Last Updated on 1st May 2019 by Sophie Nadeau
As the days grow longer, the temperature on the thermometer begins to rise and the nights grow shorter, there’s perhaps no better way to enjoy the best of Spring in the Netherlands than by going in search of blooms. Cherry blossoms and trailing wisteria aside, there’s perhaps no flower quite as synonymous with this European country than the tulip. Here’s your guide on when and where to find the best of tulips in Amsterdam (as well as tulip mania festivities in other parts of nearby Holland)!
National Tulip Day in Amsterdam
Contrary to what you might think, the beginning of the Tulip Season in Holland doesn’t begin with the first outdoor blooms. Instead, it begins in the middle of winter with a national day of celebration which typically occurs in January, the third Saturday of January to be precise!
National Tulip Day sees Dam Square (the main piazza in the city) filled with temporary flower beds planted with well over 200,000 tulips and other flowers. The idea is that every resident of Amsterdam (as well as visitors!) should be able to come and pick a tulip to take home with them!
Amsterdam Tulp Festival (tulip festival)
Every year during Springtime, the Amsterdam Tulip Festival is held during the entire month of April. Visit the capital city during this period and you’ll be hard pressed not to spot the many tulip displays throughout the city, especially in the more touristic areas and around the main museums.
From the floating flowerbeds in the fountain in front of the Rijksmuseum to the planters dotted across the city, it’s easy to enjoy the tulips of Amsterdam by simpling strolling around and soaking it all up. Some of the best spots to enjoy the tulip flowers are in Vondelpark and on Rembrandtplein.
Learn about Tulip Mania in Amsterdam Tulip Museum, Prinsengracht 116
Located in the ever so pretty Jordaan district of the city, the privately owned Amsterdam Tulip Museum was founded and sponsored by a local bulb company. It takes between half an hour and an hour to fully explore the museum’s displays and learn more about the history of the tulips in Amsterdam. Details about opening times for the tulip museum can be found here.
You should also know that the Amsterdam Tulip Museum is included in the I Amsterdam City Card, which is great value for money if you’re planning on visiting many museums and other Amsterdam attractions while in the Dutch city. For example, public transport, the Van Gogh Museum, and the Rijksmuseum are all included within the one-time price of this card.
Museum de Zwarte Tulp (Black Tulip Museum) in Lisse
The second of the Netherland’s most famous tulip museums can be found in the town of Lisse, close to the Keukenhof Gardens (around an hour’s travel from central Amsterdam). Situated in the very heart of the historic town, once there you can learn all about the cultivation of tulips in the region, as well as the history, techniques, and tulip culture that has since become so synonymous with Lisse.
There is a direct train to Lisse from Schipol Airport but no direct train from Amsterdam Centraal. If you’re planning on combining your visit to the Museum de Zwarte Tulp with a visit to the Keukenhof Gardens, then you might consider staying in Lisse the night before. We personally stayed in a room at the Restaurant De Vier Seizoenen and absolutely loved our season-themed room.
Pick your own flowers in Annemieke’s Picking Garden in Hillegom (U-pick farm)
Located on the road between Hillegom and Bennebroek, Annemieke’s Picking Garden can be visited via public transport on the Bus 50 which runs between Haarlem and Leiden. In order to reach Haarlem or Leiden, you’ll need to catch a train from Amsterdam Centraal. The stop is Bethlehemlaan and you can also reach the Keukenhof Gardens using the #50 bus.
Open during the springtime and easy to visit as an Amsterdam day trip, the flower garden offers the chance to pick your own tulips, walk among the flower beds, and even bring some of the beautiful blooms home with you! Tulips cost €0.25 each and you can pay by debit card (making this great value for money), though dogs are not allowed in the picking field.
Keukenhof day trip from Amsterdam
Often referred to as ‘the Garden of Europe,’ there is perhaps no better way to celebrate the spring or enjoy the best of the tulips in the Netherlands than to head to Keukenhof Gardens. Easy to visit as a day trip from Amsterdam (though you should know that you can’t just cycle there and the fields are over an hour away), you can even purchase a Keukenhof combi ticket for entrance and transport well ahead of time.
Once at Keukenhof, it will soon become apparent that despite what you may have been led to believe on Social Media, the gardens are just that: a garden. Picture perfect and themed, there are different areas where you can enjoy various bordered gardens and floral displays. Purchase your Keukenhof Half-Day Guided Tour with Free 1-Hour Canal Cruise ticket here.
Nearby, in the fields surrounding Lisse, there are plenty of the striped hyacinth and tulip fields that you’ve no doubt seen photos of before, though it’s important to note that the entrance ticket for Keukenhof doesn’t include official access to the nearby fields.
If you want a more in-depth cultural experience, then this Keukenhof, Zaanse Schans & A’dam Lookout Combo Day Tour offers the chance to enjoy a guided tour of the Keukenhof Gardens, visit a clog maker and a cheese farm, see the windmills of Zaanse Schans, and enjoy the view of Amsterdam from the A’dam Lookout, while this Volendam/Marken, Zaanse Schans & Keukenhof with Canal Cruise tour focuses on the bulb region and several Dutch fishing villages.
Bloemencorso Bollenstreek (Bulb flower Parade)
Each year (typically for one day in April), a flower parade is held to celebrate the tulips. Highlights of this one-day annual event include a floats made of flowers passing by from Noordwijk and ending in Lisse. Though you can enjoy the parade from within the Keukenhof gardens, the floats can be enjoyed for free in any of the villages en route between the two towns. Further details on the tulip parade can be found here.
Dutch Tulip Route & Free Tulip Fields in the Netherlands as a day trip from Amsterdam
There are several main tulip areas in the Netherlands, many of which are easy to reach as a day trip from Amsterdam;
Duin en Bollenstreek (Lisse and its surrounds)
Top of Northern Holland (West Friesland)
South Holland and Zeeland
Duin en Bollenstreek (Keukenhof & Lisse) tulip mania
The most famous tulip area is the region of Duin en Bollenstreek, in South Holland (which is where Keukenhof is located). The region’s name is literally translated as ‘dune and bulb’ on account of the stunning dunes such as those of Scheveningen and the impressive tulip fields such as those surrounding Lisse.
Aside from Lisse, other villages in the Bulb Region include Bennebroek, Heemstede, and Noordwijk, and I’m told that they’re all adorably cute! It’s also in the Bulb region where the annual Flower Parade is held in April. Nearby, the coastal towns of Katwijk and Noordwijk are the perfect times to enjoy the Dutch coastline.
West Friesland tulips
Though there are plenty of opportunities to spy tulip fields close to Keukenhof/ around Lisse, one of the easiest ways to enjoy free tulips in Holland is to hop on a train to Schagen, which is around an hour North of Amsterdam in the Northern Holland region of West Friesland.
From Schagen, you can easily cycle or walk to many of the beautiful blooms and enjoy the Dutch tulips without the tourists and crowds of some of the more popular areas. Also within this province, the town of Breezand holds an annual flower festival, which usually takes place sometime in March.
Alternatively, some of the largest tulip fields in the Netherlands can be found along the Tulip Route in the province of Flevoland (which is the final and twelfth province of the Netherlands), and specifically in Noordoostpolder. Each year, a new Tulip Route is created, more details of which can be found on this website. There are also Tulip Routes in the Zeeland and Drenthe provinces.
Flower Strip Tulip Route
Finally, the last of the best tulip mania day trips from Amsterdam is cycling the flower strip, which is the name that’s been given to the cycling/ walking 35 km route between Haarlem and Leiden. More details about how to enjoy the best of Dutch tulip blooms along this route can be found on the iAmsterdam website.
Bloemenmarkt (Flower Market on the Singel)
Many visitors get confused when they first head to Amsterdam’s world-famous flower market. They think that they’re in the wrong place or that perhaps they didn’t quite understand the flower market. No, you’re in the right place… It’s just that the flower market is comprised of predominantly bulbs, as opposed to live blooms!
The world’s largest floating flower market dates back to 1862, though the market looks nothing like how it once would have appeared. Today, the flower market is a little more touristy than many would like, with many of the flower shops replaced by souvenir and tourist traps. Only a few stalls still sell fresh flowers, though you can expect to pick up a bunch of 50 tulips for as little as €10!
See the world’s largest flower auction
Of course, enjoying the outdoor tulip fields is not the only way to experience the flowers in Amsterdam. Instead, you can hop on a train to nearby Aalsmeer (around fifteen minutes from Schipol airport) where FloraHolland flower auction, i.e. the largest flower auction in the world, is held on a daily basis. Free to visit and open daily with the exception of public holidays, here you can enjoy real life tulipomania from a visitor’s viewing gallery.
Stay in Tulip-themed accommodation in Amsterdam
Of course, if you really want to enjoy the best of tulips in Amsterdam during all aspects of your visit, then you might consider booking a stay in some florally inspired hotels. For example, this B & B has tulips in every room and is incredibly well-reviewed across many booking sites.
Finally, the tulip season in the city is one of the most popular times to visit Amsterdam. As such, if you want to get the best value for money, you’ll want to book your stay well in advance. For a quirky and quintessentially Dutch experience, here’s a guide to the best of Amsterdam houseboats. Otherwise, check the best rates and availability for Amsterdam accommodation here.
Tips for enjoying the tulips in Amsterdam
If I could give you just one Amsterdam travel tip for seeing the tulips, it would be to come to the Netherlands at the right time. Arrive too early and the flowers won’t even be in bloom, whereas arrive too late and the tulips will be going over and will certainly no longer look their best!
The exact locations of the tulip fields tend to change every year, due to the flower growing cycle. What this means is that while the tulips will be grown in one location one year, the next year that very same field will be used to grow other crops so as to preserve the quality of the soil.
One important thing to note is that you should be mindful when visiting the tulip fields. Growing tulips is the farmer’s income and so you should be respectful. Keep to the designated pathways, never trample on the flowers, and definitely never ever pick the tulips!
If you want to do any of these things, you should pay to visit a designated tulip farm where picking your own flowers is permitted. You cannot fly a drone over any tulip fields without prior permission from the owner. Even simply walking through undesignated areas of the fields can bring bacteria into the plants and destroy or kill the tulips!
When is the Amsterdam tulip season?
The Amsterdam tulip season tends to be from late March to early May, meaning that the best time to visit would be in mid-April. For an exact idea on which tulips are blooming and when, I recommend checking this website. You should also know that the weather can change fairly quickly and so you’ll want to bring waterproofs with you, as even the clearest of days can turn rainy fairly fast.