Spring is one of the most popular times to visit Holland due to the start of tulip season. Depending on the severity of the winter before, tulip season in Holland typically runs from around mid-March until the end of May.
The majority of the tulip farms are located in the province of Flevoland, in an area known as Kop van Noord-Holland. Another area is near Leiden, where you’ll find the world-famous Keukenhof Gardens. The largest flower auction in the world is FloraHolland, located in Aalsmeer. All of these are only about 30 minutes away from Amsterdam.
If you’re contemplating a visit to Holland to see the gorgeous fields of tulips, here are some helpful do’s and don’ts.
DO: Shoot to visit Holland in mid-April. This is typically the peak of tulip season and the best time to see the most prolific blossoms in person.
DON’T: If you’re hoping to combine with a trip to Amsterdam and want to avoid some of the crowds, don’t go over April 27th unless you want to experience one of the country’s biggest celebrations – King’s Day. It’s quite an experience, but hotels are typically sold out and the main streets are pedestrian only, so no trams, taxis, etc.
DO: Go off the beaten path and rent a car, ride a bike, etc., through some of the farm areas where the tulips actually grow. One option is to take the train from Amsterdam to Den Helder to see the fields in the northern part of the province.
DON’T: Don’t just go to Keukenhof. The gardens are gorgeous and you’ll see some beautiful displays, but it’s great to see where the tulips are growing in the massive fields sans all the tourists.
DO: Buy tickets ahead of time. You can purchase them online and have them sent by email. The park is only open a couple months out of the year and attracts over one million visitors, so cutting your wait time is crucial.
DO: Consider booking a guided tour if you want a coach transport from Amsterdam and don’t mind being bound by the tour times.
DON’T: If you want to see the best of the tulips at Keukenhof, don’t visit around April 30th or later. The tulips are "headed," meaning the flowers are removed. Removing the head makes the bulb stronger, which is the reason these are grown in the first place.
DON’T: Don’t book a tour if you’re planning to spend hours taking photos and perusing at your leisure. Tours are strict on time so you may find yourself left behind if you miss the meeting time!
DO: Research country regulations on where you plan to import tulip bulbs. The US has strict requirements on what can be brought in – buy bulbs from a vendor who offers the required US certifications.
DON’T: Trying to sneak bulbs through customs is highly not recommended. Customs agents, especially on inbound flights from Amsterdam, are always on the watch for both illegal tulip bulbs and other illegal souvenirs.
DO: Check out all the other tulip and flower events in Holland besides Keukenhof. There are various flower markets, including a floating market in Amsterdam’s Singel canal. In April, there is a flower parade with decorated floats and cars that passes a 42-kilometer route from Noordwijk to Haarlem.
DON’T: Don’t forget weather-appropriate gear if you’re out exploring tulip fields and areas where you can’t run for cover if it starts raining. While the spring is nicer weather and typically dry season, it can still rain, so be sure to bring a waterproof jacket and fold up umbrella, especially if you’re on a cycling tour.
Is a visit to see Holland’s tulips on your bucket list?
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Erin is a travel and food writer who currently splits her time between the Netherlands and Belize. She's traveled to 60+ countries on 5 continents with a passion for culinary travel, luxury hotels, and all things Disney. Her writing has appeared in numerous online outlets including Gadling, BootsnAll, CNN, Art of Backpacking, TravBuddy, CBS, and more. She was the major author of Belize's official visitor magazine, Destination Belize 2013; wrote the official AFAR Guide to Belize; and is also AFAR Magazine's local Belize expert.. In addition to writing for other publications, Erin maintains several blogs, Our Tasty Travels, No Checked Bags, Pooh's Travels, and the brand new Caye To Belize. Follow Erin on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google Plus.
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