Fall in love with Amsterdam's flowers

Keukenhof amsterdam area flowersEvery spring the Keukenhof Gardens come alive with blooming flowers in every colour of the rainbow. Its range of special activities for kids, exhibitions, events and performances also means there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Explore the endless bulb fields by hiring a bike or taking a boat cruise, or join a tour to learn about the park’s history, planting techniques and its inspirational gardens and flower shows. When exploring the tulip gardens, make sure to always stick to the paths and follow the farm rules.

Find out more about visiting Keukenhof Gardens.

Go wildlife viewing

Nationaal Park Zuid Kennemerland National Park
The National Park Zuid-Kennemerland is a huge 38-hectare expanse of undulating sand dunes between Zandvoort and Ijmuiden’s beaches. Stretching as far as the eye can see, this extensive network of protected dunes, beaches and lush forests is home to more than 100 different species of bird, as well as red deer, roe deer, rabbits, Highland cattle and wisent (European bison). Explore this memorable landscape on designated walking routes and cycle paths or enjoy family-friendly experiences such as horse riding and swimming.

Find out more about National Park Zuid-Kennemerland.

Discover Amsterdam's beautiful Dutch countryside

Along the Amstel river Amsterdam Cycle Route
A green oasis right on Amsterdam’s doorstep, the Amstel River Countryside just a short trip from the city centre. To access this spectacular part of the Dutch countryside, simply take a bicycle, boat or public transport south through the city along the river. Before long the hustle and bustle will be left behind, and you’ll see the early spring sunlight shining down on swaying reeds, green meadows and historic villages. While in the Amstel River Countryside, make sure to visit the 12th century village of Ouderkerk aan de Amstel, which boasts ancient monuments, churches and windmills, or continue south to encounter fascinating remnants from the Defense Line of Amsterdam, such as Fort aan de Drecht.

Find out more about visiting Amstel River Countryside.

Become part of a fairy tale

Muiderslot Mike Bink
Located in the fortified town of Muiden, Amsterdam Castle Muiderslot is arguably the most beautiful medieval castle in the Netherlands. In fact, this pristine castle looks like it’s being torn from the pages of a fairy tale book with its drawbridge, towers, moat and battlements. But as part of the UNESCO-listed Defence Line of Amsterdam, the 700-year-old castle actually played an important role in protecting the Netherlands’ against foreign invaders. Featuring beautiful gardens, walking and guided tours, a falconry and kids’ treasure hunts, this magical fortress has something to offer visitors of all ages.

Set sail and explore new places

Smidtje Cruise Haarlem
The picturesque River Spaarne winds its way through the historic city of Haarlem, and on a sunny day in spring it brims with sailing and boating enthusiasts bobbing along its waters. If you fancy setting sail yourself then you can join an organised cruise or hire a boat, or for the more adventurous why not navigate yourself through the network of channels that link the Westeinderplassen (‘West End’ lakes). These lakes are home to dozens of tiny islands, and though many are privately owned, everyone can moor their boat at the Starteiland (Start Island), a popular spot for picnics and barbecues. If you haven’t brought your own food, then why not stop off at one of the restaurants, cafés or sun-drenched terraces in the marinas that line the lake’s banks.

Cycle to the beach

Amsterdam Beach cycling Nationaal Park ZuidKennemerlandThere’s not many better ways to spend a bright spring day than pedalling past spectacular sand dunes and wildlife to arrive at the beach, so it’s lucky that the Amsterdam Area’s beguiling beaches are all easily reachable by bike. A great place to start your journey coastwards is in Haarlem, where you can rent a bike and set off for the coastal town of Zandvoort. The vast seaside resort offers sandy beaches, trendy bars, water sports and family activities. A little bit further along the coast is its noisier neighbour Bloemendaal, where cool hangouts and clubs feature live bands and DJs, making it the perfect hotspot for party lovers to hit the dance floor in the warmer months.

Find out more about visiting Amsterdam Beach.

Spend some time windmill spotting

A trip to the Netherlands wouldn’t be complete without some windmill spotting, and there’s no better time to admire the blades of a windmill gliding through the air than on a breezy spring day.  Just a short trip north of Amsterdam, Zaanse Schans open-air museum is the perfect place to do so, offering visitors a perfectly preserved glimpse into the country's industrial past with a plethora of authentic windmills, as well as traditional houses, warehouses and workshops. Just make sure to grab some traditional Dutch gifts for family, see some clogs being made and visit the nearby cheese farm while you’re there.

Find out more about visiting the windmills at Zaanse Schans.

Get green fingers

Springtime is by far the best time to visit Aalsmeer Historical Gardens, where you will embark on a colourful journey back through time to 1650. Just a short journey from Schiphol airport, the historical garden offers visitors a glimpse into the history of flower cultivation and the flower trade in the Netherlands, explore the greenhouses of yesteryear, and gardens bursting with colourful displays representing the 400-year horticultural history of the area. While you’re there why not take part in the special flower and plant auction, held every last Saturday of the month from April to September in the garden’s impressive auction house. Be sure to check the webpage for opening hours and rules and regulations.

Hike or cycle around the Bulb District

One of the most popular and unique attractions in the Netherlands, the Bollenstreek (or Bulb District) stretches for 30 kilometres between Haarlem and Leiden. Home to the world-famous Dutch tulip fields, every spring it’s filled with millions of crocuses, daffodils, hyacinths, asters and tulips. A great way to explore the area is by renting a bike and pedalling along one of its four cycle routes (ranging from 5km to 25km). Or for a truly unique way to see the blooms, set off on the Wandelnetwerk Bollenstreek, a network of marked hiking routes that run throughout the region. Pick up a free map at the local Visitor Information Centres and follow the signposts past green pastures and colourful bulb fields for some breath-taking spring views.

Find out more about the Bollenstreek.

Explore Haarlem’s museums and shops

Haarlem summer shopping Hans Guldemond
Shop ‘til you drop at Haarlem’s Gouden Straatjes (streets of gold) shopping district. Frequently voted the Netherlands’ best shopping destination, Haarlem’s boutique-lined streets include everything from cool concept stores to traditional markets and big brands to independent labels, as well as charming antique and specialist shops. Wander along Grote Houtstraat, Barteljorisstraat and Zijlstraat, or explore smaller streets to find an abundance of traditional and unique stores. Finish off your day at the Frans Hals Museum, a must-see for lovers of 17th-century art, which houses the world’s largest collection of Dutch painter Hals’ magnificent portraits.

Find out more about visiting Haarlem