The bulb has a complex history in Amsterdam. Introduced to Europe as a gift from the Ottoman Empire in the mid-1500s, tulips became popular in the Netherlands. They stood out for their hardiness in the famously low-lying area. As Holland gained independence and stoked its economic prospects, citizens clamored for the exotic-looking flower.
It quickly came to be a powerful status symbol. Prices for individual tulip bulbs skyrocketed, with local taverns becoming the epicenter of what the Dutch came to term windhandel, or “wind trade.” As the wanton whims of the tulip bubble thrashed ever onward, after a certain point no flowers were actually changing hands. It became more lucrative just to resell the tulips one had recently “acquired” on paper. Even people who had never seen tulips with their own eyes were getting in on the action.
Eventually—some speculate due to a particularly nasty outbreak of the Bubonic Plague, which kept death-fearing auction-goers from participating—prices crashed. As a result, the bubble burst spectacularly, though not before ten acres of land had been offered in exchange for a single bulb.
Surprisingly (and luckily for us), the Dutch don’t harbor any ill will toward tulips. In fact, they still enjoy an awe-inspiring spring bloom of over 7 million tulips every year.
The best time to see the tulips in Amsterdam is anytime from mid-March to mid-May. So, be sure to plan your trip around these dates to ensure you don’t miss the bloom. After seeing them for yourself, you’ll understand how these flowers caused such a craze all those centuries ago.
One of the best ways to see the tulips in Amsterdam is through a tour from PlacePass. If you’re coming from Amsterdam check out the Keukenhof Gardens and Tulip Fields Tour which will transport you from the city in a coach through the countryside to see what the Keukenhof gardens has to offer.
On the other hand, if you have a little extra time to explore the gardens, definitely check out this private tour where you can bike through the fields and even have a picnic in the garden!