Seeing the tulips blossom in Holland is a unique experience, which can only be enjoyed until mid-May when visitors can admire fields as far as the eye can see with millions of flowers grown to be shipped anywhere in the world.
The fields are neatly aligned by colour and cause a chromatic effect that only in this short period can be admired, with long flowery strips of the same bright colour flanked by as many stripes in contrasting hues. It is something that cannot be imagined, not least for the strong sensations that so many flowers offer to the eye.
The ideal way to enjoy it slowly is precisely by bicycle, taking advantage of the ubiquitous cycle paths and country roads without traffic in perfect harmony with the national spirit. If this is combined with the opportunity to stay and dine in specially-equipped boats, which are located at the end of each stage, the experience is even more relaxing and typical.
It takes only five days of navigation.
We start from Amsterdam and have dinner sailing to Zandaam, a charming old town where you can take an evening walk admiring yet another Dutch symbol, the windmills.
The programme of the second day includes the first ride with destination Haarlem, but first a worthy stop is that to the open-air museum of ZaanseSchans where an old Dutch village has been reproduced with lots of shops, including the one that still builds clogs as they were created centuries ago.
In Haarlem you can cycle among thousands of other bicycles to discover this medieval city featuring many easily-recognizable architectural details, paved streets, houses with pitched roofs, and some parts of the old walls with beautiful access gates to the city.
Another curious feature is the Hofjes, historic housing complexes built in the past for the less affluent around an interior garden not visible from the outside. Thanks to the skilful restoration, today they are coveted houses. There are many such buildings but they are well hidden behind small doors or unobtrusive entrances that, if open, offer the view of well-kept gardens and corners of pure relaxation.
The city of Oude Wetering is the next day’s destination yet the most popular stop is the Keukenhof flower garden, a true wonder that remains open only for two months (closes in mid-May). There are 32 hectares of colour and floral architecture in here, with flowerbeds crammed with flowers: over 7 million of tulips of 800 different varieties are planted here, but there are also many narcissuses and hyacinths in bloom. Moreover, elegant greenhouses furnished with great taste house more delicate flowers such as orchids and other floral curiosities.
On the fourth day we return to Amsterdam with a last ride of 35 km, in line with the distances of the previous days. This day can include a very early visit to Aalsmeer, the city where the most famous flower auction in the world is held.
And those who do not want to enjoy one last ride in the fields can set sail and quickly get to Amsterdam to visit the city and its canals by bike, just like a local.
Another idea is to enjoy art in the modern-looking Van Gogh Museum or in the more classical Rijksmuseum, both very close to each other.
GiroLibero is a Tour Operator exclusively dedicated to cycle tourism that offers this experience of total floral immersion, encompassing of every service. In addition to the collective tour with boat in tow, self-guided packages are available with detailed road books, and featuring free and individual departure dates.