The Flower Route is a journey that takes you from the northern town of Haarlem, right through the rainbow fields of the Netherlands
to the flower capital of Naalwijk, where the country makes its horticultural profit. As you follow this floral-infused
road trip, you'll find yourself driving along the west coast, past beautiful beaches, and through stunning parks and
gardens that fill the country with colour. From the artwork featured in Haarlem's Frans Hals Museum, to Lisse's famous
Keukenhof gardens, you'll be blown away by the natural beauty that brightens up this fascinating country during spring.
Explore the colour of Keukenhof
A city in the north of the country, Haarlem is a popular place for fans of the Netherlands' springtime flower bloom. Not
only is it dotted with blossoming crocuses, tulips and daffodils, it's also home to the Frans Hals Museum, a place of
floral themed artwork.
Throughout the year, flowers can be found throughout the museum, whether in the decorative tiles and wallpaper, or in the
vast artistic collections. Two key artists to look out for are Judith Leyster, a female artist who explored the 17th
Century Tulip Mania (a time when tulip bulbs cost the equivalent of their weight in gold) and Kees Verwey, a Dutch painter
who produced depictions of flowers, using heavy, thick brush strokes.
During spring, you can enjoy the museum's Flower Mania, a time when the master florist, Paul Wijkmeijer, puts together amazing
bouquets, and displays them throughout the museum. Rooms and corridors are brightened up with pops of colour and filled
with floral scents, which complement the paintings.
Frans Hals Museum's flowers
After exploring the floral artwork of Haarlem, head south along the N208 highway to Lisse, a town that's home to the world's
second largest flower garden, Keukenhof. With over seven million bulbs planted, and 800 different varieties of tulips
to see, Keukenhof is a hub of natural beauty and wonder.
Every year, the organisers of the Keukenhof park put together a breathtaking array of different garden themes, flower shows
and activities for visitors to be a part of. From romantic gardens featuring pastel-coloured flowers and summerhouses,
to a garden designed especially for the local bees and butterflies to inhabit, the park always surprises and wows.
On top of the captivating gardens, Keukenhof also presents a number of flower shows inside the park's many pavilions. The
Orange Nassau Pavilion hosts a different lecture on flowers every week, so whether you're a fan of tulips or roses, you
can pick and choose which one to attend. If you're a bigger fan of tulips, you can admire over 75,000 in 600 varieties
inside the Willem-Alexander Pavilion, which is also home to the largest lily show in Europe. Plus, you can learn all
about the cultivation of tulips, and how they came to the Netherlands, in the Julian Pavilion Tulipmania Exhibition.
Finally, if you have a taste for the exotic, explore the inside of the Beatrix Pavilion, where orchids, anthuriums and
bromelias are showcased.
On top of the flowers, there are plenty of activities to keep your kids occupied during your visit. Head over to the park's
petting zoo, where you and your family can stroke lambs, baby goats and pot-bellied pigs, or take part in the Keukenhof
scavenger hunt, where your kids will get to learn more about the flowers as they search for hidden treasure.
Once you've explored every corner of Lisse's Keukenhof park, continue your journey south along the N208 and take the A44
highway to Leiden. The Journey between Haarlem, Lisse and Leiden is said to be the best for spotting the fields of flowers
during spring, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled, and your car windows open, to let the floral scent in.
Located in the city centre, and on the Leiden University grounds, is the Hortus Botanicus, the oldest botanical garden in
the Netherlands. Once used as a medicinal herb garden in 1594, the garden is now host to over 10,000 botanical species
from around the world, including South-East Asia, South Africa and Southern Europe. From sitting and admiring the dozens
of birds that inhabit the park, to exploring the Japanese Garden and wandering through kid-friendly exhibitions on exotic
plants, there's so much to see and do.
Finish your time in the botanical garden by enjoying a coffee and snack in the Grand Café Clusius, a wonderful spot that
sells local and organic delights your family will love.
Conclude your journey along the Flower Route, and take the A4 south and turn west onto the N222 towards Naaldwijk, a bustling
town situated at the Flower Route's most southerly point. On top of being home to plenty of beautiful flora, Naaldwijk
is also the greenhouse horticultural economic hub, and is one of the main locations for the country's flower auctions,
which are run by Flora Holland. The town is a leader in the flower industry, and traders from around the world come to
the country to bid on some of the rarest and most captivating species of flowers. It often means big money too, with
the annual turnover said to be around $5 billion.
If you can't be a part of the auction, be sure to explore the town's local florists, or gardens, that are rich with colour
and vibrancy during the spring months.
Rare and exotic flowers
Getting there and around
The Flower Route through the Netherlands is one of the most picturesque drives in Europe, taking you through some of the
country's most idyllic spots. Feeling inspired? With
Eurotunnel Le Shuttle it only takes 35-minutes
to cross the Channel, so you'll be on your way to Haarlem in no time at all.
Book your journey