Amsterdam in Spring: 9 Things to Do in the City and Beyond
If you’re moving to Amsterdam in spring, or moving to the Netherlands in general in late March to late June, there’s lots to keep you outdoors and feeling flower-powered. From sniffing the tulips at Keukenhof, to discovering the best places to explore by bike, to poking around a Goden Age castle, here’s our list of spring inspiration - or should that be, Springsperation?
Visit Keukenhof Gardens to see the tulips in bloom
From giant clogs, to authentic herring-sellers, to more tulips than you’d ever be able to count, Keukenhof has it all. In fact, moving to Amsterdam in spring and not coming to Keukenhof would be a crime.
There’s so much to do in the world’s biggest flower garden, spread over 32 hectares. The garden showcases not only tulips, but also daffodils, crocuses, hyacinths, lilies-of-the-valley, bluebells, snowdrops, and irises, and there’s even an entire marquee dedicated to orchids.
Top 6 things to do at Keukenhof Gardens:
Take pictures: Keukenhof is an amazing places for taking great pictures, especially for macro photography. There are also lots of designated “photo stops” set up around the place to point you on your way.
Take a ‘whisper’ boat tour: Thanks to their electrically powered and silent whisper boat, you can sail in peace and quiet along the water, taking in the endless Dutch flower fields around Keukenhof.
Rent a bike: You can’t cycle in Keukenhof itself. But you can rent a bike and cycle along the flower fields around Keukenhof. This is great introduction to what lies beyond Amsterdam in spring. Look out for the special animals made from tulips, which make an appearance in the fields every year.
Visit one of the special Keukenhof events: There are numerous events and flower shows to attend in various pavilions throughout the season. Sign up for Facebook, Instagram and a free Tulip Festival newsletter to stay informed.
Visit the Keukenhof Castle: Keukenhof Garden is part of the Keukenhof Castle estate, and this impressive country house dates from the Dutch Golden Age. Take a tour, be wowed by the Golden Age collections and enjoy a variety of special events held in the castle grounds. The gardens and parks are open all year.
Climb the windmill: The windmill that casts its quaint shadow over Keukenhof is one of the most photographed windmills in the entire Netherlands. You can meet the miller, and climb up and see the sails from all angles. The windmill can only be visited with a Keukenhof ticket.
Keukenhof is open from March 23 until May 14 2023. 8 AM - 7:30 PM every day. Grab your Keukenhof tickets before it’s too late.
2. Rent a bike and explore the countryside
Amsterdam in spring is the best time to get out on two wheels and explore. Renting a bike is an excellent way to experience the Netherlands' - unusually flat - landscapes and get to grips with its cycle-friendly infrastructure.
Most cities and towns in the Netherlands have bike rental shops, also known as "fietsverhuur" in Dutch. You can usually find them near train stations or in city centers. Some popular bike rental companies include MacBike, Swapfiets, and Black Bikes.
You can also book your bike online through websites like BimBimBikes or Bike Rental Netherlands. This allows you to reserve your bike in advance and pick it up at a designated location.
Top 5 places to cycle beyond Amsterdam in spring:
Waterland: Located north of Amsterdam, Waterland is known for its picturesque villages, green meadows and waterways. Cycle through historic towns like Volendam, Marken, and Edam, and chill out in the serene countryside.
Kinderdijk: A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Kinderdijk is famous for its 19 beautifully-preserved windmills. The area has several cycling routes that let you feast your eyes on the windmills and the surrounding polder landscape.
The Flower Route (Bollenstreek): This route takes you through colorful fields of tulips, hyacinths, and daffodils, particularly during the spring months. You can also visit the famous Keukenhof Gardens in Lisse (see below for more).
Zeeland: This coastal province offers stunning views of the North Sea, expansive beaches and charming villages. Cycle through the Delta Works, an impressive system of dams and storm surge barriers, and explore the twee towns of Middelburg and Veere.
Limburg: The hilly region of Limburg, in the southern Netherlands, is known for its rolling landscapes, vineyards (yes! Vineyards!), and castles. Popular cycling routes include the Mergellandroute and the Heuvellandroute, which take you on breezy rides through small villages and cow-filled, scenic countryside.
3. Take a boat tour of the canals in Amsterdam
There’s no better way to see a blooming, bustling Amsterdam in spring than by boarding a boat, and cruising along those infamous canals. You’ll see bridges, historic buildings and busy local life in action, all while learning more about the city, usually from a live guide or an audio guide.
There are loads of canal cruise options, some at day, some at night, some with food and drink options, and some with other experiences combined. Check out a list of Amsterdam canal cruise tickets and choose what’s right for you.
4. Visit the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam
Visiting the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam is a must for anyone interested in art, history, and culture.
The Rijksmuseum is the largest museum in the Netherlands, boasting a huge collection of art and historical artifacts. Moving to Amsterdam means this is your best intro to Dutch art. Get up close to Rembrandt's "The Night Watch," Vermeer's "The Milkmaid," and numerous works by Frans Hals and Jan Steen. There’s a focus on the Dutch Golden Age, and a wide range of exhibits, from sculptures and decorative arts to Asian art and Dutch maritime history. Even the Cuypers-designed building is a stunning example of Dutch Gothic and Renaissance architecture.
Van Gogh Museum:
The Van Gogh Museum is dedicated to the life and work of Vincent van Gogh, one of the most famous and influential painters in the history of Western art. See over 200 paintings, 500 drawings, and 700 letters, plus famous works like "The Potato Eaters," "Sunflowers," and "Almond Blossom." Get an in-depth look at the artist’s life, and see works by artists who influenced Van Gogh or were influenced by him, such as Paul Gauguin, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and Émile Bernard.
5. Go to the beach in Scheveningen
Grab your bucket and spade and get sand in your cracks at Scheveningen beach. This popular spot, just fifteen minutes from the historic city of The Hague is a long, wide, sandy beach with a pier and a lighthouse. Some call it the Blackpool of The Netherlands. Some, who have never been to Blackpool, might call it a fun spring day out.
There are lots of restaurants, cafes and shops along this beach, as well as a casino and a theater, so you’re never short of things to amuse the family with here.
If you don’t feel like lying on a beach towel, you can also rent beach chairs and umbrellas, and if you’re the type who can’t sit still for long, you can always try surfing, kiteboarding, and beach volleyball.
TOP TIP: The lighthouse makes a great place to sit and watch the sunset on a warm spring day.
Spend a day in the Hoge Veluwe National Park
The Hoge Veluwe National Park is a Dutch national park, loved by locals and visitors, deer, cattle and wild boar! If you’re moving to the Netherlands in spring, there’s no better place to come to appreciate the trees in bloom, and you’ll barely be able to move for the dog-walkers and daffodils.
In fact, with roughly 55 kms to explore in the Veluwe, you’ll find scented heathlands, sand dunes, flower-scattered woodlands, and even a museum. The Kröller-Müller Museum boasts an impressive collection of paintings by Vincent van Gogh and other artists, as well as a sculpture garden. You can also pay a visit the Jachthuis Sint Hubertus, a hunting lodge designed by the famous Dutch architect, Hendrik Petrus Berlage.
There are loads of other things to do in the park, such as cycling, hiking, and even horse-riding. Bring a picnic and stay all day!
The Hoge Veluwe National Park is located in the province of Gelderland near Ede, Wageningen, Arnhem and Apeldoorn. It’s easy to reach by car, or even by train.
Go to the King’s Day celebrations on April 27th
King’s Day is a national holiday in the Netherlands, celebrated on 27th April (26th April if the 27th is a Sunday) to mark the birth of King Willem-Alexander. If you’re moving to Amsterdam around this time, there’s no better introduction to the real Dutch culture!
Amsterdam is by far the most popular city to head to, if you want to celebrate King’s Day in style. Over a million visitors come to the city on this day to hang out, dress up in orange, and drink beer. Often by mid-afternoon, you can’t move through the main streets, but head out early and check out the jumble sales and stalls. It’s permitted to sell your own unwanted items on the streets on Kings’ Day, and you can always pick up a bargain.
No public transport, cars, or taxis are allowed in the city on Kings’ Day, so a bike or a boat are your best friend. Other cities such as Eindhoven, Utrecht and The Hague also host a number of different activities and festivities, so check your local Facebook groups for inspiration.
Visit the Kinderdijk windmills
If you’re moving to Amsterrdam in Spring, or anywhere in the Netherlands for that matter, you can’t go without a mooch around a windmill! The Kinderdijk windmills are a group of 19 windmills, spinning their days away in the village of Kinderdijk. They were built in the 18th century to drain the Alblasserwaard polder, a low-lying area surrounded by rivers, and they’re now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It makes for a fun day out for the family, as there’s quite a lot to do besides take selfies by the windmills! You can board a tour boat, step inside the museum mills, and discover the personal stories of the millers who lived and worked here.
The windmills are open from 12:00 to 16:00 every day.
Go to the Bloemencorso (Flower Parade) Bollenstreek
The Bloemencorso, or Flower Parade of the Bollenstreek is a pretty spectacular sight to see, especially for first-time visitors. This annual parade of flower floats and vehicles decorated with flowers is part of the Tulip Festival and throws a focus on the most important spring flowers - hyacinths, daffodils and tulips.
The parade rides its 40 km long route from Noordwijk to Haarlem, passing through Teylingen, Lisse, Hillegom, Bennebroek, and Heemstede, so if you pitch up in any of these places, you’ll catch it. You might even smell it before you see it.
The Flower Parade in the Bollenstreek consists of some twenty floats and more than thirty wagons, all richly decorated with flowers. It’s preceded by a festive promotional caravan, so expect music, dancing, the delicious smell of food stalls along the route, and loads of great photo opportunities.
The parade starts early in the morning and arrives in Haarlem in the evening. In 2023, it will take place on Saturday April 22nd.
Spring festivals in The Netherlands for your diary
If you’re new in town and looking to expand your sightseeing adventures beyond Amsterdam in Sping, you might want to add these dates to your diary.
What? A cultural buffet of music, opera, theatre, film, and dance held in Amsterdam, Den Haag, Rotterdam, and Utrecht.
When? May 29 to June 23
What? The most beautiful spring garden in the world!
When? March 23 to May 14, 23.
What? A parade of floats decorated with flowers held in the Bollenstreek region.
What? A national holiday celebrating the King’s birthday.
When? April 27
There’s so much do in Amsterdam in spring, you’ll need until summer to do it all. Don’t forget to pack a jacket, sunscreen and umbrella. Whatever solid plans you make, the Dutch weather will usually have other ideas. Happy spring, everyone.