Practical tips for visiting Keukenhof gardens, Holland.What you need to know when planning a visit to Keukenhof gardens, near Amsterdam, where to buy Keukenhof tickets, when, how to get there and tips for avoiding the crowds of tulip season.
Tulips are my favorite flower and so I started a personal tradition: every spring, I take a trip to Holland to see the famous Dutch tulips in bloom.
I started going when one of my closest friends moved to Amsterdam and ever since I have made time for a flower filled weekend.
I shared before an article about my first time cycling to the Dutch tulip fields near Amsterdam and now I want to complement those tips with some about visiting Keukenhof, the large tulip gardens just outside the city.
I enjoyed both experiences and highly recommend both to anyone going to Holland during tulip season but with a caveat: Keukenhof is packed (over 1 Million visitors in its 8 weeks each spring!) and without a bit of planning you will see (and photograph) more people than tulips!
Thanks to the experience of my local friend, we were able to skip the most of the madness: these are my tips for visiting Keukenhof gardens, avoid the crowds and make the most of your visit.
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Top tips for visiting Keukenhof gardens
What is Keukenhof gardens?
Keukenhof gardens or just Keukenhof is a large flower garden in Lisse, Holland.
It is one of the biggest flower gardens in the world and owns its popularity to the vast number of tulips and tulip displays that paint it into a rainbow of flowers every year between April and May.
It is the highlight of the yearly Dutch tulip festival and people flock here from all over the world to see its incredible flowers: each spring, the garden received over 7 million bulbs that blossom into its outdoor displays and 4 indoor pavilions.
The gardens are most famous for tulips but these are not the only type of flower you have in Keukenhof.
Here you will also find hyacinths, daffodils, orchids, roses, carnations, irises, lilies, blossoming in full colors in carefully curated displays created by master gardeners.
What there is to see in Keukenhof?
Keukehnhof is a large manicured garden organised in several areas, with things to see spanning from pavilions, bulb fields, outdoor tulip displays, and waterways.
Keukenhof planted flowers displays
When you first enter the garden what welcomes you are lovely shaded roads meandering among beautiful planted flowers display.
At the most basic level, you can enjoy Keukenhof immensely even just wandering around these lovely streets: free maps are available at the entrance but truly, you do not need them.
While vast, Keukenhof is very well laid out and if you take your time, you will be able to see it all.
The displays are the Keukenhof ‘gardens’ and and each has a theme. Here you have the Peace&Love garden, the Ibiza garden, the flower power garden (this was the theme for 2019) and the historical garden, which has tulip varieties dating back to the 17th century!
What to see in Keukenhof Pavilions
There are several indoor pavilions in Keukenhof, each devoted to a different type of display.
- The Oranje Pavilion has displays of cut flowers, changing every week
- The Beatrix Pavilion has flowers shows too (orchid and anthurium show this year)
- The Willelm Alexander pavilion had many more displays of flowers and potted plants
- The Juliana Pavilion is one of the things not to miss in Keukenhof as it hosts the Tulipomania exhibition about the history of the tulips – which you may find hard to believe but is actually fascinating!!
Keukenhof bulb fields
Kukenhof is in the area of Lisse which is on of the tulip growing regions of Holland and it is possible to explore the fields from Keukenhof itself.
The bulb fields can be visited by boat (ticket at the entrance, or they can be bough in advance here) and by bike (also available for rent at Keukenhof entrance)
The biggest concentration of windmills in Holland is not in Keukenhof but one mill is indeed in Keukenhof and it is a highlight for many.
It is to your right entering the park and overlooks the surrounding fields – please read below for the best time to visit as the fields and the gardens do not always flower at the same time!
What is the best time to go to Keukenhof to see the tulips?
Keukenhof is only open 8 weeks each year, when the tulips are in flower. The exact date change every year but they always fall between April and May.
During tulip season the gardens are open every day including weekends, from 8.00 am to 7.30pm with the box office closing it at 6.00 pm to allow time for a reasonably long visit even for late comers.
If you can choose when to go to Keukenhof during the 8 weeks, I highly recommend you pick a time in the middle of the season.
This is because the tulip fields around the gardens only have flowers for a few weeks, after which they get picked: if you get to Keukenhof early enough in the spring you can see both tulip fields and gardens in the same day while if you go too late, you will only see the displays inside Keukenhof (which are wonderful, but if you can get to see both it is definitely a plus!)
How can I get to Keukenhof?
Keukehof is just outside Amsterdam and the first thing you see when leaving Schipol airport arrivals hall during tulip season is a massive flashing arrow with ‘Keukenhof’ written on it surrounded with images of tulips: without a doubt, they know why most people come to Holland in spring!
There are several ways to get to Keukenhof.
By car, driving from Amsterdam to Keukenhof takes approximately 40 minutes (depending on traffic).
On site, you find large parking lots with attendants: the cost of parking is 6 Euro and you pay on your way out, in cash, to the parking attendants.
If you prefer not to drive to Keukenhof, you can get there by bus: in that case, I recommend you book a bus+ fast track Keukenhof ticket so you can enjoy your day and visit at your own pace or get a guided Keukenhof tour from Amsterdam that will help you learn about the area.
When and where to buy tickets to Keukenhof?
Despite Keukenhof’s popularity, getting hold of tickets for the park is easy and there are mostly two things you need to keep in mind when planning your trip:
- You want a skip the line ticket
- You want to get tickets well in advance if visiting at the weekend.
With just a couple of clicks I was able to get my fast track entrance ticket for the day at no extra price – this made for a relaxing start of the day and swift entrance.
The ticket I got was for entrance only but you can also combine the garden visit with a trip to other attractions in the area.
Some great day trips from Amsterdam that include a visit to Keukenhof are:
Guided tour of Keukenhof and surrounding countryside, a lovely way to see both the garden and the fields
Keukenhof entrance and windmill sightseeing cruise, which adds a nice relaxing cruise in the area
Keukenhof, Zaanse Schans & A’dam Lookout Day Tour, a day tour that catches three of the most iconic sites in the Amsterdam area (garden, windmills and viewpoint)
What is the best time to go to Keukenhof to avoid crowds?
Keukenhof opens at 8.00 in the morning and your best chance to see the gardens without the crowds is to go there during the first two hours from opening.
At this time, you will not be alone in the gardens but you will miss the majority of the big buses coming for the day: we arrived in Keukenhof at about 9 am and the gardens quickly went from quiet to busy.
At 9.30 am we were able to enjoy the tulips, take photos and you could get a coffee with a moderate queue (there was already a line at the cafe but you would get to the till in about 10 minutes)
At 10 you started to find it difficult to take shots without other people in the background and by 10.30 in some parts of the garden you couldn’t even move without having to fend off a jungle of selfie sticks.
If you can, get to the gardens opening, get your coffee straight away and get all the photos you can before the buses come.
What should I wear to visit Keukenhof? Special shoes?
You don’t need special gear to visit Keukenhof gardens. The tulips are obviously in soil but you always walk along well kept, asphalt roads so you don’t need shoes with grip or anything like it.
What you will want to have in Keukenhof however is clothing that is appropriate for the season and in Holland this usually means layers.
While the spring can be dry, sunny and warm in Holland, it can also well be cold and windy.
For a trip to Keukenhof, plan to have ready both sunscreen and a warm jacket: you will not know exactly what you get until the night, before, this is how unpredictable Dutch weather is!
Can I pick tulips in Keukenhof?
Keukenhof is a garden with curated flower displays and picking tulips is not allowed.
However, you can buy tulips in Keukenhof and you will have no difficulties finding shops and selling spots in the gardens.
If you want to pick tulips, you can do so in many of the commercial flower fields in the area (the area between Hillegom and Lisse has many)
Are there restaurants in Keukenhof, shall I bring a picnic?
Keuknehof has several cafes as well as picnic areas. The cafes also offer toilet facilities and shops but lines can be very long so a picnic is a good idea.
Just outside the gardens we saw a fun school bus converted into a fries van so you can also mix home food with a bit of a treat bought on site!
Is there anything in Keukenhof for kids?
Keukenhof is lovely to visit with children and very well equipped for them. Visiting the flower garden is super easy with children as the gardens are car and bike free and stroller friendly and you also have specific areas for kids.
Just beside the Oranje Nassau pavilion you have a really nice large playground made with wooden climbing frames /jungle gym, a petting zoo and a maze and you can also get a fun and free scavenger hunt for kids at the gardens main entrance.
I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Keukenhof and this lovely garden: Keukenhof, see you next spring!
I hope you enjoyed this article with my tips for visiting Keukenhof and it helped answer your questions about how to see the Dutch tulips in this famous garden!