Getting the best out of a trip to Keukenhof - Mundana



If you love flowers, there’s a good chance you will have heard of Keukenhof. This vast flower exhibition and gardens is one of the best places in the world to see spring bulbs in bloom. If you’re interested in finding out more, take a look at Mundana’s guide to getting the best out of a trip to Keukenhof.

Why is Keukenhof so special?

If you think you’ve seen impressive floral displays, think again. A team of gardeners plant around 7 million bulbs by hand across a 79 acre site, making this the largest of its kind anywhere on the planet. At the end of the season, they’re all dug up again and preparations begin for the following year’s designs. Many local growers supply the bulbs for free and businesses sponsor formal displays. The event has now been running for more than 70 years and shows no sign of waning popularity.

Pixabay/Mabel Amber

Many of Keukenhof’s displays feature tulips and there is an astonishing array of varieties. You’ll lose count way before you reach the 800 or so that are featured. Singles, doubles, fluted, frilled: they all compete for your attention. The colours are even more varied; multi-coloured blooms will catch your eye while some flower in a single shade from the palest pink to black (actually, those are a very dark purple).

Julia Hammond

You’ll also find plenty of other flowering bulbs such as hyacinths, crocuses, daffodils, hellebores and fritillaries, planted to dazzling effect. That’s not all: artwork and sculptures are featured throughout the park. There’s also a playground and farmyard animals to keep the youngest visitors from flagging. Across the park, there are plenty of props ideal for creative selfies, from boats to bicycles.

Where should you start?

If the garden is so big, how do you make sure you see it all? Visitors enter Keukenhof by one of two entrances. There, greeters hand out maps of the park which fold up into a handy size that fits easily into your pocket. Get a jump on what’s where by visiting the Keukenhof website ahead of your trip, where you’ll find the same map. Take a look and familiarise yourself with the layout. While much of the garden can be seen at whatever pace you like, boat trips depart for the bulb fields at set times. Find them close to the historic windmill. These trips can fill up quickly, so if you want to make sure you’re not disappointed, prebook a timed ticket online or reserve yourself a slot on the day, but do this as soon as you arrive.

Pixabay/Jan den Ouden

When’s the best time to go?

There’s no easy answer to this question as the weather in the weeks and months leading up to your visit determines how far along the bulbs are. The first thing to note is that Keukenhof is only open for a couple of months each year. It opens towards the end of March and closes mid-May. While daffodils tend to flower earlier, typically the tulip fields are better later on. Cleverly, the bulb displays are designed so that the blooms are staggered. By planting in three layers, as one display fades, the next is pushing up out of the ground to take over the spotlight. There’s always something to see.

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Julia Hammond

How long should you spend there?

Because of Keukenhof’s size, you’ll want to spend at least a whole day there. It gets crowded, attracting more than a million visitors. At peak periods such as weekends, tickets sell out, so reserve in advance online to avoid disappointment. That’s especially the case for the Flower Parade day. If you’re planning a trip of a couple of weeks in length, you might wish to consider going twice, at the beginning and at the end of your holiday. As the bulbs flower at varying times, you may find there’s a noticeable difference in the displays.

Julia Hammond

If you can, try to get there early. That way, you can see some of the larger displays without the crowds. Some parts of the park are busier than others. If you’re in need of a breather, make your way over to the Juliana pavilion. This has a fascinating exhibit about the history of tulips and how they first came to the Netherlands. Across the site, there are also numerous cafes where you can purchase refreshments.

How can Keukenhof fit into a longer Netherlands itinerary?

Keukenhof is conveniently located in Lisse, midway between Rotterdam and Amsterdam. As a consequence, it makes a super add-on to an architecture focused itinerary in Rotterdam or a complement to historic Amsterdam, where incidentally there’s an interesting museum devoted to everything about tulips. You can learn about Tulip Mania in the Dutch Golden Age, where fashion and greed sent prices soaring in what’s possibly the earliest speculative economic bubble in history. In addition, throughout April Amsterdam hosts its annual Tulip Festival with colourful flowers to admire at more than 80 locations across the city.

If you aren’t planning to drive to Keukenhof – and there’s really no need – you can purchase a combination ticket. This includes a bus transfer from one of a number of locations, including Amsterdam, Schipol Airport, Haarlem and Leiden. You prebook a slot going to Keukenhof and join the line to depart whenever you are ready. Buses from Amsterdam tend to be more frequent but also the queues are often longer for the return journey. So, you might wish to buck the trend and travel from lovely Leiden instead.

Other useful information

Another point to note is that Keukenhof offers luggage storage. Daypacks can be stored free of charge in lockers situated just outside the park entrance while at the same location you’ll find a secure room where you can deposit larger items. However, before you’re tempted to bring a spare bag and cram it full of bulbs to recreate Keukenhof at home, check your country’s import rules and make sure you can legally get them home. If you’re in any doubt, why not consider buying a painting or print instead?

Julia Hammond

To make your Keukenhof dream trip a reality, get in touch with Mundana today. Our experts can craft the perfect itinerary to showcase the best of what the Netherlands has to offer, or combine it with other European countries such as Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria or the UK.

Getting the best out of a trip to Keukenhof

written by Julia Hammond

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