Spring brings about a delightful change throughout the Netherlands. Vibrant flowers cover the endless fields. Flower fields which include tulips, hyacinths and daffodils are on display for the enjoyment of all.
A drive around the Netherlands tulip fields in spring was at the top of our bucket list for quite some time. After visiting Keukenhof gardens last spring, we were more inclined towards seeing the fields where farmers grow their flowers. We wanted to see the fields with a bright palette of beautiful colors as we had imagined it as kids seeing the picture-perfect postcards of the Netherlands and in so many Bollywood songs!.
Various Tulip Routes are published annually from mid-April through mid-May. We visited the most famous ones Bollenstreek Route in North Holland province and the multi-acre-longest tulip route in Flevoland province.
Boolenstreek route, also known as the Flower Route, is a 60km scenic drive. Starting in Haarlem, the northernmost point of the route, going south via Lisse and Leiden, and finally ending in Naaldwijk, a city in the province of South Holland. Well, trust us, the feeling to stop at every tulip field on the way is so strong that you won’t be able to keep track of either the time or the route.
Flevoland, a province located centrally in the Netherlands, have actively started publishing tulip fields route in their province, since 2015. There are several tulip fields in this region, mostly east and south. Some regions in the northern island or Noordoostpolder (Northeastern polder – low lying land enclosed by dikes) Emmeloord, Elburg, Creil, Urk and some in the southern island or Flevopolder (south and east part of Flevoland) Lelystad, Dronten, Swifterbant, Zeewolde.
Since the tulip fields are spread across the Netherlands, we decided to rent a car for the whole weekend. On one of the day we drove around Bollenstreek Route and the other day covered Flevoland, the longest tulip route.
Day 1 – Bollenstreek Route – (Flower Route) – Haarlem – Lisse – Noordwijk
We started from Haarlem, our hometown. Even though the route starts from Haarlem, the tulip fields started to appear near Hillegom after about 20 km. After Hillegom, patches of vibrant tulip fields in alternating colors appeared endlessly along the flat Dutch horizon. We then took a diversion to Katwijk. We saw the densest concentration of flowers fields around Lisse, Katwijk, and Noordwijk. The flower fields included not only tulips but also hyacinth and daffodils. Along the route, you will also see many beautiful villages, especially the charming fishing village Katwijk and Noordwijk. National Geographic mentions this route as one of 500 drives of the lifetime for a reason.
It was difficult to sit still in the car. Much to the annoyance of the one driving the car, we wanted to get out at every field, sometimes a deep red – you haven’t witnessed before, sometimes the deep orange, at other times a double shade of white and red, the variety of shapes – how can you not wander around!
Day 2 – Flevoland – Swifterbant and Dronten
The second day we explored Flevoland, one of the biggest flower growing regions in the Netherlands. Since this area was enclosed and reclaimed from the sea, the good place to start this trip was from the dike itself (enclosure dam) mainly Afsluitdijk. We then drove around Noordoostpolder region in search of tulip fields, but at the time and month of our visit, there were very few, small patches of tulip fields. So, we decided to go far east of southern island around Dronten and Swifterbant. We immediately saw thick ribbons of vibrant flower beds with its characteristic windmills and squared agriculture fields. No wonder Flevoland is well known for its wind turbine energy program.
The white windmills, pink ribbons and a blue sky, we did not want to leave!
The route for this year is published here: http://www.tulpenrouteflevoland.nl
A little detour on our way –
Since Flevoland province was enclosed and reclaimed from the sea, there was no other good place to start this trip then from the dike itself (enclosure dam) mainly Afsluitdijk. Afsluitdijk is a 32 km long causeway, that’s wedged between salty North sea to the left and the freshwater lake IJsselmeer to the right. Driving this strip of road was an experience in itself. Another amazing dam that we missed doing was Houtribdijk. It’s 27 km long and connects the city of Enkhuizen and Lelystad.
Some of the things that helped us plan our drive around the fields
- Not all fields bloom at the same time, so there will always be enough of them to watch. But this also means knowing which fields to visit. Thankfully there is an online flower radar – http://www.bloemenradar.nl/ A community driven website, where people post most recent, max. 2 days old, pictures of tulip fields as a pin on the map. This way you can check the status of most of the fields in this area. Do remember to post some of your beautiful pictures on the radar as well.
- Also, do remember to call and check at tourist information offices(VVVs). They will be kind enough to let you know whether the fields are in bloom or not.
- There are also official websites of the province which publish various routes for car, biking, and hiking. Do remember to check that out as well. Few that we checked were tulpenrouteflevoland.nl, vvvnoordoostpolder.nl and holland.com.
The whole adventure of driving around tulip fields is nothing short of experiencing northern lights. The chase, anticipation, driving in the unknown but beautiful countryside and the ultimate bliss of seeing it in full glory are some of the common themes of the otherwise totally different experiences.
Ξ FUN FACTS Ξ
It is said that during the tulip mania, an initial bubble of sorts, a single bub was sold for the price of a single canal house in Amsterdam, worth thousands of Euros now.
Have you driven around tulip fields yet? Do let us know which is your favorite route.