Tulips are one of the Netherlands’ most signature symbols and are very, very beautiful. They are celebrated across the city of Amsterdam and beyond, often appearing on or as souvenirs, particularly at the floating flower market.
The Dutch really love flowers, particularly their infamous tulip and its not uncommon to see locals walking around with bunches to gift or take home to display.
The presence of tulips in the Netherlands and the love for flowers that the Dutch have goes far back in history. The floating flower market in the city is a top tourist attraction and should be on your itinerary.
This blog post will take you through the history of the Dutch tulip, all of the details about the iconic Floating Flower Market in Amsterdam and give you some top tips for shopping for souvenirs.
Why is Amsterdam so Famous for Tulips?
Tulips are certainly not native to the Netherlands so how could it be that the country became so well-known for them?
Tulips are famously associated with the Netherlands due to a historical event known as the “Tulip Mania” that occurred in the 17th century. Tulip bulbs were seen as being a very high cost item and the prices skyrocketed and slumped throughout the decades.
Tulips were introduced to the Netherlands in the late 16th century, and their cultivation and trade grew significantly. During the Dutch Golden Age, the tulip market exploded and there was such a high demand for the flowers.
The country had huge stocks of rare and exotic tulip bulbs which reached amazingly high prices. Tulips began to become status symbols – something for the rich, who exploited the rarer species of tulips.
People from all social classes were drawn into the whirlwind of tulip trading and invested huge amounts of money in a bid to make a quick profit.
However, by 1637, the tulip market crashed dramatically, resulting in a financial crisis for many involved in the trade. The crash was one of the first recorded in any type of trade and had huge impacts for the poorer traders.
The tulip craze was over and many countries lost interest in them. However, the Netherlands stayed strong with the flowers becoming a symbol of the country, important to the country’s culture and agricultural industries.
Today, tulips are closely associated with Dutch culture and are often linked to the country’s vibrant springtime landscapes. The Keukenhof Gardens, located in Lisse, Netherlands, is one of the world’s most famous destinations for viewing tulips in full bloom. Book your visit here.
if you want to see the beautiful tulips as they grow in the environment then visiting a tulip field would fit great into a week-long itinerary but would equally fit great if you have less time in Amsterdam.
If you want to visit tulips while they grow in the fields and get some amazing Instagram photos then you’ll need to do so in the spring months – mid-April is best as that is when they are blooming.
The Netherlands also remains a major producer and exporter of tulip bulbs and other flower varieties, contributing to its global reputation as a hub of horticultural expertise.
So in summary, tulips are so popular in the Netherlands as they pushed so hard with them in markets centuries ago to make them a luxury item. They exploited buyers looking for exotic plants that they could grow in colder areas and when all other countries abandoned their love for the flower, the Dutch stood by it.
The Floating Flower Market
After strolling around the city, going to main attractions like the Anne Frank House, Van Gogh Museum, Heineken Experience or taking a stroll through the Red Light District, many visitors just wander aimlessly around the city and often eventually bump into the flower market or ‘Bloemenmarkt’ as the locals call it.
You may also pass the flower market on an Amsterdam canal cruise and wonder what it is.
However, if you don’t want to just wait and stumble across the floating flower market then you can find it on the Singel Canal.
The market is made up of dozens of barges, built up into stalls, which float on the canal. The stalls resemble glass greenhouses, with entrances on the street side. They are inhabited by many different vendors – but all of them have one thing in common – flowers!
The market is full of souvenirs to take back home such as bulbs, flower cuttings, garden decorations and other cute objects.
Some tour guides may tell you that the flower market is a rip off…which it is. If you’re actually looking to buy tulip bulbs or cuttings of flowers then the prices are very inflated. If you’re insistent on buying from the market make sure to check all the stalls for the best price as the majority are selling the same items.
The vendors, while knowledgeable are very concentrated on making their profits and so they will often invest in lower quality stock and they can’t really tell you much on what conditions to plant each species. You also don’t want to be caught out without a certificate to confirm that you are allowed to take your bulbs to your home country.
The Floating Flower Market is far better for other souvenirs. The fridge magnets, bottle openers and your other standard souvenirs are far cheaper at the market than in gift shops.
I picked up a lovely magnet for 2.50 euros and other shops were looking for at least 4. I also brought home a lovely windmill decoration for my garden that was very cheap at just 3 euros.
Where Should I Buy Tulips to Take Home?
So, if I’m suggesting you avoid the flower market for buying flowers and bulbs, then where should you go?
Tulip bulbs to grow in your own garden are the perfect souvenirs to take back home with you, particularly if you get your hands on some that will come back year after year.
The best place to buy tulip bulbs is definitely the Amsterdam Tulip Museum. The selection is just endless and there is so much information on the bags that allow you to see exactly where they came from, what they’ll look like and how to plant them.
They are much cheaper than the flower market – particularly if you get enough bags to qualify for a deal. When I visited it was 3 bags of 10-20 bulbs for just 14 euros. They were also individually priced as cheaper than what I saw at the market.
If you’re from the UK or Europe then it’s good to know that you can grab any bag of tulip bulbs that you’d like. All of them are allowed through border control to be planted in pots or straight into the ground.
If you’re from the US or Canada then your options are slightly more limited and you have to get a certificate from behind the counter that gives information and confirmation that they are safe to take into the country.
The staff at the tulip museum are so helpful though and would love to give you a hand. The cashier that checked me out was able to tell me the exact growing instructions for my bulbs when I told her I lived in the UK.
The amount of facts and figures that they have memorised is insane and shows how much they love the Dutch tulip market.
But of course, the Amsterdam Tulip Museum is not just a souvenir shop, you should also pay to get into their exhibit. It takes you through the history of tulips and shows you how new species have been formed over the years.
Conclusion: Floating Flower Market
As soon as you touch down in Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport you’ll be greeted with stands upon stands of wooden tulips and other souvenirs. The Netherlands is as obsessed with tulips as they are about stroopwafels.
Their love dates back centuries and is still so strong. Amsterdam celebrates the flowers and tourists absolutely love to take advantage of the craze.
The Bloemenmarkt, located on the Singel Canal is a popular tourist location and is great for buying smaller souvenirs – but remember, if you’re planning on buying bulbs you’ll be better doing so at the Tulip Museum.
If you ever find yourself with a few spare hours in the city and want to dip into the world of tulips, take a trip to the floating flower market and the Amsterdam Tulip Museum and get yourself some beautiful flowers to take home.