The Netherlands is famous for many things – cheese, clogs, Van Gogh – but the tulip is probably Amsterdam’s most enduring icon. These beautiful blooms didn’t actually originate here, but in Central Asia during the Ottoman Empire. Merchants first imported the flowers to Amsterdam in the 16th century, and the country has never been the same since. If you’re interested in seeing the blooms at their best, here’s our handy guide to seeing spring tulips in Amsterdam.
When to visit:
Tulip season runs from the end of March through to the end of May. The best time to visit is usually in mid-April.
Where to see Spring Tulips in Amsterdam:
Flower parades, festivals, museums – there are dozens of opportunities to see tulips in Amsterdam, including the weird and wacky. Here are some of our top picks.
Attend the Amsterdam Tulip Festival
Every April, multicoloured tulips cover the whole of Amsterdam, spilling from gardens and into the streets across the city. Apparently, the festival aims to display at least one tulip for Amsterdammer, which means there are at least 800,000 dotted around the city every year. Some of the city’s most iconic locations put on their own impressive displays to mark the occasion too, including the Van Gogh Museum, Vondelpark, Rembrandtplein and the Rijksmuseum.
The next festival is due to take place from April 1 to April 30 2022.
Explore The Keukenhof Gardens
One of the most famous flower gardens in Europe and one of the largest in the world, the Keukenhof is known as ‘The Garden of Europe’. You’ll need to hop on a tram or bike to get there as the gardens are in Keukenhof, around 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the city. There’s also a Keukenhof Express bus, which runs from the city centre while the gardens are open.
The gardens are spread over 32 hectares (79 acres), with an impressive seven million bulbs planted every year. Bulbs are planted in layers too, ensuring they flower early and last as long as possible. As well as tulips, there are hyacinths, daffodils, lilies, roses and irises to explore too.
The Keukenhof Gardens are usually open for a few weeks from early March to the end of May.
Shop at Bloemenmarkt
Built in 1862, Bloemenmarkt is the world’s only floating flower market. It’s the perfect place to brighten up your day with a handful of bulbs, a single flower or a bunch of colourful tulips. All the bulbs are ready for export, so you can bring them home too. Located along the Singel, between the Koningsplein and the Muntplein, there are usually around 15 stalls to explore, all moored on houseboats.
The market is open from Monday to Saturday 09:00 to 17:30 and Sunday from 11:30 to 17:30.
Enjoy the Dutch Tulip Parade
Possibly the most famous spring flower parade in the world, more than a million visitors flock to Holland every year to enjoy the spectacle. The parade usually begins outside the seasort resort of Noordwijk and snakes along the flower fields near Lisse to Haarlem. The route covers around 42 kilometres (26 miles), featuring colourful flower-filled floats, live entertainment and – of course – plenty of tulips.
The festival takes place every April.
Brush up your knowledge at the Amsterdam Tulip Museum
If you can’t get enough of those blooming buds and want to find out a little more about why everyone else is so obsessed with them too, Amsterdam Tulip Museum is well worth a visit. It details the country’s obsession with tulips, which began with ‘Tulipmania’ back in the 17th-century. Rooms explore the journey of tulips, from the Ottoman Empire to the present day. There’s also a Cabinet of Curiosities, bursting with quirky tulip paraphernalia.
Open daily, from 10:00 to 18:00.
Cycle along The ‘Flower Strip’
Live out all of your wildest Wizard of Oz fantasies on a tulip farm just outside of Amsterdam. There are a few different tulip growing regions across the country but the Bollenstreek, which means ‘bulb region’ is widely considered one of the best.
It’s also close to Amsterdam, stretching for around 25 miles (40 kilometres) from the historic city of Harlem, a short journey from Amsterdam’s city centre. You won’t be able to walk through the fields but you’ll still get a good look at the colourful buds from the outskirts. One of the best ways to explore the ‘Flower Strip’ is to cycle along shiny new cycle path alongside the tulip fields.
Celebrate National Tulip Day
The best of the bulbs may not be blooming just yet, but on the third Saturday of January every year, National Tulip Day officially marks the beginning of tulip season in the Netherlands. In Amsterdam, Dutch tulip growers create a huge temporary garden on Dam Square, featuring more than 200,000 tulips. There’s usually quite a crowd, up to 10,000 people, since you’re invited to pick your own tulip for free.
Watch a live auction at FloraHolland
FloraHolland is not only the world’s largest flower auction, it’s also the only one specialising in spring tulips. It’s located in Aalsmeer, around a 15-minute train ride from Amsterdam airport. Auctions begin at 7:00 every morning and last up to three hours, with around 20 million flowers and plants sold every day.
At least 90% of the Dutch flower trade takes place in the halls, and tulips sell at lightning speed. There’s a glass platform so visitors can comfortably gawp at bidders too.
Take a tulip tour of the city
You don’t have to travel far to see spring tulips in Amsterdam, but it helps to know where to look. This online map helpfully shares some of the best locations for tulip-spotting across the city, along with details about the names and varieties of each tulip.
Wander around a tulip farm
Most tulip farms have strict rules around visitation, but at De Tulperij you can explore a tulip farm on foot. Located a few miles away from the Keukenhof Gardens, you can wander around the colourful fields and even take a lesson on how to grow a tulip from bulb to flower and back again.
De Tulperij is open from March through to May.
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