The history of Lisse is closely related and similar to the neighboring towns of Hillegom and Sassenheim. Based on a document from 1198 which makes official mention of the town's name, Lisse celebrated its 800-year anniversary in 1998, although there is an indication that there was already a settlement there in the 10th century.
In the Middle Ages, Lisse was a small settlement; there were only 50 houses in 1500. Because of prolonged warfare (particularly the wars of Charles the Bold and the Eighty Years' War), poverty was prevalent. Its population lived from agriculture, animal husbandry, and peat harvesting.
In the 17th and 18th centuries, Lisse was, like Hillegom, home to many estates of rich merchants and nobility. The forests and gardens of the Keukenhof, Meerenburg, Wildlust, Zandvliet, Overduin en Akervoorde, Wassergeest, Grotenhof, Ter Specke, Dubbelhoven, Rosendaal, Veenenburg en Berkhout, Middelburg, Ter Beek, and Uytermeer estates all added to the town's beauty and glory.
Yet in the following centuries, every one of these estates (except Keukenhof) was removed to make way for the cultivation of bulb flowers. The sandy soil in Lisse's surroundings were highly suitable for its growth provided the soil was fertilized. The nearby dunes were excavated and forests cut down progressively over time for more fields for the flower business. This brought employment and prosperity to this area.
In the 20th century, the bulb flower business continued to boom, resulting in the establishment of auction and trading houses, large-scale cultivators and cooperatives. Today, Lisse exports bulbflowers in large quantities to over a hundred countries worldwide.
Located at the centre of the "Dune and Bulb Region" (Duin- en Bollenstreek), Holland's flower-growing region, Lisse is also a major tourist attraction. During the spring when the fields around Lisse are in a colourful bloom, hundreds of thousands of local and foreign tourists visit the area. Ironically, the only remaining estate that was not removed for flower cultivation (Keukenhof) became world-famous for its flower displays.
The most popular attraction in Lisse is Keukenhof, open only during spring when the tulips are flowering. Also each spring a flower parade called the Bollenstreek Bloemencorso is held through the main streets of Lisse. In August the fantasy festival Castlefest is held in the gardens of Castle Keukenhof.
Other places of interest are the museums:
Lisse is the home of FC Lisse, a football team currently playing in the Zaterdag Topklasse. On May 3, 2008 FC Lisse sealed the championship of the 2007/2008 season in the Hoofdklasse A.