50 shades of Dutch tulips.
Keukenhof tulip gardens in Lisse are one of the major tourist attractions in the Netherlands, because they are exactly what the name says: a huge property full of all sorts of carefully curated, absolutely gorgeous blooming tulip gardens. The gardens are only open for about 2 months during tulip season, which is sometime between the end of March and beginning of May, and during that time all the visitors in the Netherlands go crazy – think Eiffel tower in Paris crazy, both in terms of cliche and crowded.
Since I am not a huge fan of overcrowded top 10 tourist attractions, Keukenhof gardens were not on my list at first, because every Dutch person I met while I was in the Netherlands told me that only tourists go there. Everyone else just drives out to the tulip fields if they want to enjoy the blooms, which may sound like a good alternative, but as far as I am concerned, the Keukenhof gardens are a way better option and I am glad I was convinced to go by a friend.
Firstly, Keukenhof has ALL the tulip varities and I didn’t even know that so many types of tulips exist or that they can look like that. If you visit a tulip field, it is just one whole field full of the same or maybe a couple different types of tulips, which is also very pretty of course, but the gardens were mind blowing. So, if you are the least bit of a flower enthusiast, I would totally recommend splurging on the Keukenhof ticket. Also, the tulip farmers are getting very sick of random tourists trampling allover their fields for that perfect tulip Instagram photo, so the gardens are a more civilised way to get one and they even have some very cheesy photo staging spots. If you visit in the afternoon like I did on the way back from Leiden, the crowds are manageable and I even met a couple of Dutch folks enjoying the gardens, but I’ll let the photos convince you on their own. In fact, after I posted them on my social media, even some of my new Dutch friends from the University were tempted to finally visit Keukenhof. 🙂
Impressions from the Keukenhof tulip gardens
Know before you go: Keukenhof is an extremely popular tourist destination and it is only open during tulip season, so you’ll need to book your tickets online in advance. In 2022, the price of a single ticket was 18.50€. The easiest way to get there is to take the special Keukenhof Express bus, which runs from Amsterdam, Amsterdam Schipol airport, Leiden and Haarlem, but you can also buy a parking ticket if you are coming by car. You can use the Dutch public transport card for the bus, or you can buy a combined bus and entrance ticket, but either way it is a rather cheap and very efficient way to get there. Keep in mind that each bus has a limited capacity though, so it is best to arrive to the bus station earlier because of the crowds.
The gardens will be crowded no matter when you visit, but I would recommend visiting on a week day and in the afternoon (after 3 pm) when the large tourist groups brought in directly from Amsterdam airport have already left. That way you will still have enough time to enjoy the garden, but it won’t be as crowded + you’ll catch the evening golden hour, which makes for nice photos. Luckily, the whole property is large enough that the people disperse around a bit once you get past the entrance and there are several cafes and sitting spots available, so when I was there it did not feel too hectic. There is also a souvenir shop and a small petting zoo with a playground, but the tulips are the real stars of the show and unless you are planning to make a whole day out of it, 2-3 hours is enough to walk through the whole property. Also, make sure you don’t miss the indoor glasshouse area, where the giant tulips live.
In 2022, the tickets were organised into timeslots due to Covid restrictions, but they were not very strict about it and the visiting rules tend to change every year, so check online for the current arrangement. All in all, for me the Keukenhof gardens were absolutely worth the visit and seem to be one of those tourist attractions that live up to the hype.
P.S.: Look, my shirt actually matched the tulips and the whole setting, which is such a rare travel blogger feat for me since I don’t plan my outfits.
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