My favorite time of year is spring. The long winter months are finally over, the trees are beginning to come to life, and it’s almost my birthday! So while I may be the only person to get that excited about my birthday, spring is such an incredible time because it’s like the world is getting a new chance at life. I especially love looking at the flowers in the spring. Also, did I mention my birthday?
Every spring, the flowers in the Netherlands come to life in a display that isn’t paralleled anywhere else. The Keukenhof garden just outside of Amsterdam holds massive displays of beautiful flowers. Acres and acres of meticulously manicured flowerbeds stretch into the Dutch countryside. It’s an incredible attraction that draws crowds from all over the world. Don’t believe me? Check out some of these pictures from last year…
When to Go to the Keukenhof
The Keukenhof is only open for a few weeks out of the year, which adds to its exclusivity. This year, it opens on March 23rd and is open until the 21st of May. I visited last year for the first time and was blown away by how much attention to detail had been put into every single flower bulb. I had built up the Keukenhof in my mind for many years and it fortunately lived up to my own expectations.
My trip was the first week of April, only a little over one week since the gardens had opened for the season. I didn’t want to go so early but it was the only time that worked with my schedule. There were lots of flowers all over the place, but very few tulips. Unfortunately, I was there a few weeks before the tulips opened up but I was able to see a different array of flowers that would be dead by the time the tulips opened.
Conversely, my parents visited the Keukenhof a couple of weeks after me and hit the tulips at the perfect time. The weather had warmed up a little bit and there were even more flowers than when I was there.
Use your own personal discretion when deciding what time to travel to the Keukenhof. Whether or not there has been a cold or rainy season can affect the flowers and that’s something to take into consideration. My personal recommendation is to go around mid-April because most of the flowers will be blooming and they won’t start dying off quite yet. But if your schedule only allows for a certain window of time, STILL GO!
For those of you who aren’t able to travel to the Keukenhof while it is open, there is still hope for you to admire some of the flowers that make the Netherlands famous. The Aalsmeer Flower Auction is held year round and offers visitors an opportunity to see another spectrum of the Dutch flower market. For more information on it, visit my previous article here.
How to Get to the Keukenhof
Navigating your way from Amsterdam to the Keukenhof is very simple… once you know what you’re looking for. I had to ask a tour guide at Amsterdam Centraal Station but she told me it was very easy, and it was! I maybe looked like the dumb American but at least I got there.
It depends where you want to start your trip to the Keukenhof. For many people, it is easiest to begin at Amsterdam Centraal and take a train to Schiphol Airport. I took this route because I had a Eurail pass and it was cheaper to travel to the airport on my own and buy the Keukenhof tickets there.
Tickets are 16 Euros for adults and 8 Euros for children. They can be purchased online or at Schiphol or the entrance to the Keukenhof.
If you’re beginning in the actual city of Amsterdam, you can choose to leave from a number of bus stops. I found the instructions to be slightly confusing so I asked a woman at the Centraal tourist information desk. She was extremely helpful and made me realize that I had just been overthinking everything. I’m sure you’ll find it much better and the Keukenhof website outlines the different stops and routes HERE.
Once you arrive at Schiphol, head outside to the IAMsterdam sign. If you arrive early enough in the day, there won’t be many tourists and you can have the sign virtually to yourself. From the sign, head to the right and look for things boldly screaming “KEUKENHOF” on them. There will likely be a huge sign like below or a big bus that is covered in flowers. It’ll be hard to miss and there will also be a ticket kiosk that has tickets for the bus ride and the admission fee. The busses take you directly to the entrance of the Keukenhof and return you back to Schiphol all day.
There really isn’t a need to rent a car in the Netherlands. Everything is connected by train (or bicycle) and local transportation is extremely reliable. But if you do decide to travel to the Keukenhof by car, the address is
Stationsweg 166A, 2161 AM Lisse, Netherlands
Further details on how to travel to the Keukenhof by car can be found HERE on the Keukenhof website.
Flying from Anywhere Else
Traveling to the Keukenhof from anywhere in the world is easy and convenient thanks to the modern conveniences of travel search engines. My favorite one is Skyscanner, because you can choose search from your base airport and use the “everywhere” search to find the cheapest way to get there. Skyscanner also includes a price map so that by moving around the dates of travel slightly, you can obtain a much cheaper deal.
Is the Keukenhof Just Staring at Flowers?
Everyone I have shown Keukenhof pictures to loves it and wants to visit, but they all voice the same concern: do I just have to look at flowers all day?
If you want to, you can definitely look at flowers all day. However, there are many other things to do than just eat food and smell the flowers (get it… smell the flowers?). My favorite unexpected thing was the petting farm. I stumbled upon it by accident and was able to go cuddle a llama and baby goats. That was the highlight of my visit, hands down.
The Keukenhof also hosts a variety of events throughout the season. Some of these events are parades, flower markets, and Holland heritage. I wasn’t able to experience any of the events but I didn’t feel as though I missed out on anything. There are many flower shows and the Keukenhof even has the world’s largest lily show!
In case the Keukenhof didn’t feel like it was traditional Dutch enough for you, there’s also a full-sized windmill that visitors can climb inside. The view from the back balcony of the windmill is perfect for getting a birds-eye view of the tulip fields! It also makes for a great backdrop and looks quintessentially Dutch.
Each year, the Keukenhof has a different theme. Last year’s theme was The Golden Age and celebrated the Netherlands throughout the years. Huge Dutch ships were created out of nothing but flowers and there was a platform to see it on. This year’s theme is Dutch Design. No additional information has been released on the nature of the design but I expect there to be multiple grand displays of Dutch design.
There are also climate-controlled buildings holding many rare varieties of flowers for those who want to see more than just the regular tulips and displays. You can even purchase a tulip and have it dedicated (my parents did one in honor of me being MIA). My favorite part was admiring the rare flowers, especially the one that was a beautiful black. It was almost as dark as my soul…
Tips For The Best Keukenhof Visit
When I arrived at the Keukenhof via a bus with 30 other tourists, I tried to get away from the crowd. It wasn’t easy, but as soon as I entered the gate, I headed to the left side of the gardens as everyone else went to the right. By doing that, I had part of the gardens to myself for a little bit and was able to take better pictures without obnoxious tourists.
Be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes! The grounds are over 79 acres and that equals a ton of walking. I saw one girl doing it in heels. I then saw her a little bit later carrying her heels. Don’t be that girl. Wear comfortable shoes because you’ll be on your feet for most of the day.
Another tip is to snack there! The Keukenhof is full of little shops and stands that sell authentic Dutch treats. I ate enough Stroopwafels and Poffertjies to put myself into a coma. I regret nothing. A bonus is that you can admire the gorgeous flowers while eating. It’s honestly better than a five star restaurant. However, it’s not the cheapest to eat a full-blown meal there, but definitely take advantage of the Dutch goodies.
The Keukenhof is so expansive that there is something new to see around every turn. Even if you can’t make it to see the Keukenhof this year, enjoy looking at these pictures to hopefully inspire your garden wanderlust!