48 hours in the flower bulb region
Updated: Sep 10, 2019
What to do and where to stay?
People come from all over the world to see the world-famous Dutch flowers with their own eyes. The Flower Bulb Region in Holland - about 20 km from Amsterdam - is the perfect spot to discover tons of fields with the most colourful flowers and uncover thousands of the prettiest tulips in Keukenhof. Spring has never looked so amazing! To truly enjoy this beautiful flower landscape walhalla, I would recommend staying the night at NH Leeuwenhorst, ideally located between Keukenhof and the beach. Dreaming of tulips already?
Flower stop 1: Keukenhof
First stop of the weekend: Keukenhof..
During eight weeks in Spring, Keukenhof shows what the Dutch floricultural sector has to offer. The 'Garden of Europe' brings an interesting mix of tulips, carnations, roses, daffodils and so much more, showing no less than 7 million spring-flowering bulbs that were planted there with great care by 500 different flower growers. A renowned landscape architect created a special design for each exhibitor.
2019 celebrates the 70th edition of Keukenhof with an emblematic theme that is inspirational to all: Flower Power. Because flowers bring us together. Bright colours, hippies, peace & music. Flowers unite people from all over the world!
It all started with 10 flower bulb growers and exported who wanted to showcase the best of the flower industry. In 1949 they fell in love with the gardens around Keukenhof castle.
For many years, Jacoba van Beieren was the hostess of Keukenhof. In the 15th century, she was the owner of the land where you can now visit Keukenhof. At that time the pretty much untouched area was used only for hunting and to pick herbs for the castle’s kitchen. Keuken means kitchen in Dutch and Hof is a garden. Hence the name Keukenhof :-)
If you want to learn more, check out their website.
Keukenhof is in Lisse, the heart of the flower bulb region. Located between Haarlem and The Hague, only a 30 min drive from Amsterdam and just a stone’s throw from the coast.
When to go?
Keukenhof is open annually from mid-March to mid-May. The best time to view the flowers is around mid-April, depending on weather conditions. Please check the website for all practical information. There is a Flowering Report to keep you up to date on all the flowers that are in bloom.
How to get there?
Keukenhof lies in Lisse, between Amsterdam and The Hague, in the heart of the Bollenstreek (Bulb Region) and is easy to reach via the A4 (exit Nieuw-Vennep) and the A44 (exit 3 Lisse). Follow the 'Keukenhof' signs.
Keukenhof is also well accessible by public transport. Check out our combination tickets (transport and entrance) that allow you to get on in Amsterdam or Rotterdam/The Hague and off at Keukenhof. You will be able to enter through the quick desk, so you won't have to wait in line.
It is not easy to pick just one, but my favourite has got to be the Ibiza Garden. Totally in tune with the latest decoration trends and completed with the most colourful flowers.
Tip: the park is at its prettiest early in the morning of the late afternoon. To enjoy the park even more without the big crowds, I would recommend going on a weekday. Keep in mind that the park is open until 8pm!
Flower stop 2: the fields
Lisse is surrounded by beautiful landscapes and flower fields and is the perfect spot for a walk or for cycling around. I prefer just taking my bike and see where I end up but in case you need a map, I really liked the ones from Bollenstreek.nl. In the parking lot at the main entrance of Keukenhof there is a bicycle rental point where you can rent a bicycle. If you are staying the night in the region, make sure you check with your hotel if they have bike renting options.
Please keep in mind that flower fields are private property and that it is actually forbidden to crawl over fences to enter the fields, even when there are no signs prohibiting you from entering, you should not walk in the fields.
Stand in front of the fields or find a hill a bit further away to overlook all the spectacular colours.
There IS a way to make pictures in the fields through a flower farm where everything is being looked after and orchestrated with the greatest care.
Flower stop 3: flower farms
As mentioned before the tulip fields are private property. Luckily there are flower farms that let visitors in to have a closer look.
But even with permission of the owner and his or her guidance, there are still some general guidelines:
Don't walk on the tulip beds, move forward slowly on the small pathways. And always come back to the front to go to another bed. Damaging the flowers might have an impact on the growth of the bulb.
Don't pick the flowers yourselves, unless you have been given permission by the owner.
Wear comfortable shoes. You will trip and end up on the flowers if you wear high heels! The ground is very uneven!
I had the pleasure to walk in the flower fields of FAM Flower Farm. Marlies and Linda are the sweet ladies behind FAM Flower Farm, which is located next to Keukenhof in Lisse. They have been friends since middle school and share the same passion: flowers! They even both married a grower!
They offer a small number of possibilities to visit the Flower Farm by reservation and only when the flowers are blooming.
The dahlias normally bloom from mid-August to the beginning of September. The daffodils normally bloom from the end of March until the end of April. The tulips normally bloom from mid-April to beginning of May.
Flower stop 4: flower parade
The flower-bulb region’s flower parade also passes through Lisse every year. The parade starts in Noordwijk and ends in Haarlem. This year I had the honour and pleasure to watch the flower parade as a Keukenhof guest and I really enjoyed it. This year's theme was Changing World, a topic we can all relate too. So, by the time you will read this article, you can already start planning your visit to the Flower Parade 2020 ;-)
I do not only recommend staying the night because of the pretty flowers, the region has so much more to offer and therefor it's nice to book a hotel in the region so you can also enjoy other activities.
Next stop: Hotel NH Noordwijk Conference Centre Leeuwenhorst
The NH Noorderwijk Conference Centre Leeuwenhorst is ideally located between Lisse (Keukenhof) and Noordwijk beach, putting you right in the heart of the tulip field region.
The hotel has more than 500 rooms in Standard or Superior class. If you are lucky enough like me, you get a room with a view over the tulip fields.
After a day of tulip and flower spotting you can easily enjoy a nice meal in the à la carte restaurant or enjoy a drink at one of the bars. And to completely come to rest you can make your way to the Aqua Fitness Centre to relax in the swimming pool or spa or work hard play hard at the gym. And, did you know that they have an indoor bowling alley? Say what?!
My personal reasons for staying here were:
1) Flower fields all around
I was looking for some nice fields in the area to take some pictures without entering the actual fields and was pleasantly surprised by the overload of colours upon arrival at the hotel. Thousands of tulips on the side of the hotel, and even more surprising hyacinths in front!
2) The sophisticated 'Beach Bar'
After spending Sunday morning in the blistering cold while doing a photo shoot at a tulip farm (I kid you not it was 4° C!), I was in need of a much-needed drink ;-). The main bar, just behind the reception, does not have the looks of a regular hotel bar. It is a light, open space with a touch of greenery, wooden accents and a touch of subtle exotics.
3) The bike rental service
The best way to discover the flower fields and the beach is by bike. There are plenty of companies in the area where you can rent a bike, but what can be easier than just asking for a key at the reception desk?
The bikes are stored in the hotel's garage, so you can easily put away a few things in the car before going on your trip. The ideal afternoon activity, even after you have checked out and still have a few hours to spend.
Price: 13 €
4) The omelette station at breakfast
What can be more satisfying than freshly baked eggs on a Sunday morning? The NH Noordwijk Leeuwenhorst hotel serves a pretty mean breakfast. Think a large choice in bread, a yoghurt bar, plenty of sweets, no queues at the coffee machine because there are at least 3 and last but not least the omelette station where you can have your eggs your way... For some an omelette station reminds me of my trips to Asia where this is pretty much standard.
5) The many open relax areas
After cycling to the beach, I went back to the hotel and was planning to do some editing for my Instagram stories in my room but then decided to do that in the one of the many open spaces of the hotel. There are plenty of areas where you can read a book, work a little or even take a little nap. The hotel never feels crowded, there is always a spot available to check up on your relatives, to plan your trip for the next day, to dream a little.
Dreaming of my next trip with NH already :-)
Next stop 2: the dunes and beach
Noordwijk aan Zee is only a heartbeat away from Lisse, offering rugged dunes and a long stretch (about 13km) of sandy beaches. The beach is easily accessible, with numerous routes to the nearby A44 motorways and plenty of parking space. I would recommend coming by bike and pass through the beautiful dunes upon arrival or departure!
You can spend a day at the beach and get your tan on or go for a power kite or paddling session. And in case you forgot your bikini at home: there are plenty of cute little shopping streets bordering the beach where you can find a selection of fashion and lifestyle stores.
Feeling thirsty or hungry from collection all those pretty shells? Noordwijk aan Zee has plenty of food and drinks spots from fancy gastronomical cuisine to the more traditional restaurants. There is also a wide selection of beach bars where you can easily spend a few hours, even when the weather is bad..
Next stop 3: the instagrammable beach bar TulumTulum
Healthy food and funky drinks at the beach, for breakfast, lunch or dinner that is what Tulum Tulum is all about. A beach bar with a relax Ibiza kind of vibe. Think wood and white walls, 50 shades of beige, a dream catcher here and there and some greenery.
The food perfectly matches with the decoration. Fresh fish, buddha bowls, red velvet cake in a jar or a turmeric home-made iced tea to get int those much-needed vitamins to attack the next beach activity. Or to feel less guilty about enjoying a bottle of rosé while watching the sun sink into the sea. Cheers!
ZEEREEP 104 2202 NW Noordwijk
Next stop: back home
The flower bulb region around Lisse is the perfect location for a weekend get-away. I would even consider coming back here off-season when the tulips have long gone. Nice shopping cities like Amsterdam or Haarlem are only a short drive or train ride away. I also recently found out that the dahlias normally bloom here from mid-August to the beginning of September. I might be back here sooner than expected. Tulip girl aka dahlia dame at your service....