The flower of the Netherlands, Amsterdam has every opportunity for you to find beautiful tulips.

When you think of the Netherlands, you automatically think "tulips" - this iconic flower has become synonymous with the capital, from the annual blooming tulip fields and colourful flower markets to the historic Tulip Museum and more. Learn all about this national flower and discover its history with the city in this Amsterdam tulip guide. 

History of tulips in the Netherlands

Alongside the likes of clogs, windmills and bikes, the tulip is an icon to many around the world of Dutch culture. Despite not being native to the low lying countries, the tulip became cultural significant as soon as it arrived in the area in 1593. What followed entwined the flower and the country for better and worse.

As the Dutch Golden Age began, the growing middle class wanted to show off their new found wealth and tulips, originally a flower of the rich and powerful in the Ottoman Empire, were the perfect purchase to exemplify that.

However, with a seven year wait for the flower to mature prices inevitably started to rise and with a labour shortage due to plague and the Thirty Years War, people started to trade contracts on future tulips. Soon people were selling tulips they didn’t actually own to people who couldn’t afford them in hopes of making some money quickly, much like the subprime mortgage crash in 2008.

The tulip mania hit peak levels when 12 acres of land was offered in a deal for one Semper Augustus tulip bulb.

After the market crash, tulips went out of favour only to return later as a culturally significant flower that would go on to represent the Dutch.

Tulips in Amsterdam

Amsterdam plays host to numerous tulip markets across the city. However, there is the floating flower market on Singel that is one of the most popular markets in the capital.

Instead of normal stalls, the market plays host to a selection of floating stalls that sell some of the most incredible flowers but most importantly, a vast collection of tulips. These barges combine the city’s love for boats and tulips into possibly the most Amsterdam-esque experience you can have.

If you have The Amsterdam Pass you can also enjoy the delights of the Amsterdam Tulip Museum that will take you down through the history of this magnificent flower as well as seeing a range of beautifully varied exhibits.

If you want to see the real thing though your best bet is heading to the season tulip fields called the Bollenstreek or Flower Strip in English. The field is a huge 20 acre plot of land that houses a whole number of flowers including crocuses, hyacinth and daffodils. However, it’s most famous for its tulips which start to blossom in March and hit their peak in April.

Tulip Festival Amsterdam

It doesn’t stop there though. Due to the nation’s affinity with the flower, the Netherlands also hosts a yearly Tulip Festival in Amsterdam. Held throughout the entire month of April, the festival looks to input colour into the city by planting one tulip for every Amsterdammer, totalling up to 800,000 tulips. Monuments and museums like the Rijksmuseum and Rembrandtplein participate and urge visitors to visit and go tulip spotting to see the varied colors and arrangements.

 

Earlier in the year the country also hosts a National Tulip Day on 19 January if you wanted more opportunity to celebrate the nation’s flower. In Amsterdam you can take part by in the festivities as Dutch tulip farmers present 200,000 tulips in an exhibit in Dam Square. Visitors are then allowed to pick one tulip to take home with them at no cost, spreading the tulip love.

It is estimated that every year, the Netherlands produce a massive 1.7 billion tulips to export all over the world.

Tulip Gardens Amsterdam

One of the most spectacular places to visit in spring is the Keukenhof, which is one of the most amazing flower gardens in Europe. Created in 1949 in the nearby town of Lisse, Keukenhof is a great place to see some magnificent flower arrangements. Year round work goes into cultivating the garden for its short open time from March to May as it displays the full wonder of its arrangements.

The garden can be easily reached by railway or car if you are planning a visit.

Fun Facts

  • During the Tulip mania of the 1600s, one particular bulb, the Viceroy, ould be sold for around 2500 guilders which equated to 16 years-worth of salary for a skilled worker.
  • The tulip was originally from what is now modern day Turkey. It first arrived in Europe in Austria in 1554 as a gift from the Holy Roman Empire.
  • The Netherlands is also home to the world’s largest flower auction that has a special gallery for visitors to watch from. The FloraHolland flower auction flies by at an incredible pace.