No matter how short, the tulip season in The Netherlands is a time you shouldn’t miss. And if you have the chance, definitely go on a tulip tour to visit the tulip fields and the beautiful Keukenhof flower garden. As an Amsterdam resident, I have ticked that box by myself. But when Emma from Dam Lekker invited me to join in on a fun tulip tour to Keukenhof in a vintage Volkswagen T2, saying no was out of the question!
Dam Lekker came up during my research for my unusual things to do in Amsterdam article. That’s when I found out about the cute Chocolate City Tour she runs with her second car, a beautiful vintage Fiat 500. Well, Emma’s taste for cars and chocolate has inspired her to create a series of bespoke tours for adventurers.
You can choose between a chocolate tasting through Amsterdam in a retro car, a camper van ride to Keukenhof, a trip to discover the beauty of the Dutch windmills, or choose several to combine them however you want! Today I will tell you about going on an Amsterdam tulip tour to Keukenhof in a beautiful vintage camper.
Please keep in mind that a tulip tour to Keukenhof is seasonal as the park is open only from end of March to mid-May. Read my blog post to help you plan your trip and figure out how best what’s the best way to see the tulips. And now, let me tell you about this fun experience so you can decide whether that is a tour that might work for you.
NB: I was invited on this tour for review, however, I am sharing my honest opinion including a guide to determine whether this tour might be a good fit for you at the very end of the post. All the photographs in this post were taken during the tour.
My Amsterdam tulip tour to Keukenhof with Dam Lekker: Experience Review
Amsterdam’s city center enjoys an all-too-calm morning as I traipse through the Red Light district, rushing towards the group’s meeting point at 9 AM. The group members are enjoying hotel pick up but I’m local, so I wheeze past the Dam Square instead, fully awake and ready for an adventure. As I reach one of Amsterdam’s many central hotels, I am greeted by the beautiful mint van parked on the narrow cobblestone sidewalk. I jump in, mumbling my greetings, to join a lovely mother and daughter pair on a short stopover in Amsterdam before they continue their travels to a different country.
I hop onto the white leather seats and buckle up as we take off towards our destination. Emma steers us, deftly avoiding the early string of bikers hurrying to their work. The safety belts surprise me—I don’t know what I was expecting never been to a Volkswagen van before, but I try not to stare too curiously as I breathe in the kind of car smell you only get from an old car make. We chat along merrily, escaping the city’s canals, rolling down the highway past the Schiphol airport, the beautiful blue-winged planes full on display.
Emma entertains us with artisan chocolate from her own make (she also runs chocolate tours, remember?) and tells us about her passion for old cars and how her travels around the world brought her back home, to create organic delicious chocolate. I munch on the forest berry chocolate heart and smile into the window.
In no time, we’re parking by the Keukenhof entrance. I’m surprised by the lack of queues – last time I was there, the queues for the bus had set me an hour back, and by twelve the crowds were in full swing. This time I’m here bright and early at 10 o’clock, and with Emma taking care of the tickets, we don’t have to wait at all before we’re ushered into flower paradise.
Our group breaks off as the ladies embark on a photography adventure, meanwhile, I wander through the covered pavilions, pass the animal corner filled with excited children, grab a portion of miniature Dutch pancakes called “poffertjes” and walk around the lake with Emma. Taking pictures of flowers never gets tiring, and soon the soft morning light is chased away by the sun. In the hour and a half, I have just enough time to circle the perimeter leaving some corners unexplored, but our tour is not yet over.
We hop back into the van for a short ride to a flower picking garden. There we can walk through a real tulip field as it grows naturally. It is a small, family-run business which means there are no crowds. There are no other people at all, in fact, but plenty of photo opportunities. I’m excited to find myself in Annemieke’s Pluktuin. You can pluck tulips straight from the ground for only 0.25 EUR per flower. Emma explains how to look for the perfect tulip – not yet open but ready to blossom as soon as you take it home.
The 4 hours pass in a blink of an eye, and there we are, already heading back into Amsterdam, driving past fields of hyacinths. By 1 PM we are back in the city center, and as I say goodbye to Emma and her faithful van, I am reminded of what it’s like to discover the tulip fields for the very first time, and it’s a moment I’d like to relive.
What is included in the Dam Lekker tulip tour?
The ride to Keukenhof in a camper van
The van can fit a group of 6 passengers max, which means a cozy setting that you won’t be able to enjoy with another provider. Dam Lekker will pick you up from your Amsterdam hotel pickup. The ride will take you past Schiphol through the countryside in a classic mint camper van.
The tickets are taken care of in advance. You get to sit back and arrive at Keukenhof before the crowds hit. If the tour starts at 9 AM, you’ll be in the park approximately from 10 AM to 11:30 AM. That means spending 1,5 hours inside the park. Once in Keukenhof, you can either walk alone or with Emma to discover the spacious park grounds, including pavilions showcasing various types of tulips.
Exploring the Keukenhof park
The Keukenhof park has more than 900 varieties of tulips. Their blooming time is spaced out from March to May to create a colorful celebration of life. There are many different tulips blooming outside, as well as closed pavilions. They are filled with flower shows that change throughout the season. Don’t miss the beautiful windmill which you can climb to enjoy views of the park.
There is a lovely petting zoo, a lake surrounded by flower rainbows, and more. Some pavilions offer information on the origins of the tulip and its history in The Netherlands. You can grab a typical Dutch sandwich with herring, eat your fill of Dutch pancakes and enjoy the weather.
Walking through a tulip field in a flower picking garden
The tulip picking garden is a lovely way to enjoy tulips without trespassing on farmer property. They aren’t always happy with tourists squashing precious flowers, you know. This garden is a great local spot where you can pick up fresh flowers for 25 cents per tulip. I was extra happy the tour included such a well-thought-out location.
We probably spent at least half an hour taking pictures this way or that way. It’s fantastic in good weather. The tulips here are a variety of colors. This is actually something you won’t see in regular fields because it’s not effective for trade. But it’s perfect for some colorful pictures, so no regrets here!
How much does the tulip tour to Keukenhof cost?
The tour costs 150 EUR per person and lasts 4 hours. Hotel pickup and drop-off are included in the price. The group is small, 6 people maximum.
The Dam Lekker tulip tour to Keukenhof is for you if:
- You adore personalization and boutique tours that don’t involve figuring out your way around public transport. Or buying your own entry tickets;
- The mention of a drive past tulip fields in the Dutch countryside makes your heart beats faster. Now, that’s my idea of fun!
- You are okay with splurging and stretching your budget. In exchange you get a small group tour where you get personal attention;
- You are short on time and you want to hit the main highlights with minimum hassle;
- You want someone local to be there for you to answer your questions and take your pictures.
This tour might not be for you if:
- You’d rather take your time and spend a whole day exploring Keukenhof at your own pace. This tour is quite short and won’t allow you to visit all the nooks and crannies of Keukenhof;
- You are fine with being in big tour groups that involve a little wait and require a certain meeting point;
- You’d like a guided tour through the park with a lot of background information and history. This is a more laid-back casual outing, during which you can talk to Emma about anything. It is not a lecture format, however;
- Your Amsterdam budget doesn’t stretch quite that far;
- You want to see tulip fields in their natural state rather than a flower garden (if that’s the case, check out this post).
All in all, I think this tour adds a lot of character to travel to the Dutch countryside. If you’d rather take a full day trip, you can also combine the Keukenhof and windmills tour. This option will cost 200 EUR for 7 hours. This is a great way to see Netherland’s best spots with the least hassle. The perks: riding around in a beautiful retro van and a local guide. You can book a tour on the Dam Lekker website.