Seeing the Tulips in Amsterdam at Keukenhof Gardens

Amsterdam wasn’t on my travel wish list this year but when I realised I had 30,000 bonus air mile points that were due to expire (that will teach me to read the small print more carefully), I was faced with a “use ’em or lose ’em” dilemma.

Of course, it wasn’t much of a dilemma – I’d be crazy to let a (nearly) free flight opportunity pass me by.

Tulips in Amsterdam Keukenhof Gardens

What ensued was a flurry of phone calls to a friend, a quick flight search with British Airways (the holder of my points) and a quick vote on my Indiana Jo Facebook page.

Amsterdam won and I couldn’t have been more delighted because it was the perfect time of year in Holland. I was finally going to get to see the tulips in Amsterdam. In fact, I was going to see 32 hectares of tulips and other flowers. 

Where to see Tulips in Amsterdam

Tulips in Amsterdam Keukenhof Gardens

In reality, I had very little time to explore Amsterdam in sufficient detail – I managed to squeeze in visits to the Van Gogh museum, the Anne Frank House, a quick (half covering my eyes) skirt around the edges of the red-light district, and a pit-stop for a local brew in one of the brown cafes (traditional pubs to you and I), but it was a mere appetiser for the main course on my travel menu  – seeing the tulips in Amsterdam.

Tulips in Amsterdam Keukenhof Gardens

With a little bit of research online, I found out where to go to see tulips in Amsterdam. There are two main ways to see tulips if you are basing your stay in the city. You can – i) visit the Amsterdam tulip fields around the city or ii) visit Keukenhof, Holland’s largest flower gardens.

Tulips in Amsterdam Keukenhof Gardens

Where is the best place to see tulips in Amsterdam. That will come down to personal choice. The major difference between the two experiences is that the tulip fields represent huge expanses of flowers that are being grown ready for harvest and sale around the world while Keukenhof flower gardens offers the chance to walk around large tended gardens with over 7 million flower, seeing many different varieties of tulips cleverly planted in visually gratifying patches. Keukenhof gardens isn’t just about flower – there are sculptures and art installations. It’s an immersive flower exhibition that has rightly earned its title as the Garden of Europe.

On an ideal trip, you’d probably want to experience both. But I wasn’t on an ideal trip – I was on a short one – and with a complete inability to stay upright on a bike (necessary for exploring the tulip fields), I chose Keukenhof gardens and I was bowled over at the vast array and beauty of the Keukenhof tulips. In short, I was very pleased with my decision.

Seeing the Tulips at Keukenhof Gardens

Tulips in Amsterdam Keukenhof Gardens

The tulips in Amsterdam epitomise the saying that a picture is worth a thousand words so, instead of my usual prose, here’s a summary of my visit in pictures. I just wish I could have somehow captured the thick, heady scent of flowers that clouded the air and made me want to inhale a dozen times more regularly than normal.

Tulips in Amsterdam Keukenhof Gardens

Tulips in Amsterdam Keukenhof Gardens

Tulips in Amsterdam Keukenhof Gardens

Tulips in Amsterdam Keukenhof Gardens

Tulips in Amsterdam Keukenhof Gardens

Tulips in Amsterdam Keukenhof Gardens

When do tulips bloom in Amsterdam?

Tulips in Amsterdam Keukenhof Gardens

Amsterdam tulip season, like the rest of Holland, runs from the end of March to mid May. The flowers are usually at their best in mid-April, meaning this is the best time to visit Keukenhof flower gardens.

Getting from Amsterdam to Keukenhof Flower Gardens

Tulips in Amsterdam Keukenhof Gardens

Where are the tulips in Amsterdam? Geographically, Keukenhof (along with some of the tulip fields) sits about 30 minutes by bus beyond Schiphol Airport in the town of Lisse, southwest of Amsterdam and the airport. With my flight departing for London at 8pm, it made perfect sense to see the tulips on my final day in Amsterdam. 

The easiest way to get from Amsterdam to Keukenhof gardens is by taking the bus from Schiphol airport to Keukenhof – conveniently named the Keukenhof Express. The bus is brightly coloured, adorned in pictured of tulips and leaves from Schiphol Plaza (near “Arrivals 4”).

Tulips in Amsterdam Keukenhof Gardens

Even if you want to visit on a day trip from Amsterdam city centre, you still need to go via the airport to catch the Keukenhof Express. To get to the airport you can take bus number 197 from Museumplein or Leidseplein or a train from the central station. 

There are lockers available at the airport for storing your bag (€6) or suitcase (€9) if you plan to return to the Schiphol for your flight.

The bus is run by a company called Arriva and there are 4 to 12 buses per hour depending on the time of day.

The bus goes direct to the Keukenhof gardens and takes around 30 minutes each way.

Sit on the driver’s side on the way from Amsterdam to Keukenhof and have your camera ready – as you get near Keukenhof gardens you may be able to catch a picture of the tulip fields.

Tours to see tulips in Amsterdam

Tulips in Amsterdam Keukenhof Gardens

In the next section, I’ll talk you through how to visit Keukenhof Gardens independently. If you prefer to take a tour, here are the top-rated tours on Get Your Guide (my go-to tour site when I book tours – download their app, it’s a dream). Most of the options don’t include a guide to take you round the garden (you don’t need one and there is an educations section you can view if you do want to know more) but they do include transport and, in some cases, additional sightseeing.

Skip the line entry with a bus direct from Amsterdam centre – This is a great, low-cost (€35) combo ticket that includes transport from Amsterdam centre as well as skip the line tickets. The gardens get jam-packed so not wasting your day in a line is a huge bonus. 

Skip the line entry plus a canal cruise – a very similar offering to the tour above except you get a ticket to take a canal cruise at your lesiure. This one is through Viator and is one of their best-sellers. 

Entry to Keukenhof Gardens and a windmill sightseeing cruise – if you want to make a day of it, this €50 tour will take you on a cruise past some of Amsterdam’s famous windmills (you even get to go inside one), you then sail past the tulip fields (camera ready). The tour is topped off with skip the line entry to Keukenhof gardens. 

Visiting Keukenhof Gardens without a tour

Tulips in Amsterdam Keukenhof Gardens

The Keukenhof Gardens dates are specific and change each year. Typically from March to May which is the best time to see tulips in Amsterdam.

The park is open from 8am to 7.30pm.

Entry to Keukenhof Gardens costs: €18 (adults), €8 (children 4-11), free (children under 4).

You can buy a combined bus and Keukenhof Gardens ticket from a booth next to the information desk within the airport (€24.50 adults). You can also buy a combined ticket from various points within central Amsterdam (via airport €29.50).

Tulips in Amsterdam Keukenhof Gardens

How many hours to spend in Kuekenhof gardens? I had two hours at the gardens and that felt just right.

The gardens can get very busy. I visited towards the end of the day (between 3.30pm and 5.30pm) which seemed perfect as the crowds had thinned. As I arrived, the queue for the return bus looked like it required a two-bus wait to get back. It wasn’t nearly as busy when I left at 5.50pm though I still had to stand for the entire return journey. Keep that in mind if you have a flight to catch.

Tip: Make sure you have plenty of space on your camera/phone – there’s a lot to prompt photographs.

Tulips in Amsterdam Keukenhof Gardens

There are plenty of facilities at Keukenhof Gardens – toilets, cafes, restaurants and food carts. I didn’t try any of them so can’t comment otherwise to say that they were there!

For more information about visiting Keukenhof Gardens, you can find the Keukenhof Gardens official website here

Tulips in Amsterdam Keukenhof Gardens

So, that’s my guide to how to see the tulips in Amsterdam at Keukenhof Gardens. Got any questions? Let me know in the comments below.

Want more travel tips? You might like some of my other posts

7 Secret Spots in Amsterdam Noord

Venice: 10 Things NOT To Do (And 10 To Do Instead)

Porto: 10 Things NOT To Do (And 10 To Do Instead)

30 Best Things To Do In Malaga

40 Things To Do In Milan (That Aren’t Churches)

Where To Eat And Drink in Brussels

One Day in Warsaw

3 Days In Florence – The Itinerary I give My Friends

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See the tulips in Amsterdam Keukenhof Gardens

6 thoughts on “Seeing the Tulips in Amsterdam at Keukenhof Gardens”

  1. So vibrant and beautiful! I think I’m going to have to add this to my bucket list. Tulips are one of my favourite flowers. I could make a serious dent in my 64GB memory card there. Thanks for all of the practical info.

    • Steph, you really might want to take a couple of SD cards when you visit! The tulips there were so amazing. We get lots of tulips in the UK during Spring but after a couple of days they seem all droopy and sad – there wasn’t a single sad tulip in Amsterdam, which made me very happy!

    • Ha ha, thanks Rosa. Try running an adventure travel blog and having to explain that you don’t do mountain biking! 🙂 My brother’s boyfriend is in Amsterdam right now and he also can’t ride a bike and formed a small pedestrian appreciation society. Feel free to join!

    • Thanks Corrine! Yes, the public transport in Amsterdam was amazing – I love trams, even if they are usually slower than an underground Metro, it’s just nice to see what’s going on a street level.


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