There is no country in the world where you can see as many tulips as The Netherlands. Every spring, the green fields change in a wonderful color palette and the acres attract people from all over the world. This blog will tell you all you need to know about visiting the tulip fields in The Netherlands. And trust me, there’s more than just Keukenhof.
In This Post
When is tulip season in The Netherlands?
Tulip Season in The Netherlands happens every spring, but the timing varies depending on the weather. If there’s been a lot of sun, the season will be early. A lot of rain can cause some delay. Generally spoken, most tulip fields will bloom from about 15 April until about the 8th of May 2023. Famous area Bollenstreek offers a map with frequent updates, showing where the fields are blooming at the moment. You can find the map here.
Did you know it’s not all about tulips in The Netherlands? There are fields of hyacinths and daffodils as well. These usually bloom before the tulips until mid April. The blooming time of especially hyacinths is much longer and I just love their pastel colours!
Where are the famous areas to spot tulip fields?
Over the last two years, I’ve been visiting many areas to capture the tulip fields. Most of these areas offer a self-drive route, leading you through all the famous places in collaboration with the farmers. Some are interactive, like the one in Flevoland and you get to learn a lot about the area, farmers and their history. If there’s no route available, I just drive around until I find the most beautiful spots. Here are my favourite areas in a random order:
Area in south-western Netherlands, offers a walking tour on 15 April 2023 this year. Booking required. If you decide to go by yourself, try to drive around the towns of Dirksland, Middelharnis, Nieuwe-Tonge and Oude-Tonge. A must-stop is Vogelobservatorium Tij, located in Stellendam, not for the tulips, but for a unique location to spot some birds!
Province of Noord Holland
Probably my favorite area. This area is known for its traditional mills, often surrounded by tulips. This province also has the biggest area of connected tulip fields and is reachable by public transportation as well. Famous villages to start your trip are Schagen, Anna-Paulowna, and Julianadorp. You can find more information like cycling routes and more on this website.
Bollenstreek is the most famous area for tulips in The Netherlands. This is where you find Keukenhof and many tourist attractions related to tulips. The fields are beautiful, but very protected as well because of the amounts of toursits. Don’t expect to get too close to the tulips, as the farmers protect their fields with fences. If you want to make the most out of your visit, consider a bike tour through this area. It doesn’t get more Dutch than that! You can find more information about the bike tours here.
Province of Flevoland
Could you imagine this province didn’t even exist 60 years ago? It’s the youngest province of The Netherlands and the ground is very fertile for the growth of tulips. The areas are stretched out wide and most of the tulips are in the areas of Dronten and Zeewolde. Zeewolde is the place to find the huge tulip island as well! I love visiting this province for tulip season, as it’s easily accessible and centrally located. Keep in mind that you need a car to cruise around. More information about the annual tulip route can be found here.
Province of Drenthe
Drenthe is known as one of the most beautiful provinces of the country. It offers beautiful parks and a lot of history about prehistorical living. During the tulip season, there are several fields to visit, mainly around the town of Smilde. Drenthe is usually just known by the local people, so if you want to travel like a real Dutchman, consider this area far from the urban pollution of the capital cities. If you decide to go, it’s better to find accommodation as well. Combine your visit with a boat tour in Giethoorn or have a walk through one of the huge parks.
What about Keukenhof?
Keukenhof is internationally known as the place to be when it’s about visiting tulip fields. Located in Lisse, this park is surrounded by tulip fields and all about tulips. The best thing about Keukenhof, is that the tulips are blooming during the whole spring season. In 2023, Keukenhof opens from the 23rd of March until the 14th of May. Don’t expect the park to offer traditional acres, but expect a theme park experience. You’ll find a mill, you’ll find beautiful gardens and it’s amazing for a day trip, but it has nothing to do with the farming process of tulips.
I would recommend to visit Keukenhof if you’re arriving very early in the season (let’s say March – first week of April) or very late (mid May). If you’re in the peak weeks, go for the real experience and visit the farms with a self-driven bike tour!
Planning to visit Keukenhof? You can get tickets at their own website (click) and find all the information you need there.
Can I walk through the tulip fields?
You can’t walk through the tulip fields without permission. With the rise of social media over the last years, visiting tulip fields became very popular. Everybody is looking for the best shots and everyone wants to be surrounded by tulips, instead of standing at the borders of the fields.
If you want to stand in the fields, you need permission. If there’s no farmer around, you don’t have permission. Most of the fields will have a sign telling you that it’s forbidden to enter the fields. Even without a sign, don’t go into the fields. There’s an easy reason for this: the tulip fields get damaged easily and it’s hard to stay on the small tracks, which are made for farming vehicles.
You’ll likely see photos of your favorite creators walking or running through the fields. They usually have permission, so don’t do it, just because they did it too.
Can I fly my drone above the tulip fields?
In general, it’s allowed to fly drones above tulip fields, as long as you’re aware of the no-fly zones. Many tulip fields are close to airports, so check the flight map before taking off your drone.
If I’m visiting lesser-known spots and I see a farmer, I usually ask if I can fly my drone. Most of them are happy to chat and nobody denied my request so far.
If there’s no farmer around and the drone map shows that it’s allowed to fly, you can fly. There is just one important thing to remember: Don’t fly too close to the ground, as you’ll damage the tulips.
How to take the best photos of the tulips?
You finally found the perfect field, and the light conditions are amazing. How do you get these awesome photos that other people get?
By finding the perfect tulip field, I usually look for colors I prefer to shoot. I like bright orange fields, red fields, or fields with a great mixture of colors, like the header of this blog.
If I find the perfect field, I usually start by flying my drone. My favorite fields are those with water sprinklers, as they can generate a rainbow effect. It’s very hard to find the perfect spot and composition, as there are a lot of factors that can ruin your shot.
With my drone, I usually create top-down shots, shots featuring a subject besides the fields, and I try to use the lines of the fields to create a well-balanced image. Sometimes farmers are working and it’s always cool to use them in your shot to get that finishing touch.
With my camera, I never really shoot full fields. I’d rather try to go for unique shots. You’ll always find some tulips with another color or tulips growing in the opposite direction. These are the flowers I love to highlight. You can find some examples above.
How to take the best photos of the tulips?
If you’re just getting started, it works to use a high aperture (low F-number), the ISO as low as possible and the shutter speed dependent on the amount of light. If you’re getting more professional, you can try to experiment with focus stacking. You’ll need a tripod for this and preferably a day without wind.