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10 Tips for Visiting Keukenhof Gardens in Amsterdam

Keukenhof Gardens in Amsterdam, Netherlands is perhaps one of the most stunning natural works of art you will ever see. Open for only 8 weeks a year, this Spring time spectacle showcases more than SEVEN MILLION TULIP BULBS all in one mind-blowing, can’t-believe-how-beautiful-it-is showcase of nature.

Which means that it attracts 800,000 people in eight weeks – 75% of whom are international visitors.

Keukenhof Gardens Amsterdam Netherlands Tulips

Keukenhof is a can’t miss destination in Amsterdam, and one that we’re extremely grateful to have experienced on our AmaWaterways river cruise last year (see the ship and what we dined on). This year Keukenhof Gardens is open from March 22 to May 13, 2018. Planning on visiting? Here’s some helpful information on transportation, when to go and what to see at Keukenhof Gardens, whether you’re there for the day or a river cruise excursion.

Keukenhof Gardens Amsterdam Netherlands Tulips

10 Tips to Make Your Keukenhof Gardens Experience Better:

Keukenhof Gardens Amsterdam Netherlands Tulips Manicured Tulip Fields

Buy a ticket with transportation included!

This is a lifesaver for Americans and international visitors who want to see the beauty of Keukenhof, but don’t want to worry about transportation schedules and transfers.

We arrived early in Amsterdam for our AmaWaterways cruise. We stayed for a couple nights at the Radisson Blu Hotel Schiphol (we’d never stay there again) to get over jet lag, and to go to Keukenhof Gardens for a longer period of time (we’re SO thankful that we did!!!!) I found that there are buses that leave directly from Schiphol Airport that go directly to Keukenhof, but only for those that purchase this combo ticket.

field of tulips in amsterdam

Trust me, it’s WORTH the extra €8 or so. Adult combo tickets are €24.50, with just Keukenhof Garden admittance for 17 euro. The peace of mind of just getting on the Keukenhof Bus and not worrying about transfers is priceless.

Keukenhof Gardens Amsterdam Netherlands Tulips Bus Transportation Included in Ticket

Keukenhof Gardens Amsterdam Netherlands Tulips Bus Transportation Schiphol Airport Ticket Purchase

We boarded the bus after sleeping off jet lag in the morning. The mid-afternoon departure was extremely crowded and we stood in line for quite a while. The buses were PACKED but the views when you got close to the gardens were amazing!!

Keukenhof Gardens Amsterdam Netherlands Tulips Bus Transportation Views of Tulip Fields

FYI: There are other departures throughout the Amsterdam area for the direct service if you’re staying in town or the outskirts.

Want to leave all of the planning details and transportation stress to someone else? These Viator Keukenhof Gardens Tours are a smart bet for you, including some with Amsterdam city tours or a trip to Zaanse Schans (which we loved).

Arrive Early or Late

Needless to say, tour groups fill the Keukenhof Gardens all day long, so if you arrive as soon as it opens, or stay later in the afternoon until closing, you’ll have much more room to explore and take pictures.

The first time we visited, it was late in the afternoon, so we stayed until closing time. The sun was still out, but the crowds were noticeably thin. This is the time that you want to be there!

Lighting is better, too, in the early morning or late evening. Prime picture taking lighting!

Posing for Pictures in Tulip Fields in Amsterdam

Earlier in the season is better than later

We visited both on the second to the last weekend that Keukenhof Gardens were open, and on the very last weekend. There were noticeable differences in the flowers – both in the vibrance and freshness, and in the amount to be seen. Just a week made a HUGE difference.

Keukenhof Gardens Amsterdam Netherlands Tulips Tulip Gardens

Grab a Park Guide

You’re going to need it. This place is massive. About 89 acres. Seriously. Do NOT think you can just wander around at your leisure and see everything. You’ve got to know the layout, and have a plan. Especially so you don’t get lost!

Keukenhof Gardens Amsterdam Netherlands Tulips Blue and Purple Tulip Fields

Be sure to walk to the tulip fields outside Keukenhof

As we stood inside Keukenhof Gardens on the edge of the canal that offers the boat tour, we saw people walking through tulip fields across the canal. The fields were not part of Keukenhof Gardens.

Wanting to tip-toe through the tulips, I finally yelled at someone across the canal and asked them how they got there. They said to walk through the parking lot. We left and walked through the parking area and on a well-worn path that many others were walking down, too.

It led to the most spectacular field of tulips that offered amazing photo opportunities! This field was full of flowers on the first time we visited. A week later, they had all been removed.

Keukenhof Gardens Amsterdam Netherlands Tulips Canal Side Views of Tulip Fields

Keukenhof Gardens Amsterdam Netherlands Tulips Tulip Fields Canal Outside of Gardens

Don’t eat during the low times

Eating in Europe is always relaxed and unrushed. It’s no different in the cafes inside Keukenhof Gardens. The food will come when it’s ready, your check won’t come until you beckon the server to bring it.

It’s all nice, until you’re trying to see 7 million tulips.

So if you do stop to eat, do so when the crowds are heavy in the gardens or the weather is bad or the lighting is horrible for pictures. Don’t waste precious time in the early morning or late afternoon waiting on a piece of cake and coffee.

Keukenhof Gardens Amsterdam Netherlands Tulips Cafe

Keukenhof Gardens Amsterdam Netherlands Tulips Cafe menu

Head to the outer areas

With 89 acres, it’s massive, and there are sure to be hidden gems of areas that the throngs of tourists haven’t found. There are also 800 varieties of tulips, and they’re not all going to be showcased in the same gardens.

Go the edge of the park (not near the main entrance) for less people and more picture taking opportunities. We found amazingly brilliant landscapes in more hidden areas of the park.

Keukenhof Gardens Amsterdam Netherlands Tulips Crowds Tulip Fields

Keukenhof Gardens Amsterdam Netherlands Tulips Less Crowded Tulip Fields

Skip the Indoor Exhibits Until the End

Let’s face it. You want to see tulips in bloom, and tons of them. The inside exhibits are interesting, but probably not as much as the outdoor gardens. See what you want outside first, then head towards the indoor buildings.

Keukenhof Gardens Amsterdam Netherlands Tulips

Stay as Long as You Can

Seriously. This isn’t a two hour jaunt, especially if you love taking photos. Plan at least half a day.

For our AmaWaterways excursion, I was really happy that they gave you two options. You could stay for just a few hours, or you could skip another afternoon excursion that day and spend that time at Keukenhof, too. So there were two pickup times from the AmaWaterways’ coaches. Both included in the free excursion. Stay for the entire length of time.

Keukenhof Gardens Amsterdam Netherlands Tulips Bus Transportation Excursion AmaWaterways

Skip a Tour

For our river cruise excursion, we were escorted inside Keukenhof Gardens and right past all of the beautiful gardens we had spent so much time admiring days before to go to a more sterile place to learn about the history of Keukenhof. I didn’t care and you might not either. I would have been pissed if I only had a few hours at Keukenhof and hadn’t already seen the gardens. Again, you’re there for the flowers and the photography.

Get inside and go off on your own, after you’re sure of the pickup time and location to get back to your ship.


Tuesday 28th of January 2020

Hi! Thanks for your tips, so helpful! Question - I printed the garden map from Keukenhof website, and do not see a canal. When you went out the main entrance and walked through the parking area, can you recall if you turned right or left to get on that path to the other side of the canal? I like to try and see/experience as much as possible when I travel, as you did! Many thanks.....

Kim Button

Wednesday 29th of January 2020

Hi Karen! From what I remember, we walked towards the left towards wherever the group bus parking would have been (or at least the express bus back to the airport). I remember a cute hut that had a hundred or so wooden shoes on the outside. Not sure if still there. We walked past wherever we would have picked up our bus in parking and then kept to the left. That's from what I can remember, but I don't want to steer you wrong. We asked a park employee and they told us how to get there, so you might want to ask some employees to see if they will tell you, too.


Sunday 23rd of September 2018

I must say wow..! The Keukenhof garden is massive. Love all the tips. By the way what time the bus will pick you up from Keukenhof and back to say Schiphol Airport?

Kim Button

Sunday 23rd of September 2018

Franklin, there were many times during the day to catch the buses. I don’t remember the times, but they were pretty frequent.