The tulip is one of the enduring symbols of the Netherlands and Amsterdam—but it wasn’t always that way. The beautiful blooms are originally from the foothills of the Himalayas and were treasured by the Ottoman sultans in Turkey. In the early 17th century, they arrived in Holland where they were first cultivated for research at the University of Leiden. But Holland’s wealthy bourgeoisie adored them and the country’s farmers started cultivating them in great quantities. It turned out that Holland was the perfect environment for tulip cultivation with its low-lying sandy fields where there was plenty of water and a moderate climate.
Strangely, it can be difficult to see tulips in the city of Amsterdam itself. Here are some tips.
Amsterdam Tulip Festival
The Amsterdam Tulip Festival, which runs from March 31 to April 30 in 2018, showcases more than 800,000 colorful and occasionally rare tulips throughout the city. Some of the key locations are EYE Film Museum, Hermitage Amsterdam, Museum Van Loon, Rijksmuseum and many public squares throughout the city.
Floating Flower Market
The Floating Flower Market or Bloemenmarkt takes place rain or shine, summer and winter on stalls located on floating barges along the canal. In springtime, tulips of all colors reign.
Keukenhof is Holland’s most magnificent flower show brimming with tulips, hyacinths, daffodils, anemones, and other spring bulbs for just a few weeks each year (March 22-May 13, 2018). There are nearly 10 miles of walking trails over 79 acres.
Aalsmeer Flower Auction
Aalsmeer Flower Auction is where 19 million flowers and two million plants are sold each day via the Dutch auction system, where the price gets lower as the clock ticks down. Open to the public from Monday to Friday from 7am to 11am.
There are numerous parks within the city limits where you can wander amongst spring flowers. The best include the huge Vondelpark, the exquisite Hortus Botanicus, and the inspired Artis zoo.
Amsterdam Tulip Museum
The Amsterdam Tulip Museum details Holland’s fascination with the tulip, including a phenomenon called Tulipmania, where during the 17th century a tulip craze took hold of the country and people even sold their houses to invest in the bulbs.