Enjoy the greatest flower show on earth with this essential guide to visiting Keukenhof Gardens, Netherlands.
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 deservedly one of the country’s most popular tourist attractions. During the eight weeks that it is open each year, it attracts close to one million visitors.
Here’s all you need to know about visiting Keukenhof Gardens as a day trip from Amsterdam, Leiden or Haarlem and what to expect from your visit.
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Plan Your Visit to Keukenhof Gardens
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).
What dates are the Keukenhof Gardens open in 2023?
In 2023, Keukenhof Gardens will be open from March 23 until May 14. The opening hours are from 8:00 to 19:30.
How much does it cost to visit Keukenhof Gardens?
In 2022, the adult entrance ticket for Keukenhof Gardens cost €18.50.
When is the best time to visit Keukenhof Gardens?
If you can, try to visit in late April or early May, when the flowers are usually at their peak, avoiding weekends and public holidays.
The beginning of the week (Mon-Weds) tends to be quieter.
How long do people spend at 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.
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 Rotterdam, 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
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, Leiden, Hoofddorp, Haarlem and Region Bollenstreek. If you are travelling to Keukenhof from Amsterdam you will need to change bus at Hoofdorp.
I recommend buying a Combiticket, which bundles your bus transfer and Keukenhof entrance ticket.
Head over to Keukenhof’s website to check transport options and buy tickets.
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.
Here are a few options that will fit the bill:
Half-Day Tour to Keukenhof from Amsterdam
This includes your transfer from Amsterdam, a tour of the Lisse tulip fields and your admission to Keukenhof.
>>> CLICK HERE TO BOOK YOUR TOUR
Full-day tour of Keukenhof & Zaanse Schans from Amsterdam
Combine a visit to Keukenhof with other Dutch icons: cheese and clogs at the windmill village Zaanse Schans. The day ends with a river cruise in Amsterdam or a 5D flight experience.
> CLICK HERE TO BOOK YOUR TOUR
Day Tour to Keukenhof from Rotterdam
This includes your transfer from Rotterdam, a tour of the Lisse tulip fields and your admission to Keukenhof.
>>> CLICK HERE TO BOOK YOUR TOUR
DID YOU KNOW?
If you want to budget for your trip, you can buy a GetYourGuide gift card in advance, which is valid up to 3 years from the date of purchase. It is also a super useful travel gift for the frequent flier in your life!
GetYourGuide is my go-to online marketplace for tour guides and excursions, which I have used on more than one occasion. What I like is that it is a one-stop-shop to compare and book things to do and that it offers free cancellation on all its activities.
It will cost you €6 to park your car.
Essential Tips for Visiting Keukenhof Gardens in 2022
1. Buy your ticket online in advance
Advance online purchase is essential in 2022. But in better times, less time queuing, more time looking at the flowers.
>>> CLICK HERE TO BUY YOUR TICKET FOR KEUKENHOF GARDENS
2. Get there early to avoid the crowds
Keukenhof opens at 8 am.
When I arrived shortly before 9 am it wasn’t too busy, and this was at the start of the Easter weekend. Two hours later, it was heaving.
Alternatively, visit in the latter half of the day.
3. Pick up a map of the gardens at the entrance
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, courtesy of Tulips in Holland.
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 is Flower Classics.
Climb the Keukenhof windmill for bird’s eye views of the gardens and the Lisse tulip fields.
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.
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.
Renting a bike costs as little as €10 for three hours or €15 for a full day. The rental company also provide 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 to 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
The cheapest option at €9 for a 45-minute cruise, but 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.
Visitor numbers in 2022 will be reduced through restrictions imposed by the coronavirus pandemic, which should make for a more comfortable visit. But 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 to 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.