Holland is world famous for its windmills and tulips, so much so that a ridiculous amount of people are unaware that Holland is actually a region of the Netherlands, rather than a country in its own right. Now the Netherlands are famous for all sorts of reasons, depending on what you’re interested in (Amsterdam generally speaks for itself, but lets not forget that the Dutch also amassed a bit of an empire, nor the influence of the Dutch East India Company). These are a story for another day, this trip is all about the Keukenhof gardens and tulip fields.
Prior to the trip I found myself having a look around for a short city break to interrupt the tedium of working life. Initially, Amsterdam wasn’t a part of my plan, and I was actually looking at venturing further east towards Talinn or Riga. For some odd reason that I can’t remember, I had a quick look at Amsterdam. Not a whole lot of digging later and I found out my trip could potentially coincide with tulip season. Bonus!
So if you’re looking for a unique travel destination Keukenhof Gardens are fantastic. Keukenhof is renowned for its magnificent display of tulips, attracting visitors from all over the world.
A trip to Keukenhof flower gardens
The Netherlands is famous for its windmills and tulips, but Keukenhof gardens offer a unique experience. You can book a coach trip to Keukenhof, about 90 minutes from Amsterdam, and includes your pick up, drop off, and travel to the gardens. The garden’s entry fee is €16.00, and arriving early or late can help avoid crowds.
The trip to Keukenhof gardens only cost €29.00, and that included the €16.00 entrance fee to the gardens. That also saved time buying tickets at the gate, especially with the entrance packed out with people vying to get in and explore.
Planning your trip to Keukenhof gardens and tulip fields
If you want to make the most of your time you should plan ahead. The gardens are open from 8:00 am until 7:30 pm, but many visitors arrive with tour groups between 10:00 am and approximately 3:00 pm. If you arrive earlier or later, you’ll have more quiet space to explore. It might even be worth finding accommodation closer to the gardens.
That said, the earlier you arrive or the later you leave means you’ll have the chance to experience a sunrise or sunset across the gardens and the ponds/lakes/bodies of water that can be found around the gardens. I found that arriving early-ish in the morning meant that there was still a little bit of mist and dew on the plants and trees and it gave Keukenhof a mystical sort of feeling.
Exploring Keukenhof Gardens: What to Expect and Highlights
Regardless of when you make it to the park, it’s actually quite a long walk. It’s not strenuous at all, just a fair distance. The trek around the park will see you pass a few places to stop and pick up a bite to eat or a coffee, or both. We stopped off at a café to take a quick break and cool off (some of us are just lucky with weather). The complete “loop” around Keukenhof, regardless of whether or not you follow the map, will lead you across a few bridges, around open bodies of water, through a maze and up a windmill, you might even go on a boat ride! There’s a lot going on and various buildings, greenhouses and other structures for you to explore. Just beware the steep steps; though if you’re staying in Amsterdam you’ll probably already be accustomed to them.
A number of buildings are named after the royal family, and are planted with different themes in mind. I suggest checking a few of them out, though each one is different to the next and when you’ve got a whole day to explore, there’s little reason to not go and see them all.
Some of my highlights include:
- The Flower Shows: Throughout Keukenhof, you’ll find several indoor pavilions filled with different flowers and arrangements.
- The Tulip Fields: While the gardens are a sight to behold, the surrounding tulip fields are just as impressive.
- The Windmill: A trip to Keukenhof Gardens wouldn’t be complete without a visit to its iconic windmill. You can climb to the top for a panoramic view.
- The Sculpture Park: If you need a break from the flowers, the sculpture park offers something different.
When to Visit Keukenhof Gardens and Tulip Fields
The best time to visit is typically from mid-March to mid-May, with April being the peak bloom season. However, the exact timing of the bloom can vary based on weather conditions, so it’s best to check the official website for up-to-date information before your trip.
If you want to avoid the crowds, it’s best to visit the gardens during the week and either early in the morning or later in the afternoon. Weekends and holidays tend to be busier, and midday can be crowded.
If you want to pre-book your tickets to Keukenhof, you can do so on their website. Alternatively, if you’re staying in Amsterdam and want to get a coach trip for the day, there are a few places you can look. Tour companies such as lindbergh operate trips to Keukenhof.
You can save money by making your own way there using a combi ticket. There’s more information on this option on tripadvisor, and if you don’t mind planning it yourself you can save approx. €13.00 from Keukenhof’s alternative.
Overall, a trip to Keukenhof Gardens is an unforgettable experience for anyone who loves flowers and nature. With its stunning displays and serene setting, it’s a great contrasting experience to the hustle and bustle of Amsterdam.