One thing on my European bucket list when we moved to Germany was to visit the Keukenhof tulip gardens in the Netherlands. We were able to do so on our final spring living there and we loved it so much that we made a return trip last spring. Here’s a recap of our experiences there and plenty of pictures to go with it!
On our first visit to the Keukenhof, it was Easter Sunday. We weren’t sure what that would mean for the crowds, but general rule of thumb is try to go on a weekday if you can. We made a point to skip the fancy Easter brunch and get to the Keukenhof before the gates opened. This was the best thing we could’ve done. I think the garden opened at 8:00 or 8:30, and by 10:30 the place was packed. We were able to get in a little time where it was very calm, easy to take photos, and easy to walk around. After the tour buses started pulling in, we could barely maneuver through the paths because they were so congested with people. So that’s my best advice to anyone planning a visit…go early!
This was true for our second visit as well. We arrived before the gates officially opened and because we already had our tickets printed out, we were allowed to enter a few minutes early. The early bird gets the worm!! This is the only way to get pictures without other tourists in them. The crowds are also probably low in the late afternoon close to closing time. I didn’t want to feel rushed though, so that’s why getting there early worked for us.
I know you’re there for the tulips, but don’t miss the orchid display. It is overflowing with orchids and gorgeous! There was a small exhibit demonstrating the life of an orchid. I had no idea it took about 5 years for an orchid plant to mature and flower.
Something we did on the second visit that the kids really loved was visiting the petting zoo. If you have kids this will definitely make them happy if they are getting bored being told to smile next to flowers.
The garden is immaculate. The colors are vibrant and lush, it’s like being in a candy shop. There are every different variety of tulip you could think of and never knew existed. I’m so impressed with the work the gardeners have done here. I can barely keep a houseplant alive (actually I think I’ve killed every plant we’ve every had). To plant and maintain a garden like this requires an enormous amount of effort and a lot of love!
On our first visit we left the gardens around lunch time. Though we would’ve loved to spend the whole day there, the amount of people was just getting unbearable and we still wanted to visit the tulip fields around the garden. We loaded up our bikes, put the little lady in her trailer and hit the road. The biking was intimidating because you have to bike on the road with the cars, and the roads are very narrow 2 lane roads. There are cars and even big tour buses driving on them, so for someone not used to it-it can be a little scary.
However, the views are breathtaking.
This is definitely one of the most beautiful things to see in Europe and I’m so glad we got to bring our little girl there to celebrate her 1st Easter and then return again 3 years later with our little boy!
- Buy tickets online in advance, this will get you in the gardens the fastest to maximize the time before the tour buses show up.
- Get there when the gardens open for the day, no ifs, ands, or buts, about it!
- Dress warmly, and in layers. Both visits were VERY cold in the morning.
- Plan to visit surrounding tulip fields either by car or bike, they are not to be missed.
- Please be respectful of the tulip fields and the farmers who grow them, do not trample the tulips.
- Remember to book your hotel far in advance as this is a very popular tourist time. I was glad we stayed near the gardens vs. commuting from Amsterdam. It allowed us to get there early without too much trouble.
- The Keukenhof and surrounding fields deserve a full day of your time, it would be hard to see it all in just a half-day.
Have more Keukenhof tips to add? Questions about this trip?