In Search of Tulips: Cycling the Dutch Flower Fields
Holland is perhaps best known for its flowers, and exploring the famous flower fields on a bicycle is one of the best things to do in the Netherlands, if you ask me. It’s a breathtaking experience, standing in the middle of a field of tulips, surrounded with flowers, in all the colours of the rainbow, for as far as the eye can see. Add in some spring sunshine, and the energy you feel in that moment is pretty much indescribable. You have to experience it for yourself.
One of the best places to admire the Dutch flower fields in their full bloom is around Lisse, a small town that has become the epicentre of the country’s flower region, not least thanks to the nearby Keukenhof Gardens. There are mixed opinions on Keukenhof, but I enjoyed my visit last year immensely and plan to go back this year, weather and workload permitting. However, you don’t need to go to Keukenhof to see the tulips: there are glorious – and free-to-visit — tulip fields all around Lisse and the neighbouring towns. And it’s not just the tulips: depending on when you visit, you might also see daffodils, hyacinths and other spring bulbs, all equally beautiful and colourful (but some more fragrant than others!).
How to get to the flower fields from Amsterdam?
There’s another upside to Lisse: it’s easy to get to without a car (you really should not drive through the flower fields, if you can avoid it: you’ll be missing most of the fun). There are direct buses from Amsterdam, but my advice to those who can cycle is to grab a bike. That’s what we did last year, when we visited the tulip fields for the first time; we enjoyed the trip so much we decided to repeat it this year come the first warm weekend in April.
There are several ways to do this. First, you could cycle to Lisse all the way from Amsterdam – it’s around 35 km one way, so this is for experienced cyclists only. Second, you could rent bikes at Keukenhof and start your cycle trip through the tulip fields there. The third option – and one favoured by us – is taking train for some of the way and cycling the rest.
Last year, we got off at the station of Hillegom, some 7km away from Lisse. A small station surrounded by flower fields, Hillegom is a great place to come to see the flowers even if you don’t cycle.
This year, we decided to get off at an earlier stop, Heemstede. It’s a bit further away from Lisse – some 12 km – but the route is calm, pretty and, this being Holland, completely flat. 🙂
Whichever of the two stations you choose, just follow the canal of Leidsevaart down South until you reach the flower fields (trust me, you won’t miss them). And there’s an added bonus en route…
… if you’re lucky, you might get to see adorable baby lambs and their very protective mothers pasturing on a field. We spent a better part of half an hour simply admiring – and photographing – them, but can you blame us?
NB! Cycling the Dutch flower fields
You can take your bike on the train outside of rush hour, but you need to buy a bike supplement – around 6 euros for the day – on top of your own ticket.
The Dutch flower season lasts from mid-March until mid-May. The best time to see the tulips is usually around mid-April, but this varies a bit from year to year.
If you want to catch the tulips this year, be quick: the bulb season ends with the closure of Keukenhof, which this year falls on the 13th of May.
Have you cycled through the flower fields of Holland? How was your experience?
For more interesting things to do in and around Amsterdam, don’t forget to follow Studying the World on Instagram, Facebook and Bloglovin. Interested in the Netherlands? You’ll find all my Dutch posts behind this link. Happy exploring!