Many travelers will travel to the Netherlands and never leave the city of Amsterdam. The city certainly has much to offer visitors, but what you may not have known is that the Netherlands is famous for its expansive gardens and flower fields. The Netherlands saw its first tulip planted in 1593, and in the time since, the Dutch have created an industry that draws thousands to see these brightly colored petals. Flowers of all types can be seen throughout the country in the springtime, reaching their peak in the months of April and May. The hyacinths, narcissi, daffodils, and of course, tulips of the Netherlands, bring people from all over the world to watch these flowers bloom in rainbow colors.
To take a tour of the best flower fields and gardens in the country, follow our 3-day itinerary from Haarlem in the north to Naaldwijk in the south. Along the way, you will be able to not only breathe in the sweet floral air, but also take in some of the other sights and attractions that rural and urban Holland has to offer. From Haarlem, take the Bloemen Route 44 miles south to visit Lisse, Leiden, and Naaldwijk. This colorful journey is sure to give you lots of memories and photographs to show the folks at home.
Read on to Drive to Discover the adventures that await you in the Netherlands
To maximize your enjoyment, make sure that you have all the supplies and travel information you need before setting out in your Netherlands car rental. We recommend travelers exercise caution and take plenty of time to reach their destinations. Avoiding accidents and not breaking traffic laws is of the utmost importance to your enjoyment. Understand that the Netherlands may have different laws, so something that may be legal where you live may not be legal there. Expect the unexpected and bring extra food, water, and clothes, just in case of emergency. Our route is easy to follow, so getting lost should not be a concern. You can follow the N205 south from Haarlem to reach the town of Lisse, then take the A44 to Leiden, and finally get on the A4 and take the N222 to Naaldwijk. If you have GPS, make sure that it is in working order before traveling. Preparing for your journey lets you open up and relax!
Begin in Haarlem, which is a short drive from Amsterdam, to start on our Flower Route. Haarlem is a large town, with lots to see and do. It's a great place to start your tour of the country, and it's walkable, so you can park your car in the city centre and check out the shops and museums that dot the canal-lined streets.
To start, the Frans Hals Museum features artwork by a local favorite, Jan van Goyen. Many of the landscapes that van Goyen painted were inspire by the very flower fields that you are about to drive by and visit, so pick up a print while you are there. The nightlife is pretty vibrant for a town of its size. Many of the pubs are within walking distance of hotels and hostels, so feel free to live it up, but don't drink too much, because you have to drive in the morning. After a good night's sleep in your lodgings, you are ready to set out for the small town of Lisse.
Lisse lies 25 minutes south of Haarlem on the N208. It is an idyllic little town with shops and restaurants lining the old streets. The main attraction, however, is the Keukenhof Garden. With over 70 acres of parkland filled with forested and floral areas, the Keukenhof is one of the largest gardens in the world. The Keukenhof bills itself as the most beautiful garden in the world, and we think they may have a point. Started in the 15th century as a small private garden, the Keukenhof Garden has a storied past and continues to this day to build on its legacy.
Walking paths are set up to take visitors from one floral display to the next. There are both outdoor and indoor areas where many different species of flower can thrive in their own climate. The windmill that towers over visitors shows that not only is this a garden of flowers, but it is also a place to discover the culture of the country. Sculpture displays are scattered throughout the garden.
After a night in Lisse, take the N208 south to the A44. Leiden lies 30 minutes to the south past the country's oldest university, Universiteit Leiden. Here you can visit the Botanical Gardens for another day among the flowers. Though smaller than the Keukenhof, the Botanical Gardens are perhaps more aesthetically pleasing. Started with only tulips in 1594 under the direction famed botanist Carolus Clusius, the gardens now houses many vibrant varieties of tulips and other flowers.
Overnight guests can visit the Valk Windmill Museum before sitting down to dinner at one of the many fine establishments in town. This museum shows visitors what it was like to work as a miller in the 18th century. A climb to the top of the mill will give you a panoramic view of the city. The nightlife of Leiden is even more lively than Lisse, given the student population. Once you've rested, you can continue in the morning along the A4 toward Naaldwijk.
Take the A4 and connect to the N222 to reach Naaldwijk. Once in town, you can visit the flower auctions that take place nearby and drive the flower industry forward. Naaldwijk also has many greenhouses and shops across the city, so be sure to go shopping for a few mementos to remember your trip by. Tours of the city and the auctions are available to those interested in learning more about this historic and beautiful city and its economy. While you can't participate in the auction, you are sure to have a good time watching the bustle of people.
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