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Amsterdam and the tulips

In initial planning for a surprise trip for my wife to see the Tulips (bucket list). How long should I plan for seeing Amsterdam and the tulips. Most research so far indicates mid-April is best for Tulips. We want to add another (as yet defined) destination or two, possibly Switzerland or Barcelona. Thoughts and ideas?

Posted by
369 posts

I am also planning for April 2018. I'm allowing 6 nights/7 days for Amsterdam, surrounding area and tulips. From there I am looking at another 5-6 nights in Brussels then perhaps to Reims/Champagne and finish off with two days in my favorite city Paris, from which we will fly home. About 16 nights total. We spent the last two trips in the Normandy/Brittany area or I would go there. We have not been to Reims so we'll see.

Posted by
7196 posts

4 days in Amsterdam with a trip to Keukenhof. If you like outdoors natural beauty, hiking, walking, mountain top (high altitude) excursions than fly to Zurich from Amsterdam and than take the train to Bernese Oberland area and stay in either Lauterbrunnen, Murren or Grimmelwald.

Posted by
265 posts

My input would be late April is also a really good time to visit the tulips. I have been twice the last weekend in April and both times (30 years apart) they were at their peak. At Keukenhof they work really hard in making the season as long as possible. I was told that they plant early, mid and late season blooming tulips in the same bed so there are always tulips for an extended period of time.

If I were to plan a return trip for myself I would shoot for the last week of April to have the best chance for an amazing floral experience.

Switzerland in April might be a bit muddy or still wintery. Barcelona should be nice. I all depends on what you want or expect from your other stops along this trip.

Posted by
2320 posts

I visited Amsterdam and Keukenhof this April and would suggest at least 4 or 5 days as there's plenty to see and do in Amsterdam. I was there toward the end of the month and the weather was quite cold, daytime highs of 45-50 degrees with cold wind and rain, so the later you go, even early May, might be better. Keukenhof was as lovely as expected and extremely crowded, I spent about 3 hours there, did the 197 bus to Schiphol and then Keukenhof express and that worked well.

Posted by
982 posts

Hi. The Alps in April has been a topic on this forum a few times. Here is the one that sticks with me:

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/switzerland/april-weather-in-the-alps

The Alps, quite simply, are at their worst for tourism in April. Not just because of the weather, which is generally overcast. But much of the tourist infrastructure in the mountains shuts down. The snow cover is too wet and uneven for skiing, but too much for hiking. And as soon as the snowpack retreats, the farmers use the opportunity to fertilize the pastures... how does the smell of liquified manure sound for a vacation memory?

You might consider piggybacking the bluebell season in the UK onto the tulip season if you do this the end of April. UK folks, is that timeframe too early for bluebells?

Debbie

Posted by
3933 posts

Of course weather is always a factor in when the tulips bloom. We went this year arriving Apr 9 for 5 nights in Amsterdam. Tulips were on my bucket list as well They were well into spring compared to at home where Spring is very short and doesn't seem to start until mid-May.

Arrival day was really warm, but then the rest of our time in NL was fairly cool - I should have packed either a warmer jacket or a few more warm layers. My one fleece pullover got a real workout. And I really wish I had packed a light pair of gloves - tho it was sunny, the brisk wind made a few of our day trips cold (especially to Kinderdijk).

We stayed 5 nights in Amsterdam, doing daytrips, then moving on to Dordrecht to explore other areas of NL, then on to Belgium, which we really enjoyed. Not sure Switzerland would be that nice in mid-April. After BE, we went on to Paris (4th visit). Have you been to Paris? Ams-Paris-London is usually a good trip.

Keukenhof was pretty much in bloom - some late bloomers hadn't come up yet, but I'd say 95%. We didn't have a specific date (went Apr 13) but played it by ear depending on the weather for the day. The tulip fields were pretty much 95% in bloom as well.

Here is my tip. My husband is not an early riser, so I knew getting to the fields first thing wasn't going to happen. I had also overheard a man a few days before saying he and his wife arrived early and it was still packed to the gills in the pavilions. We arrived around lunch time and the parking lot was crazy (we took the direct bus from the airport). We grabbed some fries in the parking lot, then went over to http://www.rentabikevandam-keukenhof.com/en/ - located in the parking lot and got a bike. Biking was easy (I'm not the best on bikes) and the tulip fields were gorgeous. Prices very reasonable as well. We were gone about 3 hrs all told, arriving back around 4pm-ish. Parking lot was clearing out and we were able to wander the pavilions without being crushed. So I'd def recommend - if you can't arrive as soon as it opens, just arrive a little later, take a bike ride, then go in late afternoon. It's open until 7:30pm and 3 hrs is enough time to see it all - my poor husband was getting 'all tulip-ed out'.

As for time in Amsterdam - we had 5 nights but of our 4 full days, 3 of them we daytripped (Haarlem, Den Haag, Keukenhof), and our one full day it was raining off and on and we spent the afternoon at the Rijks. To explore Ams itself, 2 full days would probably suffice, depending on how many museums you may want to visit. I'd love to go back sometime for 3 nights and just spend that time exploring Ams proper without daytripping - I really feel like I didn't get to see any of Ams

Posted by
7196 posts

forget the alps since it sound like others were unlucky deciding to go in the spring when the weather sucks;
I am glad I went there during the summer.

Posted by
27744 posts

April is too early for bluebells in England.

April is too early or too late for Lauterbrunnen Valley, unless you find a place to stay down in the valley.

April is perfect for Tulip season in the Netherlands.

April may be good in Spain - I don't know but it sounds right - I've never been to Spain.

Posted by
5476 posts

Unless you like bargain airline travel conditions, I'd pick something closer than Switzerland - even if you delay the trip until more of Switzerland is open for business. (Note how important clear weather is for views from the top of mountains.)

You didn't make 100% clear whether you actually want to walk/bike on tulip production fields, or if your objective is the Keukenhof display. Note that tulip production fields can be seen FROM Keukenhof. I'm not saying that replaces a visit to the fields, more that someone pressed for time or low on personal mobility might be satisfied with the views. Keukenhof posts the following year's open days months in advance, not informed by post New Year's weather conditions. It is also fair to say that they replace plantings throughout their season. It's not fair to say that the place is brown and bedraggled the last week! It is fair to say that conditions would vary over many weeks of opening. But it is a highly cultivated public garden/amuseument park without rides - it is not a natural bulb field!

Although you didn't mention specific family interests (like gardens): Bluebells aside, you might consider delaying your trip a few weeks until other public gardens and special gardening events are ready for viewing. For example, Germany has a number of big and small Gartenschau events scattered around the country. Normandy and Brittany have many lovely smaller public gardens and estate gardens, but a car is needed.

You don't say if you plan to visit other parts of the Netherlands. We took eight days to drive from Venlo (that flower show was long ago) to Amsterdam. Belgium is also attractive, and often discussed on this newsboard. Are you aware that Amsterdam is good for several days, plus several days of very short train daytrips?

Edit: Most people going to Keukenhof might want to investigate whether they want to see the business-morning flower auctions at Alsmeer. But it's not "hands on", it's viewed from an industrial visitor's catwalk, above the action.

Posted by
2829 posts

5 days in April is usually a good bet for having at least 2 sunny-ish days. Shorter trips run the risk or running into a bout of rain that might make visiting flower fields less interesting with all the sticky mud around.

Posted by
1856 posts

We have visited the gardens in mid/late April, early May, and mid May and each time they were stunning. I don't recall ever seeing even a dozen fallen petals on the lawns or the beds. I'm honestly beginning to wonder whether crews slip out sundown to scour the grounds and replant in the middle of the night. Spring doesn't always read the calendar and some years it came quite late but we were never disappointed. We spend 4, 5 or more days in Amsterdam and head out for the gardens on the best weather day of the visit, regardless of what other plans were brewing. Consider King's Day as it can significantly impact planning your time. Have a wonderful visit to beautiful Amsterdam and the incredible Keukenhof.