Each year, tourists flock to Lisse, one of the most beautiful cities in the Netherlands. What’s in Lisse? One of the most famous garden complexes worldwide in full bloom – Keukenhof. Despite the fact that it is only open eight weeks out of the year, hundreds of thousands of people make the journey to wander around the sprawling 32 hectares of pavilions, landscaped gardens, ponds, and paths. With new guidelines and protocols to follow in light of the current pandemic situation, here’s updated information on how to visit Keukenhof.
Given its reputation as the ‘Garden of Europe’ and the throngs of people who come to the Netherlands specifically for Keukenhof, it goes without saying that it’s beneficial to do some due diligence before planning your visit – something I regrettably did not do before visiting Keukenhof with my mom. In this ‘Ultimate Guide for Visiting Keukenhof,’ I’ll share mistakes I made and expectations I had, tips on saving money and transportation, as well as other pertinent information.
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Spring is a season of new beginnings and new awakenings, and experiencing springtime tulips in the Netherlands should be on everyone’s bucket list. To visit Keukenhof, you’ll have to visit the Netherlands between March through May to enjoy one of the most beautiful spring events around the world. The hours of operation will remain the same as in previous years, opening at 8:00 and closing at 19:30.
How to get to Keukenhof from Amsterdam
Depending on your personal preferences, there are a few different ways to get to Keukenhof from Amsterdam. Bus, organized tour, or car. Alternatively, you could opt to spend the night in Lisse and walk to the gardens to be there when they open, avoiding the masses. This may be the best option to visit Keukenhof, as it avoids public transportation and crowds.
From Amsterdam’s city center, you can reach Keukenhof by bus, however, the route is not direct. This is the option my mom and I chose, and it was very straightforward despite not speaking Dutch. From Amsterdam, you’ll take a bus to Schipol Airport or Hoofddorp. From either of these places, you can get on the Keukenhof Express, which will take you straight to the gardens. If you opt for this route, definitely get the Combiticket (see admission info below).
Starting at $80 USD, you can take an organized, guided tour to Keukenhof from Amsterdam to save any stress you may be feeling from taking public transportation. The entire tour takes about six hours and includes admission to the gardens. There is direct pick-up and drop-off at select Amsterdam hotels, otherwise, there is a communal meeting spot in the city center. This is a great option if you want a guided tour to ensure you see the highlights, learn about the flowers, experience the history of Keukenhof, and hear interesting stories from your guide.
If you have your own vehicle or have rented a car, driving to Keukenhof is of course an option. Parking is available for €6,00. Driving is another great option to visit Keukenhof in 2021 in order to adhere to social distancing and other COVID precautions.
Adult admission is €18,50 in 2021. For children aged 4-11, the price is €9,00. Children under 3 are admitted free. If you are taking a bus from Amsterdam, definitely get the Combiticket. This includes entrance to the park plus public transportation fees, for €32,50. This winds up saving you a bit overall, a couple of euros.
What to expect at Keukenhof
To sum it up briefly, there are two main components of Keukenhof – the gardens and the pavilions. For both displays, prepare yourself for a sensory experience of vibrant color and pleasant, floral aromas. The gardens are arranged meticulously with complex detail, in complementary and contrasting color patterns. Throughout the gardens you’ll find benches and different art installations, mostly inspired by Dutch culture.
In the pavilions, you’ll find a nice reprieve from the chilly Dutch spring weather. There are rows and rows of various flower species lining the tables. The arrangements change throughout the season according to what is currently in bloom. You could visit in March and visit again in May and have two very contrasting experiences!
Tips for Visiting Keukenhof
Don’t come expecting to see the iconic Dutch tulip fields
This was my main mistake and, in all honesty, I was pretty disappointed. My mother, on the other hand, is passionate about gardening and really enjoyed the landscaped and manicured gardens throughout Keukenhof. See more below on how to see the tulip fields.
Purchase your ticket online and in advance
With COVID restrictions in mind, know that you will purchase your ticket with arrival expected during a particular timeframe. If you aren’t going to make your timeslot for whatever reason, unfortunately these tickets will not be honored. However, you can modify ticket times up to seven days prior to arrival if you need to change your time in advance.
When go to
Under normal circumstances, the best time to go would be Monday-Wednesday first thing in the morning, when Keukenhof opens at 8:00. However, with this new COVID protocol in place, the park will never be overly crowded and you can assume crowds will be (more or less) evenly spread throughout the day. This is really great if you’re not a morning person or are only visiting on the weekend!
Be sure to grab a map
You can easily get lost in Keukenhof (umm, hello, 32 hectares is 79 acres for my fellow Americans). Not only is the park gigantic, but the paths are convoluted and intertwining, making it easy to become spatially disoriented. The maps are most easily used if you’re coming from Keukenhof’s main entrance.
Know that tulips bloom at different times each year
I had no idea (though, thankfully, my mom did). While Keukenhof has a multitude of flowers blooming throughout the eight weeks it’s open to the public, if you’re determined to see tulips while in the Netherlands, check the flower reports. Starting in early March 2021, these reports will be available here. In general, know that the early season is best for crocuses, daffodils, hyacinths and early tulips. The large tulips and other flowers often bloom later in the season.
Traveling with a furry friend?
Dogs are allowed at Keukenhof (one dog per person), however, they are not allowed in the pavilions or restaurants. Despite the fact that I travel with my dogs, I would not recommend bringing your pet given the crowds and commotion.
Food & Drink at Keukenhof
The garden is littered with cafés and restaurants, and surprisingly, the prices aren’t too exorbitant. Still, the food certainly isn’t James Beard-caliber, and you’ll be much better off packing a picnic. Grab some traditional Dutch snacks, a bottle of wine or a couple of beers, and post up on the grass somewhere.
Keukenhof for Children
In addition to exploring the winding garden paths and pavilions, there are a number of other family activities at Keukenhof to ensure the little ones don’t get bored. There’s a small petting zoo and a shaded play area in case the walking around gets to be too much.
Tulip Fields in Lisse
I made the epic mistake of not doing my research in advance, and I went to Keukenhof expecting to see Holland’s quintessential tulip fields. Alas, going to Keukenhof is not the way to do this. If you want to see the tulip fields, here’s how you can do it in Lisse:
Rent a bicycle! This is one of the most affordable (not to mention classically Dutch) ways to experience the tulip fields. You can rent a bicycle for €15 per day, and some companies go so far as to provide you with cycling routes of varying distances.
Another option is to take a canal cruise. This is €9 for a 45-minute boat ride, which may seem like a dream. However, considering you are slightly below eye-level of the tulip fields, it doesn’t provide the best vantage point or photo opportunities.
Finally, you can take an electric car, which has a predetermined route and comes complete with audio guide, available in German, Dutch, or English. This is the most expensive option, at €85 for two hours.
It’s worth noting that you cannot walk through the paths in the tulip fields. This damages the bulbs and the fields are private property. Take your photos from the road!
Keukenhof and Covid
Before making any travel reservations, be sure to check the COVID restrictions currently implemented in the Netherlands. Be aware that things are subject to change with no notice and that most travel insurance companies do not cover COVID-19 for cancellations or treatment. Travel safely, wear a mask, socially distance, and follow all local regulations.
Keukenhof complies to the guidelines presented in the ‘Veilig Samen Uit’ [safe out together] conventions applicable to crowded daytime attractions in the Netherlands. The garden implements a reasonable system with regard to social distancing. They will provide you with clear information and hygiene guidelines to keep yourself and other visitors safe during your visit. Post-pandemic, Keukenhof will cap the number of visitors it receives per day. In order to prevent overly crowded times, timeslots will be implemented as well when pre-purchasing your ticket. If there is a lockdown or if Keukenhof is no longer permitted to open, cancelations will be honored according to their website.