Famed for its flower fields that supply much of the world, the Netherlands is a riot of colour in springtime. For garden lovers, Amsterdam's tulips make the city a must-visit destination in April, where you can see some of the most intense, vibrant displays in all of Europe.
If you didn't get to witness the incredible sight this year, next year you can visit Amsterdam and Antwerp on Country Living's unique tour alongside Gardeners’ World presenters Carol Klein and Joe Swift.
As well as spending time at the wonderful 79-acre Keukenhof Gardens, where more than seven million tulips, daffodils and hyacinths grow, you’ll cruise through northern Holland and into Belgium, taking in some of Europe's most delightful cultural and historical highlights.
In Amsterdam, you'll find plenty of flower-filled experiences at museums, markets and auction houses. It’s fair to say that Amsterdam is tulip crazy, so here are seven ways you can see the iconic blooms for yourself...
1. Pick a flower on National Tulip Day
Each year in January, Amsterdam’s central Dam Square comes alive with around 200,000 tulips that make up a temporary garden.
Everyone is welcome to come and pick a tulip to take home, and every year roughly 10,000 people come and do just that - it’s the official start of the Dutch tulip season.
2. Attend the Tulip Festival
For the whole of April, Amsterdam is transformed into a sea of colour, with flower displays all over the city, in 85 different locations.
Some are in public places and others are in parks, city gardens and museums (meaning you could have to pay a small fee to see them). It’s a great way to welcome in spring.
3. Visit the Keukenhof Gardens
If you’re visiting in April, then it’s essential you go to the 'Garden of Europe', Keukenhof. The amazing attraction is one of Europe’s oldest and best-loved flower gardens.
Wander round and take in the stunning blues, reds, greens, pinks, yellows, purples… there are more than seven million flowers here, as well as water features and sculptures, ensuring an afternoon spent here is one of peace and tranquillity.
4. See the incredible Flower Strip
Located to the west of Amsterdam, the Flower Strip stretches for 20 miles and is a truly breathtaking sight when it’s in bloom throughout spring. You might spot it from your plane on your way into the country as the strip runs between Haarlem and Leiden in North Holland.
With crocuses in early spring, tulips appearing in April, and then daffodils and hyacinths into May and beyond, followed by gladioli, dahlias, carnations and asters in late summer, this is a unique and captivating attraction that every garden lover needs to visit.
5. Discover history at the Amsterdam Tulip Museum
If you want to learn about some of the history behind the Netherlands' national flower, pop into this small museum in the district of Prinsengracht.
Introduced into Holland in the 16th century, its bold colour became an instant hit among the country’s wealthy middle and upper classes, with growers competing for the custom during the economic boom of the 17th century – and tulip prices increasing dramatically. While that bubble eventually burst, the tulip’s popularity endures to this day.
6. Head to the Amsterdam flower market
First opened in 1862, Amsterdam’s flower market is housed on a series of boats and an hour spent at this fragrant, floating flower paradise is a fantastic way to soak up some of the city’s nature-loving culture.
You’ll find the market on the Singel canal between the Koningsplein and the Muntplein. It’s open seven days a week, between 9am and 5.30pm Monday to Friday and 11.30am and 5.30pm on Sundays.
7. Go to the world's largest flower auction
For those who really want to get a sense of the sharp business end of Amsterdam’s flower trade, stop by the FloraHolland flower auction in Aalsmeer, near Schiphol Airport.
There’s a public gallery where you can watch the trade in action and while you won’t get to see any flowers up close, this is the largest flower market in the world. Seeing the rapid trade across the huge, busy warehouse floor is certainly a unique experience, comparable to visiting London’s Billingsgate Fish Market.
Book your place on a cruise around the Netherlands and Belgium with Carol Klein and Joe Swift next spring.
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