From the maze of bridges and canals to the colorful, almost gingerbread-like houses and the ever-present aroma of cheese wafting through the air, Amsterdam is quirky, laid-back, and undeniably irresistible. I had always thought spring in Amsterdam sounded absolutely idyllic, and two years ago we visited over Easter. Although we weren’t in the city long, it’s one that continues to stay at the forefront of my mind, beckoning me back.
With Easter 2019 on the horizon, I thought I’d put together a guide to the top spring experiences in and around Amsterdam.
If you’re lucky enough to be near Amsterdam during the eight weeks each year that this phenomenal garden is open, do yourself a favor and allot an entire day to walk amongst the 7 million flowers that are planted there annually. Located in Lisse, just a 20-minute bus ride from the Amsterdam airport, Keukenhof is known as the Garden of Europe, containing 800 varieties of tulips spread amongst 32 hectares of manicured gardens. We visited on Easter day, spending five hours soaking in the beauty and taking thousands of pictures. The striped fields of tulips that stretch as far as the eye can see are completely gorgeous, and the landscaped gardens are truly spectacular. Hundreds of gardeners plant bulbs in delicate patterns from giant tulip shapes to rivers that wind through the scenery. Gorgeous ponds complete the landscape, and pavilions offer displays of ornate and fanciful flowers. Keukenhof is an absolute must-include on any spring itinerary. I want to go back so badly, in fact, that I took a quick break from writing this paragraph to look up flights!
Combination entrance and bus ticket from Amsterdam Schiphol is €25 or €30 from Amsterdam per adult.
Zaanse Schans Windmill Village
Visiting this charming village is like taking a step back in time—when windmills produced some of your essentials. A visit to Zaanse Schans gives you an idea of what it was like to live in the region in the 18th and 19th centuries. Windmills here helped produce products like linseed oil, paint, mustard, and paper. There’s also a very cool functioning sawmill. Nearly a million people visit Zaanse Schans each year, making it one of the Netherlands’ biggest attractions. This outdoor village complete with museums, gift shops, and six gorgeous windmills is included on lots of tours—we took this one with Viator—or it’s an easy drive or train ride from Amsterdam. If you can, I’d recommend visiting on your own, because we didn’t have nearly enough time.
Entrance fees apply for certain attractions visited.
What could be more idyllic than floating down the picturesque canals that connect the city, passing houseboat after charming houseboat? It’s a memorable way to take in the city that’s been called the Venice of the North, spending a leisurely hour exploring the UNESCO protected canal ring. We bought a ticket on a hop-on hop-off boat tour, but there are many to choose from offering all types of experiences from family-friendly to intimate and romantic.
Cheese and Tulip Museums
No visit to Amsterdam is complete without visiting the Cheese Museum, located in Jordaan, just across from the Anne Frank House. For 600 years, the Dutch have been making cheeses that are recognized the world over, including Gouda and our new favorite, Edam. The cheese wheels outside beckon you in, and the promise of delicious samples of creamy cheese keep you there for a bit. Admission is free.
The Tulip Museum just down the street provides a look at the long, rich tradition of growing tulips in the Netherlands. The museum itself has a €5 entrance fee, but the gift shop is extensive and worth a browse. After falling in love with tulips in Keukenhof, we wanted to take some home with us, and picked up some tulip bulbs that were pre-packaged with paperwork to get them through U.S. customs.
Visit Attractions and Save
There are so many other attractions to visit, including the Anne Frank House (for which you should purchase tickets weeks in advance), the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum. We could have easily spent five more days exploring the major sites of Amsterdam. If you have the time to make it worthwhile, purchase the I amsterdam City Card, providing access to popular museums, the zoo, cruises, public transportation, and more. It’s a great way to experience all the attractions for less.
Where to Stay
We rented an Airbnb in the heart of the Jordaan district, an absolute picture-perfect location known for its gorgeous architecture, excellent shopping, exquisite food, and local attractions. The street names are flowers and plants in this area, named after the French word Jardin, meaning garden. Some say the area is named after the Jordan River because many Jews fled to Amsterdam, like Anne Frank’s family—whose home is located in this district. Getting around Jordaan is quite easy. It’s extremely walkable, and even better if you have a bike! Ubers are readily available, providing easy access to the rest of the city.