The Netherlands is known around the world for its beautiful tulips. In Spring, fields of flowers align the fields in the west of the Netherlands. There are several tulip routes throughout the country. Last Sunday we drove the flower route by car, in the province of Zuid-Holland. A beautiful route with daffodils, tulips and hyacinths. However, the route offers more than just flower fields. There are museums and beach towns along the route.
The Flower Route
We followed the route set out by the ANWB, which you can find here in Dutch. There’s a map provided on the site. The following towns are included:
- Katwijk aan Zee
Itinerary town by town
Flower fields are along the route, however less in the beginning of the trip. This itinerary won’t mention where exactly you can see the tulips, only the other attractions along the route. Don’t worry you won’t miss the flower fields, they’re easy to spot.
The first town you come across on this flower field road trip is Rijnsburg. It’s the second flower center of the Netherlands, the first being Aalsmeer. The auction is already in use since 1917. There’s the Museum Spinoza-huis and Museum Oud Rijnsburg. For some history on the town and on Spinoza. In August Rijnsburg hosts the Flower Parade. On the second Saturday floats pull through Rijnsburg, Katwijk and Noordwijk.
Katwijk aan Zee
The first beach town on the flower route Netherlands that we come across. Katwijk aan Zee has a beautiful beach with boulevard. Stroll over the boulevard and play on the beach. Enough for hours of fun. Katwijk has a Sufi-temple situated in the dunes, with a golden colored dome.
Another beach town on the bulb field road trip. The beautiful dune area with long beaches stretches from Katwijk to here and on. Noordwijk has its own boulevard which is perfect for strolling on or sitting on a bench and watching the sea.
But that’s not all Noordwijk has to offer. There’s the Space Expo, the first large continuous space exposition in Europe. Noordwijk-Binnen has a protected village view with buildings dating from the Middle Ages. Museum Noordwijk is a regional museum.
After Noordwijk the tulip fields start in abundance. The fields are low lying compared to the rest of the country side. The dry sandy soil was removed between the dunes and the polder in the Middle Ages. This made for perfect soil for the flowers later on in the 19th Century.
The last of the beach towns on the road trip. There’s the forestry Hollands Duin which covers 650 hectares (1606 acres) of dune area.
Hillegom is a town that still has some buildings left from the Middle Ages.
Lisse has the world famous Keukenhof, that welcomes a million visitors each Spring. It’s a flower display which shines each year in April and May. Visitors from all over the world come to admire all the flowers, among them tulips.
In February the Lenteflora is being hosted in Lisse, the opening of the flower season. It’s a free flower show already being organized since 1933.
Lisse has Museum The Black Tulip on the history and development of the bulbs and the area.
Voorhout has the Teylingen ruin, a castle dating from the 13th Century. There’s not much left of the castle.
The highlight for many during the flower season is the ‘Bloemencorso van de Bollenstreek’. It’s on the last or second last Saturday in April. The float goes through Noordwijk, Voorhout, Sassenheim, Lisse, Hillegom, Bennebroek, Heemstede and Haarlem.
The town where a famous Dutch writer, Jan Wolkers, grew up.
Hiring a car
We drove the road trip with our own car. But when doing the trip after arriving on Schiphol Airport, you can easily hire a car for the day on the airport. It’s about €110,- a day. We have excellent experiences with Alamo and Hertz.
Where to eat
Along the route are plenty of options for a bite to eat or to sit down for a refreshment, whether it be a restaurant or beach club. When looking for some place to have lunch or dinner, before or after driving the flower route, The Hague is perfect. Check out where to eat in The Hague.
Where to stay
From the many hotels, bed and breakfast’s and campgrounds along the road trip, we have good experiences with Hotel Noordzee at Katwijk aan Zee and Vakantiepark Koningshof at Rijnsburg. A little further from the route but still ideal is NH Hotel Schiphol Airport. Or camping Polderflora, a fun campsite in the Netherlands with kids.
When to visit
The tulip fields bloom around the end of March until the half of May.
The weather can be perfect with 16 to 20 degrees Celsius, or can be cold below 10 degrees Celsius. Its Spring time, the sun can shine, but don’t be surprised when you have an overcast sky, rain or even some snow.
The flower route is beautiful
And deserves to be one of 50 Drives of a Lifetime by National Geographic.
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