycle routes to reach them. And of course they are free to view.

Lisse is the central hub of tulip county and is where the famous botanical gardens of Keukenhof can be found. More on that in a moment. 

 

The fields

Memories of Provence struck me as we started to see acres of multicoloured fields. The lavender just crochets the landscape with its fragrant purple flowers. Holland’s tulips do something similar. Rows upon rows of coloured stripes that would have looked at home woven into Joseph’s Techni-coloured Dream Coat. Farmers walking up and down the rows picking out the anomalies, making perfect lines of tulips. And in truth, I’m sure the display we saw in the third week of April was minuscule compared with two weeks prior. Still, seeing colour combinations sitting side by side showed me how well nature’s palette works. It’s a very special sight even towards the end of the season. Check out our gallery below. 

 

 

When to go

Timing is everything in the world of tulips as Mother Nature has an uncanny knack of following her own rules. The bulbs are driven by the seasonal changes in temperature and how warm or cold the soil is. If the spring weather is warm, then the fields will bloom early and the opposite is true if there’s a cold spell. So it’s best to check a site like this to see what’s happening in the tulip world. 

If you have the flexibility, Holland’s tulips have a three week season and the general advice is to visit mid to late April. Although if you have to stick to more stationary dates, then in March you are likely to see the crocus, the daffodils and the hyacinths, which then surrender their space to the king of flowers – the tulips. Around the same time, especially in Keukenhof, the azaleas and rhododendrons start to display their power, so there’s always something pretty to look at. 

 

 

Visiting Keukenhof’s flower power

Let me paint a picture of your Keukenhof experience.

Imagine being in a 3D artist’s studio with pallets of every colour of the rainbow, with each one having at least 50 shades of gr…. colour!  If feels as if you are in a space of virtual reality or a parallel universe, where colours know no bounds and light has a spectrum to bend the most static of perspectives. 

This 32 hectare ‘garden’ is a pleasure zone offering 800 varieties of tulips alone. Then add the azaleas, rhododendrons, daffodils and hyacinth and you have a plethora of visual delights. The 7 million bulbs are planted at different depths in the soil so that throughout Keukenhof’s season (Mid March to Mid May) a different treat will greet each and every visitor. 

The craftsmanship here is beyond description as the blend of flower beds, pathways, lakes, rivers and sculptures just hold your interest for hours. The colour combinations and flower varieties will take your breath away. Then in a flash you realise that these treasures are just temporary – a mere three weeks. Somehow this impermanence adds to the experience as you acknowledge the huge eraser that will certainly wipe out this picture perfect painting in a matter of months. 

Every year new themes are built into the Dutch gardens and for 2019 it was Flower Power – the strength of flowers. Their ethos is using flowers to connect people from across the world who come together to enjoy the gardens. And just walking through this landscaped haven, you really get that power sinking deep into your heart. 

Whether you have children, disabled family members and or dogs, Keukenhof accommodates us all in their beautifully crafted gardens. Easy to navigate paths weave from one section to another, with water features, sculptures, a maze, restaurants and boat rides if you wish. Keukenhof is a must. 

Here’s just a few of the 800 varieties that I captured on our visit. Click the image below for our Gallery.

 

 

Keukenhof practicalities

You can buy tickets either on line or at the entrance, (on line being €1 cheaper.) Prices on line are:

€17 per adult;      €8 children aged 4-17;     infants aged 0-3 are free

Allow at least three hours to wander around this world of artistry; take time out and rest your feet by enjoying a mint tea and apple pie, perhaps partake in a cornet of homemade fries and mayo or just sit and contemplate at any one of the hundreds of benches dotted around. This is not a place to rush. Although come early if you want to beat the crowds.

It will be busy; an average of 1.4 million people visit during this tiny botanical window, so be mindful of this. Although despite the crowds and Instagram dressed models, the flower combinations are so mesmerising that they transport you to your own personal Narnia where the crowds are mere dots of colour.

And finally don’t worry about the weather. Whilst you may think that brilliant sunshine is the only way to see this divine garden, the rain creates such a photographic canvas with the drips of water from the petals, enhancing every shot. 

 

Our Keukenhof visual storybook

My instinct says that to inspire you to visit, words alone will not suffice. A sensory experience such as Keukenhof needs multimedia, so sit back and indulge for a few moments as we attempt to capture the images of this wondrous and magical place. Check out our gallery below by clicking on the image and then sit back and watch our short video.

 

 

 

Practical tips for your visit

Given the small window for Holland’s tulips, putting some plans in place before the spring hits Northern Europe is wise. So check out these Top Tips.

  1. Book your trip between end of March and end of April.
  2. Leave booking your Keukenhof tickets until a week before you visit so you can check the forecast.
  3. Book accommodation well in advance, whether that’s a hotel or campsite. If the weather is particularly good or you plan to visit over Easter then this part of Holland attracts many visitors. 
  4. It’s worth remembering that the dates for schools’ Easter holidays differ across Europe, so there could be a three week period where visitors take the opportunity to travel here. 
  5. Many of the blooms in the commercial fields are farmed for the Tulip Procession which is generally mid April. (2019 it was April 13th). It’s a procession of floats and cars decorated in flowers and this famous carnival travels from Noordwijk to Haarlem starting at 9.00am until the early evening. For more information, click here.
  6. Many of the fields are accessible for photographs, unless the farmers are feeding or de-heading the plants.  So respect their signs for privacy.
  7. Remember that these fields are working farms.
  8. Don’t pick the flowers, unearth the bulbs or run between the rows as you may damage the plants.
  9. Hire or bring your own bikes as the cycle paths are so good, extensive and flat that getting around this area is easy. 
  10. Take the opportunity to visit the coast whilst in the area as there are miles and miles of golden sandy beaches.
  11. Arrive at Keukenhof early to avoid the tour coaches that generally arrive between 1030 – 1100am.
  12. If you can time your visit around 27th April, then why not extend your stay and experience Koningsdag – King’s Day. Now that is a real cultural explosion. 

 

 

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