Dutch flower fields and the Keukenhof gardens near Amsterdam attract more than a million visitors every spring and at least half of them were there on a Saturday when we visited…
Don’t make the same mistake we did! Find out all you need to know about visiting Keukenhof gardens and Lisse tulip fields in the Netherlands and get more out of your trip to Amsterdam in spring.
In this article, you can read about what to expect when visiting Keukenhof. We also share tips for the best ways to explore the colorful tulip fields near Keukenhof. You can also find some of our experience-based practical tips to make your trip more memorable. Find out!
In case you are wondering when you can visit, this season Keukenhof will be open daily from 21 March till 10 May 2020.
Lisse – the best place to see colorful tulip fields in the Netherlands
The Netherlands are world-famous for their tulips and many people visit Holland in spring in order to see the endless colorful bulb fields. One of the best places to see tulip fields in the Netherlands is the area around Lisse, South of Amsterdam.
One of the best-known flower gardens in the world – Keukenhof, aka the Gardens of Europe – is also located in the same area.
If you are only interested in seeing the tulip fields, you don’t necessarily have to go to Keukenhof gardens. On the other hand, the gardens are really worth a visit too. So if you have time, try to do both.
The area around Keukenhof is a good place to find colorful flower fields – Lisse tulip fields are probably the best place to see tulips near Amsterdam. We explored the small area between Keukenhof and Noordwijkerhout and saw plenty of tulip fields.
The best way to see the tulip fields around Lisse is probably by an electric car (more info further below) or by bike. You can either bring one yourself or rent one at the main entrance of Keukenhof. There are several route options – you can find one of them here.
You can also explore the tulips fields in Lisse by car, just make sure to stay off the major roads, otherwise, you won’t see much. Please also note that some roads are really narrow and can get quite crowded…
What is Keukenhof and what can you expect to see?
Keukenhof is a truly beautiful flower garden (32 hectares – 79 acres) with more than 7 million bulbs in bloom every spring.
Keukenhof is one of the largest flower gardens in the world with more than 800 different varieties of tulips and many other types of flowers blooming in the park every spring. Even the biggest sceptics will be impressed!
That being said, there are some things you should know before your visit to Keukenhof gardens. Read on!
When is the best time to visit Keukenhof Gardens?
Keukenhof is only open in spring, from end-March to mid-May. It’s open daily, but – if possible – DO NOT VISIT KEUKENHOF ON THE WEEKENDS OR PUBLIC HOLIDAYS!
There are always plenty of flowers blooming in the park, but the very best period to visit Keukenhof Gardens is – generally – during the second half of April.
The best time to visit Keukenhof park is early in the morning on a weekday. If you want to have some pictures of the park without any people in them, make sure you arrive in Keukenhof at 8 AM and work fast. The areas around the pond and the windmill are the most beautiful, so pick one and head there first.
The last two weeks of April is also the best period to see tulip fields in the Netherlands as the flowers are usually cut off at the end of April. It might be a bit different every year as so much depends on the weather. Nevertheless, the gardens always have a lot to offer, so if Keukenhof is open, it’s always worth a trip.
We have been to Keukenhof several times, but this year was the very first time we visited on a Saturday. We expected it to be busy, but what we experienced was indescribable!
We knew we made a big mistake the moment we left the highway. We were stuck in traffic some 3-4 km from the park with tens of tour buses from Germany, France, Belgium, and UK completely blocking the road. The last kilometers took us more than half an hour and we ended up parking at alternative parking on the other side of the park in order to avoid the busy parking at the main entrance.
We arrived just before 10 AM and the park was already packed with people. It got even worse after noon and you could walk over peoples heads. There was not a single path in the whole park where you didn’t have to wait and queue… The restaurants were crowded and if you wanted to use the bathroom you had better planned it well in advance.
So whatever you do, avoid visiting Keukenhof on the weekends at all costs. It’s really no fun. You won’t see the ‘big picture’ of the park and it’s a pity because it’s really beautiful.
What can you do in Keukenhof?
Keukenhof is a park, but it has a lot of rules and regulations. Basically, you can walk around, look at the flowers and take pictures. You are not allowed to walk on the grass, although we didn’t know this and it looks like the other half a million of visitors were not aware of the rule either.
You cannot bring a bike or a kick scooter into the park and you can only picnic at one designated area, close to the windmill.
There is a treasure hunt for the children, a petting farm, a maze, and a playground. There are various exhibitions and flower arranging demonstrations in the five pavilions of the park as well. One of the main attractions of the park is the traditional Dutch windmill overlooking the tulip fields from where you can also take a boat trip through the beautiful flower bulb landscape.
Keukenhof Gardens are very tourist-oriented and you will find all kinds of typical Dutch ‘details’ in the park – like the traditional wooden clogs or this cow with Dutch cheese.
BUT – you will not be able to see and do much in the park if you are visiting on such a busy day like last Saturday. The queue at the windmill was immense, so was the queue at the ticket office selling the tickets for the boat trips.
Luckily, we had bought the tickets for the park online and so at least we didn’t have to queue at the entrance. All the five pavilions with flower exhibitions were so crowded with people that you could hardly see any any flowers at all…
Dogs are allowed in the park, but you better leave your dog at home. We saw quite some people carrying their dogs in their arms. I assume they were worried that the dogs would get trampled by the crowd.
Are Keukenhof Gardens worth it?
Keukenhof is a park that anyone will enjoy, but the crowds can ruin the experience.
The vast majority of visitors are retired people. We were joking that the average age of the visitors was probably around 65-70 years. You will not see many young people in the park and just a few families with children.
There are many Asian tourists and we even saw two Asian couples having their wedding pictures taken in the park. There are also lots of day tourists on a stopover in Amsterdam, some were even carrying their suitcases with them… I still don’t understand why they do it as there are lockers available at the park, but I wouldn’t be surprised that even the lockers got full on such a busy day…
As you can imagine, it’s a very touristy place. No matter, when you visit, it will be busy. So, are Keukenhof Gardens for you?
If you like flowers, beautiful gardens and don’t mind the crowds, then yes, Keukenhof is absolutely worth it.
If you like flowers, but cannot stand the crowds, then you better skip Keukenhof and explore the beautiful Lisse tulip fields near Keukenhof. Read on for more information on how to do it…
Great way to see the tulip fields near Keukenhof on your own
We partnered with Renzy.nl to show you one of the best ways to explore the tulip fields near Keukenhof on your own – Tulip & Flower Fields GPS Audio Tour. It’s perfect for those who are short on time and want to see the nicest areas but have no idea where to start. Find out!
If you want to visit the most beautiful flower fields in Lisse without having to worry about where to go, you could consider renting Renault Twizy 100% electric vehicle with a GPS audio tour. It’s probably one of the easiest ways to explore the area, and definitely if you are visiting the region for the first time.
Together with this tiny 2-persons car that is perfect for driving around the tulip fields, you get a GPS navigation with an audio guide in English, Dutch, and German, with all ins & outs about the flower bulb region and cool tulip facts.
They have prepared a 22km route that takes about 2 hours to complete. It is made in such a way that it avoids all the busy areas visited by tour buses, and at the same time brings you to the nicest tulip fields in the Netherlands, through the Keukenhof forest, and to a flower bulb nursery.
The tour is designed to give you plenty of opportunities to stop at the nicest places, such as a stop at De Tulperij, a traditional tulip bulb farm. Because the car is so small, it’s easy to navigate on the narrow roads and park it next to the road when you want to stop and see and photograph the flowers from close-by.
- You need to be at least 21 years old and have a valid drivers license, with at least 3 years of driving experience.
- Make sure to book your tour in advance.
- One car is suitable for 2 people (2 adults or 1 adult and 1 child).
- You can pick up your car at the Renzy office, some 15 minutes walking distance from the main entrance to Keukenhof park. You can see the walking map here, but the actual walk will be much shorter than indicated on the map, because you can walk straight through the car parking areas.
- Here you can find more information and book this self-guided tour.
How to get to Keukenhof?
You can either drive to Keukenhof by car or take a train and/or a bus (recommended). There are plenty of options available from Amsterdam, from the airport, and from the other towns – they make it really easy for the tourists to get there. You can find more information on the official website of Keukenhof gardens.
Alternatively, you can book an organized tour to visit Keukenhof and to see the flower fields. You can choose from half-day tours, day tours, private transfers, etc. Most trips are available from Amsterdam, but you can find a tour from The Hague as well.
Here you can find the best-rated tours to Keukenhof and the tulip fields. Taking an organized Keukenhof day trip from Amsterdam is the easiest way to get there if you don’t have a car.
How much does it cost to visit Keukenhof in 2019-2020?
- The organized tours including a transfer and an entrance ticket start at around 38 EUR/pp.
- The entrance price to the park is 18 EUR for adults and 8 EUR for the children.
- Parking costs 6 EUR and the park guide – 5 EUR. Map is free.
- Renting a bike to explore the flower fields costs 10 EUR.
- A boat trip is an additional 8 EUR/ adult and 4 EUR/ child.
- The food is really expensive in the park. We didn’t see any of the restaurant menus (it was too busy to even try to get close to a restaurant), but a hot dog costs 4 EUR, a small bottle of water – 3 EUR, and ice cream – 3,5 EUR. It quickly adds up.
TIP: Bring a picnic – it will save you lots of time, but also money.
Visiting Keukenhof and Lisse tulip fields – conclusion
Keukenhof is well worth seeing, just not on the weekends. Go early in the morning on a weekday during the last two weeks of April and you will love it!
Would I travel from the other side of the world to see Keukenhof gardens and the tulip fields in the Netherlands? I wouldn’t come to the Netherlands just for the flowers, but if you are planning a trip to Amsterdam anyway, spring is as good the time as any other.
TIP: Don’t visit just Keukenhof Gardens! Make a whole day trip of it and make sure to also explore the tulip fields nearby. Rent a bike or an electric car, as walking distances are really too big to explore them on foot. Not to mention, that it’s really handy to have a suggested route to follow.
I made a short video from our most recent visit to Keukenhof and Lisse tulip fields nearby. Take a look!
If you have more time in the Netherlands, consider a day trip to the windmills of Kinderdijk and visit the Alkmaar cheese market. Make sure to also read our post with incredible day trips from Amsterdam!
***Read also our tips for how to see the best of Amsterdam in one day***
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