Keukenhof Gardens, close to Lisse and just outside of Amsterdam, is one of the world’s most famous green spaces. Populated with some seven million bulbs every year, the limited time season draws visitors from all over the world to experience the tulip time season in all its glory. Let us step back in time to discover the history behind Keukenhof Gardens.  

Keukenhof Gardens
Photo by @my_levantr on Instagram

Pre-15th century 

The land that Keukenhof now sits on was originally part of the Teylingen Castle estate with the area primarily used for hunting. 

15th century 

Enter Countess Jacoba van Beieren who called the Teylingen Castle her home. Jacoba may have been the first piece in the history puzzle behind Keukenhof. She created and tended to a herb garden near the kitchen, which led to its name of Keukenhof – translated to ‘kitchen courtyard’ or ‘kitchen garden.’  

19th century 

After Jacoba, the estate went through several different ownerships until the 19th century when Baron and Baroness Van Pallandt acquired the land. The Van Pallandts had a vision of a garden with better structure so brought in Architechts Zocher, a father and son duo (who had also designed the Vondelpark in Amsterdam). The English style garden that you see today is still the basis of what the Architechts Zocher designed.  


In 1949, the current mayor of Lisse and 20 leading flower bulb growers and exporters came up with the idea of using Keukenhof to showcase spring season bulbs…and so the beginning of transforming Keukenhof into a springtime garden began! Keukenhof first opened to the public in 1950 and was an instant success with over 200,000 visitors in just its first year alone. 

Keukenhof Gardens
Photo by @gaweltyrala on Instagram

Present day 

While we often make this association, Keukenhof is home to more than just tulips! Nowadays, Keukenhof provides an opportunity for flower growers to display their spectacular varieties to the public across 32 hectares. Each autumn, gardeners begin their work ensuring that there are constant blooms across the park while Keukenhof is open to the public.  

Keukenhof is only open between mid-March – mid-May so time your visit to the Netherlands to ensure you don’t miss this once-in-a-lifetime experience! Combined with several indoor pavilions, an iconic windmill, fields of colour and plenty of green space, we recommend taking your time here to soak it all in.  

Avalon Waterways offer a number of tulip time cruises that coincide with the opening of Keukenhof Gardens. Click here to see all river cruises available. 

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