Guide To Tulips Season 2023
So, your little heart yearns to see Dutch tulips in Spring? We’ve compiled here a guide that answers many of the small, annoying, and often logistical issues that will determine whether you have a great time or not.
We’ll build this guide as we go, so it might expand after you read it for the first time.
The biggest thing that you should understand is the difference between Keukenhof and tulip fields. Keukenhof is the big tulip gardens tourist attraction. Tulip fields are the long rows of tulips seen in tulip farms. These are very iconic photos (and all the tulip photos on this page are of fields). Many people who want to see Dutch tulips but don’t know a whole lot about how it works, picture the longs rows of tulips as they’ve seen photos of these online. However, they usually end up at Keukenhof. The tulip fields are private tulip farms. Online when you look for Dutch tulip attractions all roads point to Keukenhof.
We’re specialists in off-the-beaten-track tours, and we’re friends with a family of tulip farmers. So, we have access to a private tulips farm. Even though we much prefer this to Keukenhof, we also offer tour options which visit Keukenhof.
In a perfect world, when should I visit to see Dutch tulips at their best?
Basically, mid to late April.
The weather in the preceding months (and even weeks) will also affect things, but mid to late April is peak season for tulips.
This holds up for both Keukenhof itself and a visit to a private tulips field.
What if I'm visiting in early April or early May?
You’ll generally be fine also! You always get early blooming and late blooming tulips. If you’re visiting in early April, you might miss out on tulip fields in bloom, but you’ll actually find hyacinth fields in bloom (which are just as spectacular). This refers only to visits to private flower fields.
Keukenhof itself will generally by in quite a good condition too.
What if I'm visiting in late March or mid May?
This is a bit iffy. Keukenhof itself is open from March 23 to May 14, so you can certainly visit there at the far ends of the season, but it will be far from its peak. Some visitors don’t mind this, others find it underwhelming.
For a visit to a private flower field: early in the season (like late March) you can generally find daffodil fields in bloom. And for late in the season, we’ve usually been able to find a late field in bloom on May 13(ish). To be clear though, most been cut by then, and we know the flower growing regions quite well and where there is likely to be that elusive last field.
When is Keukenhof open?
March 23 – May 14
Does Keukenhof get busy?
Oh yes! On average about 26,000 visitors a day. But that’s just the average! In peak season, there’s a lot more people there each day.
And traffic around the park can get very busy in peak season (mid to late April).
How far is Keukenhof from Amsterdam?
40km to the south-west of Amsterdam.
Is public transport an option?
It’s doable, but a bit awkward. You generally have to change bus or train once, and it’ll take you about 1 hour 20 minutes each way (when a direct car journey will take you about 30 minutes).
The local public transport planning website in the Netherlands is www.9292.nl.
What is the best time of the day to visit Keukenhof?
Early or late. If you leave Amsterdam at 8.30am, you’ll generally avoid the worst of the traffic and get there before the hordes arrive.
Or plan on arriving down maybe 3pm onwards.
Are there alternatives to Keukenhof?
Our small-group tours to a private tulips farm are (in our humble opinion) far superior to a visit to Keukenhof. You avoid all the crowds, get to learn more about the tulips, and the fields are spectacular.
The industry at large doesn’t cater to small-scale experiences like these as the volume of people headed to Keukenhof is so large.
There are almost certainly other small-group tour providers, though collectively we account for a very tiny slice of capacity.
The geography of flower fields in the Netherlands
There are a few different flower growing regions in the Netherlands. The area around Keukenhof, circa 40km south west of Amsterdam is one. The area we visit on our off-the-beaten-track tour is 35 km north of Amsterdam. And there is another region to the east of Amsterdam.
Although the Netherlands is a small country, you can really only do one flower region at a time. (And if you’ve done one, you don’t really need to do another, unless you’re an absolute fantatic!).
I'm visiting Keukenhof. What else can I do down there?
If you travel on a big bus tour or via public transport, you can really only do the gardens themselves. There are plenty of flower fields nearby but they’re not walkable, and they’re down back roads, meaning you won’t know where to walk.
You can rent bikes in Keukenhof, so you can potentially bike the roads. Please note: you can rent bikes in the Keukenhof parking lot, but you can’t take them into the gardens themselves. Oh no! These bikes are so that you can leave the gardens and explore the surrounding area, but they’re forbidden in the gardens themselves.
If you travel by car, then you could simply explore the backroads around Keukenhof and you’ll almost certainly come upon some fields.
Flower fields & Keukenhof
The area around Keukenhof is dotted with beatiful flower fields (tulips, but also hyacinths). However, unless you have your own transportation it’s not viable to visit these fields. They’re a bit too far to walk, and you won’t actually know where to go. There are some fields that border Keukenhof itself, but these get very busy.
You can rent bikes at Keukenhof, which makes it a bit more accessible. If you have your own car, you could simply drive the backroads around Keukenhof and you’ll come across some.
Visiting a flower field on your own:
Many of the farms near Keukenhof allow people to stand respectfully at the edge of their fields to take photos. These are private farms, so please act respectfully.
Hyacinth fields in early April
If you’re driving and visiting in early April, then you’ll likely be too early for tulip fields (though you might get lucky and see an early field). However, there will be hyacinth fields in bloom and these are just as spectacular as tulip fields. Please note: these fields won’t be signposted.
Amsterdam Tulips Tour Private Tulips Farm
The tulips farm we visit is actually not in the Keukenhof region. It’s 35km north of Amserdam in the Beemster region, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We will have the farm all to ourselves. We can spend longer there, and go deeper into the rows of flowers. This area is also a very picturesque region.
Amsterdam Tulips Tour & Flower Fields near Keukenhof
If you come on our Keukenhof & More Tulips Tour, the fields we visit will be the ones near Keukenhof. We will be just like other visitors to these fields, albeit we have a better knowldege of the area, meaning we’re more likely to find quieter fields. However, we will not be able to spend as long there or go in as deep as we will on the Off-The-Beaten-Track Tour.