Keukenhof Garden: Dazzling Spring Flowers in The Netherlands

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Blue windmill in a field of tulips at the Keukenhof bulb exhibit in The Netherlands
A classic Dutch floral display at Keukenhof. Photo credit: Cathy Bennett Kopf

Celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2024, the Keukenhof spring garden exhibit draws nearly 1.5 million visitors over its 8-week run. It’s a wondrous display of Dutch tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and other rainbow-hued seasonal flowers.

It’s a must-visit if you’re in the Netherlands from mid-March to mid-May and totally doable, even if you have limited time in your itinerary, thanks to express bus transportation from Schiphol airport and Amsterdam’s Central Station.

Here’s SheBuysTravel’s guide to the annual Keukenhof flower festival including its history, getting there and how to make the most of your day.

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Two women dressed in traditional Dutch costumes welcome guests to the Keukenhof flower festival in The Netherlands.
Keukenhof guests are greeted by women dressed as Countess Jacoba van Beieren. Photo credit: Cathy Bennett Kopf

Celebrating 75 Years of Flower Power

The Keukenhof grounds were fertile foraging land for Countess Jacoba van Beireren back in the 1400s who gathered food in the “kitchen dunes”, the origin of the name Keukenhof. Later, a wealthy Amsterdam merchant built The Kasteel Keukenhof on the property in 1641. The estate’s English-style gardens were designed in 1857 by father and son landscape architects Jan David and Louis Paul Zocher who also created Amsterdam’s gorgeous Vondelpark.

In 1949, a group of bulb growers in Holland’s Bollenstreek (bulb region) decided that an annual public exhibition of their spring flowers would be a great way to promote their industry. The first Keukenhof festival was held in 1950 and drew over 200,000 visitors.

SheBuysTravel Tip: The current Keukenhof exhibit draws 1.5 million guests. It was a zoo during my visit on a rainy, windy April Friday. If you can, arrive when it opens at 8 am or closer to closing at 7:30 pm, you might encounter fewer people.

A blue swath of spring flowers winds through a forest lined with pink and yellow tulips.
Keukenhof’s muscari “river” is one of the classic views in the garden. Photo credit: Cathy Bennett Kopf

Keukenhof Must-Sees

With nearly 80 acres and 7 million flower bulbs, Keukenhof might feel overwhelming. Think of it as a floral Disney World. Don’t expect to see it all in one visit.

Download the park map to help you navigate and check the weekly flower report to see what’s currently in bloom.

Map of the Keukenhof estate with the flower displays and other essential items noted.
Keukenhof map. Photo credit: Keukenhof

Two tour options are available in the tulip garden. You can book a guided 60-minute walking tour for a fee that includes your park admission. Or take a 45-minute whisper boat cruise through the growers’ fields. Both of these tours are given in Dutch, English, German and French.

The garden paths wind through shady woodlands and themed inspirational gardens. The 2024 exhibition features five gardens: Hilltop Heaven, Beach Garden, Mediterranean Garden, Sounds of Spring and Romantic Mystery. Be sure your phone is fully charged so you can snap selfies. Just when you think you’ve found your favorite tulip, you’ll round a corner and find another that steals your heart.

Be sure to dress your littles in tulip colors and plant them in front of the flower beds for the cutest photos. Then reward them by visiting the maze, animal meadow and playground.

Want to go full Dutch? Rent a bicycle to tour the garden.

The private growing fields surrounding Keukenhof are off-limits. Photograph them from the road or from the whisper boat cruise.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Keep to the paths that wind through the garden to preserve the beauty of the tulip festival displays. Someone decided they needed a selfie lying down in the muscari walk and crushed hundreds of flowers. Not cool.

Ribbons of pink, purple and yellow tulips create a brilliant display at Keukenhof.
It’s impossible to pick a favorite tulip when they’re all so beautiful. Photo credit: Cathy Bennett Kopf

Practical Tips: Making the Most of Your Visit

Keukenhof is located in the flower bulb region of The Netherlands, approximately 40 kilometers southwest of Amsterdam. Entry tickets to the garden are timed, so build in some extra transportation time in case you run into delays in transit.

The festival runs from mid-March through mid-May. The weather can vary dramatically. Dressing in light layers is recommended. And pack rain gear just in case. You will be walking. A lot. So comfortable shoes are a must.

Keukenhof is cashless so be sure to bring a credit or debit card you’ve used in The Netherlands for your purchases. You’re probably wondering if you can buy bulbs at Keukenhof. Several vendors sell US-approved bulbs in kiosks. I resisted the urge to purchase a bunch, knowing that I’d need to hold onto them at home for months – the time to plant spring-flowering bulbs is late autumn. You can order them from home at QFB Gardening.

There are plenty of food kiosks with indoor and outdoor seating scattered throughout the grounds. The menus feature cafe cuisine – soups, salads and sammies – as well as traditional Dutch snacks like bitterballen. Keukenhof’s newest restaurant. Jacoba’s Kitchen, is a fully vegetarian option, located in the Oranje Nassau Pavillion where you’ll also find informational exhibits and more flower displays.

Additional info:

  • Leashed dogs are permitted in the garden’s outdoor areas
  • Personal electric wheelchairs are permitted; manual wheelchairs are available for rent
  • Free lockers are located near the main entrance
  • Need wifi? It’s available for free near the garden pavilions.
  • The lost and found inventory is posted online, just in case.

Getting to Keukenhof

The easiest way to get to the garden is via public transportation. Keukenhof offers a combo ticket that includes your park admission and round-trip bus transportation to/from the following hubs: Amsterdam RAI, Schiphol Airport, Leiden Central Station, and Haarlem Central Station.

The garden has paid parking if you’re arriving by car, motorbike or camper van.

Tours are another great option and many leave from the Amsterdam city center. Some include stops in the Dutch countryside so, if your time in the Netherlands is limited and you HAVE to see windmills, consider a tour.

We hired a driver for the day from the Taylor Travel Management Group for our trip to the garden since we were traveling with my infant granddaughter. Outings are a new adventure and babies have stuff: car seats, diaper bags, strollers. Having a car made the schlep much easier and provided a quiet spot for feeding baby throughout our fun, but long, day. It’s a splurge, but definitely worth it if you have special needs.

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Charming flower display at a small family flower farm near Keukenhof.
The show fields at De Tulperij will make you want to run home and start a garden. Photo credit: Cathy Bennett Kopf

What to Do Near Keukenhof

Express buses (see info above) run to Keukenhof in Lisse from Amsterdam, Leiden and Haarlem so they are excellent options to consider when planning your visit.

If you have a car, consider including the following stops on your flower-filled day.

Tulip Farm De Tulperij in Voorhout

This family-owned farm has a lovely cafe and gift shop and a small show garden you can visit for free. If you’d like to walk through the growing fields, book a time with owners Dan and Anja to learn about their flower farm. I’d like to visit in late summer when the farm’s dahlias are in bloom – they’re my favorite flower (don’t tell the tulips!).

SheBuysTravel Tip: Use the restrooms here before heading to Keukenhof to avoid long lines.

Interior of Beach Club O in The Netherlands, a nice seaside lunch spot near Keukenhof.
Watch the waves pound the beach while you enjoy your lunch. Photo credit: Cathy Bennett Kopf

Lunch by the Sea

Beach Club O is a delightful alternative to the Keukenhof food kiosks. It’s located about 20 minutes from the garden in Noordwijk, a charming coastal community. The sea raged outside the restaurant windows while we stayed snug inside sampling fresh sole, Iberico ham and tuna tacos. You may think you don’t want the bread. Trust me. You do.

Three traditional windmills on the horizon in The Netherlands.
Classic Dutch landscape at Zaanse Schans. Photo credit: Cathy Bennett Kopf

Zaanse Schans

This residential neighborhood north of Amsterdam retains the feel of a historic Dutch village. You can wander in and out of the small shops and museums devoted to traditional crafts like clog making and the iconic foods of The Netherlands like cocoa powder and cheese. It’s worth a stop simply to view the classic windmills of the Zaanse Schans.

Cathy Bennett Kopf Avatar
Cathy Bennett Kopf serves as the Daily Editor of SheBuysTravel, reporting to Editor-in-Chief Cindy Richards. She began travel writing after serving as the unofficial (and unpaid) vacation coordinator for hundreds of family and friend trips. She launched her blog, The Open Suitcase, in 2012 and joined the SBT (formerly TravelingMom) team in 2016. A lifelong resident of New York, Cathy currently resides in the scenic Hudson River Valley. She’s a member of the Society of American Travel Writers, the International Travel Writers Alliance and TravMedia.
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