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The (not so) rough guide to the Netherlands

Where do I need to go to enjoy the Dutch spring and to see those famous fields of tulips in bloom?

The (not so) rough guide to the Netherlands

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How to seek out the classic and quintessential heart of a destination

Where do I need to go to enjoy the Dutch spring and to see those famous fields of tulips in bloom?

Many of the Netherlands’ flower fields are stretched across a narrow strip of the country running more or less parallel with the North Sea dunes, between the cities of Leiden, near The Hague, and Den Helder at the tip of the North Holland peninsula.

A great starting point is the small town of Lisse. If you walk or, even better, cycle between here and neighbouring Hillegom, you’ll very soon happen upon field after field of daffodils, hyacinths and, of course, the Netherlands’ famous tulips. Catch them in full bloom and it’s a dazzling spectacle, as the flowers line up for inspection in ruler-straight strips of red, yellow, pink, lilac and lavender, with the occasional windmill on the horizon — the scenery really couldn’t be more typically Dutch.

Lisse is also home to Keukenhof, the world’s largest floral garden, in which more than seven million of the Netherlands’ healthiest looking specimens are creatively displayed around 80 acres of beautifully landscaped parkland. Keukenhof is open for two months every spring (20 March-18 May 2014).

Beyond the main Bulb Region, there are other isolated pockets of equally striking flower fields, such as the Noordoostpolder, to the north east of Amsterdam, which offers up perhaps the densest concentration of tulip fields anywhere in the country and is home to an annual tulip festival (16 April-4 May 2014).

Flower fields: When to go

The bulb fields bloom from the end of March until the middle of May, although this can be affected by unseasonal frosts. The tulips are at their most striking from mid-April until the first week of May.