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 17th century, they arrived in Holland where they were first cultivated for research at the University of Leiden. But Holland’s wealthy bourgeoisie adored the flowers, 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 and moderate climate.)
Today, travelers flock to Amsterdam during the spring season 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.
Amsterdam Tulip Festival
The annual Amsterdam Tulip Festival, which runs from April 1 through May 19, 2019, showcases more than 800,000 colorful tulips in over 85 public spaces across the city. 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; the best include the huge Vondelpark and the exquisite Hortus Botanicus.
Floating Flower Market
The 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 Amsterdam’s 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. Every year, the flower fields are displayed according to a theme (in 2019, it’s the ’70s-inspired “Flower Power.”) During the annual flower parade at Keukenhof—which takes place on April 13 this year—colorful floats brimming with hyacinths, daffodils, anemones, tulips, and other flowers pass down the road alongside the sprawling gardens. You can see the parade for free, but to visit Keukenhof, which has nearly 10 miles of walking trails, you must purchase an entry ticket. Keukenhof is open from March 21 through May 19, 2019, from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. $20 for adults, $9 for children
Amsterdam Tulip Museum
The Amsterdam Tulip Museum details Holland’s fascination with the tulip, including a phenomenon called Tulipmania, when during the 17th century 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
This article originally appeared online in April 2016; it was updated on April 3, 2019, to include current information.