The famous Keukenhof gardens boast over 7 million bulbs in bloom with over 800 varieties of tulips. It’s amazing and well worth the long drive, about 10 hours from Zurich. The park is great with kids, with plenty of room to run around, a large playground, a petting farm, a hedge maze and yummy treats like waffels and poffertjes eat. They also have a scavenger hunt, which we did in 2014, where the kids answer questions using various landmarks in the park and then unscramble a word to win a prize. Just outside the park, you can rent bikes and ride around the numerous nearby tulip farms, which is always our favorite part of the visit. Keukenhof is a must-do at least once during your time in Europe.
Tip: If you don’t want to drive so far, you can see lots of tulips at Mainau Island, near Konstanz, Germany, only an hour from Zurich. Check out my post for details.
|Address:||Keukenhof, Stationsweg 166A, 2161 AM Lisse, Netherlands|
|Car:||40 mins from Amsterdam (8hr from Zurich)|
|Train:||1hr15 from Amsterdam|
|Trail:||various walking paths around park, bike trails outside park|
|Condition:||paved/dirt, strollers ok|
|Open:||late March to late May from 08.00 – 19.30|
|Prices:||Adult €16.00, Children €8.00, under 4 free|
|Services:||restaurant, playgrounds, picnic areas, no fire, bike for hire|
Below is a map of the park (click for original map on the Keukenhof website), free with your entrance fee. The park is stroller-friendly, with wide open paths. There is a big playground and a variety of cafes and restaurants in the park. There are bike rentals and bike paths starting just outside the park entrance (more info below).
This park attracts thousands of visitors each day, so it can get crowded. But the park is so large, that the people spread out quickly and you don’t feel the crush all the time. When we went, it was quiet from about 8-10am, then very busy until about 17:00, when most people and, more importantly, buses left. The park is open until 19:30 and we enjoyed these late evening hours in the fading sun.
Especially for kids
We first went to Keukenhof when my son was 2 years old and I was worried he’d trample the flowers and I’d spend the whole time chasing after him, protecting the flowers. Happily this wasn’t the case. Children are very welcome and there are many features and services for families. Although the flowers and some grassy sections are off limits, there’s plenty of room to run around and play.
There is big playground and hedge maze in the middle of the park, a good break from flower-watching for the kids.
Keukenhof offers a children’s scavenger hunt (available in English), where children search for clues and answer questions, the solve a word scramble. They can turn in the completed answer sheet for a prize, which for us, was a bag of flower bulbs that we could plant at home. We picked up the quiz sheet at the Information Desk near the southeast entrance.
Just a sample of what you’ll see in the flower gardens.
Food in the park
There are a variety of cafes, self-serve restaurants, and food stands throughout the park. You can also bring food into the park and picnic if you like. We like the stroopwafel shown below and the “bean ham” sandwich shown below, both sold at a food carts near the windmill.
Biking through the flower fields
Our favorite part of the trip was our bike ride through the tulips fields. Just outside the southeast park entrance, there are a couple bike rental stands. On crowded days, bikes can go fast. So many recommend renting your bike at the beginning of the day, locking it, visiting the park, and later taking your bike ride. You can re-enter Keukenhof with a hand-stamp. They rent bikes with child seats and child bikes. But one time we were there, the child bike was too small for our 10 year old. So we were glad we had brought his bike with us.
I found this post at www.european-traveler.com very helpful on this topic.
Rent-a-bike van Dam is one of the on-site bike rentals. They publish their bike routes online, also shown below. We’ve always done Route 4, which is quite nice. But I want to do Route 2 next time. The routes are clearly marked with signs at the beginning, but the signs disappear eventually and we’ve gotten lost every time. It’s not too hard to get back on track. But next time, I’ll print out a road map for a little security. The maps provided by the bike rental places don’t show all the roads or list any street names. So they are of little value if you get lost.
Most of the bike lanes are clearly marked on the road as shown below. The traffic is light, but still be careful with little kids.
There are many commercial flower fields, in various states of bloom.
You are asked not to enter the fields, which we didn’t strictly observe. I didn’t let my kids run all over, just quickly stepped in a couple feet to take a pic then back on the bikes. Repeat at your own risk.
Keukenhof is located in Am Lisse, Netherlands, easily accessible by car and public transportation from many nearby towns, include Amsterdam, Haarlam, Leiden, and Noordwijk. They offer a Combi-Ticket for transport and park entrance, which gives a slight discount and avoids queuing. See their website for details. Amsterdam is only a 40 minute drive away, an easy day trip.
There are large parking lots on both the northwest and southeast sides of the park, neither with a particular advantage. If you plan to rent bikes later, I’d recommend parking near the southeast entrance on Stationsweg, where you’ll also find the bike rentals.
If you are driving from Zurich, this area is about an 8hr drive, but we have usually split up the trip over a couple days, stopping somewhere like Köln or Brussels in the middle.
We stayed in Noordwijk aan zee, a cute beach town about a 12 minute drive from Keukenhof. We liked staying there because our kids could play on the beach (shown below) in the long evenings after we were done at the park. It’s usually very windy, so it’s great for kites.
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