While planning our Belgium trip, we knew we wanted to plan a day trip to the Netherlands to see the tulips. Since we planned our trip for the first week of May, we knew our visit would fall at the end of tulip season. While some of the fields had already been clipped, I was still overwhelmed by how beautiful the rows of tulips are in person! The tulip fields in Holland are even more beautiful in person and should be on everyone’s travel bucket list.
We decided that the best way to get to the tulips from Brussels was by car. I’m so glad we did because I love driving in a new country, and by driving I mean sitting in the passenger seat taking in the views while Todd drives. I loved all of the green and the windmills dotting the countryside as we drove to Lisse. We rented our car through Sixt, a European car rental company, and we had a great experience. We picked up our car at Central Station and had no problems dropping it off at their parking garage later that evening. They also provided us with a carseat for Theo. We opted to pay the fee to avoid having to gas up at the end of the day because driving around the streets of Brussels can be overwhelming and we never saw a gas station the entire time we were there!
We made a rookie mistake and forgot to write down our address so our GPS took us to an airport! Fortunately we pulled over and asked a nice Dutchman for directions. He pulled up the address for us and handed us his phone so we could put it into our GPS. There are so many wonderful people in this world! Once we had the correct address for Keukenhof, we made it there no problem.
I had read that there are tulip fields around Keukenhof, the popular tulip gardens, and that there is a bike rental shop in the parking lot. Parking is 6euro, but worth it to have your car in a safe, well monitored parking lot. Plus, we parked right next to the bike rental. The employees were super nice and helped us get our baby seat strapped down properly and outlined the different routes we could take to see the most tulips. Naturally we got lost, but what better place to get lost?! We brought our own bike helmet for Theo. It was a pain to pack, but if you want your child to wear a helmet, you’ll need to bring your own.
This was hands down the best day of our trip! I’ll never forget turning a corner on the bike trail and seeing this beautiful field of hot pink tulips! I kept saying, “This is what heaven looks like!”. It was so beautiful. We even found a little playground for Theo. At first Theo didn’t want to get off the bikes, then he was starving, cold and cranky, then he fell asleep and Todd had to constantly reach back to lift his head. Traveling with toddlers, it’s always an emotional roller coaster.
By the time we stopped for lunch we were STARVING. We ate at Het Tussen Station, a little train station converted into a restaurant that’s on one of the biking routes. When we asked our server what to eat, she told us we had to try the croquettes and they did not disappoint! Theo loved watching the trains roll by out the window.
After more riding around, we decided not to go into the gardens since it was almost closing time and we didn’t want to pay the admission fee. After we dropped off our bikes, we drove to Leiden. I wish we would have had time to walk around, but Theo was DONE at this point. So we just did a loop around the town and drove back. I would like to go back someday, I have a newfound obsession with quaint Dutch towns!
We hadn’t planned on going to Amsterdam, but once we arrived in Brussels, we impulsively decided that it was worth a trip since we were so close! It’s about a two hour train ride from Brussels, so we woke up early and arrived in Amsterdam midmorning.
Anne Frank House in Amsterdam
I really wanted to do the Anne Frank House, but again with Theo that just wasn’t an option. The line was already down the street. Instead, we walked along the canals, visited the flower market, and ate our weight in stroopwafels. I was surprised by how many food carts were selling burgers and hot dogs. We were also surprised by all of the cheese shops, I had no idea cheese was so big in Amsterdam. We stopped in for hot chocolate and lunch in a small bakery. We also had an early dinner at a restaurant in Dam Square called Pluk. They make delicious apple pie and fresh sandwiches. We loved sitting upstairs, though Todd hit his head going down the tiny staircase. The employees were kind enough to watch our stroller downstairs while we ate.
We also spent time in Vondelpark letting Theo run around and play. They have bike rentals, but we were worried about leaving our stroller. The “I Amsterdam” sign is near the park, but we totally missed it! I recommend grabbing food on your way to the park and having a picnic because the food in the park is not good.
Our day in Amsterdam was spent wandering around getting lost along the canals and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Well, I would have liked to rent bikes and ditch the stroller! The crowds and narrow sidewalks make it tough for strollers. Thank goodness we brought our Graco jogging stroller, we were up and down the side walks and somehow Theo still managed to take a couple of naps.
I would love to go back to Holland and spend more time in the countryside. I would definitely go back for the tulips in mid April to see all of the fields completely full of tulips. I would also love to see the windmills at Kinderdijk.
I’m so glad we planned this part of our trip, it really felt like a dream seeing the tulips and spending time in Amsterdam. We’ve had a picture from Ikea hanging on our wall of a red bike along a canal in Amsterdam. Naturally I tried to replicate the picture because we have stared at it our entire marriage promising that we would go there someday! Five years later and we made our dream come true!