Tulip Fields (credit: Thinkstock)
One of Holland’s most famous attractions is also one of its most important agricultural resources. Although not native to The Netherlands, the tulip plays a vital role in the country’s culture and lifestyle as well as supports its tourism industry. While most everyone has seen at least one image of flowing Dutch tulip fields, not everyone realizes that touring the fields occurs for just eight weeks each year. If you’re planning a trip to Holland in the immediate feature, here’s a practical guide on seeing the world-renowned tulip fields, in addition to a few related attractions.
Holland’s tulip season typically runs from the end of March to the middle of May. However, the very best time to see the colorful perennials in is mid-April, when the blossoms are its peak.
The most dazzling display of tulips can be found at Keukenhof, located about 25 miles southwest of Amsterdam in the village of Lisse. Encompassing nearly 80 acres, Keukenhof (Kitchen Garden) is one of the largest flower gardens in the world and attracts an estimated 800,000 visitors annually in just the eight weeks it’s open to the public. Approximately seven million flower bulbs in a variety of colors grace the grounds of the breathtaking garden, also widely known as the Garden of Europe. To reach this world famous attraction, visitors staying in popular tourist destinations like Amsterdam or The Hague can take an intercity train to Haarlem, Leiden or directly from Schiphol Airport, and then transfer to a local bus that takes them the rest of the way. Additionally, the Arriva Keukenhof Express transports visitors from Amsterdam, Schiphol Plaza or Leiden directly to the gardens. Visitors also have the option of taking a single day or multiple day tulip tours, from reputable tour operators like Amsterdam City Tours and Keukenhof Day Tours or even tour on their own with a rented bicycle or with bike tour operators like Cycletours or Dutch Bike Tours.
Slightly northeast of Amsterdam is the Dutch province of Flevoland, home to the largest flower bulb region in the country. Located in the Noordoostpolder (northeast polder) in the Kop van Noord-Holland region is the longest tulip route in the country, covering 2,500 acres across more than 60 miles. Although trains are available from Amsterdam to regional cities like Almere and Lelystad, the best way to enjoy the route is by car, motorbike or cycling. The Noordoospolder also hosts the annual Tulip Festival (Tulpenfestival) in Emmeloord.
Extending between the cities of Leiden and Den Helder are the endless acres of tulip fields many prospective travelers view in tourism brochures and online travel sites. Although the tulip fields stretch further south beyond The Hague, the most popular section connects Leiden, Keukenhof and Haarlem. As with the Noordoostpolder, the best way to truly experience the most famous of Holland’s tulip fields is by car.
Other Notable Places
Amsterdam Flower Market
Situated along the Singel canal between the Koningsplein and the Muntplein, the Bloenmenmarkt (flower market) is the only floating flower market in the world. Open daily, the market hosts 15 flower stalls that rest upon houseboats where visitors can purchase flowers and bulbs from the friendly vendors. In addition to tulips, other flowers available for purchase include daffodils, hyacinths, roses, daisies and buttercups along with a wide variety of succulents. Several tram routes serve the Bloenmenmarkt at either the Koningsplein or Muntplein from Amsterdam’s Centraal Train Station, including routes 1, 2, 4, 5 and 9.
Aaslsmeer Flower Auction
Not far from Schilpol Airport is the famous Aaslmeer Flower Auction, the largest of its kind in the world. An estimated 20 million flowers from all over the world are sold on a daily basis and millions more are stored in the cavernous warehouses. The flower auction is open to the public on weekdays and a minimal admission fee is required. Visitors can take intercity train 2672 to Schipol, then transfer to bus route 198 to Aaslmeer.
Amsterdam Tulip Museum
With a very convenient location, the Amsterdam Tulip Museum traces the history of tulips through exhibits and historical artifacts. Although it’s quite small in comparison to a typical museum, flower aficionados, especially those who want to learn more about tulips, will enjoy a visit. It’s also a very short walk from the historic Anne Frank House, allowing visitors to see both attractions in a very short time. General admission into the museum is just €5. The Amsterdam Tulip Museum and the Anne Frank House are located on opposite sides of the Prisengracht canal and both are easily accessible by public transportation by taking tram routes 13 or 17 or bus routes 170, 171 or 172 from Amsterdam Central Station.
Randy Yagi is an award-winning freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he received a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on Examiner.com