Is there anything dreamier in the springtime than seeing flowers in bloom? How about, like, seven million flowers? Keukenhof, perhaps better known as the Garden of Europe, is a sprawling garden in the Netherlands famed for their tulip displays. It is one of the world’s largest flower gardens, covering approximately 79 acres. Every year nearly seven million bulbs spanning 800 varieties are planted across the grounds. And that’s just the tulips! There are plenty of other flora on display as well, from wisteria to chrysanthemums to peonies. And interspersed between it all are art installations, thematic exhibitions, music and concerts, playgrounds to entertain the younger crowd, food stalls serving up frites and waffles, and plenty of restaurants and shops!
Visiting the Netherlands for tulip season has long been on my bucket list, so I hopped over to Amsterdam to catch the closing weekend of Keukenhof! Let me tell you – this place is Disney World for nature lovers. I grew up visiting the annual tulip festival in Holland, Michigan to see the blooms in the town squares. This was just like that, on steroids. It felt like wandering through an enchanted forest from a fairy tale. And sure, there were about a million other tourists there with me and sure, that was a little distracting from the experience. But Keukenhof is so bright and joyful that you hardly notice.
So if you dream of seeing the tulips in Holland, Keukenhof is not to miss! Plan on spending hours exploring – there’s more ground to cover than you’d think. Next year will be 70th anniversary of Keukenhof. The theme will be Flower Power, so there’s sure to be special celebrations going on!
The History of Keukenhof
Keukenhof quite literally translates to kitchen garden, and that’s exactly what it started out as. The gardens date back to the 15th century, when Countess Jacqueline of Bavaria would gather fruit and vegetables for the Teylingen Castle kitchen. The aptly named Keukenhof Castle was later built in 1641, and the same architects that designed the Vondelpark in Amsterdam redesigned the castle gardens in 1857. In 1949, floral bulb farmers and exporters came up with the idea to use the estate to exhibit tulips throughout the spring. Keukenhof opened successfully in 1950 and has celebrated growing success each year.
Keukenhof isn’t located in Amsterdam, but it is easy to reach from there! It’s in a little town called Lisse, about an hour southwest of Amsterdam. There are a few options for getting to the gardens. If you’re traveling by car, there is plenty of parking! But if you’re just in the city for the holidays, then public transportation is definitely the way to go.
You can purchase a combination ticket that includes your Keukenhof entrance as well as roundtrip transportation from Amsterdam. You first pick up a bus heading to Schipol Airport. This includes bus line 300 from Amstelveen, 341 from Amsterdam Zuid, 342 from Uithoorn, and 397 from Amsterdam Centrum (this line also stops at Leidseplein, Museumplein, and more). Once at Schipol Airport, you’ll transfer to the Keukenhof Express. Follow signs for bus line 858.
I recommend going as early in the morning as you can – the bus lines can be long. But they run quite frequently and if you don’t mind standing room only, I found it moved quite fast!
Ticket Prices + Hours
Keukenhof is open daily from 8:00 AM through 7:30 PM. This includes Sundays and bank holidays. The park is generally open from mid-March through mid-May. For reference, this year it opened on March 22 and closed on May 13. In 2019, Keukenhof will be open March 21 to May 19!
Park Entrance (does not include transportation): €16
Combination Ticket (includes roundtrip transportation): €29.50
Pro tip: I also recommend visiting early-to-mid tulip season to explore the tulip fields that surround Keukenhof (note that they aren’t IN Keukenhof, but they are nearby and you can bike through them). I’ve long wanted to see the endless rainbow rows of the fields, but as I visited Keukenhof on closing weekend, the fields had already been completely picked over and were no longer in bloom. I recommend heading to Holland in April for the tulips to be in bloom but the fields still intact!
So if you’re heading to Keukenhof, remember… Don’t pick the flowers. Don’t actually tip toe through the tulips. Do take your allergy medications. Take a thousand pictures and make a thousand memories! Seeing the tulips in the Netherlands is one for the bucket list and you’ll notice you can’t help but smile as you stroll through the grounds.
Have you visited the Netherlands during tulip season? Book your stay in Amsterdam here!