Travel: Amsterdam's Flower Parade

The world's largest bulb flower park puts on a show starting April 16.

If flowers were a religion, then Keukenhof just outside of Amsterdam would be the Sistine Chapel. It’s the largest bulb flower park in the world, covering 79 acres and featuring 4.5 million tulips in 100 varieties. On April 16, the annual blossoming is marked by the Flower Parade, a 40-kilometre trek from Noordwijk to Haarlem, passing Keukenhof in the afternoon and complemented by related events and exhibits around Amsterdam. So while some folks flock here for a different kind of bud, maybe it’s time to experience the real ‘Dam thing.

Cafe Tabac
This charming cafe on the corner of the Prinsengracht and the Brouwersgracht is considered by many to be one of the most photogenic spots in the city. 101 Brouwersgracht

Canal cruises
The waterways of Amsterdam are the city’s arteries and one of the best ways to see sights. The network of 17th-century canals was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2010. Check out the 100 Highlights Cruise located just in front of Centraal Station.

FloraHolland Aalsmeer
Flowers are big business. You think 2008 was bad for mortgages? Read up on the tulip mania crash of 1637. This is the biggest flower trade-centre in the world, where 125,000 auction transactions happen every day, adding up to more than 12 billion cut flowers and over half a million plants a year. Legmeerdijk 313 Aalsmeer

Ajax Amsterdam
The Dutch revolutionized soccer in the 1960s, and the legendary Ajax team was where it all began. If the team’s not in town, take a guided tour of the home for one of Europe’s most storied soccer clubs. Arena Boulevard 29, Amsterdam Zuidoost

Visit one of Europe’s premier art museums, even if only to stand before Rembrandt’s masterpiece, The Night Watch. The Rijksmuseum is under renovation until 2013, but offers a “best of” collection for visitors to enjoy in the meantime. Jan Luijkenstraat 1

Van Gogh Museum
As part of this year’s Keukenhof celebrations, the museum unveils a flower-themed exhibition called Blossoms, featuring a selection of the artist’s flower and tree paintings. Paulus Potterstraat 7

House of Bols
Take a boozy history lesson about one of Holland’s oldest liquor brands, established in 1575, and be sure to try the Dutch liqueur Genever. Paulus Potterstraat 14