Enjoy the greatest flower show on earth with this essential guide to visiting Keukenhof Gardens in 2023.
Do you have a favourite flower?
If like me, you love tulips, you will be enchanted by visiting the Keukenhof Gardens. This magical flower show is an easy day trip from Amsterdam and other major Dutch cities.
Keukenhof is one of the Netherlands’ most popular tourist attractions. During the eight weeks that it is open each year, it attracts close to one million visitors.
I visited Keukenhof on a glorious day in April 2019. These essential tips for visiting Keukenhof Gardens as a day trip from Amsterdam, Leiden or Haarlem and what to expect are based on this first-hand experience.
This article is updated on a yearly basis to reflect current information.
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Don’t be hostage to fortune! Keukenhof is hugely popular and tickets are snapped up as soon as they go on sale. Book your skip-the-line ticket here.
In 2023, Keukenhof Gardens are open from March 23rd until May 14th.
What are the Keukenhof Gardens?
Spread over an area of 32 hectares, Keukenhof is known as The Garden of Europe.
Established in 1949 as a showcase for Holland’s cut-flower industry, from mid-March to mid-May the gardens display the results of approximately 7 million flower bulbs planted there each year.
The gardens themselves date back to the 15th Century when the land that Keukenhof now occupies belonged to Teylingen Castle. The lady of the house, Countess van Beleren, added a small garden from which this site owes its name. Keukenhof means ‘kitchen courtyard’.
Where are the Keukenhof Gardens?
Keukenhof Gardens are located in the heart of southern Holland’s flower bulb region in Lisse, a small town between Amsterdam and Den Haag (The Hague).
Plan Your Visit to Keukenhof Gardens in 2023
Let’s start by taking a look at the essential information you need to plan the perfect day in these tulip and flower gardens near Amsterdam. This includes the opening times of Keukenhof, how to get there and the best times to visit.
Keukenhof Gardens Opening Hours & Tickets, 2023
In 2023, Keukenhof Gardens is open from March 23 until May 14. The opening hours are from 08:00 to 19:30.
In 2023, the adult entrance ticket for Keukenhof Gardens costs €19 if purchased online from the gardens’ website (link here). If you buy your ticket on arrival, the admission cost is €21.50.
Tickets can be cancelled up to four days before arrival at a cost of €2.50 per booking. You can also modify the date or timeslot up to four days prior to arrival, subject to availability.
Children under the age of four go free. Those aged between 4 and 17 pay €9.
How to Get to Keukenhof Gardens
There are three options for getting to Keukenhof Gardens: by bus, on an organised tour or by car.
Although Keukenhof is an easy day trip from Amsterdam or Haarlem, I recommend staying in Leiden. Not only is it a short, direct bus journey to the gardens from here, but Leiden is also an often-overlooked, charming university city.
READ THIS NEXT: Ultimate Guide to Leiden, Netherlands
1. Getting to Keukenhof Gardens by bus
If you don’t have a car, it is easy to reach Keukenhof Gardens by public transport with regular bus services from Amsterdam, Schipol Airport and Leiden, amongst others.
I recommend buying a Combiticket, which bundles your bus transfer and Keukenhof entrance ticket. These Combitickets are available from the Keukenhof’s website from mid-February (check here).
2. Visiting Keukenhof Gardens on an organised tour
If you want someone to take care of all the arrangements for you, or wish to combine visiting Keukenhof with another attraction, an organised tour is a good option. This may also be a useful standby if tickets are sold out for the day that you wish to visit.
3. By car
It will cost you €6 to park your car. You need to pre-purchase your parking token at the same time as your admission ticket.
There are a small number of charging stations for electric cars near the main entrance to Keukenhof’s car park.
How to visit Keukenhof Gardens as a day trip from Leiden
This is how I visited Keukenhof which was super easy. You simply catch the frequent Express Bus 854 from Leiden Centraal Station. The journey time is 25 minutes.
You can buy your Combiticket which includes your skip-the-line entrance ticket for Keukenhof from the official website here.
How to visit Keukenhof Gardens as a day trip from Amsterdam
The easiest option for visiting Keukenhof Gardens from Amsterdam is to buy a Combiticket (check the price here). This includes skip-the-line admission to Keukenhof and your transfer from Amsterdam.
Although you can travel to Keukenhof from Amsterdam on public transport, you will need to take the metro to Europaplein (RAI) from where you can catch bus line 852. Alternatively, jump on bus 858 at Schipol.
Another option is to visit Keukenhof on an organised excursion from Amsterdam. Here are a few that will fit the bill:
Keukenhof Gardens & Tulip Experience from Amsterdam
All transfers and tickets are included on this six-hour trip which also includes the Amsterdam Tulip Experience and an optional canal cruise.
>>> CHECK PRICES HERE
Keukenhof & Windmill Village Guided Tour from Amsterdam
This highly-rated full-day tour also includes a clog-making demonstration, cheese tasting and an optional Amsterdam canal cruise. All transfers and tickets are included.
>>> CHECK PRICES HERE
By car, it will take you less than 30 minutes to drive to Keukenhof.
How to visit Keukenhof Gardens as a day trip from Haarlem
Cosy and picturesque Haarlem is quintessentially Dutch and a mere 20 – 30 minutes from Schipol. It makes a great base for your Netherlands trip.
Two buses serve Keukenhof from Haarlem Central Station: the Express Bus 850 (25-minute journey time) and the regular bus 50 (40 – 50 minutes journey time). Both run twice an hour.
You can buy your Combiticket which includes bus 850 + your skip-the-line entrance ticket for Keukenhof from the official website here.
How to visit Keukenhof Gardens as a day trip from Rotterdam
Rotterdam is one of my favourite Dutch cities. It’s a stimulating urban showcase of architectural experimentation, its wildly creative structures sitting cheek-by-jowl with the city’s surviving historic buildings.
Although visiting Keukenhof Gardens as a day trip from Rotterdam is not as easy as from other Dutch cities, it is still perfectly doable. Simply take a train to Leiden Centraal, from where you can pick up the Express Bus 854.
When is the Best Time to Visit Keukenhof Gardens?
You can visit Keukenhof Gardens throughout the season.
If possible, try to visit in late April or early May, when the flowers are usually at their peak, including the larger tulips. But when I visited at the start of the season, crocuses, daffodils, hyacinths and early tulips were in bloom.
The pavilions are open throughout the season.
If you dislike crowds, visit Keukenhof at the beginning of the week (Mon-Weds). At the weekends, especially on the Flower Parade Day, and on public holidays visitor numbers swell.
How Long Do You Need to Visit Keukenhof?
Allow at least a half-day to visit the Keukenhof Gardens.
I spent an easy four hours there and it was the swelling crowds that eventually persuaded me to leave.
Essential Tips for Visiting Keukenhof Gardens in 2023
1. Buy your ticket online in advance
This is my top tip for visiting Keukenhof Gardens.
Don’t be a hostage to fortune and risk arriving at the ticket office only to discover that they have sold out for that day. But even if availability is good, do you really want to spend precious time queuing for a ticket?
Less time waiting, more time looking at the flowers.
>>> CLICK HERE TO BUY YOUR SKIP-THE-LINE TICKET FOR KEUKENHOF GARDENS
2. Get to Keukenhof early to avoid the crowds
Keukenhof opens at 8 am. When I arrived shortly before 9 am it wasn’t too busy. Two hours later, it was heaving.
Alternatively, visit in the latter half of the day.
A bonus of visiting at either end of the day is that the light is optimal for photographing those wonderful flowers.
3. Pick up a map of the gardens at the entrance
Make sure that you grab one of the free fold-out maps when you arrive. This will help you navigate these massive gardens and locate the facilities, including toilets.
Alternatively, you can download a map as a pdf file before you visit for free here.
4. Organise your time wisely
If you would like to take the optional canal cruise to see the tulip fields, book this on arrival. When I got off the boat shortly before 11 am the queue was massive.
The same applies to climbing Keukenhof’s windmill and to strolling around popular areas such as the lake.
5. Keep track of the flower reports
If you have your heart set on seeing Holland’s tulip fields in full bloom, check the status before you visit. Tulips bloom at different times each year.
Subscribe to a weekly flower update here.
6. Dress for the occasion
This is an extensive park so it almost goes without saying that you should wear your comfiest shoes. Dress for comfort, not for glamour Instagram shoots.
As it can be chilly during the opening months of Keukenhof, bring layers to keep the cold at bay.
7. Take advantage of the other (free) facilities
Keukenhof has a number of free perks available to visitors, notably WiFi and luggage storage.
8. Join in the festivities at the Flower Parade
This one-day annual event is the highlight of the Keukenhof season.
More than a million people line the streets between Noordwijk and Lisse to wave at floats laden with displays of spring flowers. One of the best spots to see the Flower Parade is Keukenhof Boulevard, the road in front of the Keukenhof Gardens.
In 2023, The Flower Parade will take place on Saturday 22 April. You can find more information here.
This is the one day when it is essential to book your ticket for Keukenhof well in advance.
Highlights of Keukenhof Gardens (don’t miss these!)
Broadly speaking, there are two elements to Keukenhof: the flower beds and the pavilions.
The flower beds
Prepare yourself for complete sensual immersion.
Be mesmerised by over 800 varieties of tulips arranged in contrasting and intricate patterns.
My favourite display was a river of hyacinths cascading through woodland, their sweet smell carried on the breeze.
Images can illustrate this far better than any words. Just add birdsong.
The pavilions (& Keukenhof themes)
Keukenhof’s pavilions house the flower shows where the growers present their prize blooms and flower arrangers demonstrate their craft. These flower displays change as the season progresses.
Each year, Keukenhof Gardens has a theme. Past themes have included Holland (2014), Van Gogh (2015) and The Golden Age (2016).
When I visited in 2019, the Keukenhof Gardens’ theme was Flower Power. Tulips draped around vintage vehicles; dream catchers festooned with hyacinths, dangling from the pavilion’s ceiling; displays of daffodils gracing an altar to John Lennon.
In 2022, the Keukenhof theme was Flower Classics. The theme for 2023, the 74th opening of the gardens at Keukenhof, is yet to be announced.
Climb the Keukenhof windmill for bird’s eye views of the gardens and the Lisse tulip fields.
This lake with its gushing fountain and islet inhabited by swans and ducks is one of the most beautiful areas of Keukenhof Gardens. Be warned; it is also one of the busiest areas of the gardens.
Keukenhof is filled with sculptures and other works of art. The White Horse, one of the better-known artworks, has been in Keukenhof since 1952.
Other activities at Keukenhof
Keukenhof is also home to a children’s play area and a petting zoo, complete with a strutting peacock.
And if you are inspired by your visit to Keukenhof Gardens, you can purchase tulip bulbs to recreate the look back home. Just make sure that you are allowed to bring these back with you.
Eating & Drinking at Keukenhof
Cafes and restaurants are plentiful and reasonably priced. But if you are able to bring your own refreshments, Keukenhof is a perfect place for a picnic.
I did feel a slight twinge of envy when I passed a group of visitors pouring themselves glasses of the fizzy stuff from their picnic hamper.
For a bigger selection of restaurants and a choice of supermarkets, Lisse is a 15-20 minute walk.
Visiting the Lisse Tulip Fields from Keukenhof Gardens
In my view, visiting the Dutch tulip fields is a must-do. If you don’t have your own car, there are three ways of doing this.
Cycle through the tulip fields
This is the quintessential Dutch experience.
You can rent bikes at the main entrance to Keukenhof. At popular times bikes can be in short supply. Therefore, if you have your heart set on cycling through the tulip fields, reserve a bike online before you arrive.
The rental company also provides suggested cycling routes from 5km to 25km which will take you as far as the sea.
Alternatively, for a fun experience, join a small group tour on a guided bike ride. In addition to benefiting from the guide’s knowledge, there’s a chance to pick your own tulips and try typical Dutch food and sweets.
>>> CLICK HERE TO BOOK YOUR TOUR
Visit the tulip fields by electric car
More of a golf buggy and less of a car, driving a two-person Renault ‘Twizzy’ is a fun way to view the tulip fields.
These cars use GPS navigation to drive a 22 km fixed route through the tulip fields and an audio guide in Dutch, English and German is also available. They are rented out for two-hour slots.
The starting point is Meer en Duin 36 in Lisse, just under 1 km from the entrance to Keukenhof.
>>> CLICK HERE TO RESERVE YOUR TIME SLOT
Take the Keukenhof canal cruise
Although the cheapest option, this 45-minute cruise is not necessarily the best. An electrically powered ‘whisper boat’ glides past the tulip field adjacent to Keukenhof, accompanied by a crackling commentary.
Although relaxing, your view of the tulip fields is restricted as these are either at or below eye level.
Are Keukenhof Gardens Worth it?
As one of the world’s most spectacular gardens, Keukenhof is worth visiting. However, whilst I could have happily spent the best part of a day there, I was driven home by the crowds.
And therein lies the problem. For excellent reasons, Keukenhof is a very touristy destination, popular with tour groups and with individuals on day trips from the main Dutch tourist hubs.
To give yourself a fighting chance of avoiding the worst of the crowds, aim to arrive as early as possible and avoid visiting Keukenhof at the weekend
Planning your Trip to The Netherlands
Getting your hands on a good guidebook to help you to plan your trip to The Netherlands and explore the country whilst you are there, is a smart move. I highly recommend the excellent Rick Steves Amsterdam & Netherlands, which was my constant companion during my visit.
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