Tulip is my favorite flower of all; it does not have any fragrance, but it comes in so many colors, sizes and shapes!! I adore them. So, when you think of Tulip, first thing pops in your mind is beautiful tulip farms where you see these endless flower fields; as if it’s an enchanting carpet and you just want to dive in it. Back in India I only knew one place where I wanted to go just to see these flower fields was Kashmir; but as I started exploring places all around the world, I came to know about Keukenhof which has the biggest Tulip flower display park in the world and I decided – “Yep!! I am going to Amsterdam” 😛
To plan Amsterdam, Netherlands trip first thing, you should check is visa requirement. To visit Amsterdam, you need Schengen visa. You can check your eligibility here.
If you want to visit Amsterdam for Tulips, then you need to plan it carefully as their season frame is very short and later in the season most farmers starts cutting flowers and you get to see empty fields. Second and third week of the April is safe time to visit but it also depends on the climate. You can find blooming forecast here.
Best time to visit: Spring and Summer
I planned 4 days for Amsterdam; along with Amsterdam we visited small towns like Volendam, Zaanse Schans. Fortunately, when we were there we got to be a part of Kings day celebrations. I didn’t plan trip for this, but we were lucky. This day you will see everyone out on the road, partying, drinking, having fun. There is so much energy everywhere.
On Kings day everything is closed including restaurants and cafes. Some of the restaurants open after 8:00 PM.
As mentioned earlier it is one of the largest gardens in the world. Millions of tulip bulbs are planted each year covering the area around 32 hectares. Normally park is open only in spring season. You can find park information here.
If you are staying in Amsterdam city center area, then with public transport its about 1-and-a-half-hour trip.
I have several tips if you want to make most of visiting this park
If you purchase park ticket online there is also an option to buy ticket which includes transport to the park and its cheaper than buying two separate tickets.
The park is huge, and you need to walk a lot. Wear comfortable shoes.
Park is mostly crowded after 11:00 AM till 4:00 PM so better be there early to get good pictures.
Carry a map and decide your priorities.
It is often windy out there so carry warm layers.
This is the important one: You can rent a bike and go around the park where you will see flower fields with beautiful colors. For me that was the best part of our trip.
Amsterdam walking tour
Walking tour is a great way to explore city and you will find these walking tours in all major cities of Europe. Amsterdam tour starts in front of national monument in the dam square. Tour lasts for around 2.5 hours. Tour normally have group of 10-15 people. In our walking tour we visited below points:
Anne Frank’s story
The Dutch East India Company
The swampy foundations of Amsterdam
The Miracle of Amsterdam
Widest Bridge and the smallest house in Amsterdam
The Begijnhof Convent
Canals and locks
Rembrandt van Rijn
Multatuli’s giant head
Leaning buildings and gable stones
Our tour guide was Michael. He was very good. He shared some very good facts and also was funny, so walking didn’t make us tired at all. We had coffee break in between and also got free cheese sample.
Volendam is a small Dutch town on the Markermeer Lake, northeast of Amsterdam. It has colorful wooden houses, windmills and the old fishing boats in its harbor. It is lined with seafood vendors and fish chips are famous here. Going to Volendam was the best decision I made because it is such a lovely town and its less popular than Zaanse Schans so you will find less tourist here. Also, if you want to buy souvenirs you will get it for much less price as compared to other areas. Here we did cheese factory tour and got lots of Dutch gouda cheese. Volendam is half hour distance from city center and you can easily get bus tickets which are valid for one day.
If you want to take fun picture in Dutch fisherman costume please visit Foto de Boer
Zanse schans is famous for its historic windmills and distinctive green wooden houses. Its famous tourist place. It has cheese factory, wooden shoes factory, chocolate factory and museum. You can also visit inside of the windmill. I planned half a day for Zaanse Schans. With sprinter you can reach here in half an hour.
Its often windy out here so carry warm layers.
We visited Molen De Kat windmill from inside. It is the oldest windmill and is still working. Entry was €4. Then we visited Kooijman Klompenmakerij which is wooden shoe store. We saw wooden shoe making demonstration here and it was fun. We also visited Catharina Hoeve Cheese Farm and had some cheese sample but honestly, we liked cheese from Volendam more.
Ann Frank House
When I was a child; I read Ann Frank’s diary and I was touched with all she went through when she was a child. I was very curious to see the resident where she and her family was hiding, as she described about it in detail in her diary. When we visited, they were only selling tickets online and I didn’t get the tickets and was very disappointed but then I read on TripAdvisor reviews that they make tickets available in batches, but you have to check availability frequently and trust me I spent hours each day to check its availability because I desperately wanted to visit her house and luckily, I found tickets for 8:15 PM for one of the day during our stay. But as we wanted to see inside of the house visiting it at night was not a problem. We spent around 1 hour here and had audio guided tour. It was definitely heart touching experience.
Van Gogh Museum
It is an art museum displaying some amazing work by artist Vincent van Gogh. Tickets for this museum are only available online. Please visit below link to book tickets.
We spent around 3 hours here. We took audio guided tour and I think that is best way of exploring his art. It also gave very good insights of his turbulent life journey.
Amsterdam trip would be incomplete without its Canal tour. It is a good way to see the city and relax. Trip lasted for an hour. There was also a good commentary giving interesting history facts about the city.
Don’t forget to visit city at night to see canals and bridges illumination. Walking on the roads at night was very romantic.
Van Stapele Koekmakerij – Best Chocolate cookies we ever had!!
Winkle 43 – Best Apple Pie
The Pancake Bakery – very good pancakes
Vlaams Friteshuis Vleminckx – For French fries. Trust me those were the best fries I ever had and they have around 50-60 types of sauces. Try their peanut sauce.
Toastable Koningsplein –They have very good toasties.
Poffertjes and Stroopwafels is Dutch street food and you will find it everywhere. Don’t forget to try one.