Keukenhof near Lisse is of course the well-known highlight in the Netherlands when it comes to tulips and other flowers. But you actually don’t have to buy an expensive ticket and brave the tourist crowds to see the most beautiful tulips in South Holland. The area just south of Amsterdam – around the towns of Lisse, Hillegom and Noordwijkerhout – is full of colorful bulb fields and you can just drive by them to enjoy this spring spectacle. We drove this tulip route between the Amsterdam tulip fields this spring and we did not just get to see the famous tulip fields, but even more stunning flower fields.
Practical information about the tulip route near Amsterdam
How to find a rental car?
There are rental car companies all over the Netherlands, especially in big cities like Amsterdam or Rotterdam. We recommend you to rent a car in Amsterdam or at Schiphol Airport to visit the tulip fields near Amsterdam, like these flower fields in the Dutch Bulb Region. If Rotterdam is your base, you could easily rent a car there and drive up north to the flower fields, as we did ourselves.
Starting point and length
The car itinerary focuses on the so-called Bollenstreek in the Netherlands, which translates to Bulb Region. It is located between Rotterdam and Amsterdam and it’s a well-known area for its flower fields. The route has the village of Oegstgeest as its starting point, which is the southernmost point of the route. But it is a round trip, so you can actually start the route at any place if it suits you better. You can actually join it anywhere in the area.
The Tulip Route covers approximately 62 kilometers. As you will cross some smaller villages and narrow roads, you’ll be driving at a low speed most of the time. Make sure to plan in at least half a day for the route. You could drive the route in about three hours, but take half a day if you want to take pictures and have lunch or a picnic somewhere.
Where to stay along the tulip route
South Holland is full of unique places to stay, both on the coast and between the meadows or in the picturesque towns. We have some great recommendations to spend the night in the Bollenstreek, allowing you to make the most out of this flower-themed road trip:
- Magical island with hot tub in Hillegom
- Mongolian yurt in the meadows near Warmond
- Nature house for four guests in Leimuiden
The bulb fields and tulip fields near Amsterdam
Although Keukenhof and Lisse are known for their tulips, this area is referred to as the Bulb Region (Bollenstreek) in general. The region is full of flower bulb fields and not just tulips! The tulips bloom from mid-April to mid-May. But you will also come along fields with yellow daffodils (late March to mid-April), hyacinths (late March to late April) and dahlias in all colors (mid-August to mid-October).
It is impossible to say where exactly the flower fields are located, as the farmers cannot use the exact same piece of land every year. This way they keep the soil fertile. But it won’t be difficult to spot the tulip fields. We drove this car itinerary in spring 2021 and passed colorful fields everywhere along the route. There are too many flower farms in this region. It would actually be hard to drive here without seeing any fields.
Tip: this updated flower map by the flower farmers themselves keeps track of bulb fields in bloom every year from the end of March, including weekly photo updates. You don’t need the map when driving this car route though. It doesn’t show all flower fields in the region and you will pass many of them when driving around that aren’t on the map.
The best places of the Tulip Route
#1 The dunes and coastal towns
After starting in Oegstgeest, the route first brings you to the Dutch coast. The first part is not yet focused on flower fields, but will first show you some picturesque villages and then the dunes. The route includes the cozy village of Rijnsburg, the old fishing village of Katwijk aan Zee and then the Sufi temple with a gold-colored dome, historic Noordwijk-Binnen and coastal town Noordwijk aan Zee.
If you’re interested in stopping for a small dune hike, the dune and forest area near Noordwijkerhout is a must. The route takes you past the parking lots for this area. From there you can walk the most beautiful trails; many of them are well signed and therefore easy to follow.
#2 The castles and ruins
The route also visits a number of castles and ruins. At Lisse you’ll drive past Keukenhof and you will also pass by Keukenhof Castle. The castle grounds are open every day of the week (free of charge) and you can enjoy a nice walk on the grounds. The castle itself can only be visited a few times a year with a guided tour.
Not much further you will pass the Ruin of Teylingen, of which only the monumental tower is left. This was once part of an imposing castle, where Countess Jacoba of Bavaria, an important woman in Dutch history, once lived.
Finally, in Warmond you can make a stop at Oude Toren (‘Old Tower’), the remains of a historic church and monastery. The building was demolished by the locals themselves during the Eighty Years’ War against Spain to prevent it from falling into the hands of the Spanish. Only the imposing tower and some ruins are left. There is a cemetery around the tower.
#3 The flower and tulip fields of the Netherlands
The highlight of the Bollenstreek in spring is the colorful splendor of all its flowers. Keukenhof in Lisse is located in the heart of this region and is the most famous place in the Netherlands to see flowers. But around Lisse, so on the northern part of this tulip route, there are many more tulip and flower fields.
The tulip fields are the most popular and can be seen from mid-April to mid-May. To prevent crowds at the tulip fields, they were topped extra early in the spring of 2020. So if you want to be sure of tulip fields this year, we recommend you to head there early and not wait until the last minute.
If you do not necessarily need to see the tulip fields, you could also visit the flower fields around Lisse earlier than mid-April. Then the daffodils (late March to mid-April) and hyacinths (late March to late April) are already in bloom. And with a bit of luck, you will come across a tulip field here and there anyway, as we did.
Practical: the route description
Download route | The route starts and ends in Oegstgeest. It is a tour along the coast and the famous flower and tulip fields of the Netherlands. The route is not signposted, but you can download our gpx-file and use it on your phone navigation.