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 nearly 1 million visitors during that time. If you are one of the million, here are a few tips for visiting Keukenhof, and the surrounding tulip fields.
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Timing Is Everything
1 million visitors passing through the gates of Keukenhof during its 8 weeks of operation, and if you don’t time your visit accordingly, it will feel like all 1 million are there at the same time.
The bulbs are planted so that they are not all in bloom 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 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 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, 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.
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, 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 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 to 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.
Keukenhof is open daily from March 21 – May 10, 2020.
For information on 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 2020