This past May, my husband and I were lucky enough to visit Holland during tulip season. We didn't plan our trip specifically to see the Keukenhof Gardens, but I'm so glad we happened to be there during this time. Now that we've experienced it firsthand, I would definitely recommend others to try to go the Netherlands in the springtime. It's seriously a must-go and worth planning your trip around!
What is Keukenhof?
We'd read a bit on Keukenhof before going, but nothing can really perpare you for the beauty. It's known as the Garden of Europe and is one of the world's largest flower gardens. There are 7 million bulbs planted annually over the 79 acres of land and features over 800 varities of tulips. The gardens are open from mid-March to mid-May from 8am-7.30pm every day of the week and on average a million visitors will see it each year.
What do you do there and how long should you go for?
Honestly, just walk around and enjoy the scenery! There are paths and walkways throughout and you could easily spend hours just wandering and taking pictures. I'd recommend 2 hours as a sufficient amount of time to see most of the park and get a real feel for it, but I can imagine others stay longer.
How to get there and how much does it cost?
Keukenhof Gardens are located in Lisse, which is about 40 minutes southwest of central Amsterdam. I'd recommend going first thing when you arrive in Amsterdam because there is a direct bus that operates seasonally to the gardens from the Schiphol Airport. The Keukenhof Express (bus 858) runs about every 5-10 minutes from the airport and is easy to find right outside Schiphol Plaza. Buying a combi-ticket makes the most sense as it includes round trip bus fare and admission to the gardens for €24 pp. You can purchase your tickets online beforehand or at the bus, but that way you can skip the queue once arriving at the gardens. There are free lockers and luggage storage at the gardens too which is super handy if you come direct off your flight.
If you're not going to take the bus, you could also drive yourself (there's onsite parking for €6) or go with an organized tour group. If you don't buy a combi-ticket, the entrance fee is €16 for adults and €8 for kids.
When to go?
As mentioned above the gardens are only open in the Spring and we've heard that the last two weeks in April are the best time to see everything in bloom. Though we went in May and thought it couldn't get any better! The weekends definitely get busy, so if you want to experience the park without large crowds I'd recommend going early in the day or on a weekday if you can. We went around 11am on a Saturday and it was busy, but it still didn't take away from the beauty of the park. Just be patient with the crowds and know that you likely won't get many pictures that don't have people in them.
What else could I do there?
The area surrounding the gardens is where you can see acres on acres of tulip fields that are mostly on private land. Though we didn't do this ourselves, you can rent bikes for €10 outside the garden entrance and explore the fields of Lisse that way. I would have loved to do this if we had more time!