Every year, the Garden of Europe is open to the general public for any blissful period of just eight weeks. Easy to reach like a excursion from Amsterdam, Leiden, or Haarlem, Keukenhof is really a celebration of colour and all things floral-related. Filled with flowers like tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths, here’s your guide on how to visit Keukenhof, including insider tips and things to know before you go!
Editor’s note: Though there are a multitude of things to know before visiting Keukenhof, if you’re simply looking that ticket to buy, then be sure to buy this skip-the-line ticket ahead of time and save precious exploration time once at the gardens. Otherwise, if you’re seeking to see the gardens as a excursion from Amsterdam, then buy this ticket with transfer option.
I personally visited Keukenhof (aka among the largest gardens in the world) at the begining of April 2020 and thus this honest review comes from that visit! To create the scene: it had been just a glorious day and I’d spent the night time before at a hotel within the nearby capital of scotland- Lisse. When I walked in the front gate (there’s also an additional entrance for the back from the garden), I knew I had been somewhere special.
After all, it’s not every day that you’re greeted using the sight of a large number of flowers! In the traditional Dutch tulip to sweet-scented hyacinths, the sunny daffodil, the rarer amaryllis and even a pavilion that merely houses the widest collection of orchid varieties you’re ever likely to admire, there’s something for every botanist enthusiast when it comes to Keukenhof.
What is Keukenhof where is the garden located?
Contrary as to the you may well think, Keukenhof is not located in the middle of nowhere. Instead, the world-famous flower gardens are available around the fringes of Lisse, the suburbs within the Dutch countryside that doesn’t even have a train station! Instead, the little money is with a bus station and may easily be reached in the cities of Leiden or Haarlem.
The gardens are available within the region of Duin- en Bollenstreek, in South Holland. The name is literally translated as ‘dune and bulb’ region on account of the stunning dunes such as those of Scheveningen and also the impressive tulip fields for example those surrounding Lisse. Other villages within the Bulb Region include Bennebroek, Heemstede, and Noordwijk.
This part of the Netherlands rose to prominence since the peaty soil in the region is ideal for growing flowers, especially, the tulip. Indeed, a number of this area of the Netherlands was reclaimed in the sea by way of polders. Once upon a time, the flat expansive landscape was once area of the seabed. Through water drainage and flood control methods, water was removed, abandoning rich and fertile soil.
A brief history of Keukenhof, the Garden of Europe
Though the tulip is as synonymous to the Netherlands today as cheese, clogs, stroopwafels or the colour orange, it wasn’t always by doing this. Something you may well not have known before is that tulips are not native towards the Netherlands.
They were actually first imported from Turkey throughout the 16th-century in a craze that came into existence referred to as ‘tulip mania’. At the moment, a tulip might cost over a house, even just in a town as expensive as Amsterdam! For more information concerning the history of tulips in the Netherlands today, you might think about a visit to the tulip museum in Amsterdam.
The name Keukenhof itself means ‘kitchen garden’ and the name derives in the fact that throughout the Dutch Golden Age, the region was used to develop herbs for Jacqueline, Countess of Hainaut who resided within the nearby Hainaut Castle. Prior to this period, the area was utilized as 15th-century hunting grounds. Now, the castle still stands and it is known as ‘Keukenhof Castle’.
The current garden was established in 1949. The then-mayor of Lisse desired to produce a space where growers in the Netherlands, Europe, and beyond could display and exhibit their wares (including hybrids) as well as further the export of flowers from the Netherlands. Now, holland is the largest exporter of flowers in the world!
Today, each year on the million people go to the garden, hoping to catch a peek at the beautiful tulips, floral displays, and flower-themed attractions. In 2020, the theme is ‘flower power,’ with a focus on how flowers can inspire and connect people. Many of the displays are 1970s-inspired which means you can expect to spy bright colours and hippie-themed exhibits.
Quirky and unique facts about Keukenhof
Since its opening, Keukenhof has witnessed close to an astounding 50 million visitors (that’s around the population of Colombia or South Korea)! Other equally fascinating statistics about Keukenhof bring that around 75% from the gardens’ visitors originate from away from Netherlands, with the majority from nearby countries such as France, Germany, and also the UK.
The millions of bulbs in the gardens have actually been supplied for free by around 100 bulb growers. For additional info on specific flower varieties and about the grower, there are little signs denoting the specific plant, along with the supplier. Each year, the Keukenhof gardens have a theme. Past themes have included Holland (in 2020), Romance and Flowers (in 2020), and Van Gogh (in 2020).
Finally, there are many dozen full-time gardeners who work at Keukenhof all year long ’round. The garden is not just about tulips (even though there are gone 800 varieties displayed!), but additionally includes several internationally-inspired gardens, including an English themed garden, a Japanese garden, a natural garden, and a meadow.
Highlights of the Keukenhof Gardens (and places you shouldn’t miss)
Thanks for an impressive 32 hectares of surface area and also over 7 million tulip bulbs (yes, you read that last Keukenhof fact correctly!), there’s an abundance of things to do in Keukenhof. And once in the gardens, it soon becomes clear why this website is among the favorite attractions within the Netherlands. In the end, from a windmill, meandering whisper boat rides, lots of covered pavilions, or even a maze, there’s something for everyone.
Keukenhof Molen (Windmill)
Located with an outer extremity from the park, if you’ve never explored inside of a Dutch windmill before, then now's your chance. The Keukenhof windmill overlooks the stunning Lisse tulip fields and could be climbed. Clamber up the steep steps to the peak viewing platform and you’ll be rewarded with bird’s eye views from the Keukenhof Gardens sprawling in front of you…
The Flower Parade
In 2020, the Flower Parade is on the 13th of April. Highlights of this one-day annual event include a floats made from flowers passing by from Noordwijk and ending in Lisse. If you can savor the parade from within the Keukenhof gardens, the floats can be enjoyed for free most of the villages on the way.
Instagram friendly displays
What was particularly pleasant about our excursion to Keukenhof was our ability to take as many photos as we liked without anyone really caring/ noticing. After all, everyone was visiting the gardens simply because they loved flowers and almost everyone I could see was documenting the day through a minimum of easy or two. Through the park, there are several ‘Insta-worthy’ displays. Some of my favourites included a wedding dress covered in flowers, in addition to a ‘love’ sign.
Take a Lisse/ Keukenhof Whisper Boat Tour
For an additional fee (of just below EUR10), it’s possible to take a forty-five-minute boat tour round the tulip fields surrounding Lisse. While you can purchase tickets ahead of time, it’s also possible to buy Keukenhof boat tickets in the little chalet beside the windmill.
Also of note and shut towards the Keukenhof Gardens may be the Keukenhof Castle. Constructed in 1642, the castle needs a different entrance ticket than the gardens which can be found here. Open on a daily basis, you'll find more details about visiting around the official Kasteel Keukenhof website.
Keukenhof Maze (Outdoors)
Perhaps what surprised me the most about our trip to the gardens is that there was a little maze close to the Willem-Alexander Pavilion (i.e. the indoor space where there’s a café and countless tulips on display). This small maze is simple to get lost in, though reach the finish and you’ll find a lookout point from which to enjoy the Keukenhof Gardens previously mentioned. The maze was originally opened to the public in 1999 and was created for children, but is fun for everyone!
Walking on water
Situated around the lake closest to Wilhelmina (this body of water is also known as the Keukenhof Pond), where sparkling fountains dance over the surface and a mini island is populated solely by swans and ducks, you’ll can walk across the lake on little wooden platforms and snap photos on the way.
Pavilions at Keukenhof
The gardens are divided into several distinct areas, each with their own layout and vibe. Dotted across Keukenhof, you’ll also soon realize that there are plenty of Pavilions with toilet facilities, cafés to grab a bite to consume, and shops where one can buy Keukenhof-themed merchandise. Most of the pavilions also have cut flower
The star of the show with regards to the pavilions of Keukenhof is that of Willem-Alexander. Filled with several Instagram photo spots, as well as types of every tulip imaginable (from frilly specimens to pastel-hued plants), this pavilion can be found in the centre of the garden and it has toilet facilities, a cafe or restaurant, along with a shop.
Situated at the far end from the park, near to the Keukenhof pond and not far from the additional Entrance, Wilhelmina is among the only pavilions where you can find no flower displays. Instead, this pavilion includes a shop, food facilities, and washrooms. Near to this Pavilion you’ll also look for a small hut using the name ‘Keukenhof’ emblazed in bold lettering. This is actually the original entrance towards the park from decades ago.
This pavilion is in the South from the park, just above the Irene pavilion. Boasting an exhibition featuring tulip bulbs and an exhibition concerning the history of tulip mania, this chalet may be the ultimate must-see for just about any history buff. All around the pavilion you’ll soon discover meandering waterways and delicate flower displays. This pavilion has a shop, café, and toilets.
For lovers of orchids, Beatrix pavilion, within the Northern-most corner from the park, near the doorway extra, may be the ultimate can’t miss Keukenhof attraction. Full of all sorts of orchid varieties (including some particularly unusual colours), you will find cut displays, and even the opportunity to purchase some orchids on your own. Amenities from the Beatrix facility include a restaurant, toilets, and a shop.
You’ll know you’re in the right place when you spy the giant fountain in front of the pavilion. Much like Wilhelmina, this pavilion has no florally-inspired displays or exhibits. Instead, head here and you can expect to find a shop, restaurant, and toilet facilities.
Close to the park entrance and not not even close to the Keukenhof maze, this is where Keukenhof’s current year theme can truly participate in. Filled with flower shows, displays, and even a miniature ‘Keukenhof indoor theatre’ where regular concert events occur, amenities of this pavilion incorporate a shop, restaurant, and toilets.
What is the best time for you to visit Keukenhof Gardens?
As you might well have gathered from the fact that Keukenhof is open just for 8 weeks a year, the tulips within the Netherlands don’t bloom all year round. The bulbs have a tendency to bloom in the end of March until the start of May, and therefore the best time to enjoy the tulips is within April. In 2020, the Keukenhof Gardens are open from March 21- May 19.
The gardens can get very busy, especially so throughout the weekend, summer break, and later on in the day. If you wish to take full advantage of your time and effort, then you need to aim to get to Keukenhof for when it opens. This is at 8 AM so set your alarm and grab an espresso. To help make the most of your time in the garden, you’ll have to set aside a minimum of three hours, in addition to time for transportation.
Visit at the weekend, particularly throughout the Parade Day, and you can expect to find intense crowds and long line ups (even for such things as while using bathroom or entering the different flower pavillions). We visited for opening on the Friday morning as well as by 10 AM, the crowds were already swelling and queues were forming for many from the more popular attractions within Keukenhof (such as the windmill and whisper boat tours).
Things to understand before visiting Keukenhof (and insider tips and secrets!)
If I could just give you one Keukenhof travel tip, it might be to purchase your entrance ticket ahead of time. This one tip could save you plenty of time because the ticket includes a ‘skip the line’ function which means you won’t need to stand in the queue as well before entering, resulting in additional time to savor the beautiful flowers!
Upon arrival, make sure to get one of the free maps to help you navigate the extensive park! These fold out guides show all the facilities, including toilets, food spots, and each of the flower pavilions. There’s free WiFi, if you can continue to easily get lost and it’s easy to miss even the most impressive of the Keukenhof attractions. Another amenity important to note is the luggage storage facility, that is free.
Of course, you can purchase food on-site. However, sodas and hot meals are particularly expensive. While coffees remain EUR3 (which is a pretty standard price for the Netherlands), a burger with fries will set you back around EUR15 while soft drinks will set you back closer t0 EUR4.
Luckily, there are many benches dotted round the park which are ideal for seated to have a picnic. Should you forget to bring along a lunch, then Lisse is a flat walk of approximately 1 km from the Keukenhof gardens. Then, there are a variety of restaurants to select from, as well as several supermarkets (including an impressively large Albert Heijn).
It is going without saying that you’ll want to wear your comfiest walking shoes. You will find quite literally many kilometres of pathways stretching through the gardens and so you’ll should also pack comfortable clothing. Since Keukenhof is in the countryside, the region can also be a little colder than Amsterdam and thus make sure to bring a hot jacket and scarf along!
Finally, you definitely won’t want to forget the digital camera! While it’s well worth sitting back as it were to enjoy the scenery instantly, you’ll want to snap several (or many) photos as well! For a quick guide on how I take our macro flower photos as well as wider landscapes, here’s a failure of my travel photography gear!
How to go to the Lisse Tulip Fields in the Bulb Region
You ought to know that despite whatever you decide and have seen in photos online, Keukenhof has not got any tulip fields! The space is really a giant garden with perfectly manicured green lawns, sculpted gardens, and artfully arranged floral displays. As such, if you visit Keukenhof looking to wander amongst bright tulip fields, then you’ll be sorely disappointed.
However, after visiting Keukenhof (and admiring the stunning flower exhibits), if you still wish to enjoy the better of Dutch tulip fields, there are plenty of open tulip fields surrounding the gardens. Lisse is well-known around the world for its many colourful fields and many of these can be seen from the roadside. Should you choose see a field you are able to enter, remember to be respectful. Don’t select the flowers, trample on the tulips, and certainly don’t leave the designated paths!
How to buy your Keukenhof tickets (opening times and prices)
If you buy your tickets online in advance in the official website, then the entrance prices are EUR17. Buy the ticket at the time and the prices are EUR18 (the same as buying the ticket with the skip the road function). Children benefit from a reduced rate; ages 0-3 are free and ages 4-17 are EUR8. Auto parking is EUR6,00 and a park guide is EUR5, though there is a free map available upon admission to your garden.
If you truly want to experience the best of Keukenhof with no crowds, then going in the opening time is your best choice. To be able to capture photos without all of the other tourists, we made sure to arrive at 8 AM and did this by staying at the Restaurant De Vier Seizoenen.
Clean and comfy, for an extra fee you may also order breakfast. Otherwise, it’s a fifteen to twenty-minute walk towards the tulips of Keukenhof, making certain you won’t have to awaken too early. The address for Keukenhof is Stationsweg 166A, 2161 AM Lisse, Netherlands and opening times are 8 AM – 7:30 PM every day. Here’s where you can purchase your Keukenhof tickets in advance and benefit from a skip-the-line function.
How to visit Keukenhof like a day trip from Amsterdam
If you’re visiting Amsterdam in April, a day trip towards the tulip fields of Lisse and the Gardens of Keukenhof are mandatory. The best option for enjoying the excursion would be to purchase the ‘combi-ticket’. Including transport (you’ll need to take a ferry to reach the bus that will transport you to Keukenhof) as well as your entrance ticket (including skipping the road function). Check prices here.
Otherwise, you need to note that there’s no direct method to reach Keukenhof from Amsterdam by trains and buses, apart from should you drive. The car journey is around twenty-five minutes and there is plenty of parking at the gardens. Finally, if you want to buy a combi-ticket (transport and skip-the-line entry ticket to Keukenhof) and a canal cruise at the same time, be sure to check out this ticket.
Check here for the very best Amsterdam accommodation prices
How to visit Keukenhof like a day trip from Leiden
For those seeking to combine a visit to a 17th-century storybook city with a visit to the flower fields, then a trip to Leiden is a great place to start. And when you’re in the mood to savor much more flowers, then it’s well worth noting the initial tulip bulbs within the Netherlands were actually grown by Carolus Clusius in around 1593 when he planted them at the University of Leiden.
Today, the Hortus Botanicus (Leiden Botanical Garden) is among the best hidden gems in Leiden. During Keukenhof opening hours, there’s a special bus which goes from Leiden Centraal straight to the entrance of Keukenhof. The bus takes around 30 minutes.
You can buy tickets around the bus using card, if you ought to know that most buses in the Netherlands don't accept cash. If you'll need a skip the line feature for the Keukenhof ticket, purchase this gardens entrance ticket ahead of time.
Check here for the very best Leiden accommodation prices
How to visit Keukenhof as a excursion from The Hague or Rotterdam
Planning on taking a excursion from Keukenhof from the politics town of The Hague or in the every-so-modern architectural town of Rotterdam? Well, this excursion is a a bit more complex than a few of the other excursions about this list, though it’s still perfectly possible.
From either city, you’ll have to take the train to Leiden Centraal. From The Hague this is a fifteen minute train ride, while from Rotterdam it’s a forty-five-minute ride having a train change. Train travel in Holland is surprisingly affordable and from Leiden, you’ll take the special bus that goes from Leiden Centraal right to the doorway of Keukenhof. The bus takes around 30 minutes.
You may then purchase tickets on the bus using card, if you ought to know that most buses within the Netherlands don't accept cash. If you want a skip the road feature for the Keukenhof ticket, purchase this gardens entrance ticket ahead of time.
How to go to Keukenhof as a day trip from Haarlem
Haarlem is a beautiful city that’s only a ten minute train ride away from Amsterdam. Best-known for its once great North sea trading port, today the town is characterised by its medieval feel and cobbled lanes. From Haarlem, you’ll need to catch no. 50 bus, which will deposit you in the middle of Lisse, around a fifteen-minute walk away from Keukenhof.
If you’re looking to see the garden If you'll need a skip the road feature for your Keukenhof ticket, purchase this gardens entrance ticket in advance.
Check here for the very best Haarlem accommodation prices