One of my most frequently asked questions each spring is ‘when is the best time to visit the Keukenhof Gardens?’ My answer – that depends…
Each autumn, 7 million flower bulbs are planted at the Keukenhof Gardens, in the tiny town of Lisse, South Holland, in the Netherlands. The gardens are carefully planned, so bulbs bloom early to late in the season. This means there is no time when all the flowers are in bloom at once. Which means whenever you visit, throughout the season, there will be plenty of tulips to enjoy.
When is Keukenhof open in 2018?
In 2018, Keukenhof will be open from March 22nd until May 13th To time your visit, keep an eye on the weather and how quickly it warms up this spring.
What’s the Best Time of the Month to Visit Keukenhof?
I have visited Keukenhof Gardens 11 times over the past dozen years and even though I target similar dates, in the middle of the season, some years I have seen more flowers in bloom than others.
The most important and unpredictable factor is Mother Nature herself. The timing of the tulips will vary depending on how cold or warm the winter has been. Keep an eye on the weather and use your best judgment. If it’s still cold in mid-March, delay your visit by a week or two. If it is unseasonably warm, visit the gardens earlier.
You can overcome the variable climate in the vast greenhouse complexes at Keukenhof, where you can enjoy thousands of tulips throughout the season.
Another essential factor to consider is what you hope to see at the Keukenhof.
- If you are hoping to photograph outdoor beds full of multi-coloured tulips, it is best to aim for the middle of the season in mid to late April.
- If you want to enjoy the best of the new tulip varieties inside the greenhouses, early to mid-April is better.
- If other varieties of flowers are your primary concern, you can check the schedule of events to see what flowers are featured each week.
Whenever you visit during the season, it is best to avoid weekends and holidays if at all possible. 50 million people have visited Keukenhof Gardens over the past 65 years, and some days it can feel as if all of them are there at the same time!
What’s the Best Time of Day to Visit Keukenhof?
If you aim to photograph landscapes of Keukenhof that are devoid of people, you need to arrive as soon as the gates open and work quickly. (See my article on photo tips to avoid crowds) The area near the pond is one of the first parts of the park to get busy.
Later in the day, you can still escape the main crowds by heading to some of the more out of the way paths. The woodland gardens are a beautiful place to get some shade and avoid the onslaught of tour-bus visitors.
The Greenhouses also get extremely crowded as the day goes on, mainly the orchid house, as it is narrow, to begin with. If you hope to do some macro photography, it is best to target the greenhouses early.
How to Skip the Lines at Keukenhof
PRO TIP – Get in quickly by skipping the lines at Keukenhof. Purchase your Keukenhof tickets in advance, to bypass the ticket lines (which can be massive) and go straight to the entrance gate.
How to Get to Keukenhof from Amsterdam
On all of our visits to Keukenhof, we drove ourselves and parked in the vast parking fields around the garden. This was the best option for us as we wanted to stay all day and not have the time limits imposed by public transportation or being part of a group. This solution isn’t ideal, as traffic getting into Keukenhof can be insane, especially on weekends. We’ve spent over an hour getting from the motorway exit to the parking area in the past, so plan ahead if you do choose to drive.
The easiest way to visit Keukenhof without driving yourself is visiting as part of a package tour. There are some great options that include transportation from Amsterdam and range from touring the gardens on your own or with a guide in a variety of languages. Here are some of the top picks:
Whenever you go, remember the Keukenhof is 32 hectares, so you probably won’t be able to see everything. Every year is different, and there is always something new to see and photograph.
Pace yourself, take plenty of breaks, and do as I do, breathe deep, and carry a big tripod!
For more on Keukenhof, read our 25 Facts about Keukenhof Gardens and Tulips, in the Netherlands. Also, learn about the alternative to Keukenhof, in Belgium – The Floralia Flower and Garden show at Groot-Bijgaarden Castle, near Brussels.