Where to see tulip fields in the Netherlands for free in 2020

When spring finally arrives and nature revives, we can’t wait to jaunt. No better antidote than sunshine and flowers to shake off the winter blues. A visit to the tulip fields in the Netherlands is the perfect way to absorb that natural energy. You could head to the popular Keukenhof Gardens, which makes for a wonderful day trip from Amsterdam. But if you have more than half a day to spare or just prefer to enjoy the tulip fields of the Netherlands in their natural setting, then you could venture beyond the tourist routes. And the best thing is that such an adventure doesn’t involve any entrance costs. And more surprisingly: Some gardens even allow picking the tulips. Continue reading to discover where to find the most spectacular tulip fields in the Netherlands.

When is the best time to visit the tulip fields in Holland?

The tulip season in the Netherlands runs anywhere from the final week of March until the first week of May. But the Dutch flower fields are about more than just tulips. These may be the hero of the season but their entourage is just as bright and fragrant. Here’s an estimation of which flowers to expect around which time:

  • Crocuses form the prelude of the flower season. They should pop up around the first half of March until the about the end of the month.
  • That’s when daffodils start to appear, they’re at their best in the first half of April.
  • The lilac and purple hyacinths break the monotone yellow of the daffodils, also in the first weeks of April.
  • Around mid-April, the flower fields are most fragrant. That’s when the long-awaited tulips appear… and when thousands of tourists flock to the Flower Strip to admire this beloved Dutch icon.
  • When the Holland tulips have lost their shine, the dahlias and carnations take over. Their blooming seasons lasts from June until the end of August.

Usually, the best time to visit the tulip fields in the Netherlands is the second half of April. But of course, the exact timing of the tulip season depends on the weather conditions. If you have some flexibility and don’t need to book your trip too far in advance, then this flower forecast is a convenient tool.

What you should know before visiting the tulip fields in the Netherlands

Grazing horses and a farm with tulip fields in Netherlands

First of all, we’d love to draw your attention to the fact that the Dutch tulips are not grown for the sole purpose of entertaining tourists. Tulips in Holland are big business and the flower fields represent a hard-earned income for the farmers. (At least the bulbs do, the flowers not so much. Continue reading to find out why.) Here’s how to

  • Should you see a sign that prohibits entering the tulip field, then please respect that.
  • If there aren’t any signs and you’re not sure if you’re allowed to enter the field then ask for permission.
  • And if you find a field that you can enter, be gentle and careful not to damage the flowers. An example of such sign is “”Enjoy the flowers, respect our pride”. Some farmers leave a wider corridor or even a free row in between the tulips in order to minimize damage by tourists.
  • Other tulip farmers even invite you to pick the flowers while, obviously, also offering the perfect photo opportunity. Intrigued? We’ve listed the most beautiful tulip farms with picking gardens for each tulip field location in this article so you can go all out.

Where to see tulip fields in Netherlands for free?

Now that you know when to visit and how to behave (ahum), find out where to find the most gorgeous and colorful free tulip fields in Holland. You’ll find all mentioned fields to be indicated on a map at the end of this article.

– Flower strip or Bulb region (South and North Holland)

The most popular tulip fields near Amsterdam are found in the Holland provinces and more specifically between the cities of Leiden and Haarlem. This 20 mile (32 km) stretch is called the flower strip or bulb region (Bollenstreek in Dutch). Right in the heart of it you’ll find Lisse, the town that’s home to the world-famous Keukenhof Gardens. But you don’t need to access the park in order to get your dose of fragrant flowers. The area around the garden features some of the most beautiful flower fields in the Netherlands. And thanks to its popularity, there are several active ways to explore the flower strip:

  • Several walking trails meander the colorful landscape. Find them here.
  • Or you could rent a bike at the Keukenhof entrance (children’s bikes, tandems and trailers are available too). Have a look at the different cycling routes that lead you along some of the most gorgeous flower fields in the Netherlands. Advance booking is recommended.
  • A new and fun way to explore the area is by GPS Audio Tour in a cute Renault Twizy cart (2 persons per vehicle). Check out this carefree option and buy your tickets here.
  • If you prefer an organised tour then you could opt for the 3-hour tuk-tuk tour which includes a visit to one of the bulb farms. Click here to find out more.

– Tulip picking garden

You can find actual tulip-picking farms throughout this region. Apart from the picking aspect, these farms offer the perfect opportunity to take pictures of you and your loved ones amidst a field of Dutch tulips. Annemieke’s Picking Garden and Pluktuin Noordwijkerhout are two such farms.

Colorful landscapes during Netherlands tulip season

– Tulip event

For the locals, the highlight of festivities is the Flower Parade or Bloemencorso Bollenstreek. This 25-mile (40 km) long festive parade runs from from Noordwijk to Haarlem. Dozens of floats, decorated with tulips and other bulb flowers, brighten up the local streets to welcome spring. The 2020 edition will be held on Saturday 25th April. Click here to find out more.

– Where to stay

Now, for the best place to stay near the Flower strip: Surprisingly, there aren’t that many hotels in and near Lisse. If you’re looking to spend the night nearby, we’d recommend staying in Noordwijk, a lovely seaside town very close to the Flower Strip. The hotel we have our eye on for some time is the Vesper hotel which offers bike rental as well.

– Places to visit nearby

You could combine your visit to this area with a sightseeing trip to The Hague, Delft, Leiden, Haarlem or the Gouda cheese market.

– Kop van Holland in (North Holland)

Netherlands tulip fields during golden hour

If you’re looking to visit the tulips fields of the Netherlands without the crowds than this is a good option. Located in the province of North Holland, in the so-called Head of Holland, you’ll find all kinds spring flowers. The best thing is that you won’t need to share these Dutch tulips with anyone else. Here are the two tulip hotspots in this region:

  • Along the province’s west coast from Schagen to Den Helder. Especially in and around the towns of Anna Paulowna and Julianadorp. That’s one of the routes we took. We rented a bike and cycled from Schagen via Schagerbrug and De Stolpen to Callantsoog. It was a gorgeous day and the landscape was very impressive to say the least, especially around the town of De Stolpen. Early April so not all flower fields were in bloom yet but The beach time in Callantsoog was a welcome break for the kids before heading back to where we started.
  • On the east coast between Andijk, Enkhuizen and Bovenkarpsel.

– Tulip picking garden

Little girl amidst one of the tulip fields Netherlands during Amsterdam tulip season

Make sure to bring your picture-perfect basket when heading to one of the tulip-picking farms in this region. The brightly colored palettes of Floratuin and Pluktuin Bakkum are hard to resist, so just dive in… literally.

– Tulip event

A local highlight are the Flower Days in Anna Paulowna from 18 April to 22 april 2020. You’ll find flowers everywhere then in town: colorful mosaics, decorated streets and bridges.

– Where to stay

Room at the Blooming hotel

This is a relatively quiet and rural part of the Netherlands and you won’t find many hotels here. We stayed at the Blooming Hotel, which we can highly recommend. It’s wonderfully located amidst nature and just a short drive away from the bulb fields. Bikes are for rent in the hotel at €11. While that’s great to explore the stunning landscape in the vicinity of the hotel, you’ll need to drive to Schagen and rent bikes there in order to see the tulip fields.

– Places to visit nearby

You could combine your visit with a day trip to the Alkmaar cheese market or to Zaandam, Edam and Volendam. Alternatively, add a two day trip to the Wadden Isle of Texel by taking the ferry from Den Helder and visit the pristine landscapes of the Dunes of Texel National Park.

– Noordoostpolder (Flevoland)

Holland field of tulips in red hues

Another under-the-radar destination for tulip fields in the Netherlands is the rural region around Emmeloord in Flevoland. This Dutch province used to be an inland sea but was reclaimed several decades ago. This geographically remarkable area’s still located below sea level. What’s more is that it’s also dotted with tulip fields, creating a stunningly colorful carpet. You’ll hardly find any other tourists at Noordoostpolder in spring, except maybe for Dutch visitors on a day trip. Further information, as well as a driving route of the area, can be found here.

– Tulip picking garden

Little girls having fun at the Netherlands tulip fields

The Tulip Experience Field is a tulip-picking farm in Marknesse where you’re welcome to enjoy the beautiful Dutch tulips as you wish. But also Hanneke’s Pluktuin offers plenty of color to beat those winter blues. Reason enough to bring a picnic blanket and your favorite swirling dress in order to capture this unique experience.

– Tulip event

A local highlight is the Tulip Festival, taking place from 19 April to 5 May 2020. A designated tulip route take visitors along some of the most impressive tulip fields in the Netherlands, either by foot, by bike or by car. Check out further details here.

– Where to stay

Again, this is a pretty remote area and therefore you won’t find many hotels in Noordoostpolder. Nonetheless we found this little gem called Boetiek Hotel Kampen, right next to the action.

– Places to visit nearby

Noordoostpolder is located just over an hour from Amsterdam. You’ll definitely need a car to explore the area. When you’re there, you might as well combine your visit to the flower fields with a jaunt to picturesque Giethoorn, where you can spend the rest of the day cruising the enchanting canals.

– Goeree-Overflakkee (South Holland)

Yet another remarkable location in this list of free tulip fields in the Netherland: a flower island. Goeree-Overflakkee is located about 2 hours south-west from Amsterdam, closer to Rotterdam. The island’s home to several vast, colorful tulip fields. Even though this location is pretty close to where we live, we haven’t actually been there yet ourselves. It sure looks promising, though, and we hope to visit soon.

Where to stay

Breakfast at the Rotterdam Marriott executive lounge

Once more, you’ll need a car to get to these gorgeous flower fields. If you prefer to stay in the area, De Oude Bank would be our pick. Or you could stay in a lively city nearby, such as Breda or Rotterdam. Our preferred hotel in Rotterdam is the Rotterdam Marriott Hotel, located right across from the train station.

– Zeeuws-Vlaanderen (Zeeland)

A relatively unknown spot to see tulip fields in the Netherlands is Zeeuws-Vlaanderen. It’s the southernmost part of the Zeeland province, located just above the Belgian Border. The area in between the towns of Axel and Nieuw-Namen is home to several flower fields.

– Where to stay

This makes for a wonderful day trip from Antwerp, the city of diamonds, where we’d suggest you’d spend the night in the NH Collection Antwerp or in boutique hotel August.

Map of the tulip fields in the Netherlands

For your convenience, we’ve created this map with the locations of the most beautiful flower fields in the Netherlands. It also includes the other places of interest mentioned in this article.

Fun facts about tulips in the Netherlands

Tulip fact 1: Even Amsterdam joins in on the flower fun: The mission of the Amsterdam Tulip Festival is to reintroduce the tulip in the Amsterdam cityscape. Throughout the month of April, tulips are on display at over 85 locations around the city. You’ll see them at public spaces, hotels and museum gardens but might also spot them at private properties since locals too are encouraged to participate. You can check all locations for the Amsterdam tulips here.

Bouquets of colorful Netherland tulips

Tulip fact 2: Have you ever wondered what happens with the tulips after the blooming period? Well, the flowers are not the most precious part of the plant for farmers, the bulbs are. Right after the peak blooming period, the flowers are cut off so that the tulip bulbs can absorb all energy and grow thicker. Between June and August, the bulbs are then removed from the ground, dried, cleaned and pealed. The big ones are sold off to gardeners and cultivators while the small ones are put back in the ground to create new tulip fields in the season to come. So, the money’s in the bulbs, not the flowers.

Tulip fact 3: Only buy tulip bulbs at the Amsterdam flower market right after summer and plant them in October or November. If you happen to visit Amsterdam in the first months of the year, then don’t bother buying bulbs. The ones you’ll see then, have been harvested in summer and have too little energy left to grow flowers.

Tulip fact 4: The tulip plant does not originate from The Netherlands but was imported from the Ottoman Empire, hidden between loads of fabric. It wasn’t until 30 years after that event that the Dutch claimed the tulip as a national icon.

Purple and yellow tulip fields of the Netherlands

Tulip fact 5: Did you know that during the Dutch Golden Age, a tulip was worth more than gold and more than a house? This 17th century flower hype is known as the Tulip Fever or Tulip Mania.

Tulip fact 6: The tulip exists in all colors except for 2: blue and black. The best attempt to breed a black tulip is the ‘Queen of the Night’ variation in with its deep purple color. The only Black Tulip to this day is the 19th century novel by Alexandre Dumas about the frenzy during the Tulip Mania, and the TV series based on this book.

Tulip fact 7: During WW II, the Dutch Royal Family found refuge in Ottawa. To thank the Canadians for their hospitality, the Dutch thanked them in 1945 by gifting 10 000 flower bulbs. This gesture became a yearly tradition that’s still very much alive. The Ottawa Tulip Festival is a celebration of this unique friendship.

When will you visit these free tulip fields in the Netherlands?

Every year, flocks of tourists from around the world visit the tulip fields in the Netherlands and delight at the sight of the endless fragrant flower fields. We’ve been there multiple times and the flower bulbs never disappoint. Have you seen the Dutch tulips bloom and blossom? Or are you planning a trip to Europe this year? Share your thoughts in the comment box!

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