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Coolest Things to Do In Amsterdam Involving Tulips (Besides Keukenhof)
Amsterdam in spring means gorgeous tulips. Holland, as a whole, has been famous for tulips since they were first imported from Turkey in the 1500s. In fact, they became so popular in the region that, for some time, they were even used as a form of currency. The craze for tulips, Tulpomania, in Holland was quite a phenomenon. The value placed on these bulbs was so high, some gardens were worth more than many homes! Eventually, the tulip market crashed. Despite this, a love for tulips and a degree of Tulpomania still dominates Dutch culture. Today, this beloved flower is bountifully cultivated across the country and celebrated through annual festivals, parades, exhibits, and more. It is, by far, the most spectacular reason to visit Amsterdam in the spring.
Most people associate Amsterdam tulips with world-famous Keukenhof Gardens. These breathtaking gardens are located just under an hour away from Amsterdam. Just take a look at these Keukenhof photos and you’ll see why millions of travelers make the journey from Amsterdam to Keukenhof each year. Though the stunning gardens in Lisse may be the most popular way to immerse oneself into the Dutch tulip culture, there are many more ways to experience and celebrate tulips around Amsterdam. Here are 7 of the best things to do in and around Amsterdam, other than Keukenhof, to feed your tulpomania.
1. Admire Tulip-Inspired Art and the Science Behind the Flower at Museum de Zwarte Tulp (The Black Tulip Museum)
The Museum de Zwarte Tulip (Black Tulip) is located in Lisse making it a great activity to combine with the world-famous Keukenhof Gardens. This museum recounts the history of the tulip and explains cultivation of the bulb through interactive displays. Be aware, most of the literature throughout this museum is in Dutch which could make it difficult to understand. There are some audios available in English, but not for everything. That said, it’s a very interactive museum where you can uncover the history and science of tulips as well as beautiful tulip-inspired artwork.
If you decide to combine a visit to Keukenhof with a visit to the Museum de Zwarte Tulp, the museum is only about a ten minute walk from the gardens. Opening hours are Tuesday through Sunday, 10am to 5pm. Children ages 4 to 18 are 3 euros while adult entry is 6 euros. However, if you purchased the museum card for your trip to Amsterdam, you can use that to enter at no cost.
2. Learn About the History of Tulips at the Amsterdam Tulip Museum
This private museum is located on Prinsengracht, just across the canal from the Anne Frank House. If you don’t have the chance to leave Amsterdam city, the Amsterdam Tulip Museum is a quick and fun way to learn a bit about the Dutch tulip. It isn’t a large museum, but an interesting one in a quirky location. You can expect to spend anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, making it a light stop before or after the Anne Frank House. The gift shop is especially nice, with many tulip themed gifts. You can even purchase bulbs.
3. Shop for Tulips at the Amsterdam Flower Market (Bloemenmarkt)
The Bloemenmark is no doubt one of the most popular tourist activities in Amsterdam. However, its popularity doesn’t make it any less unique nor any less a local experience. The Amsterdam flower market is, in fact, one of the most unique flower markets in the world. Why? It is the only floating flower market in the world! You heard that right. The Bloemenmarket is a floating market situated on the Singel canal. Locals and tourists head down to gather their favorites. Blooms are available year-round though vary by season. Roses are popular in the summer while tulips rare the jewel of the spring.
The Bloemenmarkt has been around since 1862 offering flowers and plants to Amsterdammers during every season. You can purchase individual flowers, bouquets or even Christmas trees in December. It’s also a great spot to pick up a few typical Dutch souvenirs such as flowers, cheeses, or even bulbs ready for export. In the early days, flowers and plants were sold here after being shipped in from various areas surrounding Amsterdam. So, in a way, this cultural activity takes you back to another time.
4. Take a Seat for the Tulip Parade (Bloemencorso)
Each year, spring flowers are showcased in the annual Flower Parade (in Dutch, Bloemencorso). Colorfully and carefully assembled with millions of tulips and other blooms, floats and cars travel 42 km from Noordwijk to Haarlem. The parade is typically held on a Saturday, but the beautiful floats remain on display through Sunday. If you plan to watch the parade, be sure to head out early and find a good spot along the route. Many people will plan to watch from Lisse and combine the parade with a visit to Keukenhof. I don’t recommend it. The day of the parade is probably the worst possible day to visit Keukenhof! If you can, plan a visit to the gardens on an alternate day.
5. Pick Your Tulip on National Tulip Day
April might be the best time to see the tulips in and around Amsterdam; but, if you find yourself there in January, don’t despair. National Tulip Day falls in January of each year ringing the bell for tulip season. Head to Dam Square in Amsterdam to view 200,00 beautiful tulips brought by Dutch farmers. If you’d like, search out your favorite bloom and take one home (or to your hotel) for free.
6. Visit the Famous Flower Strip (Bollenstreek)
The Bollenstreek, or Flower Strip, is 20 miles of flower fields between Leiden and Haarlem. The most popular way to explore this region is to rent a bicycle. You can find bike rentals in Leiden, Haarlem, or other nearby towns. You can also rent a bicycle from outside Keukenhof Gardens making it easy to combine two bucket list activities. Rentals will typically run around 10 Euros.
Once you hop on you bike, head out one of the many cycling routes. Depending on your energy and enthusiasm, you can choose a path ranging anywhere from 5 to 43 km. If cycling is too much or not your cup of tea, you can also explore the Bollenstreek by car. Be sure to park in designated areas and not on private or nursery property. Finally, no matter which way you choose to tour the Flower Strip, be considerate! No matter how tempting it may be, stay on the larger paths that divide the fields and do not enter the paths between rows. Entering the rows can, and will, damage the bulbs.
Picking the flowers is also not appropriate. Tulip and flower farms are privately owned by farmers. If you’d like to pick a few tulips, De Bollenburcht is a picking garden in Lisse. Here, you will find over 100 varieties to choose from in more colors than you can imagine. Additionally, here are 10 more pick-your-own orchards in or near Amsterdam.
7. See Nearly a Million Tulips during the Amsterdam Tulip Festival
Perhaps, the simplest way to enjoy nearly 1 million Amsterdam tulips is to take a stroll through the city in April. During the annual Tulip Festival each April, the city of Amsterdam is full with tulips. About 800,000 blooms can be seen in gardens, in flowers pots lining the streets, and at local attractions. Why 800,000? Because that’s enough to represent each resident of Amsterdam.