The Netherlands comes into full bloom in the spring and there’s no better place to enjoy it than at Keukenhof. This world-famous flower garden where 7 million bulbs are planted over its 79 acres, is full of hyacinths, daffodils, orchids, and the country’s signature flower, tulips. The garden is open from mid-March until early May and will welcome hundreds of thousands of visitors during that time. If you are among that number, here are a few tips for visiting Keukenhof, and the surrounding tulip fields.
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Timing Is Everything
The garden’s 7 million bulbs are planted so that they are not all in bloom at once but instead bloom at various intervals. What this means for you is that whenever you visit, there will be a variety of flowers to enjoy. However, for the largest variety of tulips in a multitude of colors, mid to late April is the best time to go.
The opening of the park is in mid-March, and while that usually coincides with the start of spring, please know at that early date, it will likely still feel like winter, so bundle up. And in reality, I’ve been at Keukenhof in its final days in May and still needed a jacket.
Visitors may also want to take into consideration the time of day and day of the week when planning their trip to Keukenhof. Avoid weekends and holidays, if possible, and I would even add mid-mornings as that is a popular time for school trips. Very early or very late are the ideal times both in terms of lighting and fewer crowds if you’re hoping to get pictures that have more flowers than people.
I have been countless times over the years, with visitors, on school trips with the Lovely Ladies, on group outings, and alone, and from my experience, the optimal time to visit is mid to late April, during the week, and late in the day. It was with this combination that I saw the most flowers overall, but an especially large variety and colors of tulips both in the park and along the bollenstreek, and when Keukenhof was the least crowded.
Fun For The Entire Family
Keukenhof is a great outing for the entire family. The garden boasts a petting zoo, scavenger hunts, a maze, a playground, and the prominent presence of Miffy. The beloved bunny, created by the late Dick Bruna, is on display throughout Keukenhof, including several statues from the Miffy Art Parade, and even has her own tulip, Tulipa Nijntje (her Dutch moniker), which was introduced in 2016 for her 60th birthday. Other children’s characters with their own tulips at Keukenhof include Pinocchio, Sesame Street, and Little Red Riding Hood.
More Than Tulips
While the tulip garden is the main attraction for most, there are several other gardens at Keukenhof, including an English landscape garden, a Japanese garden, a natural garden, and seven inspirational gardens that change every year. Keukenhof also has fountains, and open spaces, and boasts The Netherlands’ largest sculpture park and statuary can be found throughout the garden.
In addition to the gardens, Keukenhof has 3 pavilions where flower and plant shows are held: the Willem-Alexander Pavilion displays thousands of tulips and during the last 2 weeks of the season, hosts the world’s largest lily show. The Orange Nassau Pavilion houses colorful floral displays. In the Beatrix Pavilion, you will find a variety of orchids and anthuriums.
Each year Keukenhof is dedicated to a theme, and the garden showcases a flower mosaic representative of that theme. In the past, the themes have been Dutch Design, The Golden Age, and the United Kingdom. The theme for 2022 is ‘Flower Classics’, which will highlight flowers as classic symbols used in art, architecture, and design, and what they represent.
The garden’s Windmill Square is home to a windmill that dates from 1892. There is a daily lecture by a miller explaining how the windmill works and when there is enough wind the mill is run. While you’re at Windmill Square be sure to visit the wooden shoemaker and have your picture taken standing inside the giant wooden shoes.
Bikes, Bollenstreek, and Beyond
Keukenhof is located about 40 kilometers (24 miles) from Amsterdam in Lisse, one of the Netherlands’ most important bulb-growing districts, and visitors to the garden should take the opportunity to explore the beautiful bollenstreek (bulb region) as well. Bikes are available to rent just outside of Keukenhof, allowing you to tour the surrounding areas, which depending on when you visit, are blanketed with daffodils, hyacinths, and tulips. The bollenstreek also provides the most phenomenal, and enviable, photo opp!
The Museum De Zwarte Tulp (Black Tulip Museum) is in Lisse, for those who would like a deeper look into the history of the flower bulb culture, and if you still haven’t had your fill of flowers by this point, there’s the Bloemencorso (flower parade) with its beautiful flower floats in late April.
Tickets for Keukenhof, including the option for an entrance ticket, combination entrance, transportation, combination entrance, spring cruise, or guided bike ride through Keukenhof with an English-speaking guide can all be purchased via Tiqets.
For information on open dates and how to get there, visit the Keukenhof website.
For information on when the bollensteek is in bloom, walking and cycling maps, and other activities happening in the region, visit the bollenstreek website.
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Updated February 2022