Seeing the tulip festival in Holland has always been on my bucket list, so I was so excited to have the chance to visit this famous festival a couple years ago. My friends and I went to Keukenhof from Amsterdam for a day trip when visiting the Netherlands. The tulip festival was well worth the trip, and I highly recommend taking time to visit these famous gardens if you are in the Netherlands when they are blooming. Keep reading for information about the festival, including how to get to Keukenhof from Amsterdam and what to eat once you’re there!
In 2018, Keukenhof will be open from the 22nd of March to the 13th of May. I went to Keukenhof in April, and the weather was brisk but sunny enough to enjoy the day outside without a coat. If you can, I would try to plan a few flexible days during your trip to the Netherlands so you can choose a sunny day to visit the tulip festival. There are some indoor gardens, but most of the exhibits are outside. Because Kuekenhof is only open for 8 weeks every year, you should expect decent crowds in the gardens and greenhouses. We bought our tickets ahead of time to avoid waiting in line at the entrance.
Getting to Keukenhof from Amsterdam is pretty straightforward. Since my friends and I were taking a day trip to Keukenhof from Amsterdam, we took the train from the city to the airport (Schirpol) and then took the Keukenhof bus to the festival. It took a little over an hour from station to end, so this is an easy day trip from Amsterdam. You can buy Keukenhof tickets online that include transportation (train+ bus passes) to streamline your trip.
Once you’re at the festival grounds, there is so much to explore. The outdoor gardens are separated into “historical gardens” and “inspirational gardens.” The historical gardens display the many tulip breeds created over the hundreds of years that these flowers have been cultivated. The inspirational gardens group the flowers according to an artistic theme, like the cupid’s garden, which is made up of red and white flowers. Every year, the festival chooses a theme that is reflected in some of the gardens and the activities available, and in 2018, the theme is Romance, so expect lots of red flowers and references to the Romantic era!
Each weekend, there is a new activity at Keukenhof. I happened to visit during the Keukenhof Flower Market, so I had the chance to buy some bulbs to grow the flowers we saw during the festival! Other weekend activity themes include the Dutch heritage weekend and the fairytale festival.
There are also greenhouses and indoor display areas that feature other kinds of flowers. When I went to the tulip festival, there was a whole pavilion devoted to orchids, creatively displaying these flowers in nontraditional ways. Some of the shows for specific kinds of flowers, like roses or daffodils, only occur during part of the festival, so check the dates if you’re set on seeing a certain species. My friends and I spent hours wandering through these showrooms, picking out our favorites types of flowers.
The Keukenhof grounds offer a lot of quintessential Dutch charm. If you venture to the edges of the grounds, you can see tulip farms growing giant fields of the beautiful flowers. There are also windmills throughout Keukenhof, so you really feel like you’re immersed in a picturesque Dutch village filled with flowers! There are even shops that sell Dutch wooden clogs as souvenirs!
The food at Keukenhof was surprisingly delicious. I recommend coming hungry so you can try lots of the yummy Dutch foods from the stands throughout the park. There are so many different kinds of food stands in the gardens including sandwich, nut, fruit, and waffle stands! I loved the hot ham sandwiches served on a roll with a yellow sauce and the strawberries with fresh whipped cream. The Belgian waffles were the best I had during my 6 months in Europe. They were covered in a layer of crunchy, crystalized sugar and topped with light whipped cream! According to the website, there are also a number of restaurants featuring Asian, Dutch, and Italian foods, so those might be good options if you want to sit down for a more formal meal. I would go back to the festival again just to enjoy the food! There are few things more delightful than enjoying fresh strawberries and cream while looking at rows of beautiful tulips in Holland.
You can also take an hour long guided tour of the park, rent bikes and follow the tulip path through Holland, or take a 45 minute boat ride around the park! This year, they’re also offering flights over the tulip festival and nearby fields! All these require an additional cost to the standard 18 euro admission.
At the end of the day, you can head back to where the buses dropped you off to return to Amsterdam. These buses do get crowded (I ended up sitting on the steps in the back for the trip), so try to leave well before closing if you want to avoid the crowds.
Visiting the tulip festival in Holland was a dream come true for me, and I’m so glad I was able to fit in a day trip to Keukenhof from Amsterdam on my trip to the Netherlands. These gardens are one-of-a-kind, and walking through the tulips while looking at windmills on a sunny day transports you to Dutch heaven. Have any of you had the chance to go the the tulip festival in the Netherlands? Are any of you going to Keukenhof in 2018? Let me know in the comments! I would love to know what you thought (and if you loved the food as much as I did)!
Read more about my trip to Amsterdam here.