Spring has sprung and Amsterdam is ripe for the picking! The colourful, floral drawcards of this flamboyant city are its famous tulips. Bountiful and beautiful in their reds, pinks and yellows, tulips were brought to the Netherlands from the Ottoman Empire by Dutch merchants in the 1600s. They bloom between March and May, right when the Dutch capital is starting to get warm for summer. There couldn’t be a more perfect time to visit Amsterdam with your family, so here are our top five tips for immersing yourselves in flower power:
Stride the Flower Strip or ‘Bollenstreek’
You’ll be met with more than just tulips – the hyacinths, crocuses, daffodils and other bulbs add to the hues and fragrances on this 20-mile stretch between Haarlem and Leiden. The ideal time to frolic between the rows of colour as far as the eye can see is between mid-March and mid-May. You can catch one of the regular buses leaving from Amsterdam and Schipol, or take a train to Leiden or Haarlem and then jump on a bike. For a quintessential family adventure in Holland, hire cycles from Rent-a-Bike van Dam for 10 euros a day and then pedal one of four routes ranging from 5km to 25km in length. Brave families with older riders should consider the full 35km Tulip Field track, which is well-signposted and fairly flat.
Consider the Keukenhof Gardens
The Tulip Field track includes a must-see stop at Keukenhof Gardens, which will also be your pick-up point should you choose to hire a bike. The shady glades and grassy knolls of these Gardens seem straight out of a fairy tale and are worthy of a day trip from Amsterdam. The largest flower park in the world, open from March onwards, the Keukenhof boasts over 7 million bulbs across 80 acres. Each year in time for tulip season, the Gardens host a themed program of events, flower displays and attractions including a Fairy Tale festival, flower parade, flower auctions, treasure hunts, petting zoos and a maze.
Tumble into the Tulip Festival
In April, major sites in Amsterdam are transformed as hundreds of thousands of tulips are planted in their gardens and on the streets. Spot bright splashes in places like the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, Vondelpark and other public buildings and private gardens. The Festival aims to plant one tulip for every single resident of the city.
Picnic in the parks
Amsterdam’s famed parks are even more enjoyable in Spring, with April as the month of least rainfall in the region. Summer approaches, and with it comes picnic season, so make the most of Vondelpark. The huge gardens host free Vondelpark Open Air Theatre events on spring weekends, including dance, music, comedy and dedicated children’s programs.
Caper on King’s Day
On the 27th of April, Amsterdam is swathed in vibrancy of a different kind as its residents don the colour orange for King’s Day. Held on the monarch’s birthday, this national holiday involves street parties and canal parties galore. Another important Spring celebration is Liberation Day, commemorating the date of freedom from German occupation in 1945.