Is seeing the tulips in Amsterdam on your bucket list? Here is the lowdown on all you need to know about the 2020 Amsterdam tulip season.
Think of the Netherlands, along with Windmills and the colour orange, you will most likely think of tulips. Tulip season is one of the biggest times for tourism in The Netherlands (alongside King’s Day) and it is easy to see why – the fields, quite literally, come alive with colour!
However, due to this, it is a busy time of year to visit The Netherlands and in particular Amsterdam, therefore it is important to plan in advance in order to try to beat the crowds and have the best experience.
All You Need to Know About Seeing the Tulips in Amsterdam
Why is Amsterdam/ The Netherlands famous for tulips?
Originally cultivated in the Ottoman Empire (present-day Turkey), tulips were imported into The Netherlands in the sixteenth century. When Carolus Clusius wrote the first major book on tulips in 1592, they became so popular that his garden was raided and bulbs were stolen on a regular basis. As the Dutch Golden Age grew, so did this curvaceous and colourful flower.
They became popular in paintings and festivals. In the mid-seventeenth century, tulips were so popular that they created the first economic bubble, known as “Tulip Mania”. As people bought up bulbs they became so expensive that they were used as money until the market in them crashed!
To this day the Netherlands is still known globally for tulips and is often referred to as ‘the flower shop of the world’.
What is the best time to see the tulips in The Netherlands?
The tulip fields parallel that of natural, meaning they will bloom between early April to early May. Weather dependent they may bloom as early as late March. Therefore if you are planning a trip to specifically see the tulip fields, the best time to visit is mid-April.
Keukenhof is the most famous place in The Netherlands to see tulip gardens. For 2020, Keukenhof will be open daily between 21 March – 10 May. The theme of Keukenhof in 2020 is ‘A World of Colours’.
You will see tulips in shops and markets at other times of the year in Amsterdam, however, these will be factory grown, not field grown. Therefore only plan your visit to see the tulips between April – May.
Where are the tulip fields in Amsterdam?
There are no tulip fields in central Amsterdam, you will need to travel outside of Amsterdam to see them – however, they are very well connected and easily accessible, so do not worry.
Due to the popularity of the capital city, the majority of people choose to spend tulip season in Amsterdam and travel out to visit the fields.
If you have not visited The Netherlands before, Amsterdam is a great starting destination and I would suggest spending a long weekend in Amsterdam in conjunction with visiting the tulip fields.
The most popular and busiest is the Keukenhof Gardens which is located closest to Lisse and Harlem. Keukenhof is home to 32 hectares flowers, alongside various events and displays.
You can easily spend an entire day here and it is a great destination to see the Holland tulips with kids. One of the most popular activities is to take a whisper boat right through the middle of the tulip fields, the boat trip takes 45 minutes and will be enriched by information about the flower region (€9 per person). It is possible to rent bikes to cycle around as well as book a guided tour. All of these activities are in addition to the entrance fee to the gardens.
As mentioned, the tulip gardens get extremely busy, therefore I strongly recommend buying your Keukenhof ticket in advance. This will allow you to skip the queue on admission and also prevent you from being turned away if the gardens reach full capacity.
If possible, I would recommend visiting Keukenhof on a weekday, as this tends to be quieter than on a weekend. You will also find accommodation in Amsterdam to be cheaper during the week.
How can I get to the Keukenhof tulip gardens from Amsterdam?
Keukenhof is easily accessible by public transport from Amsterdam as well as other major cities such as The Hague and Rotterdam.
The most popular route is to take the direct ‘Keukenhof bus’ from Amsterdam Schipol Airport. This bus departs from the bus stop outside Arrivals hall 4 (near the Starbucks) and will drop you directly outside the garden’s entrance. The journey will take roughly 40 minutes and a timetable can be found here.
Tickets for the bus are bought as a part of a package including your entrance fee and can be purchased here for £23.00
If you prefer to travel from central Amsterdam as opposed to Amsterdam Schipol Airport, you can purchase this ticket package, however, this priced slightly more expensive at £33 per person and the bus is not as frequent.
If you wish to get a taxi from Amsterdam Centraal to Keukenhof Gardens you can expect to pay around €95 each way for a taxi for 4. This does not include your entrance fee.
Lisse and Bollenstreek
Lisse is usually associated with Keukenhof, but the town is actually surrounded by hundreds of tulip fields that mainly produce flowers for the international market.
The long, multi-coloured strips of land are astoundingly beautiful and easily accessible by bike. Lisse has deep historical ties with floriculture and is home to the Museum de Zwarte Tulp, which is dedicated to the Dutch tulip industry.
Bollenstreek stretches for 20 miles between Haarlem and Leiden, the Flower Strip (called the Bollenstreek or Bulb District) is home to more world-famous Dutch tulip fields and these are often the ones you will see from the sky while flying into Amsterdam Schipol. Here you can walk and ride bikes around the field paths.
Alongside tulip fields in Bollenstreek there also hyacinth fields and daffodil fields.
If you have time, I would recommend combining these places with a trip to Keukenhof.
Did you know that Flevoland is one of the Netherlands’ largest open tulip fields? Located 37km outside of Amsterdam, Flevoland is home to over 5000 acres of free, open tulip fields.
Flevoland helps make up what is known as the ‘Tulip Festival’ and every year both locals and tourist take a day to cycle around the seas of colourful fields. The tourist board have created various different routes, with the most popular being the 19km ‘Garden route’.
All the information you need for visiting the Flevoland Tulip Festival can be found here or you can also purchase a 1-day tour package departing from Amsterdam here.
Flevoland is a lot quieter than Keukenhof and was not created for tourists in mind, therefore it is a much more authentic experience.
Other tulip related things to do in Amsterdam?
Amsterdam Tulip Museum
The museum is dedicated to the surprising and flamboyant history of the Tulip. Varied interactive exhibits by local artists trace the famous flower’s journey from its origins in the wild highlands of the Himalayas to its arrival in The Netherlands.
The shop is home to a wide range of tulip memorabilia including tulip bulbs to take home for planting.
Amsterdam Flower Market (Bloemenmarkt)
The floating flower market is always featured as one of the best things to do in Amsterdam, however, I will be honest and say it is not as great as it is hyped up to be.
But it is still worth a visit when visiting Amsterdam, just do not go too far out of your way for it. Due to the increase of tourists visiting over the years, it has gone from a local flower market to a tourist attraction – meaning the prices have gone up but the products sadly not as good quality.
FloraHolland flower auction
Hop on the train to Aalsmeer, a 15-minute ride from Schiphol to witness the world’s largest flower auction.
Trading at the FloraHolland flower auction starts at 7:00 am every morning and continues at breakneck speed. Guests are welcome to watch the auction from a special tourist gallery.
Walk around the city
During tulip season in Amsterdam, there are quite literally tulips everywhere! They may not be full fields but tulips will be dotted everywhere spreading both colour and joy.
If able, walk through the city as opposed to using public transport to see tulips outside shop fronts, along canal bridges and brightening up all the homes.
Tulip season in Amsterdam is definitely one of the most beautiful times to visit.
Accommodation in Amsterdam during tulip season
Tulip season is the most popular time of year to visit Amsterdam and The Netherlands, this means you will see an increase in hotel prices.
Read: Where to stay in Amsterdam – a guide for all budgets
In order to try to save money, book your accommodation as far in advance as possible and do not leave it last minute. The more demand there is for rooms, the higher the prices will be.
A note on responsible behaviour when touring the flower fields
When exploring the tulip gardens of Amsterdam, make sure to stick to the paths and follow the farm rules. Walking across the fields can crush or damage the flowers. If a tulip plant is trampled, it will not produce a bulb large enough to be sold, so it is important to stay out of the fields.
Be respectful, appreciate these fields are people’s livelihoods and a huge amount of work goes into them every single year.
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