Amsterdam is a must in the spring. Everything comes alive. There’s beautiful pink blossom on the trees that gently fall like confetti onto the streets. Potted plants adorn doorways of all the homes it seems, and of course the tulips are ready to be marvelled at.
In this post I’m going to help you plan your visit to the tulip fields. I’m also going to let you know how to get those much lusted after tulip field pictures that’ll up your Instagram game.
When to visit
The best time to visit Amsterdam with the chance of seeing Tulips is in April. Officially the season is from late March to early May, so April guarantees a good display where they’re neither too young and haven’t quite blossomed or too old where they’re getting ready to be harvested.
Where to visit
The tulip fields aren’t actually in Amsterdam. In fact they can be found in Lisse, a nearby town South West of Amsterdam.
If it’s impossible to leave Amsterdam there are places where you can see tulips in Amsterdam such as the roof top of the Nemo Science museum which can be accessed for free.
But you won’t get those beautiful visions of tulip fields, so it’s definitely worth leaving Amsterdam behind.
I highly recommend visiting Lisse and in particular making your way to Keukenhof. Keukenhof is a flower garden that is only open for the tulip season. They have over 800 varieties of tulips on display amongst their 32 hectare grounds of flowers.
How to get there
There is a Keukenhof bus that leaves from the airport frequently during tulip season. So all you have to do is navigate your way to Schiphol airport and find the Keukenhof bus stand (there are signs).
The local bus system in Amsterdam is really easy to use and cheap. Use google maps on your phone to find out where the nearest bus stop is that takes you to the airport. The buses have screens on board that keep you informed over what stop is next and how many stops until your stop, so even for the first time user it’s hard to get lost (I navigated the buses alone with both children and survived!).
If you have a pram or use a wheelchair make sure you get on the bus using the middle doors. You can use the seatbelt to secure the pram or wheelchair in place if needs be.
Pay for your ticket using a bank card from the driver. I know that the Dutch are starting to phase out cash payments. A ticket lasts all day and can be used on any of the bus routes.
If you have a car you can also drive to Keukenhof.
Figure out how you’ll get to Keukenhof in advance though as you can buy combi tickets online along with your Keukenhof entrance ticket. It includes the cost of public transport to and from Amsterdam, which can work out cheaper.
How long should I stay?
We severely underestimated how much time we should stay at Keukenhof and exploring the surrounding area. In all honesty if I went again I’d plan for a minimum of half a day.
To avoid crowds at Keukenhof try to get there first thing in the morning. But if you don’t mind other people being around try to get there at midday and enjoy sunset, when I think you’ll get the best pictures of the tulip fields.
What to do
Just wander. Keukenhof is just an amazing place to stroll and discover beautiful flowers. Even if you’re not that into flowers you’ll still appreciate the work that goes into curating the different areas found in Keukenhof. It really is spectacular. Jesse is really not a ‘flower’ man, but he really enjoyed our time in Keukenhof.
For children there’s a playground, a petting zoo and lots of fun things they can get interactive with. Of course Miffy makes an appearance, as well as many large clogs to get inside of! The windmill is exciting for little ones too. They can also take part in a treasure hunt through the park, just make sure you ask at the entrance for that though.
In Keukenhof you can also take a boat tour out of the grounds which explores the tulip fields in the surrounding area at an extra cost.
Or if you want to get closer to the fields rent a bike from Rent-A-bike Van Dam. It’s advised to prebook your bike. But with children that’s not possible as the child seats can’t be pre booked and it’s first come, first served. We walked up and got bikes no problem and both bikes were fitted with appropriate child seats for the kids.
Cycling helmets aren’t supplied as the Dutch don’t wear cycling helmets… ever.
The cycle paths are very well-marked with specific routes. We followed route 2, a 15km route. Which was a fantastic route to take. If we had more time though, I think we’d have gone on the longer route which allows you to ride past a lake and towards the sea and the sand dunes.
How do you take pictures in the fields?
There are signposts everywhere asking you to not go into the flower fields, and this really should be respected because the bulbs from the flowers are a source of income for the farmer.
The reality is it’s actually really hard to get into the tulip fields in the first place even without authority because most of them are behind small canals that can’t be crossed.
If you want to get in amongst the flowers my advice would be to just keep your eyes open on the route you take.
During our bike ride on route 2, we approached a bike path that was adjacent to a big main road (separated by trees and bushes). On the map (that can be picked up from Rent-A-Bike Van Dam) I think the road name is Oosterduinen. Along this path on the left hand side you’ll find a sign post written in Dutch with an arrow on it. Follow the sign post and you’ll find yourself in a courtyard.
We arrived quite late in the evening and the farmer was there, so we asked him if it would be ok to take pictures in the field and he was more than happy for us to do so. He was really friendly and jovial telling us where we should leave our bikes so we didn’t have to walk too far with the children.
In fact there were two other families taking pictures at the same time. So it must be the place to stop off. I think in the day time they sell tulips and flowers in the courtyard, but they were packing up when we arrived. Shame because I’d have loved a bunch!
Quite a lot of people of course break the rules about entering the tulip fields. Particularly so down Zwartelaan on the way back to Rent-a-Bike Van Dam. I’m certainly not advocating trespassing. But if you do, make sure to be respectful of the crop. That road can be found on routes 1, 2 and 3.
Do I need to pay to go into Keukenhof if I only want to see the fields?
In theory no. You could just hire the bikes and spend a day cycling around the fields or walking. There are facilities outside of the entrance of Keukenhof that are free to use. However there isn’t really a huge amount in the nearby vicinity to do. For that reason I think having a ticket into Keukenhof gives you the best of both worlds. The chance to cycle and also the chance to relax, eat, chill out and if you have children obviously there are things for them to enjoy inside the gardens.
- If you’re cycling around during sunset, make sure to bring warm clothing for yourself. It gets really cold once the sun starts to go down even on the hottest day.
- Cycle first and then enjoy Keukenhof so you don’t feel rushed, you’ll also work up an appetite cycling and there are many places to eat in Keukenhof. Of course if you want sunset pictures give yourself ample time to get around your route of choice with enough time to take pictures or else you may find you miss the last Keukenhof bus back to the airport.