Things to do in Haarlem
If you want to experience a quintessentially Dutch break away from the crowds, then Haarlem is the perfect destination for you. Under an hours’ drive from Rotterdam, the city is renowned for its relaxed village vibe.
The heart of Haarlem is a largely car-free zone, and while packed with hundreds of traditional bars, shops and market stalls, it maintains a residential feel which makes it a favourite weekend break for locals.
Whether you’re planning a day trip from Amsterdam or a whole week away, you’ll never run out of things to do in Haarlem.
Explore historical Haarlem
Standing tall in the centre of Haarlem since the 16th century, the Grote Kerk is one of the city’s most iconic sights, and houses the Muller organ that was played by both Handel and Mozart. Further south, across the canal, head to the expansive Cathedral of Saint Bavo and enjoy a musical performance surrounded by bright stained glass and ornate towers.
You’ll also be able to spot the hidden hofjes throughout the city centre – these beautiful courtyards were built at the centre of former almshouses built to provide housing for elderly residents since the Middle Ages.
Shopping in Haarlem
Considered the premier shopping destination in the Netherlands by many, you’ll find hundreds of high street brands and independent sellers rubbing shoulders along Haarlem’s quiet streets.
The Grote Markt is a must-stop for its huge outdoor market every Saturday, where you can pick up freshly baked goods, tulips, beer and other specialities from local vendors. Just a few minutes’ walk away, De Gouden Straatjes (the golden streets) is a plentiful jumble of unique boutiques that can take hours to trawl through. Kleine Houtstraat is a particular favourite for cosy cafes and unusual gifts to take home.
Museums in Haarlem
Despite its relatively small size, Haarlem is home to several museums – including the country’s oldest. Teylers Museum was first opened to the public in 1784, as a “temple for the muses of the arts and sciences”. The stunning building is reason alone to visit, but you’ll also find yourself surrounded by the works of Michelangelo, Raphael and Rembrandt, as well as temporary exhibits featuring the likes of Leonardo Da Vinci.
The other must-see collection in Haarlem is the Frans Hals museum, a large gallery of art from Dutch masters of the Golden Age, including plenty of portraits by Hals himself, one of the city’s most beloved former residents.
Enjoy a traditional Dutch holiday in Haarlem
Ah, fresh stroopwafel, winding waterways, towering windmills and a pint of cold beer – nothing says holiday quite like a traditional Dutch break.
For the ultimate relaxing break, take a boat trip down the canal and enjoy the sights while you kick back in style. If you’re feeling active, hire a bicycle (or bring your own) and head down the dune-lined route to the nearby coastline for seaside exploits and the catch of the day.
End your trip by watching the sun set behind the Molen De Adriaan windmill, a mainstay in Haarlem since the 18th century – though the current structure is a reconstruction of the original that burnt down in 1932. Guided tours allow you to climb inside and enjoy the view across the city’s rooftops.
Ready to experience these fantastic things to do in Haarlem? Take a look at our crossings from Hull to Rotterdam today!
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