Keukenhof is the home of the Holland’s annual tulip festival and the most well known tulip festival in the world. The Dutch festival is located an hour by train (35 km) south of Amsterdam in the small town of Lisse. It’s a fun day trip from the capital for flower and garden enthusiasts or you could include it in a road trip around the Netherlands.
I’ve always wanted to go to Holland to see the tulips and the festival didn’t disappoint. Walking around the gardens you’ll see colourful flower beds of tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and so many other flowering bulbs.
The festival runs from late March to mid-May (2018 dates: 22nd March – 13th May 2018 – book a tour here) and depending on when you visit you’ll see different flowers in bloom. When I went in early April the tulips were just starting to flower in the outdoor flower beds and there were thousands inside. Late April to May is probably the best time to go.
Some of the best and most interesting tulips are in the indoor pavilions. The pavilions are where you’ll see just about every tulip colour and type imaginable and these are in flower for the entire festival. They’re always experimenting with new colours and types of tulips. You’ll find singles and doubles in the most amazing colours. If you love tulips or flowers or gardening in general, you’ll love the Keukenhof gardens.
My favourite was probably this blue and pink fringed tulip. Such a special tulip. It’s very cool to see something like that in person. The black (or near black) tulips are unique and unusual too. Each year, new varieties of tulips are on display so you can visit in multiple years and see different tulips each time.
If you visit in April, you’ll also see many different colours of sweet smelling hyacinths. Hyacinths are underrated in my opinion. I love them, even the cute little grape hyacinths! There are flower beds filled with pink, white, blue, yellow, and mauve hyacinths and there are different varieties in pots in the pavilion.
I was surprised to see there is also an indoor area for orchids. I have never seen such variety before. If only I could grow these myself somehow. They are incredible! Don’t miss this section of the festival, they are located in one of the larger pavilions separated from the indoor tulips.
You can buy some tulip bulbs to try to grow at home if you like. You can get them at the Keukenhof gardens in Lisse or at the floating garden centres on the canals in Amsterdam. Just make sure your country allows you to bring home plants.
Don’t forget that around Keukenhof there are massive fields of tulips. These are almost better than the festival itself. I would reserve enough time to explore the area outside of the gardens to see the famous tulip fields. Definitely try to visit for sunrise or sunset if you want to get the best photos. There is a new tulip tour on offer where you can ride a bike around the tulip fields. Definitely check this out as cycling is one of the best ways to get around in the Netherlands.
Sunrise and sunset times in Lisse in spring 2018.
I know it can be a pain to get up for sunrise but it’s totally worth it. You’ll need to allow plenty of time to scope out a location which is another reason to stay in Lisse, it’ll give you plenty of time to take photos of the tulip fields. Staying in Leiden is also a good option for this reason.
How to Get To Keukenhof
Keukenhof is located in Lisse in Holland. The event is an easy day trip from Amsterdam or Leiden. Buses run regularly from both cities or if driving there is plenty of parking at the event.
Avoid the queues by buying your ticket online in advance.
If you prefer to do a day tour from Amsterdam, I recommend this one:
This tour runs multiple times per day starting from central Amsterdam.
Where to Stay for Keukenhof Gardens
I stayed in Lisse at the Hotel de Duif for the convenience of being able to walk to the festival but I believe the rooms are now quite dated. I highly recommend staying at the Boutique Suites Lisse instead. Most visitors prefer to visit Keukenhof on a day trip from Amsterdam and in that case I recommend the gorgeous Art’otel Amsterdam or the more affordable Sir Albert boutique hotel.
Leiden is another city where you might want to consider staying. There are more hotel options than Lisse and Leiden is a 20 minute drive from Keukenhof and less than an hour by train. Both the Hotel Steenhof and Hotel d’Oude Morsch are beautiful hotels in Leiden and the town is well worth a visit, more than Lisse.
I suggest booking Keukenhof hotels well in advance if you want to stay close to Keukenhof as the best hotels book up quickly.
Skip the Line – Buy Your Ticket Now
Keukenhof is a hugely popular event. If you want to avoid long queues I suggest ordering your ticket before you go.
Tickets are sent by email. It’s the most convenient way to get them.
The Best Time to Visit in 2018
Holland’s tulip festival in Keukenhof is open from the 22nd March to 13th May in 2018. I would recommend visiting in early April if you want to avoid the crowds and to see the hyacinths and daffodils but you’ll have a better chance for nice weather in May and this is also the best time to see the outdoor tulip displays. More details can be found on Keukenhof’s official site.
No matter when you visit there will always be 1000s of bulbs flowering throughout the gardens.
Visiting Keukenhof – Summary
- Keukenhof is open from 22nd March to 13th May in 2018.
- Tulips are in flower during the entire festival.
- You can also see hyacinths, daffodils, crocus, orchids, and other spring flowers.
- Stay in Lisse if you’d like to be walking distance to the event.
- Stay in Amsterdam if you’d prefer to do a day trip.
- List of the top restaurants in Lisse.
- List of the top restaurants in Amsterdam.
- It’s easy to reach the festival by car or public transport.
- Skip the line and buy your ticket online.
- Book a tour if you don’t want to organise your own visit.
- Rent a bike and cycle around the tulips fields in Lisse.