What you need to know about Holland's tulip fields
The Netherlands in the springtime is glorious. Canals are speckled with blossom. City squares buzz with al fresco diners enjoying the sunshine. And, of course, the tulips are out.
With thousands of varieties in a whole rainbow of colours, you really know spring has arrived when you spot a display of tulips. Amsterdam has flower markets and pop-up stalls selling bulbs and bunches of cut flowers, but to truly appreciate these magnificent flowers, you can't beat a visit to the flower fields.
A quick history
Tulips and the Netherlands have had a long love affair. The first bulbs were brought over from the Ottoman Empire in the 1500s. Less than a century later, the country was in the midst of ‘Tulip Mania’, where prized bulbs were selling for as much as a small house. Nowadays, with prices a little more reasonable, the Netherlands is the world’s biggest tulip producer, exporting billions of bulbs and flowers each year.
How do I see the tulips at Keukenhof Gardens?
One of the best places to see tulips is Keukenhof Gardens, in the town of Lisse in South Holland. Tulips - around seven million of them - are planted in these world-famous gardens each autumn, creating spectacular displays of colour when the bulbs burst into flower the following spring.
There are tulip fields, where blooms are planted in neat rows according to colour. A traditional windmill looks over the fields, providing a great vantage point for photos. And throughout the rest of the garden, thousands more flowers (including tulips, hyacinths and daffodils) are planted alongside winding paths, lakes and tree-shaded streams. Entry to the gardens includes all the tulip fields, and maps are available to show you what's planted where.
When's best to visit the tulip fields?
Normally, the flowering season begins at the end of March and runs until mid-May, with peak blooming time in mid-late April. Tulip timings are weather dependent, of course, so they can vary slightly from year to year. Time your trip for early April to see the daffodils and hyacinths in bloom as well, or go later in the month (or in early May) for peak tulip flowering and warmer weather.
River cruises to the Dutch bulbfields
River cruises are a fantastic way to see the tulip fields in the Netherlands. But which one will be the best fit for you? It all depends what else you’d like to see and do during your cruise. All of our springtime Dutch Waterways cruises include a day at Keukenhof Gardens to see the tulip fields, so it all comes down to the other destinations on the agenda.
Tulips and Windmills
Tulips and Windmills is a great option for first-time visitors to the Netherlands. This five-night river cruise starts off with an onboard tulip talk from a horticulture expert, before we explore the historic towns of Hoorn and Enkhuizen. The following day, we’ll arrive at Keukenhof Gardens to admire the tulips in all their splendour. We’ll then tour the craft museums and windmills at Zaanse Schans, and finally finish up in Amsterdam.
Dutch Waterways & the Beauty of Keukenhof
If you’re a return visitor or you’d like to see a little more of the Netherlands, Dutch Waterways and the Beauty of Keukenhof is a slightly longer cruise. Over the course of a week, we’ll explore Zaandam, Utrecht and Middelburg; tour the windmills at Kinderdijk; and enjoy time in bustling Amsterdam and Antwerp.
Colourful Springtime in Belgium and Holland
This cruise swaps Keukenhof Gardens for Belgium's answer to the tulip fields: Floralia spring flower exhibition. Held in the woodland grounds of a castle, there are more than 400 different flower varieties showcased here each year. In addition to Floralia, you can explore Antwerp, Ghent and The Hague, see the windmills at Kinderdijk, and see Amsterdam on a private canal cruise.
If the tulip fields are on your travel wish list, take a look at our Dutch Waterways river cruises.
Although she loves a lie-in at home, Laura is often up and about before dawn on holiday. She’s watched the sun rise over the Grand Canyon, Uluru and Angkor Wat, but her favourite was seeing the first light of the New Year sweeping across the yacht-dotted waters of Sydney Harbour.
Laura | About the author
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