I'm planning to visit the tulip fields in April 2015. I'm interested in day bus trips from Haarlem or other towns in the area. All I find are day trips to Keukenhof Gardens. I want to go there, but want to experience fields of blooms. I've read about biking, but this is not an option for me. Are there public bus routes that I could use just to view the countryside?
Not to ignore your request, Keukenhof is surrounded by commercial bulb fields, so you can get a taste from the perimeter of the park, on some small hills. Be sure to check the "forecast" after you actually get there, since seasonal variability makes it impossible to say in advance whether a given week is a "good one".
Haarlem is a pretty small town compared with Amsterdam, Leiden, Den Haag, Rotterdam. etc. I would have thought that tours would be by the big operators in the big cities or from Schiphol Airport.
Many of the tulip fields are to the south of Haarlem, much nearer to Leiden, but they are towards the sea and away from the main highways.
You can actually see quite a lot from the windows of the trains between Den Haag and Haarlem via Leiden, and the added benefit of many large windmills too.
I have seen tour buses in the lanes around the tulip fields but since I don't use tour buses haven't given it much of a look. There may be local buses such as those servicing Noordwijk but I have not looked to see the actual routes.
I would have thought that except in very exceptional years such as 2 years ago most of April will be pretty good in most areas.
We were in the area in April, 2013. We stayed in Leiden and had a car, so we were able to drive around the fields. However, we saw more fields in bloom on the direct route from Leiden to Keukenhof than anywhere else we drove. Wherever we drove, we often saw bus stops. Besides bikes, people do use the buses.
We did not do this, but when the Keukenhof website really opens up, and maybe before in other ways, you might be able to find out about the boat tours they do on canals among some of the bulb fields.
If your timing is right, you can be there for the big Bloemencorso (Flower Parade) -- http://bloemencorso-bollenstreek.nl/en/. The English link is from this year's parade. From the Dutch version, it looks like it will happen on 25 April 2015. This year's brochure (http://bloemencorso-bollenstreek.nl/media/10032/BCB2014-publieksfolder-web.pdf) shows the route. I must admit, I'm a nut for the parade. Even when there are not many tulips blooming, like the 2 times I've seen it, I love seeing it and the scent of the floats (lots of hyacinths) as they pass is absolutely intoxicating.
In the meantme, here are some links that show public bus routes that would be fun to take IMO.
This one goes from Schiphol to Keukenhof: http://www.touristbuddy.nl/858_lisse-keukenhof.php
My husband often take public transportation as a way to see what's in the area without some formal tour. I noodled around with Rome2Rio and found these options. Note that you can click on the $ in the upper right hand corner and switch to EUR.
From Haarlem to Leiden: http://www.rome2rio.com/s/Haarlem/Leiden.
From Leiden to Lisse: http://www.rome2rio.com/s/Leiden/Lisse.
From Lisse back to Haarlem: http://www.rome2rio.com/s/Lisse/Haarlem.
We enjoyed staying in Leiden. It's a college town. In fact, King Willem went to school there. Leiden has a great windmill museum, Molen de Valk -- http://molendevalk.leiden.nl/en/visit-de-valk/.
You can't go wrong staying in either town and there are lots of places to stay. We stayed at the Huys van Leyden (http://www.huysvanleyden.nl/eng/home-english.html) in Leiden.
Thanks for the information on Blomencorso! I am planning a bike trip through the Netherlands and Belgium that time of the year and that looks like an awesome thing to add in. I would like to be somewhat spontaneous otherwise in where I travel but think I should probably book my accomadations for this chunk of the route since hotels will probably be sold out. Do you have any recomendations on where to watch the parade? Would you recomend staying outside the parade route, then biking in? Do the towns get overrun?