If fields of gorgeous, bold, fresh flowers bring you joy, you’ll be filled with true bliss after encountering the beauty of Amsterdam tulips in their season. The iconic Amsterdam tulips are bountiful in springtime, with celebrations, activities, gardens, and the pride of Amsterdam encapsulated in producing this recognizable flower more than anywhere else in the world.
Why have tulips prospered in Holland? A long spring season, complete with cool night climates, makes this region of the world ideal for cultivating tulips. The soil in tracts of land is often rotated and drained, strengthening the growing conditions for the tulips.
Tulips cultivated in tulip fields are primarily grown for the flower bulb and not necessarily the tulip that blooms. Because of this, most tulip fields are harvested after 2 or 3 weeks of flowering, so more energy is preserved for the flower bulb instead of the flower. This makes the season to enjoy bountiful tulips in vast fields quite short, but especially coveted! There are even many parades of tulips throughout Amsterdam during the season.
This post details the history of how tulips were brought to Amsterdam, the economic circumstances that surrounded the market for Amsterdam tulips at their origin. Additionally, there are many tips and activities to include as you celebrate spring’s bold colors with Holland’s rich harvest of elusive Amsterdam tulips.
History of Amsterdam Tulips
Tulips originated from the Ottoman Empire, and their name derives from the meaning of turban. Tulips are indigenous to Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and other parts of central Asia. The unique flower first gained popularity in Holland back in 1593. Carolus Clusius became the Head Botanist at the University of Leiden, planting the first tulip bulbs in Leiden, a Dutch province of South Holland. The blooms grew rapidly and their popularity was instantaneous.
The prized bulbs were especially popular with upper classes of society. People were willing to pay large sums of money for a single bulb; as a result of supply and demand, the prices rose sharply. Opportunistic entrepreneurs capitalized on the opportunity to make a fortune on growing and selling Amsterdam tulips. In 1636, stock exchanges were established to trade in bulbs and their future options. Despite attempts by the authorities to place restrictions on the volatile market, trade blossomed. As a result of the rapid market, people sold their land, houses, and valuables in order to invest in tulip bulbs. By 1635, a sale was made of 100,000 florins for 40 bulbs, amounting to over ten times the average salary of a skilled laborer.
The tumultuous market for Amsterdam tulips eventually crashed; what comes up, must come down. In 1637, many growers were left with bundles of flowers and no buyers. Despite the sunken market, Dutch tulip growers still reign in the industry, producing over 4 billion tulips each year, accounting for over 50% of those grown for cut flowers.
When to Visit to see the Amsterdam Tulips
Tulip fields generally begin to change colors at the end of March. Because of this, late March to late April is generally the most ideal time to observe wide fields covered with rich colored Amsterdam tulips.
That being said, the exact time is not a perfect science, as it is dependent upon the weather in Holland. In 2012, it was reported that warm temperatures led tulips to grow too quickly, and a sudden rainfall saved the harvest. For 2013, the earliest tulip yield was not observed until the first week of May. Then in 2014, all the tulip fields were gone by the third week of April. Normalcy returned for 2015, with blooms in late April and early May. Cold weather in 2017 brought an earlier blooming of tulips. You can find blooming reports and Flower Forecasts online to view analysis of the upcoming spring’s tulip blooms in order to plan your trip with the best likelihood possible of experiencing the richest fields of tulips.
Pro tips for visiting:
- record numbers of people come out to see the tulips. If you are looking for a shot with no one in the picture, plan accordingly to go very early
- these tulips farms belong to owners and they sell them for profit. Be respectful and do not damage the land or leave anything behind. You don’t want to ruin it for everyone
- do not step on, lay on, walk on, or harm the tulips
Activities Around the Tulips
Amsterdam Tulip Museum
Immerse yourself in the history and importance of Amsterdam tulips in the value of the Netherlands culture at this unique museum. Pictures, videos, and rich scenery bring to life the nature of how tulips came to Amsterdam from Asia, the economics surrounding the early fascination and tumultuous market, and the science of botany behind cultivation and meeting today’s demand for Amsterdam tulips.
The museum features a special shop to purchase mementos and many hand-painted, tulip-themed gifts or items to take home. If you are spending some time in Amsterdam, consider purchasing the I AMSTERDAM CITY CARD, which includes free access to the museum. Otherwise, admission is approximately 5 Euro per adult.
Amsterdam Tulip Festival
The Tulip Festival is not in any one particular location in Amsterdam; rather, it is spread across 85 different locations, including public areas, urban gardens, the city’s museums, private hotels, and all over. Wander around the city and you’ll be encapsulated by the bounty of springtime Amsterdam tulips everywhere you turn. The striking colors, attention to detail, and pride of Holland’s people in cultivating a product that people travel from all across the world to enjoy its natural beauty is incredibly worthwhile.
Many make the trek to Keukenhof, which is the central location for vast fields of colorful tulips for you to peruse, relax, and enjoy. There are many photograph opportunities throughout Amsterdam if you don’t wish to venture out of the city, but there are many tour groups and arrangements made for you to enjoy the festivities at Keukenhof if you wish.
Keukenhof – The Garden of Europe
The Garden of Europe, Keukenhof is among the most popular flower gardens in the world. Opening its doors to the public in 1950, the spring park welcomed over 236,000 visitors in their first year alone, according to their website. The park has become a world famous attraction, housing over 7 million spring bulbs and over 800 varieties of Amsterdam tulips. Rows of tulips are planted neatly with precision and attention to detail in their horticultural design.
Keukenhof is a great venue to bring children to. With colorful tulips everywhere, a treasure hunt, petting farm, interactive maze, and fun playground, there are plenty of activities to spend hours of time at Keukenhof. Of course, adults will have plenty of fun too!
The world’s largest flower exhibition is roughly 30 minutes from Amsterdam’s city center. The morning time is generally the least crowded at Keukenhof, enabling you to fully enjoy the scenery without overwhelming crowds. While you may be tempted to bring your drone to capture stunning photographs of the Amsterdam tulips at Keukenhof, drones are illegal to fly in the Netherlands over groups of people, meaning their use is prohibited in the gardens.
While the season of Keukenhof varies slightly each year, it is usually open from mid-March to mid-May. There are a number of festivities, shows, and entertaining performances with special themes throughout the season, including Sounds of Holland, Holland Heritage Weekend, Flower Parade, Romance at Keukenhoff, Woodstock Festival, and much more.
Bloemenmarkt – Amsterdam’s Single Flower Market
If taking pictures among vivid colored flowers is high on your list this visit, check out the Amsterdam tulips at the Flower Market. Rich colored tulips and many other flowers flood the aisles at this collection of stalls. This market originated as the world’s first floating flower market in 1862.
Tulips aren’t the only flowers you’ll find at the Amstedam Flower Market. Gerber daisies, amaryllis, crocus, and many others are found here, with bulbs and seeds to plant as well as cut flowers available for you to craft a beautiful arrangement. There are even green plants, gardening supplies, and more.
You’ll find all kinds of souvenirs at the market as well. Mugs, postcards, magnets, local cheeses, glassware, and other finds are available for you to take home a memory of the bountiful land of Amsterdam tulips. Be sure any products you buy that you plan to take back to another country have a customs clearance stamp. The market also has food stalls available, and during Christmastime, the venue is a popular destination for Christmas décor.
Annemieke’s Picking Garden
Craving a wandering adventure among the Amsterdam tulips during your trip? You won’t want to miss Annemiek’s Picking Garden, a nursery containing over 300 varieties of tulips for you to browse, purchase, and enjoy.
Tulips are available at Annemieke’s Picking Garden in the spring, while the summer will find a variety of other flowers for you to enjoy, and wonderful Christmas arrangements, including workshops to design your own wreath. Annemieke’s is distinct in that all flowers are organically cultivated, and there is something to enjoy in all seasons.
Additional Places Outside of Amsterdam to See the Tulips
There are various places that are easily accessible from Amsterdam to go out and see the tulips in large fields. I cannot stress enough that these are businesses and you should be extremely respectful to those owners. I know in recent years it has become increasingly popular for Instagrammers to get their photos with the tulips. If we cannot respect their business and livelihood, they can tell us that we can no longer visit. Just be kind and graciously get in and out leaving no tracks.
Places to see more of Hollands tulips:
Zaanse Schans, Netherlands
Flowers are abundant in many regions of the world, but until you experience the glory of springtime in the Netherlands firsthand, you’ll come to realize the immense fascination for Amsterdam tulips is incredibly worthwhile. There are many venues to learn, celebrate, and enjoy the bounty of spring’s harvest in its natural beauty. Plan your trip to Amsterdam, ensure you have time to wander around tulip fields, and bring home souvenirs to commemorate the colorful experience unlike any other!