“People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us.” - Iris Murdoch
A Day Trip to Keukenhof from Amsterdam
We visited Keukenhof Spring Garden on a sunny and almost warm April day. As with most places that I've seen hundreds of images of I didn't really know what to expect before going there, but as the journey there from Amsterdam went on I remember hoping that it was going to be worth it. It's not that Keukenhof is a long day trip from Amsterdam - it's not - but it does require a bit of stopping and starting, and it's not really as close as you would think. Buses to Keukenhof depart from Schiphol Airport so look at your most direct route to Schiphol before assuming that you have to go via Centraal Station. There are buses and trains from most Amsterdam neighbourhoods so you don't need to get your Keukenhof ticket from Centraal Station if you can just get the bus from Schiphol like we did. Use Google Maps to figure out what is the best plan for you depending on where you'd like to stay. (Stuck for ideas on where you should stay in Amsterdam? This post should help.)
How to get to Keukenhof from Amsterdam Schiphol
From my house in De Pijp, we took a tram to Amsterdam Zuid station and then a train to Schiphol and then a bus from there to the gates of Keukenhof. We bought our combination of entrance and bus tickets online so didn't need to stop to buy them or get them on the bus. This definitely made the process a little easier so I recommend doing that. For the time Keukenhof is open - which changes every year so do check! - you will see signs for the buses to Keukenhof all around the main lobby area of Schiphol airport - basically the open plan area which you come up to from the trains . If you can't see signs, ask a member of staff at the information desk.
Follow the signs or directions to an outside area where buses pull up and you'll almost certainly have to join a queue of people that has already formed. Buses come around every 15 minutes so you shouldn't have to wait long. They really do pack people on the buses so if you need a seat make sure you tell a member of staff or be prepared to ask someone. The journey takes about 45-50 minutes but with getting everyone on and off I would really estimate an hour of bus time. It's not the most interesting journey either so bring headphones and a book if you can cope reading on a bus. Some people will have to stand for the duration of the journey so again if you need to sit down for whatever reason don't be a hero!
For your return journey, buses depart from roughly the same place they drop you off so it's easy to find them and get back on one - just be sure to know when the last bus departs if you're arriving later on in the day!
Important things to know before going to Keukenhof
Get your ticket online and in advance
It will save you money, time and stress. So that's win, win, win.
Keukenhof is NOT the Tulip Fields
Keukenhof is a man-made spring garden with lots of flower beds, plants and other features, but it IS NOT THE tulip fields. There are some tulip fields out the back of Keukenhof and you can see them from the side and also from the windmill if you climb up that, but you will need to go on a separate tour of the tulip fields to really get those photos you've seen on Pinterest. You can do both with a combination ticket of Keukenhof and the tulip fields but I've not done this myself so can't personally vouch for the experience.
The best time to go is early(ish)
We went to Keukenhof in mid-April, just under a month from when the gardens close for the season and we found most of the tulips had already opened. They were still beautiful and colourful and worth seeing but I think a few weeks early would have been better for the tulips... But then maybe we would have missed out on other flowers... It's hard to know!
The food is not amazing....
I found the food at the several cafes and restaurants in Keukenhof to be a bit bland and over-priced for what it was so you may want to bring your own snacks or picnic. There are lots of places you can stop and sit on a bench and eat something but I can't remember if there was a designated picnic area as we ate in the cafe.
Now enough practical information... Let's look at some pretty flowers. Enjoy!
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Frances M. Thompson
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