As spring is just around the corner, the Dutch are getting ready for their flower season, which will be dominated by the most brilliant flower and tulip fields. The renowned Keukenhof in Lisse is one of the Netherlands’ top destinations for seeing traditional tulip fields, but you can also discover tulip farms throughout the country. Not just in Lisse close to Amsterdam, but also in Flevoland or Goeree Overflakkee. The best part is that if you come during the month of April, you can view the fields for free while taking a fantastic tour of the Netherlands.
As Dutchies, we know exactly where to find those lovely tulip fields both near Amsterdam and farther away from the masses. We will tell you about the best flower routes in the Netherlands: the Tulip Route in Flevoland, a tulip road trip at Lisse near Amsterdam and a road trip itinerary on the island of Goeree Overflakkee close to Rotterdam.
The tulips in the Netherlands
The tulip does not originate from the Netherlands, despite persistent legends to the contrary. The Netherlands is where the tulip originally received its special status and where it was subsequently refined into its present-day variety of multicolored flowers. How did the connection between the Netherlands and the tulip begin?
The tulip is originally from the Middle East. A Turkish ambassador once brought them to western Europe as a present and they were a hit in the Netherlands. Carolus Clusius, a botanist who lived in Leiden in the sixteenth century, amassed a large collection of tulips and developed the first systematic garden in Leiden. He had a wide network and helped to popularize the new colorful flower among the Dutch aristocracy.
The tulip mania took place during the 17th century, which you are undoubtedly familiar with. During this Golden Age, the Netherlands was more wealthy than ever before, and the rich created Amsterdam’s canals full of canal homes as magnificent as palaces. The tulip was the new status symbol of the elite and in 1637 the price of a tulip reached the level of a canal house.
The most popular tulip during the tulip mania? Flowers with a striped pattern. We now understand that these are sick tulips, but not caused by a disease that can be passed from one bulb to another. In the Netherlands, the goal of passing on these stripes to new tulip bulbs was the birth of bulb cultivation. The Dutch developed into the world’s finest tulip experts. Tulips and tulip bulbs are still one of our country’s most valuable export commodities. The end result is those lovely tulip fields in the Netherlands, which you may visit this spring!
Where to find the best tulip fields in the Netherlands
Did you know that tulips grow particularly well in our Dutch climate? A bulb needs a cold winter with chilly evenings in order to bloom in the spring. The farmers in the Netherlands mostly discovered excellent soil for their product behind the dunes of South Holland, between Leiden and Haarlem. That is where we still find the renowned Bulb Region, including the popular Keukenhof tulip park near Lisse.
In the 20th century, the tulip meadows spread from region to region in the Netherlands. As a result, every province in the country now has its own tulip fields. Especially the top of Noord-Holland and West-Friesland, but also the Noordoostpolder of Flevoland and the island of Goeree-Overflakkee near Rotterdam are home to the best tulip fields of the Netherlands, turning into a colorful landscape every spring.
Did you know that: tulip growers can’t utilize the same piece of ground every year for their tulip cultivation? They must rotate the farms to prevent the soil from being exhausted. Because of this, it’s difficult to pinpoint the tulip fields in the Netherlands every year. We know approximately where to go because the growers are confined to their own region. Because most growers seek for the same soil type and are thus close to one another, finding the tulip fields is never difficult.
These are the best areas for tulip fields in the Netherlands:
- The bulb region around Lisse, Noordwijkerhout and Hillegom, where you can also visit the popular tulip park of Keukenhof.
- The island of Goeree Overflakkee near Rotterdam, around the villages Middelharnis, Oude- and Nieuwe-Tonge and Dirksland
- Around Dwingo, Beilen and Hijken in Drenthe
- The Noordoostpolder of Flevoland around Dronten, Lelystad and Zeewolde
- In North Holland in the Kop van Holland, in the Beemster and in West Friesland
- In Zeeland near Klein Mariekerke and Zonnemaire, and in Zeeuws-Vlaanderen near Clinge and Graauw
What is the best time to visit the tulip fields in the Netherlands?
The bright colors of vibrant flower and tulip fields are typically associated with spring. However, the entire timeline of those tulip crops extends far beyond early spring.
You may buy tulips all year, but they are only cultivated in greenhouses. The fields of tulips that we adore in the Dutch environment have a very distinct function than a lovely bouquet for the house. The tulip farmers aren’t overly concerned with the beautiful blooms, since they’re only a by-product. They’re primarily interested in the bulbs. The bulbs are the primary goal and the tulips are simply a by-product to create them. Because these tulips grow outdoors, their blooms tend to be short-lived and limited to early spring. The yearly timeline of these field of tulips is therefore considerably different from the tulips growing in a greenhouse.
In October, the tulip bulbs are planted in the ground. They’re usually placed on a net so that they may be easily pulled out of the soil later. One tulip bulb creates many tulip bulbs over time. During the winter, little is done with the bulb fields. Weeds are still being removed and extra fertilizer may be added, but it is mainly nature at work during the colder months.
Did you know that our National Tulip Day is in January? The tulip season – which actually starts much later in the year – is then kicked off with a sea of (greenhouse-grown) tulips on Amsterdam’s Dam.
The first results is observed in March. The tulips then begin to appear. Because it begins with the green leaves, there are no flowers to be seen yet. The first tulips will be visible from the end of March, but the fields are not yet in full bloom. In fact, there may be several bulb fields near tulip fields that bloom a few weeks earlier and are much more interesting to visit in March.
A great example is the Bulb Region south of Amsterdam where you can drive the Bulb Route for a great road trip along the tulip fields. This area also has daffodils (late March to mid-April), hyacinths (late March to late April) and dahlias (mid-August to mid-October). We could already appreciate several tulip fields as we traveled this bulb route near Lisse at the end of March, and we loved seeing the beautiful fields dotted with yellow daffodils and vivid hyacinths. It is also a little quieter during this time because most visitors come here for the tulips and they are only in full bloom later.
In early spring, the true beauty of the tulips blossoms! Of course, this is determined by the weather: the sunnier and warmer the spring, the sooner the tulips appear. The full bloom period for each tulip is not very lengthy, so the tulip season is relatively brief. The first tulips are visible from the end of March, but the majority of fields are at their best between mid-April and mid-May. So that’s when you should make a little trip around the Netherlands by car to explore one of our colorful tulip routes.
In mid-May, the tulips’ ‘heading’ begins. The flowers are then taken off of the bulbs to ensure that all of the plant’s energy is focused on expanding the bulb rather than blooming. The bulbs are merely dug up in June. The main portion is sold as a product and the remainder is re-used to return to the ground in October for another cycle. During this time, the bulbs are housed in a warm hatchery.
How to find a rental car to visit the Dutch tulip fields?
The tulip fields in the Netherlands are best visited by car. This is because they are located in rural areas, and there is only limited public transportation that goes directly to these areas. If you don’t have your own car available, you can easily rent one at a car rental company. There are rental car companies all over the Netherlands, especially at airports and/or in big cities like Amsterdam or Rotterdam.
It depends on the tulip fields you wish to visit whether Amsterdam or Rotterdam would make sense as a starting point to rent your car. If the tulip fields are located close to Amsterdam, renting a car in Amsterdam is a good option. You can find excellent tulip fields and tulip car routes in the Bulb Region around Lisse or in the province of Flevoland, both close to Amsterdam.
If they are located closer to Rotterdam, renting a car in Rotterdam might be more convenient than in Amsterdam. Goeree Overflakkee is located just south of Rotterdam and has one of the best tulip routes in the Netherland. Also, the Bulb Region we already mentioned, is close to both Amsterdam and Rotterdam, as it is right in between the two.
Tip: our home town Rotterdam is one of the most underrated cities in Europe. We definitely recommend you to not only use it as a starting point for visiting the tulip fields, but to explore Rotterdam for two or three days.
The best tulip routes in the Netherlands: 3 scenic drives along the famous bulb fields in spring
We recommend three of the most popular bulb routes in the Netherlands’ tulip fields. They’re all a little different. In the first place, you will find them at a different location, and this may be one reason to pick one itinerary over the other: one in Flevoland’s Noordoostpolder, one in Lisse’s Bulb Region, and a third on South Holland’s island Goeree Overflakkee.
Apart from that, the routes are also very different to drive. One is organized by a tulip organization, while the second takes you to the most famous fields, and the third bulb route takes you off the beaten path.
The first one is the tulip route in Flevoland which is a planned itinerary with a variety of activities along the way each year. The organisation usually provides more than one route to choose from, as it did last year in spring 2021. You can buy a ticket for the specific date for this event, but you may also use our tulip route for the Noordoostpolder and visit the fields whenever you prefer.
The second and third options are not well organized, taking you to lovely tulip fields as well as picturesque towns. The Bulb Region drive is the most popular, as it is the most well-known area for tulip fields in the Netherlands. It might be a bit more crowded, too. However, if you go in early spring, you’ll discover seas of daffodils and hyacinths and not just tulips. That’s why this drive isn’t just a great option between mid-April and mid-May, but also in early April.
Goeree Overflakkee is lesser-known as a tulip paradise, and this scenic route is seldom used. The island is a hidden treasure where you may avoid the crowds.
#1 The Tulip Route in Flevoland
Download route | Length: 88 kilometers | The Flevoland Noordoostpolder is home to a large number of tulip farmers. In fact, you can find the majority of the tulip fields and most tulip growers in this region. Even more than in the Bulb Region! The result? A never-ending sea of gorgeous flowers in early spring.
Every year in Flevoland, a (slightly different) Tulip Route is organized along the finest tulip fields of the province. In 2021, there were three different car routes, a walking trail, and several cycling routes! The autoroute is the best option. No matter how many tulip fields may be found in this area, they are scattered about. You might be disappointed by how few you’ll see if you have to cross that distance on foot or by bicycle all the time.
At certain tulip farms, you may visit the fields or purchase tulips. You can tell from the flag flying above it. It is not permissible to stroll on fields everywhere, but if you join a field trip around the fields, you may see the flowers up close. The tulip route in 2022 is open from April 16 to May 7. You can find up-to-date information on the Tulip Route Flevoland website. The itineraries used to be free, but since 2021 you need a ticket for them. You can buy one online for 2022 and you’ll receive the exact itinerary and an audio tour.
If you don’t want to wait for that and don’t necessarily want to visit the farms with activities, you can also find a route map and gpx data for a tulip route in Flevoland here on our blog.
#2 A scenic flower route at Goeree Overflakkee near Rotterdam
Download route | Length: 111 kilometers | On Goeree-Overflakkee in South Holland, there are many tulip farms. I’ve been told that 10% of the Dutch tulips come from these fields! In the springtime, endless swaths of tulips in all hues stretch out across the Dutch landscape. Because this tulip region is considerably less known than the well-known Bulb Region, you’ll find fewer visitors here.
The island of Goeree-Overflakkee is located in the province of South Holland, approximately 50 minutes from Rotterdam by car. The fields are mostly found around the towns of Middelharnis, Oude- en Nieuwe-Tonge, and Dirksland. If you want to explore the area by bike, the bike rental in Middelharnis has a decent selection of (electric) rental bicycles. Two years ago, after renting an electric bicycle in Middelharnis, we simply cycled around the area and visited the fields. As there are so many of them, you’ll easily come across them.
But what about a lovely road trip the bulb fields for a day trip to Goeree Overflakkee? You can drive this 105-kilometer bulb route from Stellendam across the island of Goeree Overflakkee. Beautiful tulip fields will pass by, as well as charming villages, pleasant beaches and sights such as dune bunkers. This road trip along the tulip fields allows you to have a full day out or even a weekend excursion.
You can stop at the tulip fields along the route at various locations. Because the fields may count on even more visitors, some farmers have opened their land up for you to get up close to them. Though it won’t get as crowded as the Bulb Region and the tulip park of Keukenhof.
#3 Tulip Road Trip near Amsterdam
Download route | Length: 62 kilometers |
The Keukenhof near Lisse is of course a well-known attraction in the Netherlands when it comes to seeing tulips. But you don’t have to spend a lot of money on a Keukenhof ticket to see the most gorgeous tulips in South Holland. There are a lot of bright bulb farms in the area around Lisse, Hillegom, and Noordwijkerhout, so you may just cruise by on a one-day road trip!
During the Bulb Route in South Holland, you travel 62 kilometers starting in Oegstgeest. Depending on how many photo stops you make, it might take you around 3 hours to complete the trip. You’ll also see beautiful villages and seaside towns like Katwijk and Noordwijk during your drive. The route will pass some nature parks where you can make a stop for a nice walk. And you’ll have to make some stops at the fields to see the flowers from up close. All in all, make sure to plan in a full day to drive this scenic road trip itinerary.
The great thing about this specific tulip route is that it is not only limited to the tulips season between mid-April and mid-May. That is indeed the time when the tulip fields are at their best, but if you come a little earlier, you are also in the right place for other flower fields. From March on, other flower fields will be in bloom, and yellow daffodils and bright hyacinths will color the area. Some tulip fields are likely to be in bloom as well, but not as many as during the tulip season.
Tip: the farmers of the Bulb Region follow the bloom locations of a variety of bulb fields on this flower map, including weekly photo updates, from March through the end of the season. Not just the tulips, but also other flowers such as the daffodils and hyacinths. It’s worth noting that you don’t need the map to drive this itinerary, and it’s almost impossible to miss the flower fields along the route.