Spring in the Netherlands can mean only one thing: the annual blaze of colour across the countryside that signals tulip season is here. But where and when can you join in with this quintessentially Dutch obsession and see the tulips in and around Amsterdam? Read on or watch the video at the end for all the details.

When are the tulips in bloom?

As a general rule, mid-April is the best time to see the tulips in Amsterdam in full bloom, but the tulip season officially runs from the end of March to the middle of May.

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Where should I go to see tulips in Amsterdam?

Bloemenmarkt

If you’ve only got a few days in Amsterdam, the Bloemenmarkt (Flower Market) is right in the city centre and tulips can be enjoyed here in all their technicolour glory throughout the seasons. Though the stationary barges selling countless clog souvenirs can feel a little inauthentic compared to the days when barge-loads of blossoms were brought in from the countryside, it’s still worth going with the flowing crowds and picking up some seeds or bulbs to cultivate yourself (it’s okay to bring back plant materials on the plane within the EU - just not fresh flowers). This stretch of canal between Koningsplein and Muntplein is also chock-full of places to eat if you get peckish. See our guide on the best coffee shops and cafes in Amsterdam for more tips.

When to visit?

All year-round. Opening times are: (Apr-Oct) Mon to Sat 8.30am-7pm, Sun 8.30am-7.30pm. (Nov to March) Mon to Sat 9am-5.30pm, Sun 11am-5.30pm.

How to get there?

Located on Singel, take the number 1, 2 or 5 tram to Koningsplein.

Bloemenmarkt, Amsterdam

Amsterdam Tulip Museum

For a crash course in Holland’s love affair with all things tulp, there’s no better place than the capital’s Tulip Museum. Telling the story from when the original bulbs were brought over from present-day Istanbul, through the drama of the 1637 ‘tulip bubble’ when the market crashed, it thoroughly explores the Dutch peoples’ evergreen fascination with what's become their national emblem. Read more of our recommendations for Amsterdam's top museums here.

When to visit?

Unlike many of the seasonal tulip attractions, you don’t need to be here in spring to enjoy the Tulip Museum – it’s open every day from 10am to 6pm apart from public holidays.

How to get there?

Find it on Prisengracht in Amsterdam Centrum, opposite the Anne Frank House.

Tulips in Amsterdam

Amsterdam Botanical Gardens

Drift through some 4000 different plants and fragrant flowers on a visit to the city's Hortus Botanicus, once a seventeenth century medicinal herb garden and now one of the most beautiful attractions in Amsterdam. See temporary art exhibitions, brightly coloured insects and hothouse species once brought back by Dutch trade ships, as well as over 40 varieties of tulip. You can even throw your bags down in the peaceful, leafy Plantage neighbourhood at the budget Hotel Hortus, just opposite the gardens. Tickets are €8.50 for adults, €4.50 for children; turn up at 2pm on a Sunday to join a free tour included in the price. We've rounded up a few more great things to do in Amsterdam in this city guide.

When to visit?

April is the best time to see the resident tulips here, though the gardens are open daily from 10am to 5pm all year.

How to get there?

Find the gardens near to the Artis Zoo and Hermitage Museum. Waterlooplein is the nearest Metro stop.

Amsterdam Botanical Gardens

Where should I go to see tulips outside of Amsterdam?

Aalsmeer flower auction

Amsterdam weekenders wanting to witness ‘tulipmania’ first-hand should head to Aalsmeer, just 20 minutes south of the airport. The Royal FloraHolland auction house is based here, and there’s a smart visitor centre and audio tour to take you through the nitty gritty of the Dutch flower business, overlooking the frenzied action and row-upon-row of rainbow tulip crates from walkways above. A handy combination ticket allows you to visit the Aalsmeer historical gardens and go boating on the lakes of the Westeinderplassen if you want a full day trip. Tickets to the auction are €7 for adults, €4 for children and combi-tickets to all three attractions are €14.50 for adults, €8.75 for children.

When to visit?

The auction house is open every Monday to Friday except public holidays, though the most fruitful time to come is naturally in the spring-summer season. Get here early (it opens at 7am!) to see the bustle really begin.

How to get there?

Take the 198 bus from Schipol Airport to Aalsmeer. The auction house is on Legmeerdijk.

Tulips for sale

The Flower Route

One of the most popular ways to see the tulips of Holland under your own steam, this colourful road trip is known as the ‘Bloemen Route’ or ‘Bollenstreekroute’ (bulb-grower's route). Starting in Haarlem, it covers 40 km to the village of Naaldwick but encompasses not only the vivid purples, pinks and reds of the ubiquitous tulip, but other spring favourites like daffodils, lilies, irises, dahlias, hyacinths, narcissi and gladioli, running through the biggest bulb-growing region in the country. This is the Netherlands countryside as you’ve always pictured it: complete with kitsch windmills and a seemingly infinite patchwork of fields. Flower sellers line the route so there’s no shortage of fragrant souvenirs to decorate your car (or bicycle) with.

Here are a few stops to make along the way:

Haarlem

Make time for a browse of the Frans Hals Museum in the city of Haarlem before you set off – every spring sees a celebration of Dutch still-life painting, with fresh flowers decking the halls. Admire artwork by Hals and other 'Golden Age' Masters, depicting much of the pastoral Dutch countryside that you’re about to travel through. Tickets are €15.50 for adults and free for under 18s.

Keukenhof Gardens

The Flower Route’s main attraction is undoubtedly Keukenhof, located near Lisse. Celebrating their own Tulip Festival from March 23 to May 21 2017, this beautifully sculpted park ranges over 32 hectares of woodland and fields, with themed gardens and historical exhibitions, as well as a maze, small farm and treasure hunt for younger botanists. See the blue and white hues of the famous Delft pottery come to life in the Delfts Blauw garden or take a scent, sight and touch-based tiptoe through the tulips in celebrity gardener Rob Verlinden's Sensory Garden. If you want to do a day trip from Amsterdam to Keukenhof alone, it’s just over an hour’s drive each way. Tickets are €16 for adults, €8 for children.

Leiden Botanical Gardens

Though much smaller than Keukenhof, the Botanical Gardens in pretty student town Leiden are a good option for viewing flower collections from all over the world, as well as racking up some historical brownie points - the site holds the honour of the first flowering tulip garden in the country, planted by botanist Carolus Clusius in 1594. Head to the Grand Café Clusius after touring the tropical greenhouses and gardens to snaffle an appeltaart with a dollop of cream – come May, it should be warm enough to sit on the terrace. Tickets are €7.50 for adults, €3 for children.

When to visit?

The Flower Route can get crowded from March to May, but the best time for seeing radiant blooms is usually mid-April (depending on the weather). Travel during the week to avoid getting stuck in traffic.

How to get there?

Amsterdam to Haarlem by car takes just over half an hour. You could also cycle a shorter section of the route, as far as Lisse or Leiden, from Amsterdam and simply hop on a train back when you get tired.

Path through Keukenhof Gardens, Holland

Flevoland and the Noordoostpolder

North-west of Amsterdam, the fields of Flevoland present even more scope for tulip-spotting and are a good alternative to the tourist-heavy Bollenstreek area. The Noordoostpolder is a region of picturesque pastures and lanes that once lay below the sea and come April, it’s prime territory for flower enthusiasts, with an information centre and even a ‘pick-your-own’ tulips farm. You can follow the 100km ‘Tulip Route’ either by bicycle or by car, including four private gardens in the area between Emmeloord and Polenweg (see this map to get to the gardens). Look out for the green and white signs if you’re cycling, as these will offer you a more scenic route than the main roads.

When to go?

The route is open this year from April 21st to May 7th, and the gardens are open during this time from 10am to 5pm.

How to get there?

Trains run to the main town of Emmeloord from Amsterdam in around an hour and a half, or you can hire a car in Amsterdam and drive the 93km journey to start the Tulip Route.

Den Helder

Pushed for time? Jump on the train from Amsterdam to Den Helder, the most northerly tip of the Holland province. The journey itself is the main attraction, the tracks skimming past fields of waving tulips, and only takes just over an hour each way.

What are the best tulip festivals in Amsterdam?

Amsterdam Tulip Festival, throughout April

The entire month of April sees the Netherlands' capital literally come alive with tulips. Popping up along the canals, around museums, hotels and public spaces, and of course, adorning many of the city's 800,000+ bicycles, you can find participating venues on the 'Tulp Festival' website or grab a map from the 'I Amsterdam' visitor centre at Amsterdam Central station to start your tulip hunt...

Flower Parade, April 19-23 (2017)

Don’t miss the ‘Bloemencorso’ Flower Parades of the Bollenstreek area at the end of April. Comprising of huge floral-made floats, colourful costumes and live music, it’s all free to watch. The parades kick off in Noordwijkerhout, around one hour west of Amsterdam; see the website for this year’s parade route and locations.

Giant flower float, Flower Parade in Noordwijkerhout, Holland Image: banarfilardhi/iStock Editorial/Thinkstock

Thinking of taking a trip to the Dam to see the tulips? According to Skyscanner's data, the best time to book your flights to Amsterdam is 15 weeks in advance - this could save you up to 30%! Read the full report here:

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