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There are a few things that go hand in hand with a destination. And when people mention the Netherlands or Amsterdam, I’m sure a few things sprung to mind. Canals, bicycles, van Gogh, windmills, a relaxed attitude to recreational drugs, clogs and tulips. The Tulip is deeply connected to our image of Amsterdam, in the way that the Eiffel Tower is usually one of the first things we think about when it comes to Paris. When planning your visit to the Netherlands, make sure to consider the spring months of March and April as an opportunity to experience Amsterdam tulips and Keukenhof Gardens.
Why is Amsterdam famous for tulips?
The tulip was initially imported into Antwerp during the 16th century, and by the 17th century, the Dutch were obsessed with these dainty flowers. Painters from the era were crazy about the flowers and as you visit the Rijksmuseum you’ll find lots of references to tulips in many of the paintings from that period of time.
The Dutch during the 17th century were incredibly wealthy and were some of the richest people on the planet. Dutch farmers also discovered that the climate and soil were perfect for growing tulips, and because of the mania that surrounded the arrival of the tulip, the rest of Europe started to fall in love with its variety of colours too.
The Dutch bought the flower to its colonies, where it also thrived in popularity. Nowadays in 2023, the Netherlands produces 60% of the world’s tulips.
Amsterdam Tulip Dates – When is the tulip festival in Amsterdam?
The tulips start to blossom in March in the cities surrounding Amsterdam. Tulip Season is at its most magnificent and colourful during the month of April when there are festivals and parades celebrating the countries most famous flower. There are a number of events that occur during this period of time and are listed. You can read more about the events that occur in the sections below.
National Tulip Day: 3rd Sunday in January
Keukenhof Gardens: Thursday, March 24th 2023 to Sunday, May 14th 2023.
Bloemencorso of the Bollenstreek: 19th April to 23rd April 2023
The Garden of Europe or Keukenhof is one of the largest flower gardens in the world. Every year between the months of March and April, this 8-week festival celebrates the nation’s national flower, the tulip. Every year over 7 million tulip bulbs are planted in the park and is one of the busiest tourist attractions in the country. In 2019, over 26,000 people visited the park each day, which makes it almost three times busier than the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.
The gardens were originally a part of a castle and ancestral home, before being converted into a display garden in the late 1940s. The purpose of the Keukenhof gardens was to showcase growers’ products and was an initial hit when it opened to the public in 1950. Since then it has grown in popularity and over 100 tulip bulb growers donate over 7 million bulbs each year.
The flower bulbs are planted between October and December and start to bloom during the middle of March, just in time for the doors to open to the thousands of visitors who come from far and wide to see the magnificent flower displays.
What can you do at the Keukenhof Tulip Garden?
Arriving at the Keukenhof Tulip Garden is a visual delight. The tulips are so vivid in their colours that it’s hard not to be overjoyed at how wonderful the sight is. Take your time to wander around the gardens.
One of the best ways to see the gardens and surrounding areas is to rent a bike. Personal bikes are not allowed in the gardens themselves but can be rented at the entrance for a small fee. The flower fields that make up the area of the Bollenstreek are absolutely magical and picture-perfect.
Ticket Prices & Availability
Tickets for access to Keukenhof Tulip Gardens need to be purchased online and in advance. Ticket sales for the 8-week event usually go on sale 6 months in advance. When purchasing tickets you can choose the time slot you want to visit. The park opens at 8 am and the last entry is at 18:30 pm. You must arrive at the time slot you have chosen or risk not being granted access. Tickets can be purchased directly through the links below.
Adult Tickets: €18.50
Children (4-17years): €9.00
Parking Ticket: €6
When is the best time to visit Keukenhof?
The best time to visit Keukenhof Gardens is on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday. You should try to pick your ticket time slots between the hours of 8 am and 10 am in the mornings, and after 5 pm in the afternoons. The morning is the best time to visit for the perfect Instagram pictures, but really anytime before the crowds arrive or depart for the day is the best time for photos. Do note that during the Easter holidays, the park will be at its peak busiest and of course during the weekends. Easter Sunday falls on the 9th of April 2023.
Getting to Keukenhof Tulip Gardens
If you plan on travelling to Keukenhof Tulip Gardens, make sure you check out your options before departing. If you are travelling by public transportation, you can always ask the bus driver which stop you need to alight from. Bus tickets can be purchased onboard and bus drivers accept credit cards. 9292 is a helpful travel planner for the Netherlands.
By Bus: The #50 Bus connects Leiden and Haarlem and stops in the town of Lisse. Lisse is the town that is closest to Keukenhof. From the town, it is a 1km walk to Keukenhof Gardens.
If coming from Amsterdam, you will need to first transit at Amsterdam Schipol Airport and take the #361 bus in the direction of Lisse. There is a bus that runs directly from the airport, the Keukenhof Express, but at the time of writing, there were no signs of that service operating in 2023.
By Car: For €6 there is a parking lot available at Keukenhof Gardens. Tickets for parking can be purchased on the Keukenhof website when purchasing tickets.
Amsterdam Flower Parade 2023
Without a doubt, one of the most incredible weeks of the year and one of the highlights of the Tulip Festival is the Bloemencorso of Bollenstreek. From the 19th to 23rd of April 2023 culminating in a 42km Flower Parade on Saturday 22nd April. The floating Flower Parade starts in Noordwijk and finishes in Haarlem, where floats and cars parade some of the most incredible flower displays you’ll see. This event is so popular, that over a million people will attend over the 5 day period.
There are special events that visitors can partake in, such as helping decorate the floats on the Thursday 20th and Friday the 21st of April. On Friday 21st April during the evening at 9 pm, there is an illuminated float parade through the town of Noordwijk and is not to be missed.
And if you managed to miss the parade, on Sunday 23rd you can visit the city of Haarlem and view the flower floats. Expect beer, delicious Dutch snacks at this wonderful tulip festival.
Where to stay for the Tulip Festival & Keukenhof Tulip Gardens?
Thanks to the Netherlands being relatively small, you won’t be too far from experiencing the Amsterdam tulips. Whether you base yourself in Amsterdam or a small city like Haarlem, you will only be a 30-minute drive from Keukenhof Tulip Gardens.
Pulitzer Amsterdam – 5 Star Hotel with old-world charm and sophistication.
Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam – 5 Star Hotel voted time and time again, one of the best hotels in Europe. A privilege and an experience you won’t be able to forget.
De L’Europe Amsterdam – 5 Star Hotel that takes opulence to a new level. Incredible hotel, stunning interiors and has a phenomenal cocktail bar.
NH City Centre Amsterdam – 4-Star Hotel with affordable prices, excellent location and overall well-reputed name.
Passage City Suite – The perfect home away from home. The only problem is you may not actually ever want to leave.
Hotel Lion D’Or – Fantastic location, this 4 Star Hotel has close transport links and makes a perfect spot for visiting the Tulip Fields.
Van der Valk Hotel – This is the perfect hotel for those who only have a short amount of time to visit the city of Amsterdam and Keukenhof. It is located 2km from Haarlem and only 15 minutes from Schipol Airport.
National Tulip Day
National Tulip Day is an event held in January on Dam Square in Amsterdam, where thousands of thousands of Tulips are free to pick. The event usually occurs on the 3rd Sunday of January. Unfortunately due to Covid-19, the free picking events in 2021 and 2022 have not been able to proceed. You can follow the Tulip Promotion Nederlands for information on dates in 2023.
Amsterdam Tulip Fields
The surrounding area outside of Amsterdam, Haarlem and Leiden is where you will encounter endless fields of flowers. The area is known as the Bollenstreek and it runs almost 50km in length, with dozens of family tulip farms growing thousands of tulip buds. You cna base yourself in any of the cities and use public transportation to get around, but the best way to see the area is by bike. What could be more picturesque than a field full of colourful tulips, windmills and flat countryside?
Bikes can easily be rented at either Keukenhof Tulip Gardens or in the surrounding towns and cities. Bonus, if you have your own! There are various routes that take in the Keukenhof Gardens, the surrounding tulip fields, the sand dunes, dykes and the Dutch countryside. And thankfully the country is as flat as a pancake, which makes cycling around the area even more enjoyable.
If you don’t fancy organising a trip to Keukenhof Tulip Gardens, or perhaps cycling isn’t your thing, make sure to check out an organised tour. Many hotels which have concierge services will be able to arrange a guided tour for you. I personally like to use Get Your Guide or book via Tiquets when I go to a new place and select from the offers available.
Amsterdam Tulip Museum | Prinsengracht 116 1015 EA Amsterdam Netherlands
You know the Netherlands are obsessed when they have a Tulip Museum! The Amsterdam Tulip Museum offers visitors the chance to explore the origins of the countries obsession with the tulip and why it became so popular. The museum is small and a visit tends to last between 20-25 minutes. Prepare to become an expert in the different types of tulips, the black tulip and how the tulip was first discovered. Ticket prices cost €5 per adult.
The burst of colours in the Dutch countryside and neighbouring cities is an absolute feast for the eyes. When planning your visit to the Netherlands, make sure to consider visiting during the months of March, April and May to experience one of the world’s most visually arresting displays of flowers and colours. Make sure to add Keukenhof Gardens to your bucket list. You won’t regret the experience.