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12 hours in the Flower Strip: heritage and steam power

Learn more about Holland's history of cultivating flowers and managing water on this full-day heritage and steam power tour. Go behind the scenes at a real flower auction, learn about the history of the Dutch struggle against the water and visit a historic steam engine - all in just 12 hours!

Go behind the scenes at a real flower auction

Image from Cris Toala Olivares

From 7:30 to 9:30

Set your alarm because today, you’ll discover the wonderful world of flowers at the FloraHolland flower auction. The earlier you get there, the more you’ll see. Experience the hustle and bustle of the auction floor, watch traders bidding against the clock and be amazed by the number of beautiful blooms traded daily with countries worldwide. If you’re travelling from Amsterdam and looking to explore the region on two wheels, this Flowers cycle route provides an excellent sightseeing itinerary and passes Royal FloraHolland.

Duration: 2 hours

Charge up with some delicious breakfast

Historical garden of Aalsmeer.
Image from Koen Smilde

From 9:30 to 10:30

If you're feeling the early morning, don't worry: a cup of coffee at Het Tuinhuis will perk you right up. Enjoy breakfast with a view of the water from their lovely terrace. The menu here is filled with housemade pies and cakes, as well as all the balanced smoothie bowls, scrambled eggs and delicious breakfast spreads.

Duration: 1 hour

Learn more about the horticultural history of Aalsmeer

Historical garden of Aalsmeer.
Image from koen smilde

From 10:30 to 12:00

For more insight into the horticultural history of the region, the Aalsmeer Historical Gardens are well worth a visit. After a relaxing stroll, refuel in the centre of Aalsmeer, with its many cafés, restaurants and shops. While there, be sure to have a walk around the centre and take in the numerous historical monuments. Have a read of this guide to restaurants and bars in the area for more tips on where to refuel.

Duration: 1.5 hours

Marvel at a historic steam engine

Pumping station De Cruquius from 1849 is one of the three pumping stations with which the Haarlemmermeer was pumped dry between 1849 and 1852. It is the largest steam engine in the world. The pumping station was never modernized after that and was put out of operation in 1933. It belongs to the Top 100 of Dutch national monuments.
Image from Pema Prima Photography (@pema.prima)

From 12:00 to 13:00

Ever wondered why the flower region is situated where it is? Well, the whole region was once a giant lake. The area was drained in the 19th century, creating incredibly fertile agricultural ground. Learn all about the Dutch struggle against the water at the Cruquius Museum. This fascinating former pumping station is home to the world’s largest steam engine, which was used to drain the area and create new land. Experience a live steam engine demonstration and marvel at fascinating maps which show how the Netherlands would look without dykes.

Duration: 1 hour

Explore the Keukenhof flower gardens

From 14:00 to 17:00

32 hectares, resplendent with all varieties of flowers imaginable, open to the public for just a few weeks every spring. Keukenhof is the place to be if you love tulips, and it must be allotted the necessary time to soak up the atmosphere and explore every inch of the terrain. You will find pavilions hosting unique displays and, of course, rows upon rows of planted blooms, from daffodils to roses. It can get busy, so take your time to relax.

Duration: 3 hours

Dine in the picturesque village of Hillegom

From 17:30 to 19:00

Not far from there, Hotel Villa Flora is located in the quaint village of Hillegom. Settle down in the cosy restaurant and enjoy a choice of dishes from the extensive, à la carte dinner menu. Still not ready to leave the Flower Strip? Well, you can simply book a hotel room upstairs. Check out this accommodation guide for more inspiration on where to spend the night.

Duration: 1.5 hours

Have a read of these 6 and 24-hour guides for more inspiration on how to make the most of your time in the Flowers region.