Exploring Holland: Visiting the West-Frisian tulip fields

It’s tulip season! Seeing pictures of all the lovely flower fields in Holland in my Instagram feed made me realize that I should hurry up if I wanted to enjoy them myself. This weekend was probably one of the last weekends before the tulips get topped, so my husband Titus and I went to West-Frisia to cycle around the tulip farms.

Itinerary: Hoorn-Medemblik-Hoorn

A colleague who is from the area suggested we take the historic steam tram from Hoorn to Medemblik and take our bike along so we could cycle back along the flower fields. Titus loves trains, so it was not hard to convince him!

Historic Steam Tram Hoorn-Medemblik
Historic Steam Tram Hoorn-Medemblik

The train ride takes a little over an hour and goes through the suburbs of Hoorn first before arriving in the farmland of West-Frisia. As the train comes closer to Medemblik, we start seeing flower fields popping up left and right. You can stand outside: just be careful not to get covered in soot if you’re in the first carriage behind the puffing locomotive!

Upon arrival in Medemblik, which is on the IJsselmeer (lake), we quickly hop on our bikes because there are tons of mosquitos so close to the water. We cycle around the town a bit, visit the castle and then settle on a terrace for lunch. After lunch we leave town to go back in the direction of Hoorn. We don’t know exactly what we will find along the way, but Titus is a great navigator with the help of Google Maps, so we are confident we will find our way. The municipality of Medemblik consists of many tiny villages. After crossing the first few, we stumble upon the first tulip farm.

Tulip bulb farm Medemblik
Dutch tulip fields in Medemblik, West-Frisia

Bulb Farming 

The core business of these farms is to grow bulbs, so when the tulip has grown out, the top of the flower is cut off so the bulb can grow stronger. This means that all of these beautiful fields are just a ‘by-product’ of the bulb production. Kind of crazy, but true!

After taking some time to have a look at the yellow, white and red tulips at the first farm we encountered, we slowly move on. The weather is exceptional: excellent for cycling! Along the way we see a few more fields, but we can clearly tell the season is almost over for the fields to be blooming. We saw several topped fields already, or machines waiting to get to business and take off the colorful heads of the tulips. Good thing we went out to explore when we did!

Tulips in Medemblik
Tulips!

West-Frisia

West-Frisia is a pretty quiet area with only a few bigger towns. Most villages are just a few streets big and have one church and perhaps one café. Since the area borders the IJsselmeer lake, it is a good place to try fresh fish that is caught locally. One specialty is smoked eel. We didn’t see a smoker on the streets, only a fish shop, so did not try it. We’ll have to come back for that sometime. There are many mills in the region and a lot of recreational areas, particularly suitable for family vacations.

We had a very relaxing day in the countryside, soaking up the fresh floral air and enjoying the sunny weather!  

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