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Keukenhof: The Flower Garden of Europe

Keukenhof – The world’s second largest flower garden

Keukenhof, the world’s second largest flower garden1, is open just eight weeks a year. Yet it remains one of the most popular tourist attractions outside Amsterdam, and one of the top excursions in the Netherlands.

This overwhelmingly beautiful garden, in a park-like setting, delights young and old.

Keukenhof flower garden

On one of our visits to the Keukenhof we heard a young boy exclaim, “Look ma! Fireworks made with flowers!”

Tickets and Transportation

The vast majority of visitors on an excursion from Amsterdam prefer to buy a combination Amsterdam-Keukenhof transport and skip-the-line ticket (Recommended!)

You can also opt to include excursions to nearby villages, including the windmills and open air museum at Zaansche Schans:

You can make your way to Keukenhof yourself using public transport. The so-called Keukenhof Express runs between the garden and Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. It’s a bit more of a hassle, but if you opt to do this you may still want to purchase a skip-the-line ticket ahead of time.

After all, time spent waiting in line at the ticket office takes away from your time in the garden.

Bollenstreek: Bulb region — Flower fields

Tulip fields are concentrated in the Dutch countryside between Haarlem and Lisse. This area is known in Dutch as the bollenstreek (bulb region).

bulb fields Netherlands

Bulb fields in the Netherlands. Well, clearly by now they’re flower fields.

Some flower fields can also be seen in the north of the province of Noord Holland, and in the Oostpolder. But the crown jewel is the Keukenhof flower garden in Lisse, some 30 kilometers (20 miles) southeast of Amsterdam.

By the way, its not just tulips you find at Keukenhof (7 million of them — from 800 varieties!), but also daffodils, crocuses, narcissuses, hyacinths, and more spring flowers.

The garden is bordered on one site by flower fields. There are various vantage points, including a windmill, from which to take photographs.

Best time to visit

The garden is open from mid-March through mid-May. However, the best time to view the tulips in their full glory is from about mid-April through the first week of May.

Much depends on the weather. If sunny and warm spring-like weather starts early enough in March — as if often does — flowers are in bloom earlier than when it has been colder.

In 2018 March was quite chilly, and some people who visited the garden early on were somewhat disappointed with the outdoor displays.

You will have to keep an eye on the weather in March and April.

Keukenhof

When visiting the garden keep in mind the park-like setting. Depending on the weather you’ll want to dress in layers. Photo by Cszmurlo2

Opening times are from 8:00 through 19:30 (8 am through 7:30 pm). It is not as busy early in the morning as during the rest of the day, but generally the afternoon temperature will be higher and more pleasant.

Check the weather before you go, as you may have to dress in layers. There can be quite a spread in temperatures during the course of your visit.

That said, it is less busy before 10:30 and after 4 pm. It is also less busy on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday than on the other days of the week.

How much time to spend in the garden

You’ll want to take your time to take it all in. The garden is 32 hectares in size. Here’s an easy way to picture that: Most sports fields are one hectare in size.

Map of Keukenhof tulip garden

[Click for larger map] Map of Keukenhof — 32 acres of tulips and other flowers

While not everyone wants to see every single flower, the fast majority of visitors spend about 4 hours in the park. Mind you: realize that the park includes 15 kilometers of footpaths. Even if you return to the park on another day (which many visitors do, if not the same year than the next), you can always take another route.

Keep in mind that the Keukenhof also includes various indoor flowers shows and exhibitions3, as well as a fine collection of art. There are activities and events, such as the 71st edition of popular Flower Parade (Bloemencorso) on April 21.

Statistics: In 2017 Keukenhof attracted a record 1.4 million visitors. They came from over 100 countries; 20% of the visitors from the Netherlands. A noteworthy trend in recent years is that the number of young visitors increases year after year.

Anual Flower Parade

The annual Bloemencorso (flower parade) — known as Bloemencorso Bollenstreek — is not the only flower pageant, but is one the oldest and largest in the world.

The parade, which takes place toward the end of April (2018: April 21) passes the Keukenhof’s main entrance. You view the parade and then continue your visit to the garden.

Notes:

  1. Largest garden is the Dubai Miracle Garden, but face it… Dubai cannot hold a candle to the Netherlands
  2. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license
  3. There are over 30 of these shows, at which renowned floral designers present wonderful creations that include the best flowers contributed by some 600 flower growers.
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This post was last updated: Apr. 23, 2018