The Netherlands is well-known by many things: delicious cheese, flat fields, tall people, beautiful canals, windmills and, of course, tulips. When it comes to tulips, there is nothing more impressive than Keukenhof, the most famous tulip park in the Netherlands and the world.
Keukenhof opens its door in a different day every year. In 2020, Keukenhof will be open from March 21st until May 10th, from 8am until 7:30pm. It is less busy on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesdays. The best time to go is every day before 10:30am and after 4pm if you want to avoid the crowds.
The opening dates of Keukenhof vary every year, according to the expected blooming period. The light of the morning and evening sun allows you to take wonderful photograph, but it is also interesting to avoid the waves of tourists who would make taking a photo of tulips without any person a very hard mission.
Keukenhof: Tulip Paradise
Keukenhof, also known as the Garden of Europe, is one of the world’s largest flower gardens, located in the town of Lisse, in the South of Amsterdam. Every spring, over 7 million bulbs will bloom with a total of 800 varieties of tulips: hyacinths, daffodils, lilies, roses, carnations and irises.
The bulb planting starts in October and is usually completed by December 5th, around Sinterklaas, the Dutch Christmas. The flowerbeds are designed to take into account different flowering times of the bulbs but also to ensure a constant floral bloom throughout the duration of parks 8-week opening and according to the expected blooming period, the park changes its opening time.If you happen to be in the Netherlands when this park is open, it is a must to visit it. Keukenhof is not only a tulip garden but an amazing theme park and almost a museum that instead of canvas, it has fields.
If you are wondering when it is the best time to visit Keukenhof because you are worried about the flowers not being in their full glory during your visit, don’t worry. The part is open during an accurately calculated amount of days making sure that all the bulbs are in bloom. This is why the opening dates vary every single year, this year Keukenhof opens from the 21st of March until the 10th of May, from 8am until 7:30pm.
What if you want to go to Keukenhof to take photos? And what if you want to avoid crowds? What if you want to avoid queueing at the entrance or at the airport? Well, I have had the experience of going to Keukenhof a couple of times, so here there are some tips for making your visit a little bit more pleasant.
What is the best time to go if you want to avoid crowds?
First of all, you are always going to find tourists. All in all, the park is only open 8 weeks in the whole year and it is the biggest and one of the most beautiful gardens in the whole world. People come from all over the globe just to see the Netherlands in bloom, and Keukenhof is a must.
The best time to visit Keukenhof and avoid the waves of tourists is during the off-peak hours. The off-peak hours are before 10:30 am and after 4 pm. According to the website of Keukenhof, they recommend you avoiding national holidays and weekends if you want to avoid crowds.
If you want to avoid queuing at the Keukenhof bus in Amsterdam Centraal or Schiphol stops, you can always go by car or by bike, keep reading for more information about it.
If you want to avoid queuing at the entrance of the park, you can always book your ticket online for the day you are willing to visit, no matter the time, in the official website.
What is the Best Time to go if you Want to Take Great Pictures?
Let’s face it, taking photos in Keukenhof (and any other theme park or famous attraction in Amsterdam) without any tourists hand, head or selfie stick in the middle is a hard task. If you are patient and good at taking photos, you will manage to get some amazing ones in Keukenhof.
The first day I went there I was trying on my new camera and I have to admit, even though I went there during peak hour, I managed. Going off peak hours is the best tip to avoid taking photos of people instead of tulips.
In the Dutch spring months the sunrise is around 7am and the sunset at around 8pm. This means that you can easily go off-peak hours and still enjoy of some daylight to take photos. Since the park closes at 7:30pm you can go at the end of the day and make some magical photos by the little rivers and between the tree leaves at the Golden Hour. I would strongly recommend it.
Is Keukenhof Good for Children?
Keukenhof is definitely a good place for the whole family, for people of all ages. I remember seeing a lot of children when I was there in the weekend. This is possible because it is not like a botanical garden or just tulip fields, but a proper theme park, all constructed with tulips, but including attractions, restaurants, games and more.
Keukenhof offers guided visits for schools but also a couple of cool activities for children. In their website they inform about the treasure hunting instructions to follow when visiting the park and there are some free painting sheets to download.
Do All Flowers Bloom at the Same Time?
The 2 months restricted entrance period means that Keukenhof park can only be ready for that exact period of time. This means less time to visit it and more people coming all together, but it also means that all the flowers are carefully synchronise to bloom at the same time so every visitor can expect to see the best of Keukenhof.
The crocuses, daffodils, hyacinths and early tulips flower at the start of the season. Other flowers bloom later in the season such as the (larger) tulips. Several layers of bulbs are planted every October so that at all times the fields are in bloom.
If you are interested to know more, there are up-to-the-minute updated of Keukenhof flowering reports here, updated during the opening season. But you can also follow them on their Facebook page.
How Much Does it Cost?
Prices vary depending of your preference, transportation or entrance, etc. Here you have the information provided in the official website. If you are planning on staying at a hotel in Amsterdam, you can always ask them for more information and if they have discounts to the park, since most hotels have good deals. You can also ask for information at any Tourist and Tickets office. Prices are:
|Adult Online||17,50 euros|
|Adult Entrance Park||19,00 euros|
|Children (4-17)||9 euros|
|Groups (>20 people) online||15,75 euros|
|Groups (>20 people) ticket office||17,00 euros|
|School children (4 – 17) >10 children||6,00 euros|
|Car parking||6,00 euros|
|Park guide||5,00 euros|
|ENTRANCE + BUS|
|Amsterdam (Schiphol), Haarlem, Leiden, Hoofddorp, Noordwijk||27,00 euros|
|Amsterdam (CS), Amsterdam (RAI)||33,00 euros|
|Children (4-11)||14,00 euros|
How to Get There
Due to its big extension, Keukenhof is relatively far away from big cities. The closest big city is Amsterdam, which makes it very easy to go if you happen to be visiting the capital of the Netherlands. There are many ways you can reach the park but I personally prefer going to Schiphol and from there taking the Keukenhof Express (even better if you pre-booked your ticket). Check your options:
Combi-ticket: when buying your ticket to Keukenhof, either in their website or any other place where they offer it, you will be able to choose the combination ticket for the entrance and transportation to get to the park. There will be busses in specific locations to bring all the visitors directly to the park. The spots are well-market with tulips and posters. You can tale the Direct Keukenhof Express Bus from:
- Schiphol airport (the closest spot to Keukenhof)
- Amsterdam Centraal Station
- Amsterdam RAI Metro Station (Europaplein)
- Haarlem CS ( also Bus 50 pass Keukenhof)
- Leiden CS
- Hooftdorp CS
- Noordwijk CS (also Bus 90 goes to Keukenhof)
By bus (1): from Amsterdam Conexxion Bus 397 direction Schiphol Airport and from there get the Keukenhof Express just buying the ticket on the spot (queues are shorter for those who already have a ticket than for those who have to buy it). You can take it from Leidseplein, Rijksmuseum, Museumplein and all the stops of the 397.
By bus (2): Same bus Conexxion 397 but direction Hoofddorp Station and from there taking the 859 to Keukenhof, also with combi-ticket or just buying it separately.
By bus (3): from Amsterdam-Zuid Station you can take the bus 341
By bus (4): in Amstelveen Bus Station you can take the bus 300 to go to Hoofddorp Station and from there also the bus 859 to Keukenhof.
Train: if you are going by train, the best option is coming directly to Schiphol airport and from there take the Keukenhof express. There is no way to reach the park directly by train since it is in the middle of the green area of the Randstad.
By car: Keukenhof is located between Amsterdam and The Hague, therefore, it is easily accessible via highway A4 (exit Nieuw-Vennep) and A44 (exit 3, Lisse). You can park your car there for 6 euros. They also have electric car charging stations in the park and you can ask for more information when you arrive there.
By bike: There are bicycle parking facilities at both entrances to the park. You can park your bicycle or moped there for free. You can easily rent a bike in Leiden, Den Haag or Amsterdam and cycle there, which would take you approximately 2 hours from Amsterdam and 1 from Leiden.
The advantage of cycling to Keukenhof is that besides enjoying the beauty of the park, you will be able to see the beautiful fields of bulbs in bloom by the canals. Inside Keukenhof there are no big fields of tulips, these are in the proximities. If you want to take photos of them or walk around them, going by bike is definitely your best option. The only other option to see them is take a cruise inside Keukenhof that would bring you around the fields and windmills, but cycling is much more of a Dutch experience to do while in the Netherlands.
Tulips Outside of Keukenhof
If you want to see more tulips after your visit to Keukenhof, or you just happen to be unable to go there, being in the Netherlands during spring means tulips everywhere you go. You can enjoy them in the streets of Amsterdam, in parks, parades and more. Check all the places where you will be able to find them:
Floating Flower Market
This unique floating market exists since 1862. The flower stalls stand on houseboats in the middle of the Singel canal. You can visit all year round but only during the spring time will you be able to find loads of tulips there. It is easily accessible if you are visiting Amsterdam: it opens from Monday to Saturday from 9AM to 5:30PM and on Sundays from 11AM until 5:30PM. If you want to know more about what you can find in the market and when it is best to visit it, here there is an article for you.
The Tulipmania is real, since the Golden Ages Dutch have loved these flowers. It is not only a touristic thing but a pride and common habit for Dutch citizens. The city of Amsterdam has plenty of them during the tulip festival, which also happens during spring. In commemoration to this day, thousands of tulips of many different varieties are planted in big pots in the middle of the city.
Look in the fountain on Museumplein, alongside the roads on Van der Pekstraat in Noord-Amsterdam, the wharf outside the Eye film museum and NEMO, the Science Museum. Around 30,000 bulbs have been planted in beds near the Maritime Museum and 25,000 more at the Rijksmuseum, inside the fountains and all around the square.
The Tulip Festival is a free exhibition of the beauty of the Netherlands, tulips. You can always book a tour to have somebody explain you the origin of the tulips, the varieties and bringing you around the city to find all the hidden spots where pots have been distributed. You can do it on your own, downloading an app and reading about it. Read more about it in their website.
Dutch Flower Parade
April is a great month to be in the Netherlands. On the one hand, it is a great experience to be in the country for the day of the King and all the celebrations that comes with it on the 27th of April (Koningsdag). It is also worth it, if you like flowers. One of the best events of the season is the Tulip Parade, the biggest flower parade of Europe.
The flower parade will ride from the seaside resort of Noordwijk on Saturday 25 April 2020 via the flower fields near Lisse (passing close to Keukenhof) to end at the historic city of Haarlem. The route is in total more than 42 km long and it lasts 12 hours. It is free and fun for all ages, a much recommended experience and a great combination with Keukenhof on the same day.
You can also go see how they construct the floats while the volunteers construct them. Read here for more information about it.
As I was mention in the going by bike section, you will be able to see them all around Keukenhof and mostly in the province of South Holland. In the area around Hoofddorp, there are hundreds of these flowers in bloom from the month go March until the beginning of May when it starts getting too warm for the poor tulips to stay alive.
There are flowers in bloom during the whole season because each of the bulbs bloom at a different time, which means that you will be able to see hyacinths first, the tulips and so on. The best option to enjoy this is by bike: renting a bike in Leiden or Amsterdam is a great option, within an hour or two you will be by the tulip fields, it is a free experience and the best way to get amazing photos of the fields, walk between them and so on.
The Tulip fields are called Tulip Farms. In these farms you can get some extra information about the fields, have some lunch or coffee, get some tulips to get home with you, workshops, tours, information about the fields and the state of the flowers and more. The most famous ones to visit around Amsterdam are:
- Tulip Farm De Tulperij in Voorhout (close to Keukenhof) read more about them in their website.
- FAM Flower Farm (also close to Keukenhof): for more information you can check their website or contact them here.