The tulip has enchanted lovers of floral beauty around the globe for millennia, and it has evolved into a beloved symbol for the Netherlands. With its great variety of colors and shapes and its role as one of the first flowers announcing spring, tulip time is the perfect time to go on a tour of The Netherlands. Acres of rainbow fields crisscross farmlands. Gazing across the neat rainbow ribbons of tulips blooming in the Dutch countryside and wandering among acres of stunning gardens is an awe-inspiring immersion in color and beauty.
Tulip Season in the Netherlands can range from late March to mid-May, but the flowers are usually at their best halfway through April. During the Spring, tulip love grips the country, bringing visitors from near and far to wander the famous Keukenhof Gardens and view the bulb fields. Festivals, public displays, parades, and gardens across the city celebrate the kingdom's favorite flower. Book a Netherlands or Amsterdam tour or cruise package and get a true sense of the Netherlands’ extraordinary connection to these blooms.
Insider Travel Tip
The tulip fields are at their best towards the end of April.
Celebrate Spring with a Trip to the Netherlands
Visit the Netherlands to wander the famous Keukenhof tulip gardens, view the fields, and celebrate the tulip in Amsterdam
Amsterdam, the cultural capital of the Netherlands, has several celebrations of the beloved bulb. Every January, National Tulip Day brightens this beautiful canal-crossed city. A temporary garden of over 200,000 tulips takes over Dam Square offering a tulip for every citizen: people are invited to pick out their own free tulip. Come Spring, hundreds of tulip displays bloom in public areas for the Amsterdam Tulip Festival.
Why Should You Visit the Amsterdam Tulip Festival?
The Amsterdam Tulip Festival in April is a horticultural lover’s dream. Similar to the Chelsea Flower Show in London, gardens of the city’s museums and hotels bloom with color, displays peek around distinguished buildings in the city center, and market stalls overflow with flowers to take home and share.
Other Tulip Festivals and Attractions to Visit in the Spring
The Keukenhof Tulip Festival
Keukenhof is the largest flower park in the world. The Keukenhof Tulip Festival is the world’s biggest flower exhibition famed for its incredible and vast blooming gardens. More than seven million tulips, hyacinths, daffodils, orchids, roses, carnations, irises, and lilies bulbs bloom in Spring across various gardens and the park’s four pavilions.
Located in the heartland of agricultural tulip bulb production in the Bollenstreek, Keukenhof Gardens is only 30 minutes from the city of Amsterdam and 15 minutes from Leiden. The festival is typically open seven days a week for seven weeks when tulips bloom from mid-March to mid-May. The park’s vibrant displays attract more than a million visitors from around the country and around the globe, to marvel at the gorgeous plantings.
Two dozen artists contribute visual accents to blooming in the 79-acre garden. The expansive gardens are planted in drifts and swaths of brilliant tulips and other spring bulbs such as daffodils, crocus, and fragrant hyacinths. A different theme inspires the collection each year. Special activities are scheduled throughout the opening weekend, also called Holland Heritage Weekend, with time-honored ensembles, folkloric dance, living 'statues' of historical Dutch figures, crafts, and a traditional cheese market
Insider Travel Tip
While Keukenhof Garden is only open for the tulip season, the Keukenhof Castle is an attraction in its own right. This 17th-century country estate was built by an administrator for the Dutch East India Company and underwent a Neo-Gothic renovation in 1860. The castle boasts a beautifully preserved interior and an extensive Golden Age art collection. Year-round, visitors can stroll the leafy gardens and enjoy views of the landscape and the castle.
If you miss tulip season but are in the Netherlands during the summer months, the gardens of Keukenhof Castle are filled with over 150 different types of flowering dahlias. So, even if you miss the festival, you're in for a spectacular floral show.
Bloemencorso Bollenstreek Flower Parade
Tulip season also inspires one of the world’s largest floral parades, the Bloemencorso Bollenstreek Flower Parade. It travels a 26-mile route, starting from the beaches at Noordwijk and ending in Haarlem; the parade can take over 11 hours! The floats remain on display in Haarlem on Sunday after the procession.
Since its inaugural run in 1947, it has attracted crowds to admire huge floats artfully bedecked with flowers, and beautifully embellished cars. It’s free to watch, although spectators may pay for seats in grandstands with better views and weather protection.
Tulips in Flevoland
With more than 5,000 hectares of tulip fields, annual festivals, and a host of unique activities to enjoy, Flevoland is another spectacular region in the Netherlands to explore the country’s amazing flower production.
Tulip Fields in the Netherlands
Tulips are relative newcomers to the Netherlands. The flower is native to a wide swath of territory from southern Europe to central Asia. According to the Amsterdam Tulip Museum, the first tulip bloomed in the Netherlands in 1594. This was an era of booming economic prosperity in Holland, and the exotic bloom became hugely popular.
Today, more than 8 million flower bulbs bloom throughout the Netherlands in spring. The area known as the Bollenstreek (Dutch for flower region) is located along the northwestern coast of the Netherlands, in the historical region of Holland just southwest of Amsterdam. Known for Dutch icons like windmills, cheese, and wooden shoes – it’s also the best place to see some of the most stunning tulip fields in the country.
Tulips vary in shape and size. The classic oval single tulip is joined by double tulips, also called peony tulips, as well as fringed and “parrot” tulips with ruffled feather-edged petals. About 75 species of tulip deliver nearly every color. A truly black tulip hasn’t yet been achieved, but there are deep midnight purple blooms. While there are no blue tulips, some do have blue accents on petals near the stem. While candy-striped, color-streaked tulips were once the result of a virus, today careful genetic selection is responsible for incredible multi-color combinations. Altogether, there are over 3,000 registered varieties.
Tulips thrive in mild coastal climates with at least three months of sustained cold weather. Because they the flowers do so well in the Dutch climate and the well-drained sandy soil by the North Sea, they rose to play a dominant role in the nation’s agriculture.
Because of this, flower bulbs are a huge industry in the Netherlands. The tulip fields that bloom so prolifically in Spring primarily supply the bulb industry, not the cut flower market, so the flowers are headed (cut off) two to three weeks after the bloom begins, to ensure the plant’s energy goes to the bulb, not to seed production. The small country exports over 1 billion flower bulbs annually to the U.S. alone. Tulips dominate this trade, but the country also exports crocus, daffodil, hyacinth bulbs, and more. It’s the world's largest exporter of cut flowers, making the enormous Aalsmeer Flower Auction a big tourist attraction and an economic driver for the region.
Can you bring or ship tulip bulbs home?
If you’re thinking about buying bulbs from Keukenhof or perhaps having items shipped home, ensure the vendor provides the documentation necessary for importing bulbs or plants into your home country. Regulations for importing plant material can vary and is subject to change. Please research current rules before you go, ask your guide, and ensure that any bulbs you wish to import have the right documentation.
The History of the Tulip in The Netherlands
Sultans of the Ottoman Empire were dedicated tulip enthusiasts, featuring beautiful tulip displays in their lavish gardens. European diplomats to the Ottoman court admired the flower and brought bulbs to Europe, where they swiftly transitioned from horticultural rarity to symbols of wealth and nobility. Even after their rise and fall in popularity during the 17th century, the flower remained a national emblem, frequently depicted in Dutch Golden Age paintings by artists such as Rembrandt.
Frequently Asked Questions Tulips in Amsterdam and The Netherlands
When is the best time to tour the tulips in Amsterdam?
During the Amsterdam Tulip Festival, between April 1-30 every year. Visitors can check out tulips in bloom at over 85 locations across the city. You can visit Amsterdam any time between March and May, but the month of April is your best chance to catch the festival events in full swing and the flowers in full bloom.
What are the best places to see tulips in Amsterdam?
The best place to see tulips in and near Amsterdam are the various locations celebrating across the city for that year’s festival and at the nearby Keukenhof gardens. You can also see tulips along the southwest coastal fields in the area known as the Bollenstreek.
What is the best time to visit Keukenhof Gardens?
Since tulips in the Netherlands only bloom from mid-March to mid-May, the park is only open during this period. The best time to visit Keukenhof is in the early morning or the late afternoon to early evening, after 3-4:00 PM. This ensures your experience is more intimate and less distracting.
How many days do you need in Amsterdam?
Usually, having 3 to 4 days to explore Amsterdam is more than enough to enjoy most of what the city has to offer. This gives you plenty of time to see the captivating tulips at the Keukenhof Gardens, as well as soak up as many beautiful sights as you can. However, if you only have one day in the area, you can still experience the beauty of the city in Spring, spend an afternoon at Keukenhof, and take in plenty of views of the colorful fields.