Our self-guided walking tours will lead you through cities that are remarkable for their history, culture and architecture. But many of these cities also offer some incredible visions of natural beauty as well. And after a long hard winter, springtime is a welcome relief for everyone and a perfect opportunity to explore some of these wonderful displays of nature’s splendor.
Amsterdam is one of our favorite historical cities for self-guided walking tours. This wonderful city is also the best staging point for a trip to one of the world’s most spectacular flower experiences. So, if you’re going to be in Amsterdam this spring, don’t miss the renowned floral displays at Keukenhof Gardens (shown on the right in hot pink tulip splendor!) (http://www.keukenhof.nl/en). Located just 30 miles southwest of Amsterdam, these magnificent gardens offer some seven million tulip bulbs as well as many indoor gardens with other displays including herb gardens and vegetable gardens.
Keukenhof is generally open from mid-March to mid-May and, depending on the winter weather, prime viewing of the tulips usually occurs sometime during the month of April. During the season, independent travelers will find busses that leave Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport or the Leiden Central Station every 15 minutes or so. The trip to the gardens takes only about 45 minutes and it is well worth the time. And if you’re not an independent traveler, guided and group tours from Amsterdam are also available.
Of course, spring flowers can be also be enjoyed in many of the wonderfully displayed gardens in city parks throughout Europe. And one of my favorite gardens just happens to be located in my favorite European city.
With countless historic sites easily accessible along the city’s extensive metro line system, Paris has always been a haven for independent travelers. And at the historic center of the city is Luxembourg Gardens. (Luxembourg Gardens are pictured in the image below)
Created in 1612, the gardens are home to a Medici palace, a grand basin with miniature sailboats, donkey and pony rides, fountains, a carousel, a puppet theater and countless statues. But the real charm is found in the extensive flower displays, gardens and meandering walkways among the trees.
An orangery, built in 1830, still shelters hundreds of fragile plants and trees from the harsh Paris winter until they can be released to the romantic Paris spring. And the fruit garden, originated by the area’s Carthusian monks, still displays some 320 varieties of apples and over 200 types of pears. This serene island in a sea of historic buildings and cobblestone streets will hypnotize you with its natural beauty and relaxing charm.
So, whether it’s a rolling field of tulips in Holland or an oasis of beauty and tranquility in the City of Lights, springtime in Europe offers something to satisfy even the most demanding enthusiast of flowers and gardens. If you have another favorite, we’d like to hear about it and share your photos too.