I have to be honest, I had not heard of Keukenhof Garden and the tulips of Holland before moving to Europe but when I did, I also found out they are an absolute bucket-list item. The gardens are open from the end of March until the end of May, so on a recent weekend I drove up with some friends to see what it was all about. I have to say, it is the most impressive presentation of flowers I have ever seen! There are millions of flowers there, not just tulips, and you can walk for hours along all the trails and areas. If you’re thinking (like I did), that you can’t possibly spend a whole day looking at flowers, I have to say that you can! The gardens have different exhibits you can go into, a small boat ride along more tulips, and a small windmill you can go into in addition to a dozen or more food-trucks and snack-stands scattered throughout the park. It is the perfect place to spend a day relaxing and lounging. You can bring food into the park as well so you are welcome to have a picnic anywhere you would like. Another plus, unlike you would see in America, all of the grass is free for walking. Nowhere seems to be off-limits as long as you don’t walk on the flowers themselves!
We also went the same day as the flower parade that goes through the city and passes by the gardens on its route. We were able to walk right outside and watch the floats go by. However, having seen the Rose Parade in person, I have to say that this parade was not up to my American expectations. It was difficult to see and the floats were very far apart from each other which caused us to lose a lot of the excitement and energy you typically have for a parade. We ultimately left after a couple of floats so we could make the 5 hour drive home. The floats were impressive for sure, but after a whole day looking at flowers plus not being able to understand them, it does make it a little less fun.
If you can’t afford the time to visit the gardens, or don’t want to pay the $16, there are tons of tulip farms along the roads into the park that you can stop and walk through as well! They aren’t as varied or unique as the arrangements and layout in the Keukenhof of course but they are impressive by themselves as well.
Is the Keukenhof of your bucket list? Here are my tips for planning your visit!
Tips for a trip to see Tulips
- Decide if it is important to you to see the parade. If it is, just know that this will be the most crowded day of the season. Don’t want to see the parade? Try and pick any other day! If you DO want to see the parade, try and get there early before the crowds all show up and the roads start closing. It took us 2 hours to go 20 minutes because of crowds and detours.
- Park at the gardens parking area. While we were caught in traffic we thought we would try and park in a parking garage but everything around the area is only 2-hour parking and the walk would have been much longer than we imagined! No matter the traffic, just make your way to the parking at the actual gardens. It’s worth it.
- Arrive early. The park fills up the later it gets and at 1 when we arrived it was just packed with people. I would recommend trying to get there by 9 so you can have time to see everything you want and then still have the evening free if you would like to explore the city. The park is open from 8am-6pm. We were there from 1-6pm.
- Dress for all weather. In the spring the weather can change in an instant. As we drove into the gardens and left them it started to rain on us. Luckily it didn’t when we were in them but the weather went from warm and sunny to cloudy and windy all day. My light sweater and scarf were good enough most of the time but at some points I was desperate for gloves and another layer. Since they allow backpacks, I would bring what you may need in one of those, to include an umbrella!
Is this something you would want to see in person? Did my tips help? Let me know in the comments below!