So there we were, in Holland and cruising down little back roads in our Toyota Prius with all five of our noses practically smooshed against the windows, and our eyes as wide as frisbees. We were there for one thing, and one thing only: we were hunting tulips in the Netherlands.
As soon as we pulled onto Goeree-Overflakkee, a small island off the west coast of the Netherlands, I turned the radio down low, and relayed our instructions one more time: Everyone was to keep their eyes peeled for flashes of pink, red, or yellow, aka: fields of tulips.
Whoever spotted a color would shout out, “OVER THERE,” and the car would practically steer itself in the direction of the vast field filled with rows and rows of colorful flowers.
This is what dreams are made of.
We had no plans when we arrived on Goeree-Overflakkee. In fact, we didn’t even know if the tulips were still in season. We simply meandered our way around until we spotted a field, then we’d bask in its beautiful flowers, and move on to the next field.
In total, we saw at least a dozen fields, and we didn’t even cover the entire island. We’d stop at some of them, and other times we’d just drive by and gawk at the beauty before us.
FINDING TULIPS IN THE NETHERLANDS
Here’s everything you need to know about finding these fields and what to expect.
Don’t be a Jerk
First and foremost: If you choose to go tulip hunting “off the grid” in the Netherlands, please, please, please, keep in mind that you are an unannounced guest, and those fields are not your playground.
Don’t got traipsing through the actual fields—stay on the paths/rows already created. And whatever you do: do not pick the flowers. Unless you physically speak with the one who sowed the seeds, and they look you in the eye and ask you to pick some, just don’t do it.
The sign says, “Enjoy the tulips. Respect the crops. Don’t walk through the field. Don’t pick tulips.”
When to Visit
Seeing tulips in the Netherlands is not a year-round event.
They bloom seasonally, typically in April and/or May, depending on the weather that year, and this year was supposedly a late bloom.
We saw these fields the first weekend in May 2021, and I had a feeling they were on their last leg before getting chopped down. There were several tractors in the fields, which made me nervous that they were already cutting them down.
If I can figure out a great way to tell when they’re in bloom, I’ll update this post. It would be horrible to make the trip out there only to discover you’re too early or too late.
Where to See Tulips in the Netherlands
If you’re looking to go off the beaten path to see tulips in the Netherlands, Goeree-Overflakkee is the place to be. This island in South Holland is pretty small and easy to navigate around; you can get from one side to the other in 20 minutes.
We only managed to see about half the island before everyone pooped out, but next year we 100% plan on staying on Goeree-Overflakkee so we can explore more.
How to Get There
The best way to see tulips in the Netherlands is by car. You have so much more freedom to come and go as you please. Tulip hunting at its finest!
We plugged in Goeree-Overflakkee into our GPS and then literally just drove around.
Geilenkirchen NATO Air Base/JFC Brunssum: about 2 hours
Spangdahlem Air Base: about 4 hours
Amsterdam: about an hour and a half
What to Wear
I know almost every photo you see on instagram are of girls wearing pretty dresses in a field of tulips, but keep in mind that you’re in a field and it gets windy! So, if you’re going to wear a dress, I highly suggest it’s a long dress or one that isn’t too flowy, if you catch my drift.
Keep colors in mind, too. The fields are bright and colorful, so a busy print may just get lost in the simplicity of the fields, and there’s also a lot more green than I expected (the stems and leaves can be quite long and large)!
You’re also in a field, so I wouldn’t wear your favorite pair of sandals. If it rained a night or two before it may be muddy in places!
Where to Eat
We packed some sandwiches with us, since we weren’t sure about the food situation (traveling during Covid times leaves a lot less spontaneity while traveling).
Thankfully, we found the perfect spot just by driving around. In “normal” times, the restaurant (Paviljoen Sluishaven) is open, but there is also a fantastic park/playground at the same location. To find it, put this in your GPS: Mariadijk 2, 3257 LK Ooltgensplaat, Netherlands.
BONUS: the playground has (free) bathroom!
Have you Seen Tulips in the Netherlands?
I’d love to hear about your experience if you’ve gone off the beaten path to see these gorgeous tulips before. I know the famous Keukenhof is further north, and we hope to visit that next year, but if you’re looking to go tulip hunting “off the grid,” give this place a try!