For many people, visiting the Netherlands is just impossible without seeing the gardens with the colorful flowering bulbs, especially the amazing flower beds of tulips. I think this is one of the most iconic and traditional features in the whole country. I cannot even imagine traveling to Holland and missing the opportunity to see the elegant beauty of my favorite flowers. So, when should you go to the Netherlands to see the flowers in the full bloom?
Tulip season in Holland starts at the end of March and it last until the beginning of May. The peak of the season is in April and it’s very short because tulips last only up to two weeks. National Tulip Day which is the official start of the tulip season takes place on the third Saturday of January.
That’s a pity you can only see spectacular Dutch tulips in a limited time. Anyway, because of the time limitation, you should be 100% prepared while planning your trip to the Netherlands. In the article, you’ll find some useful info on when and where to go to fully enjoy those beautiful fields filled with jaw-dropping colors.
Some More About the Tulip Season
The Netherlands is just a perfect country for tulip growing. It’s mainly because of the spring season – it’s very long and the soil in the polders is drained all the time. Sometimes, the blooming season starts a bit later than mid-March. It all depends on how long the winter actually was. If the winter is relatively short and the beginning of spring is warmer than usual, flowers will start to bloom earlier. There might be differences of even four weeks.
If seeing the famous Dutch tulips is one of your goals while in the Netherlands, make sure you visit the country during peak season. If you travel in March or May, there is a chance there are less flowers in bloom. Besides tulips, multicolor hyacinths are also worth seeing. There are many different kinds and colors – pink, white, yellow, mauve and blue out there. I really recommend that you should take some hyacinth bulbs home with you. They look really nice on a windowsill and, what is quite important for many, they are extremely easy to grow. On top of tulips and hyacinths, in Holland, you will also see the fields of daffodils and orchids.
Where to See The Most Beautiful Flowers in Holland
You won’t see the flower fields just everywhere in the country. They are mostly in the western and northern parts of the Netherlands, like in the province of Flevoland. The best way to go there is to take a train to one of the small towns near the tulip fields. Leiden can be an example. Once you’re in town, you can rent a bike and cycle North. Pretty sights and a lot of fun guaranteed! One might say that traveling by bike is exhausting but trust me, seeing all those tulips is totally worth the effort. Below you’ll find some more detailed information on the most famous tulip spots in Holland.
Keukenhof Tulip Gardens
The absolute number 1 when it comes to flower fields in the Netherlands. It’s the biggest flower exhibition in the country, located around a 30-minute drive away from Amsterdam. Keukenhof is located in Lisse, quite close to Leiden in northern part of the country. The town Lisse is a part of so-called ‘Dune and Bulb Region’ – a coastal stripe of lands located between Leiden, the Hague and Haarlem. If you don’t have a car, the quickest option to get there is to take a bus (Keukenhof Express bus) from the airport. You can even buy a combined ticket including entrance. While in Lisse, don’t miss out on the opportunity to rent a bike and cycle. The views are just unforgettable, and bicycle is best for taking pictures. A quick tip for Instagrammers – you’ll take the best photos during the sunrise or sunset.
Keukenhof is a botanical garden of around 80-acre full of famous tulip fields. It’s actually believed to be one of the most beautiful spring gardens in the whole world. It was set up in the 15th century as a place where the Countless Jacqueline of Bavaria had crops grown for the castle. Keukenhof literally means ‘kitchen garden’. The first exhibition was opened in 1949. Since then, millions of visitors have been coming to see the famous gardens. Currently, there are more than 7 million flower bulbs. More than 100 Dutch exhibitors present their flowers and it has been estimated that they have been planting around 1,600 different types of flowers, composed in patterns created in both traditional and modern ways. Every time I see them, they literally leave me speechless. This is something you can see only in Holland!
What Else Can You See There?
Besides the gardens, in Lisse you can also visit a museum of tulips and a 100-year-old windmill. What I like there is that the park is a great destination, no matter the age of the visitors. Very often there are public art performances, special displays and small kids can spend some great time on various playgrounds. In 2019, over the 8 weeks Keukenhof was open, over 1.5 million people visited it. The exhibition was scored 9 out of 10 points by visitors which is a great result. Because of many visitors this year, Keukenhof needs some improvements. This is way the gardens are currently closed, and they won’t be opened until next year. In 2020, the exhibition will start March 21st and end May 10th. The park has a different theme each year which means the exhibition never looks the same. The 2020’s theme will be ‘A World of Colours’. I am already excited to see it!
Useful info: The entrance ticket is 17 – 18 Euro (17 Euro if you buy it online). Children 0-3 pay nothing.
And If You Want To See Some More Tulips…
… a museum is always a good choice! There are two flower museums I highly recommend: Museum de Zwarte Tulp (Museum of the Black Tulip) and Amsterdam Tulip Museum. The first one is located in Lisse, right next to Keukenhof. You can learn a lot about tulips and flower bulbs and view hundreds of tulip artwork and illustrations. Amsterdam Tulip Museum, on the other hand, is located in Jordaan. The exhibition presents the history of tulips between the times of Ottoman Empire and 17th century.
Amsterdam Tulip Festival
If you are a flower-lover, there are some Dutch events you just cannot miss out on. One of them is the famous Amsterdam Tulip Festival (click here to check the website) , held annually in Amsterdam itself, as well in some other locations. It was started a couple of years ago by the founder – Saskia Albrecht (a garden designer). The main ambition of Saskia was to connect districts, businesses, residents and visitors. How? By bringing tulip back to the streets of the city. The festival takes place in April (the whole month) and it makes the city look absolutely amazing. The streets are just blooming. There are many floral arrangements and installations dotted throughout the city.
‘A Tulip For Every Citizen of Amsterdam’
Each year, a great idea is brought into life – one tulip is planted for each citizen of Amsterdam. It means, approximately 850,000 new flowers have been planted this year in 85 places in the city. Among the others, Vondelpark, Rembrandtplein, NEMO, Canal House and Rijksmuseum participate in the event. My favourite tulip arrangement is located outside the Rijksmuseum – it’s floating above the water. Flowers can be admired in almost all interesting public spots in the city, like gardens outside the most important buildings. Don’t worry, you won’t get confused – each year free festival guides are given away in many parts of Amsterdam. Such guide includes the names of the tulips on display, maps showing where you should look for them and the list of all participating venues.
As the festival is also held in Keukenhof (partly), make sure you go there to see amazing experiments with new colours and types of tulips. I am sure you’ll find them just beautiful.
Amsterdam Tulip Festival 2020
The upcoming festival will cover 85 locations. Those will be, as always, the most important public areas in the city, like notable buildings, as well as hotels and museums. Most of these spots are free to visit, however, be prepared to pay for entrance tickets in museums – there, normal ticket prices apply.
The Final Word
I cannot imagine Amsterdam (and the Netherlands in general) without tulips. You may think of cheese, windmills and clogs but to me tulips are the best symbol of the country. These few weeks in the spring are the unforgettable chance to experience the beauty of nature. What I especially love is that flowers are literally everywhere these days – starting from the streets of Amsterdam, ending at northern towns. And if you only have a chance to see Amsterdam, or you don’t have time to step out to e.g. Keukenhof, you can always head to the nearest flower market. There you can enjoy the amazing, delicate flowers year-round.