Are you looking for the perfect day trip to a charming Dutch town near Amsterdam? I’ve got it! A Haarlem day trip!
This charming Dutch city is just a short train ride away from the hustle and bustle of Amsterdam. Haarlem boasts picturesque canals, historic architecture, and a vibrant cultural scene that makes it the perfect destination for a day trip. Whether you’re interested in exploring world-renowned museums, wandering through bustling markets, or simply soaking up the atmosphere in cozy cafes, Haarlem has something to offer everyone.
Use this helpful guide to plan your day trip to Haarlem. So, get ready for an unforgettable day exploring this delightful Dutch gem with these 15 things to do in Haarlem! (Updated for 2023)
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Is Haarlem Worth Visiting?
Absolutely! If you’re looking for a charming Dutch city with a unique atmosphere and plenty of attractions, Haarlem is definitely worth visiting.
Although it resembles Amsterdam with its picturesque canals, historic architecture, and cozy cafes, it has far fewer tourists. Haarlem exudes a warm and welcoming vibe that will charm you from the moment you arrive.
Whether you’re interested in exploring its world-renowned museums, wandering through its bustling markets, or simply taking a stroll through its quaint streets, it has it all!
Plus, Amsterdam to Haarlem is a quick train ride away. It’s the perfect size to explore in one day and on foot making it the perfect destination for a day trip. So, if you’re looking for a delightful Dutch adventure, Haarlem is not to be missed!
15 Things to Do on your Haarlem Day Trip
#1 Hang out in Grote Market
The Grote Markt is a bustling and historic square right in the heart of Haarlem.
It’s here where 10 streets converge and the hub of daily life takes place. From the market stalls selling flowers, fish, cheese, and bread. Watch locals crisscross through on foot or bike. And, where cafes and restaurants spill out their tables and chairs just waiting for the arrival of their customers.
This is the heart of Haarlem. It has a certain quintessential European charm and if you enjoy people-watching, this is the perfect spot to sit, observe and enjoy a drink or meal. Many of the iconic Golden Age Dutch artists captured this very square and all its activity.
#2 Visit St Bavo Church
Prepare to be awed by the stunning St. Bavo Church or simply called the Grote Kerk or Great Church. And, great church it is! This iconic Gothic cathedral is a true masterpiece of architecture, with soaring vaulted ceilings, intricate stained glass windows, and a magnificent organ that’s considered one of the finest in the world.
The church’s rich history dates back to the 14th century and it’s a true testament to the beauty and craftsmanship of the Dutch Golden Age. As you wander through the church, you’ll be surrounded by a sense of awe and wonder, as well as a tranquil atmosphere.
#3 Gaze upon the Haarlem Town Hall
The other historic building of interest that sits alongside the church on Grote Markt is the 14th-century Town Hall. The site of Haarlem’s City Hall actually dates back to the 1100s when a wooden building once stood on this site.
#4 Stroll the Charming Streets
Venture out from the market square by taking any one of the small winding streets. You will quickly discover the vast number of boutiques lining the streets full of unique specialty shops. Scattered throughout several streets you will find everything from antiques to small art galleries to big brands to local independent shops. Even for those non-shoppers, it is a great place to wander and no doubt something is bound to pique your interest.
#5 Go Shopping on de Gouden Straatjes Streets
For serious shoppers, be sure to check out the best-known streets of Grote Houtstraat, the Barteljorisstraat, and the Zijlstraat. As well as, the streets of Schagchelstraat, Kleine Houtstraat, Anegang, Warmoesstraat, Koningstraat and Gierstraat.
Locals call their shopping district de Gouden Straatjes or streets of gold. These notable streets have earned Haarlem as the Netherlands’ best shopping destination. Traveller’s tip: most shops don’t open until 11:00 or 12:00 pm.
#6 Discover the Hidden Courtyards in Haarlem
Another way to explore the city is to stroll through Haarlem’s hidden courtyard gardens, known as Hofjes. There are 21 of these Hofjes hidden gardens scattered around the town, some of them are marked on google maps, and others are a bit more secretive. All of them are concealed behind large townhomes and are tucked away behind unassuming doorways or unassuming alleyways. It may require a bit of curiosity and luck to stumble upon all of them. Of all the Haarlem places to visit make sure you seek out a couple of these.
Historically, these gardens were surrounded by charitable housing since the 17th century for poor, unmarried, or widowed women. Today, these quiet sanctuaries are open to the public and are considered the best Haarlem hidden gems. The oldest Hofjes in Haarlem dates back to 1395 and is a must-see site.
#7 Admire Art Nouveau Architecture of Teylers Museum
Lovers of architecture, especially Art Nouveau will want to come and admire the exterior of the Teylers Museum.
This stunning museum is a true masterpiece of Art Nouveau architecture, with its ornate detailing, grand staircases, and breathtaking natural light that illuminates the collections on display. As the oldest museum in the Netherlands, the Teylers is a testament to the country’s rich cultural heritage, housing collections of art, science, and natural history that are sure to delight and inspire. Whether you’re interested in ancient fossils, beautiful paintings, or the latest in cutting-edge science, the Teylers Museum has something for everyone.
Entrance ticket for Teylers Museum: Check Prices and Book your Dates
#8 Hangout in a Coffee Shop
You can’t miss the vibrant cafe culture that Haarlem has to offer. From cozy and quaint to modern and sleek, you’ll find a coffee shop to match your taste and style. And speaking of taste, if you’re looking for an authentic coffee experience, look no further than Native Coffee Shop.
This hipster spot serves up some of the best coffee in town, with a warm and inviting atmosphere that’s perfect for catching up with friends or getting some work done.
#9 Take a Haarlem Canal Tour
If you are looking to give your legs a rest but still want to see more of the city, take a guided tour by boat to see and hear about the local history and architecture. The Spaarne river winds itself through the heart of the city and into various canals, the oldest being the Bakenessergracht, the Singels, and the Nieuwe Gracht. It’s such a relaxing way to see some of the best Haarlem points of interest and get your bearings before setting off to explore more.
#10 Admire some Art
Art lovers, get ready to be blown away by the Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem!
This stunning museum is a true feast for the senses, with its vast collection of masterpieces by the legendary Dutch Golden Age painter, Frans Hals. Here you can admire his skillful brushwork, vivid colours, and lifelike portraits that capture the essence of 17th-century Dutch society.
But the museum is not just about Hals – you’ll also find works by other famous artists from the era, as well as exhibitions that showcase contemporary art and design.
This happens to be the oldest art museum in the Netherlands and offers visitors a second location called Hof, which means it’s two museums for the price of one.
#11 Visit a Windmill
Step back in time and experience the magic of Dutch history at the Windmill De Adriaan and its museum in Haarlem!
This iconic windmill is a true masterpiece of engineering, with its impressive sails and historic wooden structure that’s been lovingly preserved for over 250 years. As you explore the mill and its museum, you’ll be transported to a bygone era and learn about the fascinating history of windmills in the Netherlands, from their use in grinding grain to powering sawmills and more.
The museum is filled with interactive exhibits, models, and artifacts that bring the history of windmills to life, making it an educational and enjoyable experience for all ages. And with its stunning views of the river and the city, the Windmill De Adriaan is also the perfect spot for a picturesque photo-op!
Entrance ticket: Check prices and Book your dates for this unique experience!
#12 Enjoy a Beer at Jopenkerk
Beer lovers, rejoice! The Jopenkerk in Haarlem is the perfect destination for those looking to indulge in some delicious local brews in a unique and inviting setting.
This former church has been transformed into a lively and welcoming brewery, where you can sip on some of the finest beers in the region while admiring the stunning stained glass windows and vaulted ceilings. The Jopenkerk is also a great place to grab a bite to eat, with a menu that features a mix of traditional Dutch and modern cuisine.
So whether you’re looking to relax with friends over a pint, or simply soak up the charming atmosphere of this historic building, a visit to the Jopenkerk is a must on your trip to Haarlem.
#13 Cross the Gravestenenbrug Bridge
This historic bridge has been a part of the city since the 17th century, and it’s a true gem of Amsterdam’s canal system. As you stroll along the bridge, you’ll be transported back in time with its quaint, charming design and old-world feel. It’s the perfect spot to snap some photos and take in the stunning views of the canal, lined with traditional Dutch buildings. And if you’re looking for a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, you can sit on the bench and watch the boats go by. So why not add Gravestenenbrug bridge to your Amsterdam itinerary and experience the city’s rich history and beauty for yourself? You won’t regret it!
#14 Tour the Ten Boom House
History buffs will want to visit the Ten Boom House. This unassuming building hides a remarkable story of bravery and compassion during the darkest of times. During WWII, the Ten Boom family used their home to shelter and protect Jewish people from the Nazi regime, risking their lives to do what was right.
Today, the house has been turned into a museum, where you can learn about the family’s heroic efforts and explore the rooms where they lived and worked. From the hiding place in the attic to the humble kitchen, every inch of this house is a testament to the power of kindness and courage in the face of adversity. Much like visiting the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, this is a truly unforgettable experience that you won’t want to miss!
#15 Enjoy a Meal in Haarlem
Foodies will be delighted with the restaurant scene in Haarlem. From traditional Dutch cuisine to international flavours, you’ll find something to tantalize your taste buds in Haarlem.
And if you’re looking for a standout dining experience, I highly recommend Metzo. This trendy restaurant is known for its inventive dishes that combine classic flavours with modern twists, and its stylish decor and friendly staff create a warm and inviting atmosphere that’s perfect for a romantic dinner or a night out with friends.
How to Get to Haarlem from Amsterdam
Travelling by train is the fastest and easiest way to get from Haarlem to Amsterdam. From Amsterdam’s main train station, Amsterdam-Centraal to Haarlem (€4.70 in 2023) and you will arrive in Haarlem in 15 minutes. It’s that easy. As this is a popular route, trains to Haarlem operate pretty frequently.
9 Fun Facts about Haarlem Netherlands
- Haarlem is known as the “city of flowers” due to its annual flower parade, which takes place every spring.
- Harlem in New York City was named after Haarlem Netherlands.
- Haarlem was one of the most important cities during the Dutch Golden Age and was home to many famous artists, including Frans Hals and Jan Steen.
- The oldest museum in the Netherlands is the Teylers Museum, founded in 1778 in Haarlem.
- Haarlem was the first city in the Netherlands to have a pedestrian shopping street, the Grote Houtstraat.
- The world’s first modern printing press was invented in Haarlem in the 15th century by Laurens Janszoon Coster.
- Haarlem is located near the North Sea and has a popular beach, the Bloemendaal aan Zee, which attracts many visitors during the summer months.
- The city is home to one of the oldest still-functioning organs in the world, the Müller Organ in the Grote Kerk.
- Haarlem was once known for its textile industry, and the city’s coat of arms features a ship and a spindle to represent its trading history.
FAQ: Day Trip to Haarlem
How much time to spend in Haarlem Netherlands?
Spending a day in Haarlem Netherlands is enough time to see the city’s main sights like Grote Markt, Grote Kerk, find some Hofjes, stroll the streets, and visit a museum.
Is Haarlem better than Amsterdam?
Haarlem is a smaller version of Amsterdam with its canals, charming streets and interesting museums with far fewer tourists. Amsterdam has a larger variety to offer visitors.
What is Haarlem famous for?
Haarlem is famous for being the birthplace of Dutch Golden Age painting which makes a visit to the Frans Hals Museum one of the best things to do in Haarlem.
Day Trips from Amsterdam
If you enjoyed this day trip from Amsterdam to Haarlem then you might be interested in these as well.
- Utrecht – my guide to spending a day in this quintessential Dutch town
- Dutch Countryside – my guide to visiting typical Dutch villages of Volendam, Edam, Marken
- Keukenhof – Visit the world’s largest spring garden, and benefit from direct and easy travel from Amsterdam city center to Keukenhof Gardens. Bypass the lines and see the stunning flowers and floral displays at your own pace.
As a holidaymaker
Is Haarlem worth visiting? Oh, most definitely! With so many historical buildings, pretty streets, and sites with far fewer tourists, this city is a hidden gem, offering you that quintessential Dutch experience. From Amsterdam to Haarlem, this is a day trip worth adding to your list.