A Great Free Alternative to Keukenhof Gardens

In the months of April and May, many tourists will flock to Keukenhof for the spectacular flower arrangements. But there is an equally impressive alternative. It’s totally free, not crowded with tourists and is really picturesque; the Dutch tulip fields.

Dutch Tulip Fields in Hillegom South Holland

When do the tulips bloom in Holland?

The Dutch Tulip fields come alive with colour between late March and May. The exact date is not easy to predict because it is influenced by various factors such as the weather.  Many of the growers in Holland stagger the planting of bulbs.  This ensures a continuous supply of flowers throughout the blooming season and means that you’re likely to see a colourful display in spring. Furthermore, growers will sometimes plant the bulbs at different depths in order to prolong the flowering period.

Where can I see the Dutch tulip fields?

If you’re familiar with the song Tulips from Amsterdam, you might be wondering where to find these Tulips in the city. Although Amsterdam does have a flower market in the centre, this mainly sells tourist gifts and flower bulbs.  So if you’re looking for Tulip fields near Amsterdam, you need to take a short train ride from Central Station to Hillegom.  The trains to Hillegom run frequently and the journey takes about 30 minutes. You’ll also pass through the city of Haarlem on the way which is also worth a visit.
Dutch intercity train tulip fields in Hillegom
As you pull into the station at Hillegom the bulb fields are immediately visible. I noticed that the commuters on the train pay little attention and are looking down at their mobile phones. Tourists, on the other hand, can easily be spotted on the train. They are gazing out of the window snapping photos and filming the colourful eye-catching scenes.

The first thing I noticed stepping out of the train, was the beautiful aroma of the flowers. It was a strong scent which was carried by the wind blowing from the other side of the station. The smell was intense, much like walking into a florist.  The area surrounding the station is dominated by flower growing companies and small residential areas. Also nearby, is the Royal General Bulb Growers’ Association (KAVB). The train station itself is really small but has a huge bike parking facility. According to the NS website, it is possible to hire bikes, but I couldn’t see any available.

Where are tulip fields in Hillegom?

I found three fields which were in bloom when I visited. These were all within a few minutes walk from the train station. I’m sure you’ll have no problem finding them, but here’s a map just in case:

hillegom tulip field map

Access to the tulip fields

There are no fences to prevent you from entering the fields and there are no “keep out” signs. So I took a walk along the perimeter of the fields taking a few photos as I continued to explore. My approach was to keep a short distance from the flowers to avoid causing any damage.

 Red Tulips Hillegom Haarlem Amsterdam

Pick your own tulips?

Whilst it is not possible to pick flowers from the tulip fields, there is an alternative in Hillegom. Annemieke’s Picking Garden in Hillegom is open daily between 9:00 and 17:00. There are tulips in the spring and a wide variety of cut flowers during the summer months.

Other Attractions

Every year, there is a flower parade which passing through the nearby towns, including Hillegom. This colourful procession called Bloemencorso travels through its main streets.

Have you also discovered some great places to see tulips growing in Holland?  If so, please share in the comments below.

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