Tulips from (just outside) Amsterdam: Add Keukenhof to your spring travel bucket list

The beautiful spring garden is one of the Netherlands’ top tourist attractions – but hurry as it’s only open for eight weeks a year.

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If spring flowers fill you with joy, there is one place in Europe that is an absolute must: Keukenhof.

Near the Dutch capital of Amsterdam, you’ll find huge gardens filled with seven million bulbs – mostly tulips.

The Lisse-based flower show is set on 32 hectares (or 79 acres) of land, and each bulb is carefully planted by one of Keukenhof’s 40 gardeners.

2024 marks the 75th anniversary of the glorious garden. Here’s everything you need to know about it – and how to make a floral visit a reality when it officially opens on March 21.

A brief history of the Keukenhof garden

The doors to it Keukenhof – also known as the Garden of Europe – opened on March 21, 1949.

Founded that year by a consortium of flower growers and exporters, it was originally created to showcase products and support the Dutch export industry.

The following year, the garden opened to the public and was an immediate success, welcoming 200,000 visitors in its first season.

It is located in the municipality of Lisse, just south-west of Amsterdamit is now known as one of the largest flower gardens in the world.

It dates back to 1638, when Adriaen Maertensz Block, captain and governor of the Dutch East India Company, bought the land and built a large manor house called Keukenhof Castle.

In 1857, the then owners Baron and Baroness Van Pallandt commissioned landscape architect Jan David Zocher and his son Louis Paul Zocher – both designers of Amsterdam’s Vondelpark – to restructure the park and grounds around the building.

These designs, in typical English style, still form the basis of the modern Keukenhof Gardens.

Here’s what to expect during a visit to Keukenhof

While the gardens are nothing short of a cultural phenomenon, especially for the sheer amount of tulips on display, you won’t just see these beautiful spring flowers.

Around 600 growers and trading companies offer their best flowers, shrubs and trees for the show, which runs for around eight weeks a year.

Expect to catch sights like roses and orchids, as well as 800 different types of tulips and some of the best cherry blossoms in the entire country.

Different species are given their own spaces to display their unique charms.

Among the many themed pavilions, you will come across Beatrix – named after the former queen of the Netherlands – where you will find orchids and anthuriums. The nearby Oranje Nassau Pavilion displays the finest roses, chrysanthemums and daffodils.

There seems to be something for everyone, even the youngest visitors.

As well as millions of flowers, there is a children’s maze as well as a scavenger hunt, petting zoo and a themed playground around MythDutch rabbit icon.

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You can also delve into the history of Keukenhof, with a visit to the park’s famous windmill, which was built in Groningen in 1892 and was previously used as a pumping mill.

Also on display are authentic 16th and 17th century tulip varieties that serve to illustrate the development of more than 400 years of bulb growing in Netherlands.

Located throughout the gardens, you’ll also come across around 100 individual sculptures that display a wide variety of artistic styles.

The whole place is an artist’s dream, especially if you’re into photography. Flowers – in every tone imaginable – pop up every year across social media, drawing people in with their veritable riot of color.

How to get the most out of your visit to Keukenhof

Since its establishment, Keukenhof has been surprisingly extremely popular as a destination.

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However, due to its sheer size, Keukenhof doesn’t feel too busy. However, we’d advise a little forward planning before your fingertips cross the tulips.

If you are traveling to the Netherlands just to visit Keukenhof, we would recommend staying in nearby Lisse and catching a local bus.

Starting in Amsterdam? You will want to take the metro and get off at the Europaplein station. From there, take bus 852 – otherwise known as the Keukenhof Express. It runs up to ten times an hour and takes just over 30 minutes to reach the garden. You will need to take bus 858 if you are going directly to Keukenhof from Schiphol Airport; the journey takes half an hour and runs frequently.

No matter how long your trip is, it is not a visit to the Netherlands with a boat or bike ride. Fortunately, there are a number of bike tours you can take around Keukenhof, and if water is more your thing, you’re in luck.

Electric boats cruise the canals between the bulb fields around Keukenhof, meaning you can take in the rainbow of flowers in a super relaxed way.

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Keukenhof is open from March 21 to May 12, 2024.

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