From the end of March on, fields across The Netherlands are starting to dot with flowers. From the moment we chuck out the Christmas tree, we buy tulips for our homes. But the fields don’t start to bloom until the early spring. But when they do, it’s aspectacular sight. If you want to see tulip fields in The Netherlands, there are several places to go see them (some very un-touristy) and some rules to follow. Read all about Holland’s tulip fields in this article.
Tulip fields in The Netherlands: 10 things to know
- Fun fact: tulips are not Dutch
- Tulipmania in Holland
- Not all flower fields in Holland are tulip fields
- What happens to all these tulips?
- Rules about seeing tulips in tulip fields
- Sleeping with the tulips: De Groene Bollenschuur
- When to see tulips in The Netherlands?
- Where to see tulips in The Netherlands
- Where to see tulips near Amsterdam?
- Visit Keukenhof Gardens
Though Holland is famous for its tulips and soil in the Holland provinces, Flevoland, Drenthe, Zeeland and Groningen has proven perfect to grow tulips on a large scale, tulips are actually not from The Netherlands originally. They are from the mountains of Kazakhstan and found their way to The Netherlands via Persia, China, Turkey and Antwerp.
Around 1593 the tulip first appeared in The Netherlands. At first, they were just grown in the Hortus Botanicus in Leiden and only visitors were allowed to set eyes on the pretty flowers, but soon tulips spread all over the country causing Tulipmania. This is actually considered an official era in Dutch history. This period in the Dutch Golden Age was a time in which contract prices for bulbs of the highly fashionable tulip reached bizarrely high levels. At some point in this era, one tulip cost what the average man would earn in 10 months. The market collapsed in 1637. Tulipmania is considered the first speculative bubble.
From early March on it’s possible to spot flower fields in The Netherlands. The first flowers to pop up are narcissus and hyacinths. So if you’re a bit early to the party and would like to see flower fields: you can. I must say that seeing fields and fields of bright yellow varieties of narcissus and amazingly smelling hyacinths is almost as good as seeing the tulip fields in The Netherlands.
It may come as a shock to you. But flower farmers are not in it for the flowers. The bulbs are actually their livelihoods. The bigger the flower bulb, the more money the farmer can collect for it. Not long after tulips bloom the growers will chop off the actual flowers, leaving the stem and leaves. These provide nutrition for strong bulbs.
Even though we Dutch love our tulips, and we love them in our houses and gardens, most of the tulips and tulip bulbs are exported. The Netherlands export over three billion (!) tulips and bulbs abroad every year.
When you visit the tulip fields in The Netherlands it is crucial that you stick to a couple of rules. Yes, the fields are enchanting. I know. But if you walk into the flower fields, you may trample or damage the flowers. Or you may be carrying diseases on your clothes or shoes that will irreparably damage the tulips and the bulbs. This may cause a lot of financial harm to tulip farmers. But you can enjoy tulips, whilst still minding the fields.
- Don’t walk into the fields. You may trample or damage the tulips. Or diseases on your shoes will hurt the entire crop.
- Take a telephoto lens to take close-up photos from the tulips.
- If you’d like to stand in between the flowers, you may do so in designated fields. De Tulperij, The Tulip Barn and Tulip Store Show Garden are designated show gardens full of amazing tulips, other spring flowers and fun props for you to take that perfect Instagram photo.
- Of course, Keukenhof Gardens is like a Disney World for tulip lovers. So if you’re into taking photos, Keukenhof Gardens is where you should go.
- Don’t pick tulips from the fields! It’s incredibly disrespectful to the farmer. In every tulip field area in The Netherlands, there are dozens of stalls by the roadsides and at the flower farms to buy flowers and bulbs at very good prices.
How amazing would it be if you could wake up in the morning, open the curtains and be greeted by thousands of tulips? Well, this is a reality if you stay at De Groene Bollenschuur. This bulb barn conversion in Hillegom stands proudly in the middle of several flower fields. See the sun rising and setting over the fields whilst enjoying all the comfort of this lovely holiday home.
From mid-March to mid-May parts of The Netherlands are transformed into a sea of flowers. The crocuses are the first ones to pop their heads up in March, followed by hyacinths and narcissus. In general, tulips start to bloom in mid-April and will show their colours until mid-May. If you want to make sure you’re going to see tulips, watch the weekly flower forecast.
The area surrounding the famous Keukenhof Gardens is probably the most famous part of The Netherlands to see the tulip fields. We call it ‘Bollenstreek’: the area of the bulbs. Around Voorhout, Sassenheim, Lisse and Hillegom hundreds of flower fields can be admired. If you’d like to see the flower fields, I advise following this route.
De Beemster is an area just a few kilometres north of Amsterdam. And it’s the perfect place to spot tulip fields. Simply hop on a train to Purmerend and start your Tulip walk from there. If you have a car at your disposal it’s also possible to take a Tulip drive.
Amsterdam is part of the North Holland province and north of the capital is the perfect place to spot tulips. Holland boven Amsterdam has created several walking and cycling routes leading you pats many pretty flower fields.
From Amsterdam, it’s just a short train ride to Almere or Lelystad and it would be very much worth it as the Flevoland province is a beautiful place to see tulip fields, and it’s still a bit of a hidden gem. So you’ll probably have the entire place to yourself. I know I did when I visited with my son. This route will show you all the flower fields around Dronten and I found this route around Zeewolde very lovely too (I especially enjoyed the area around Juttepeerlan). If you’d like to pick your own tulips you can do so at Hanneke’s Pluktuin in Biddinghuisen. I can highly recommend staying at ‘t Voorhuys in Emmeloord, renting a bike or taking a car and seeing tulip fields and other amazing Flevoland sites on this particular route.
If you ever need an excuse to visit Drenthe, the tulip fields are an excellent reason. It’s much quieter than in the areas near Amsterdam and you’ll see just as many pretty tulips. Take a walk around Diever or rent a bike and cycle the Diever-Dwingeloo, Dwingeloo-Ansen-Diever or Diever-Dwingeloo-Beilen route. If you’d like to pick your own bunch of tulips, Tulpen Pluktuin Drenthe is an amazing place to visit.
Goeree-Overflakkee is a complete hidden gem when it comes to Holland tulip fields. This part of Zeeland, not too far from Rotterdam, is the perfect place to see tulip fields in The Netherlands far away from the crowds. The area between Dirksland, Middelharnis, Oude-Tong and Nieuwe-Tonge is the place to spot beautiful tulip fields. This route will lead you to a lot of fields.
Zeeuws-Vlaanderen is the part of Zeeland closest to Belgium and a fantastic place to spot tulip fields in spring. If you’d like to combine a holiday at sea with some tulip spotting, I really recommend heading to Zeeuws-Vlaanderen. You’ll find most flower fields in Zeeuws-Vlaanderen around Hulst.
Lisse and Hillegom are the most famous parts of The Netherlands for flower fields. You can take a train to Hillegom and explore the tulip fields on foot from there. I, however, suggest booking a rental bike (in advance) that you can pick up at the station, as by bike it’s just perfect to follow (a large part of) this route so you can see the best of de Bollenstreek and its stunning fields.
The Keukenhof Gardens. It’s A Thing. Personally, I think driving or cycling through the fields, taking in the giant scale of it all, is the best experience to have. However, if you are pressed for time and you want to see tulips arranged in the most creative ways and be able to lots of photos of these creations, Keukenhof is the way to go. I advise you to buy your tickets online in advance and get there early. From Amsterdam Central Station take bus no. 397 to Keukenhof Gardens. From Amsterdam-Zuid train station take bus no. 341 to Keukenhof Gardens.
Keukenhof gardens by bike
If you’re interested in seeing the Holland tulip fields but you’re not too keen on planning it all yourself, a Keukenhof guided bike tour is really fun to join. The Keukenhof bike tours are run from mid-April to mid-May and they sell out pretty quickly, so you better book ahead. During this guided bike tour you will see loads and loads of tulips (wth many photo opportunities), Keukenhof castle (surrounded by flowers) and windmills. It’s the perfect day trip from Amsterdam in April or May.
Beemster what the area a little north of Amsterdam is called. And if you’d like to see tulips during your stay in Amsterdam, Beemster is probably the easiest way to see them. Because, from Amsterdam central station, simply take the train to Purmerend and start your tulip walk from there.
Almere and Lelystad are just a stone’s throw away from Amsterdam. I would advise you to take the train to Lelystad, grab a rental bike and discover the most beautiful flower fields with this bike route.
Keukenhof Gardens in Lisse is probably the most famous place in The Netherlands to see tulips and other flowers in full bloom in spring. Every year, over 7 million flower bulbs bloom over 32 hectares. The wonderful smell is overwhelming as well as the interesting and creative displays. Children will enjoy a special treasure hunt, the playground, petting zoo and maze. Since visits to Keukenhof are extremely popular with both Dutch as foreign visitors I advise you to book your tickets online, well ahead. From Amsterdam central station bus no 397 will take you directly to Keukenhof Gardens. Before or after your visit I recommend joining this bike tour to see a little more of the Lisse and Hillegom area and see the amazing tulip fields.