Courtesy of © TulpFestivalAmsterdam 2018
Photo by Mario Savoia/Shutterstock
The best time to see tulip fields in Amsterdam is from mid-April to early May.
Here’s how to seek out Holland’s iconic flower in bloom.
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The tulip is one of the enduring symbols of the Netherlands and its capital, Amsterdam—but it wasn’t always that way. The beautiful blooms are originally from the foothills of Central Asia and were cultivated by the Ottoman Empire in present-day Turkey. During the 16th century, the flowers were first imported into Holland, where they were cultivated for research at the University of Leiden. The country’s wealthy bourgeoisie adored the delicately formed flowers, and Dutch farmers started cultivating tulips in great quantities. (It turned out the country was the perfect environment for tulip growing, with its low-lying sandy fields and moderate climate.)
Today, Holland is still known for its tulips and other flowers; travelers flock to Amsterdam during spring specifically to see Dutch tulips in bloom. Various flower parades and the famous, citywide tulip festival make April a prime time to visit Amsterdam. Here’s where to view the flowers on your trip.
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The annual Amsterdam Tulip Festival (or Tulp Festival) showcases around 850,000 colorful tulips in over 85 public spaces across the city. From the end of March through April, some of the key locations to see tulips and other flowers are in front of the Eye Film Museum, Hermitage Amsterdam, Museum Van Loon, and Rijksmuseum, but there are also numerous parks and public spaces within the city limits where you can wander among spring flowers, among them the Vondelpark and Hortus Botanicus.
An online map details each bloom location across the city, as does a printed informational guide (available in Dutch and English), which also gives the names of every variety of tulip at each site. The Tulp Festival guidebooks are available throughout the festival 1 at 14 designated locations in the city, such as the Amsterdam Tulip Museum, for approximately $3.
The Amsterdam Tulip Museum details Holland’s fascination with the tulip, including a phenomenon called “Tulipmania,” when during the 17th-century Dutch Golden Age a tulip craze took hold of the country (people even sold their houses to invest in the bulbs). The museum, located on the Prinsengracht canal opposite the Anne Frank House, is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. $6 for adults, $4 for students
Amsterdam’s Floating Flower Market, or Bloemenmarkt, is the world’s only floating flower market. Here, you can browse 15 fragrant stalls on houseboats permanently moored on the Singel canal between the Koningsplein and the Muntplei (two public squares in the city). This colorful attraction, now the best-known flower market in Holland, is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. It takes place rain or shine throughout the year, but in springtime, tulips of all colors reign.
Holland’s most magnificent flower park, Keukenhof Gardens, covers more than 79 acres featuring 800 varieties of tulips (and approximately 7 million total blooming bulbs). Every year, the flower fields are displayed according to a theme (in 2020, it’s “A World of Colors”). During an annual flower parade known as Bollenstreek Bloemencorsoat, colorful floats brimming with hyacinths, daffodils, anemones, tulips, and other flowers pass down a 25-mile stretch that passes the main entrance to Keukenhof. From here you can see the parade for free, but to visit the sprawling gardens, which include nearly 10 miles of walking trails, you must purchase an entry ticket. Keukenhof is slated to be open starting this April 7 from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. daily. $20 for adults, $10 for children
This article originally appeared online in April 2016; it was updated on April 3, 2019, and again on March 12, 2020, to include current information.
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