The Tulpenroute (Tulip Routes) is a collection of circuits you can take in spring to marvel at one of the Netherlands’ national symbols – tulips.
The tulip was first introduced into the country in the late 1500s. In the mid-1600s, botanist Carolus Clusius cultivated tulips at the botanical garden of the University of Leiden and discovered how to breed them in various shapes and colors. This laid the foundation for the country’s robust tulip industry.
Today, the Keukenhof, the world’s biggest flower garden, attracts over a million visitors each year during its, more or less, eight-week opening. Here, tourists, both local and foreign, go through carefully crafted landscapes to admire a wide variety of tulips in full bloom (as well as other flowers for which the Dutch are known). However, Keukenhof is not the only place to view and admire tulips!
Outside the Keukenhof are various tulip routes you can take to see acres of colorful tulip fields. Read on to discover the best tulip field routes in the Netherlands to explore – by car, by bike, or on foot.
Tulip Routes – Important Things to Know
The best time to go on a tulip route is between mid-April to mid-May, as this is the time when the tulips are in full bloom.
Some routes are short, making them perfect for a day’s hike or bike ride. Others, however, are long and best traveled by car. Either way, routes are adequately marked, so you don’t need to be concerned about getting lost.
Tulip route participants are not fixed because sometimes, some tulip farmers prefer not to participate in the tulip festival. Therefore, you should check out the tulip route and find out what to expect along the way before embarking on your tulip journey.
Most farms provide plenty of activities. For instance, pop-up cafes and food trucks may be present where you and your family can have a snack. Some farms will set up a temporary playground for children, while others may offer on-the-spot tulip gardening tips or tulip painting sessions.
Lastly, please keep in mind that you’re not allowed to pick or pluck tulips, and it’s prohibited to walk through the fields because this may damage the flowers and bulbs underground. However, don’t worry; there are often designated areas where you can buy tulips to bring home.
Top 4 Dutch Tulip Routes
That being said, let’s move on to the list of the best tulip routes in the Netherlands.
1. Lisse Tulip Route
Some of the most famous tulip routes are just outside the Keukenhof, in the municipality of Lisse, a small town in the province of South Holland. There are four different cycle routes you can take: the blue route (5 km), the purple route (10 km), the green route (15 km), and the red route (25 km).
Depending on the tulip route you take, you’ll come across various Lisse attractions, such as the Museum De Zwarte Tulp, the Keukenhof Castle, the Lisser Art Museum, and more.
Our Tip: Arrive early in the morning and spend some hours exploring the flower garden of Keukenhof, before heading on one of the cycle routes. That way you make the most of your day.
2. Braasemermeer Tulip Route
Just 20 minutes from Lisse by car is a tulip route near Braassemermeer (a lake). This circuit offers a walking route (15 km), a biking route (30 km), and even a sailing route (2 hours)! You can do this on your own if you have a boat, rent a boat for your use, or rent a boat with a skipper and guide.
The Braasemermeer tulip route offers a lot of greenhouses, and there are many places you can stop to know more about the history of the area. As such, this is the perfect route for those who want to know more about tulips and do more than admire tulip fields.
Our Tip: If you take this route, you might want to drop by the De Tulperij, a tulip farm in Voorhout. Here, you can get a tour and learn about growing tulip cultivation. They also have a special area where you may go into the fields and pick your own bouquet of tulips.
3. Flevoland Tulip Route
The province of Flevoland also offers its own tulip route. The circuit here is on reclaimed land, with ground rich in minerals that are very suited for growing tulips.
The route is best done by car, but there are also options for bike tours. There is also a paid route, which comes with an audio tour.
Activities in the Flevoland tulpenroute vary yearly because businesses related to the tulip industry may or may not sign up to be part of the route. But in general, the route offers various tulip farm tours, tulip markets, tulip bulb sales, and so on.
Our Tip: If you take this route, you might want to go to Hanneke’s Pluktuin (Hanneke’s Picking Garden). Actually, this place is available for picking flowers all year long, but in spring, their tulip garden, which offers 250+ tulip varieties, is also open for ‘plucking’. There are no entrance fees. You go in, make your own bouquet and pay for what you picked. They also have a greenhouse where you can have a quick snack.
Another part of the Flevoland tulip route is the Tulpeiland (Tulip Island), which is another example of Dutch ingenuity. Not only is it a man-made island in the shape of a tulip, but there are also approximately 120,000 tulips in full bloom to see here each spring.
4. Noordoostpolder Tulip Route
Due to the many attractions, the Flevoland route has become very busy. So if you want a quieter but no less stunning route, try the Noordoostpolder tulip route, which offers 2000 hectares of tulips for viewing.
This circuit offers a bike route (40 km) and a car route (101 km) you can check online. The organizers have even made an app so you can follow the route on your mobile device and learn interesting tidbits of information as you pass by certain fields or markers.
If you have young kids (4-12 years), you can buy tickets to Bollie de Berenroute (Bollie the Bear Route), where children get a tulip route surprise and activity bag. As you go along the tulip route, your kids can learn all about tulips with Bollie through video and special tasks.
Our Tip: If you’re in the area and want a break from tulips, visit the Orchideeen Hoeve (Orchid Park). It started out as a nursery and farm specializing in orchids, but over the years, the place has expanded to include a butterfly garden, an Amazonian rainforest, a massive hanging garden, and even a small zoo. It’s the perfect place to bring the kids.
In Emmeloord, check out the Tulpensoortentuin (Tulip Variety Garden) of farmer Henk van Drie. What’s unique about this specific tulip field is that Henk plants his 1850 tulip varieties by hand each year. His farm offers old and new tulip varieties too. Specifically, be on the lookout for the Lac van Rij tulip, which dates back to 1620!