Taking a side trip from Amsterdam to Keukenhof Flower Gardens is an absolute must-do when visiting Amsterdam in the spring. This guide will tell you everything you need to know to do so!
On my last trip to the Netherlands, my Amsterdam 3-day itinerary was as wide open as the overstuffed carryon I had no hope of zipping. However, there were a few things I knew I really wanted to see: the Anne Frank House, a bicycle collision, someone so high they were absolutely losing their minds, and TULIPS! (Check, check, and check!)
And for those, I would take a quick and easy day trip from Amsterdam to Keukenhof Flower Gardens in the town of Lisse—one of the best tulip fields in the Netherlands.
It’s tulip time!
Tulips have been cultivated since the 10th century and are native to areas ranging from the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal) to the Middle East, North Africa, Greece, and all the way to China.
Today, you can find them almost everywhere—notably, Northwestern Europe and your local grocer, but nowhere more prevalent than in the stomach contents of the deer families that sneak into my flower beds at night.
Tulips have come to be seen as the quintessential cultural symbol of the Netherlands. In Turkish culture, tulips represent paradise on Earth; in the Netherlands they represent the brevity of life.
What is Keukenhof?
Keukenhof (Dutch for kitchen garden) is the largest flower garden in the world. It boasts 7 million flowers, 800 varieties of tulips, and one really tiny goat I should’ve made room for in my suitcase.
There are 9 miles of walking paths through beautiful wooded areas, wild floral arrangements, event pavilions, and even a windmill you can climb so you can brag about how high you got in Amsterdam.
Remember when Dorothy was imagining a place over the rainbow? Where happy little bluebirds fly and your dog won’t get unfairly euthanized? She believed it was “not a place you can get to by a boat or a train” and she was right. Only a category F2 tornado, a rogue hot air balloon, or a quick bus ride from Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport can get you there.
Basically, if you want to see gorgeous floral displays and fields and fields of colorful flowers while you’re in the Netherlands, this is the place.
Amsterdam to Keukenhof: where is it?
Keukenhof Flower Gardens is located in the town of Lisse, just twenty minutes southwest of Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport (but about 40 minutes southwest of downtown Amsterdam).
How to take a day trip from Amsterdam to Keukenhof
The quickness and ease of getting there is what makes a trip from Amsterdam to Keukenhof an ideal way to spend a spring day in Holland. (Even a straw-for-brains scarecrow could do it, just sayin’.)
1. Start at Schiphol airport
For starters, getting from Amsterdam to Keukenhof is easiest when you start from Schiphol airport, so get yourself there first. This should be fairly easy as it seems all roads lead to Schiphol. (Do I even need to make a Yellow Brick Road reference here? Imma skip it.)
There are other ways to get to Keukenhof but, if you’re staying anywhere near Central Amsterdam, this is by far the easiest, fastest, and most direct route.
At Schiphol, look for the giant inflatable tulip. In fact, we told our cab driver we were headed to Keukenhof and he dropped us off right at the giant tulip. They really do make it as easy as possible.
2. Store your luggage if you need to
Because I had already checked out of my hotel and would be heading down to Belgium after my day at Keukenhof, I needed to store my luggage at Schiphol. (Yes, Keukenhof has bag storage, but it’s too small. I’ll get to that.)
Now, yes, I was apprehensive about storing my bags in a locker at a train station. (I do stuffer from crippling post-traumatic train station stress disorder, or PTTSSD for short, after all.) However, I’d never before been to Amsterdam, the Merry Old Land of Awes…ome public transportation—the most organized, cleanest, loveliest, trustworthiest of all train stations/airports.
This was no Rome Termini or Gare du Nord. This is a concourse of a different color. So, I felt perfectly safe storing my
ruby slippers luggage here. And it really couldn’t be easier. Actually, it could–I made you a map.
Schiphol luggage storage
From the big inflatable tulip, enter the airport and walk straight to the opposite end. Veer right and follow the yellow signs (of course they’re yellow!) leading downstairs to the luggage storage area.
Official page for Schiphol luggage storage with prices and hours found here.
3. Purchase bus + Keukenhof entrance tickets
Back out at the giant tulip you’ll see a truck with pictures of tulips all over it. At this truck you can buy all-in-one round-trip bus tickets from Amsterdam to Keukenhof and back, plus your Keukenhof entrance ticket. They call this the Combiticket.
Do not lose this ticket; don’t put it down on the bus or otherwise misplace it. You just have to hold onto it for twenty minutes. I have faith in you.
4. Get on the Keukenhof bus
Mere feet away from the ticket truck is the bus from Amsterdam to Keukenhof. It, too, is covered in and surrounded by tulips.
There are Keukenhof signs, a designated pathway, and, for whatever reason, a team of people leading you the five feet to the front of the bus.
The only way you could screw this up is if you’d just completed a dizzy bat race or something. Well, this is Amsterdam, I guess that’s not out of the realm of possibility.
Amsterdam to Keukenhof park guide
To visit Keukenhof is to experience so much Dutch! Besides all the flowers, there’s also… a windmill and guys in wooden shoes, traditional Dutch dancers wearing traditional Dutch clothing next to some guys riding traditional Dutch bicycles.
There are traditional Dutch beauties greeting you upon arrival, and traditional Dutch herring to eat on traditional Dutch benches next to a traditional Dutch lake. Or whatever.
In short, a day trip from Amsterdam to Keukenhof is the best possible way to absorb historically Dutch culture when you’re strapped for time in the Netherlands and more or less tethered to Amsterdam.
Keukenhof opening 2022
The thing you MUST know about Keukenhof flower gardens is that it’s only open for a brief time each year. And I mean brief… less than two months actually. (Tulips represent brevity in the Netherlands, remember?)
For 2022, Keukenhof is only open from March 24 – May 15, 2022. During that time, it is open every day from 8:00 AM to 7:30 PM.
(I’m just gonna throw it out there that’s also about the same timeframe as tornado season in Kansas. Just sayin’.)
Keukenhof 2022 theme
Every year Keukenhof designs their floral arrangements and displays based on a particular theme. The Keukenhof theme for 2022 is “Flower Classics.”
Of this theme, Keukenhof says: “Flowers are used as classic symbols in art, architecture and design. Roses symbolise love and tulips stand for spring! At Keukenhof we bring these classics together, with the wonderful tulip as the radiant centrepiece!”
What to see at Keukenhof
Geez, where do I even start? Actually, let’s start with flowers. At Keukenhof, you can see just about every flower variety you could dream up. All sizes, shapes, and colors, and not at all restricted to tulips.
There are indoor pavilions with flowers, outdoor gardens, incredible floral arrangements all around the entire park, multiple flower shows, and beyond. Additionally, there are five themed “Inspirational Gardens”:
- Reconnection Garden featuring sustainable materials that bring you back to nature
- Tropical Beach Garden with a beach-y theme under some palm trees
- Green Tea Garden that features a huge selection of herbs (where you can drink tea)
- Cottage Garden that feels like a retreat from the city with its wild plants and relaxing atmosphere
- Red Romance Garden full of cherub statuary and all that lovey-dovey stuff
There’s the Tulpomania Exhibition, flower mosaics and walk of fame, and, naturally, a flower bulb shop! Looking to feed your urban wildlife back home something from the Netherlands? Here you go.
There’s also a windmill you can climb and talk to the caretaker about how windmills work. (This was seriously news to me.) You can also get great views of the tulip fields from up there.
There are performances and dancing, mazes, huge displays of artwork, and even baby animals. You can take a boat ride through the flower bulb fields, explore them by bike, or take guided tours with a Keukenhof guide.
Tips for your Amsterdam to Keukenhof trip
While it’s a pretty self-explanatory day trip, there are a few things you should know before you go. Check it:
Don’t bring big items
Like I said earlier, if you’ll be checking out of your hotel and/or on the way to somewhere else afterwards, you’ll want to store your luggage/bigger items at Schiphol.
Keukenhof does have lockers you can rent for a couple of euros (that you get back afterwards) but they are much too small to fit a suitcase. Their locker dimensions are 10” x 21” x 17”. You may be able to fit a small backpack in there, but not much more than that.
If the info above and the numerous photos don’t get the point across, there is so much to do and see on a day trip from Amsterdam to Keukenhof.
Definitely aim to arrive early in the morning so you can take full advantage of the day and not have to feel rushed here. Even if you’re a go-go-go traveler like me, you’ll definitely want to slow down and spend more time here. I promise.
Personally, I felt rushed during my time there because I had to get back to Amsterdam to catch my train to Brussels. I spent about 3 hours in the park though I definitely wish I’d at least another hour. (And I’m not like a super flower nerd or anything, it’s just an amazing and huge place! And you heard me mention tiny goats, right?)
That being said, Keukenhof themselves says 3 hours is about typical of what people spend there. Maybe you’re like me and will want more time. Maybe you’re more like Dorothy who yearned to visit a beautiful, carefree place somewhere over the rainbow, actually got there, then immediately said, “I’d give anything to get out of here altogether!”
So, how long you’ll want to spend there may vary. But, it’s always nice to have the option of more time in case you do find yourself totally enthralled or maybe just wanna take a nap in some poppies.
Wear comfortable shoes
Keukenhof is huge; you’re going to be doing a lot of walking. Most of it will be on paved paths, but some of it may be on grass and some of it might be wet. Sometimes you’ll be hopping over ponds on wooden planks and maybe you’ll even ride a bike.
Be sure to wear comfortable shoes for your trip from Amsterdam to Keukenhof. Trust me, despite how much they speak to you, do not opt for wooden clogs today!
Take note of that small window
By that I mean, don’t forget (or fail to notice at all) that Keukenhof is only open for about six weeks out of the entire year. If Keukenhof (or just seeing tulips in Holland) is high up on your bucket list, do not miss this crucial point!
Keukenhof alone is definitely worth visiting Amsterdam in the spring so you totally won’t regret prioritizing it.
Eat there or bring your own
Personally, I chose to eat at Keukenhof on my visit because it’s just so much more convenient and I was really amped to try some herring. (Which was so delicious BTW!)
However, they do allow you to bring your own food if you want to have yourself a little picnic among the flowers. (You just can’t eat it at the restaurants.) If you’ve got time and access to a grocery store in Amsterdam, this might be a delightful (and cheaper) way to go.
Work on your squats
I’m just saying… you’ll be doing a lot of this all day trying to take photos of alllll the flowers. It wouldn’t hurt to work on building up those quads ahead of time.
Don’t forget your antihistamines
I don’t think I need to remind you, allergy sufferers, that Keukenhof flower gardens are loaded with flowers, and pollen, and bees, and probably a lot of other things that’ll have you reaching for your antihistamines.
Best time to visit Keukenhof
The tulips in the fields outside Keukenhof (which you can see from the windmill) are grown for their bulbs, not their flowers. Because of this, the flowers are plucked from the plants which strengthens the bulbs for next year.
This typically occurs on or close to April 30th each year. I visited on March 31st, so the tulips weren’t fully in bloom yet. So, if you want to see the tulip fields in full color, visit in mid-April for your best chance.
That being said, the best time to visit Keukenhof also depends on which flowers you want to see the most. If you’re more into daffodils, crocuses, and hyacinths, you’ll want to visit at the start of Keukenhof season.
Unlike the bulb fields, the tulips inside the park don’t get plucked and grow huge and colorful. These tulips bloom in the latter half of the Keukenhof season. Towards the end of the season you’ll also get the benefit of fully green trees.
So, if I were to visit again, I personally would visit in mid-late April. I would love to have seen more of the tulips and leaves on the trees, but alas, I did not know. Now you know.
Other than that, Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays are the least crowded days to visit. Enjoy your day trip from Amsterdam to Keukenhof! There’s no place like Holland.
Is a trip from Amsterdam to Keukenhof at the top of your Holland bucket list?
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