Tulips in Amsterdam: Worth the Visit?

Fields of tulips in Amsterdam.
Fields of tulips at the Keukenhof Gardens in the Netherlands. Photo Credit: Dllu

If you’re going to Amsterdam, chances are you’ll encounter beautiful fields of colorful tulips. These make this already magical city seem all the more unbelievable. Walking through the beautiful fields of tulips in the Keukenhof Gardens, just outside of Amsterdam, is what one would imagine walking through a rainbow would be like.

Now, imagine that every color in the rainbow had a distinctively wonderful perfume, ranging from sweet to enticingly spicy scents. Sounds pretty great, right? As the Dutch would say, “Ja.” Just like the picturesque houses along the canals, tulips are a staple of the Netherlands and a must see for any traveler.

Best Way to See the Tulips in Amsterdam

Rows of tulips in Keukenhof Gardens
Rows of tulips in Keukenhof Gardens. Photo Credit: Owen Williams

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 ideal 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 one of our tours. If you’re on a tight schedule and don’t want to spend any time in lines, our Skip the line Keukenhof Gardens Tour is perfect for you.

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!

Finally, no matter what your other plans are, don’t miss out on learning even more about this great city on our Tried & True free walking tour

A Brief History of Tulips in Amsterdam

Canal side houses in Amsterdam.
Canal side houses in Amsterdam. Photo Credit: Kaci Baum

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 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.

A Modern Meaning

This tulip craze has had a lasting legacy since it is considered one of the first economic bubbles. “Tulip mania” remains a figure of speech for the self-perpetuating insanity of unrestrained economics, market crashes and irrationality in economics. This seems fitting considering the value of a tulip exceeded that of a house at one point. The recent versions of tulip mania have been the dot-com bubble and 2008 subprime mortgage crisis. 

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