Tulip fields in the Netherlands. Photo: redcharlie1The Best Time to See the Tulips

The Best Time to See the Tulips

When will the Tulips bloom?

This is a great question and one we are asked many times!

What is the best answer?

The truth is, we don’t know.

That’s right; we don’t know exactly when the tulips will bloom in the spring. We wish we could emphatically state that on April 14, at about 2 pm, the Tulips will reach their glorious peak. But we cannot. It is all about the weather, something we cannot predict, or control.

And remember, it is not just about the tulip.

Crocuses raise their lovely heads first, with the daffodils following closely behind. The hyacinths then burst forth, and finally, the much-anticipated tulips make their spectacular appearance. The order overlaps, making the blooming landscape all the more dramatic and spectacular.

If it is a particularly harsh, cold winter and the temperatures do not slowly warm into February and March, the flowers will bloom later.

If the winter is unseasonably warm, the blooming season will begin earlier.

Don’t be discouraged by the uncertainty.

Tulip is bloom in Holland. Photo: M Ashraful Alam

If you miss the peak tulip blooming season in the fields, you will see flowers! An incredible array of flowers, in a unique themed display, including the coveted tulip, at the Keukenhof, the world’s largest flower garden.

The flowers here are chosen so that blooming can be experienced from when the park opens at the end of March until it closes in mid-May. The Tulips, and other spring flowers, can be enjoyed in all their glory for much longer here than in the fields since these flowers are grown specifically for the blooms, not for the bulbs. In the fields, it is about cultivating the strongest bulb for selling worldwide. This requires cutting back the lovely flowers early so that all nutrients can be concentrated, below the soil, in the bulb.

All our tulip tours include a visit to this extraordinary place.

Perhaps it is better to ask the question differently…

When is the best TIME to see the tulips?

Rephrasing the question allows us to skirt the issue, but by not providing a specific answer, we can give a much better one. We cannot predict the weather exactly, but we can state with certainty several things that will make your tulip tour what you have always dreamed it could be.

Our tulip tours are scheduled around the entire growing season in Holland and through the best-growing region.

Generally speaking, flower season stretches from the end of March (crocuses) until mid-May when the Keukenhof closes.

Aalsmeer Flower Auction Photo: Nancy Arehart

The best bulb fields are strategically located for optimal weather and soil conditions. The Bollenstreek (or bulb region), the most recognized area, extends from Leiden to Haarlem. It overlaps both the southern part of the North Holland region and northern South Holland and includes the Keukenhof flower garden. Tucked behind the North Sea dunes, the weather is generally less extreme and the fields are protected from harsh winds. There is a perfect balance of acidity, humid sea air, and sandy soil. Other growing areas are in the uppermost part of the province of North Holland and a section of Flevoland.

Bike Among The Tulips...

Our 7-Day Tulip Tour on the wonderful boat, the Merlijn, first leads south from Amsterdam, featuring highlights of Holland, such as Gouda, Haarlem, and the Kinderdijk, and then climbs north directly through the Bollenstreek, with a visit to the Keukenhof.

We also offer an 8-day Tulip Tour on several lovely vessels. On the Quo Vadis, you begin with flowers and end with flowers, visiting the largest flower auction in the world and topping off your tour with cycling north of Holland to the flower fields around the village of Anna Pauwlona, a reclaimed polder of 50 square kilometers where flower bulb cultivation thrives.

The 8-day itinerary on the Iris includes a visit to the private garden, Hortus Bulborum, a bulb garden that preserves some 4000 varieties of heirloom flower bulbs, many of which are commercially extinct.

The Iris also offers a longer itinerary, including Belgium, on the 11-Day Amsterdam to Bruges Tulip Tour.

Perhaps a 5-Day Tulip Tour would be more your thing, giving you enough time before or after to explore more of Holland on your own.? We can even suggest adding another experience to your bike and boat tour, such as a Tailored Made Bike Tour in Holland. You pick the theme. For example, North Sea Coast, windmills and waterways, national parks, history… the possibilities are endless, and together we can make it happen.

Check out all our Tulip Tours. We are sure you will find something just for you.

And as you look forward to your Tulip Tour, here is some insider information!

From October on, all fresh flower bulbs will be planted again in Holland and from February, Tulip Festival Amsterdam will provide regular updates on the tulip growing and blooming season in the Netherlands.

Because you need to book your Tulip Tour very early to insure availability, this site may not be useful for you to determine when to go based on predictions but will be perfect to determine what to expect as your already scheduled tulip tour approaches.

The Bottom Line...

We cannot give you specifics, down to the week and day, regarding when the tulips will bloom but we can and do design our spring tours in Holland to optimize your time there and guarantee that you experience the Dutch spring in all its glory.

The spring weather in Holland is variable, but that is all part of it! Plan on cooler temps and the inevitable rain. Layers work best.

Plan early, book early, and get ready to smell the roses TULIPS!


About the Author


Mary's love of an active lifestyle was fostered growing up on a farm in rural Pennsylvania where every summer day was a mini-triathlon. When very young (especially looking back now!), Mary had the opportunity to study in Argentina and at the University of Barcelona culminating in a degree in…

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