I’m sure you’ve seen lots of pictures of tulips in the Netherlands, with banded rows of bright color in the fields. If you’ve ever thought of going to see them in person, it’s worth it! Most people associate tulips with Holland in the Netherlands (primarily the iconic Keukenhof gardens), but Belgium has its own attraction that I really enjoyed. You can find the flowers in many places: fields in the countryside, planted in the city, or acres upon acres of arrangements in enormous gardens. I visited two of these garden displays – Floralia and Keukenhof.
When to Go
To start with, when should you plan to go? The tulip season runs from late March to mid May, and obviously the peak will vary from year to year, but I found that mid-April was best. It’s probably the safest option if you having to choose a date far in advance.
If you’re looking for something a little lesser-known, a great option for viewing tulips is located in Belgium. Floralia takes place at the Castle of Groot-Bijgaarden, about 20 minutes from Brussels. At approximately 35 acres, it’s much smaller then Keukenhof, but also less crowded. They have over 1 million bulbs and 400 varieties of tulips, along with hyacinths, daffodils, and a greenhouse with orchids. While they do have manicured beds, they also have areas that feel more “wild” and less structured. I found it very peaceful just to wander the grounds. And who doesn’t love a castle?
Keukenhof (The Netherlands)
Likely the most well-known gardens for viewing tulips, Keukenhof is popular for a reason. Located in Holland, it’s only about a 30 minute drive from Amsterdam, making it very accessible.
The gardens can be extremely crowded during the season, but it’s worth the visit. At almost 80 acres, it’s huge, with 7 million bulbs and 800 varieties of tulips. You can spend an entire day here, and they have areas geared towards children as well. There are also several large fields surrounding the gardens with rows of hyacinths, daffodils, and, of course, tulips.
My Camera Equipment
On this trip I used a Pentax KP and 18-135mm lens, both of which are weather sealed. The lens covers a wide range of focal lengths, and while it can be a little soft on the long end, I’ve found it ideal for travel. I have been using Pentax for years and love the brand.