Located just outside Amsterdam, and easily accessible by public transport, there’s plenty to see, do (and smell) in Amsterdam Area's spectacular flower strip, even if you only have one day to visit. Hop on a boat or bicycle to explore the 30 kilometre area at a leisurely pace or join one of the marked hiking routes for spectacular aerial views. Find out how the Dutch flower trade bloomed, step back in time to discover the history and origins of bulb culture, or even pick your own tulips to take home.
Here’s our selection of 10 unmissable flower strip highlights:
Visit the Bollenstreek
One of the most popular and unique attractions in the country, the Bollenstreek (or Bulb District) stretches for 30 kilometres between Haarlem and Leiden. Home to the world-famous Dutch tulip fields, the region comes alive with colour every year when millions of crocuses, daffodils, hyacinths, asters and tulips burst into life. While the best time to visit the flower strip is from mid-March to mid-May, tulip season is in full swing during mid-April. Find out more about the Bollenstreek.
Experience the hustle and bustle of a live auction
At the FloraHolland flower auction, visitors can get a behind-the-scenes look at the world’s largest flower sale. Experience the hustle and bustle of the trading floor, watch dealers bidding against the clock and be amazed as hundreds of thousands of beautiful flowers are sold to traders from all over the world. Located just a stone’s throw from Schiphol Airport, get there early to explore the auction at its busiest. You can also take a guided tour with an expert - available in Dutch, English or German - or use the information panels to embark on a self-guided tour.
Stroll through the world’s largest flower gardens
In spring, the Keukenhof Gardens in Lisse come alive with a spectacular show of blossoms. The special theme for this year’s event is ‘Romance in Flowers’ and includes a huge rose show featuring hundreds of red roses as well as a special tulip mosaic with around 50,000 bulbs. Special activities for kids, exhibitions, events and performances will ensure the whole family finds something special to do during the flower season.
Find out more about Keukenhof Gardens.
Get a different view from the water
Sit back and relax as you enjoy the peace and quiet of the endless bulb fields around Keukenhof in an electrically-propelled boat, or special whisper boats, which travel through the beautiful flower bulb landscape in virtual silence during a 45-minute trip. Purchase your ticket on the day of travel at the mill in the park.
Join a guided tour around Keukenhof
Discover the highlights on a tour of the awe-inspiring Keukenhof Gardens by local experts. During this hour-long tour you’ll learn all about the park’s history, different planting techniques, inspirational gardens, as well as the spectacular flower shows which help make the flower season one of the Netherlands’ most special events.
Discover more about Keukenhof’s guided tours.
Cycle through the flowers
Renting a bike is the perfect way to explore the flower strip at your own pace. You have four marked routes to choose - ranging from between 5km to 25km - all of which are well signposted, fairly flat and very safe. For the real green-fingered fanatics, there is also a longer ‘Bulb Route’, a bum-numbing 35km. If you want to rent a bike when you get there, simply head to Rent-a-Bike van Dam at the main entrance of Keukenhof Gardens.
Find Rent-a-Bike van Dam.
Take a hike on a sunny day
The Wandelnetwerk Bollenstreek is a network of marked hiking routes which run throughout the Flower Strip region. A truly unique way to see the incredible blooms, to set off simply follow the signposts past green pastures and colourful bulb fields and you’ll soon be savouring the jaw-dropping views from atop wooden stiles and navigating waterways on pulley-operated ferries.
Free maps are available at the local Visitor Centres.
Pick your own tulips
Annemieke’s Picking Garden is a nursery specialising in cultivating tulips using organic horticultural techniques. With an impressive 300 varieties of flowers available, visitors can learn how the blooms are prepared for sale, wander through the tulip fields and even pick their own bunch of flowers to take home.
Visit Annemieke’s Picking Gardens.
Step back in time at the Black Tulip Museum
Located in the centre of Lisse, De Zwarte Tulp (Black Tulip) museum examines the history of the Bulb District, the origins and evolution of bulb culture and the science behind the development of new varieties of tulips. Through interactive exhibitions using pictures, photography and videos, the museum paints a picture of the remarkable bulb-to-flower-to-bulb cycle.
Explore De Zwarte Tulp.
Be king of the castle
The centuries-old Castle Keukenhof’s impressive history is rooted in the Dutch Golden Age: it was built in 1641 by Adriaen Maertensz Block, an administrator for the Dutch East India Company (VOC). The house and its Golden Age collections can be viewed on guided tours, where visitors will learn about its history and previous owners through portraits, furniture and décor. Alternatively, head outside to view the unique sculpture collection or wander through the impressive English-landscape inspired gardens. For music lovers, the Coach House hosts classical concerts by young and upcoming talent in the summer months.
Admire Castle Keukenhof.
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. It takes a tremendous amount of work to cultivate the neat lines of flowers that blossom into a rainbow of bulbs each spring, and everyone who visits should be respectful of the flowers and the farmers who have invested so much time, effort, expense and love into the fields.