Haarlem is a terrific place to visit for the day or weekend. Hop on the train from Amsterdam for the day or plan a longer visit. There is plenty to do! Here are some ideas for things to do in Haarlem.
1. Visit a Museum
Haarlem is home to two well-known museums, the Frans Hals museum and the Teylers museum. The Teylers Museum is the oldest in the Netherlands and has an interesting combination of artworks and science artifacts such as fossils and gemstones. The building is stunning and a visit here is a must for science nerds. The Frans Hals Museum houses paintings by Dutch masters.
2. Hofje Wandering
A fun way to see Haarlem’s side streets and cute neighborhoods is to visit a few of the city’s historic hofjes. These special structures were originally built to house older single women and widows, whether previous brewery employees or nuns. You can get a map of the hofjes from the Haarlem City Marketing office and plan your own route. Note some of them are closed on Sundays for the privacy of the residents.
3. Molen De Adriaan
The large Adriaan windmill sits on the bank of the river Spaarne. You can see the mill from the opposite side of the river or visit it and have a guided tour of the structure. If you have never visited a windmill before it is definitely worth a trip.
4. Beer Tasting
Beer brewing was historically a very important industry in Haarlem. In 1620 the city numbered about one hundred breweries. Today, the well-known Jopenkerk is a terrific pilgrimage for the beer lover. They brew their own beers in the renovated church and other facilities in the area. Be sure to sample the Ongelovige Thomas. Nearby you’ll find Het Uiltje beer bar with around 30 types of local and international microbrews on tap including their own beers. They also serve super tasty pizza from the Back to Basics restaurant across the road.
5. Go Hiking
West of Haarlem is Zuid-Kennemerland National Park, a lovely place to go for a walk, horseback ride or bicycle ride. You can also go swimming at the beach at Bloemendaal. Hop on a bus from Haarlem to take you there in a jiffy or rent a bike and pedal there yourself!
6. Sint Bavo Kerk
Also known as the Grote Kerk, Sint Bavo Church sits on Haarlem’s central square. For a small fee you can visit the church and see the famous organ that was played by Händel and Mozart. Be sure to look out for the bats that live in the church, it is a treat to see them flying overhead.
Getting to Haarlem & Getting Around
Haarlem is easy to reach by train or bus from Amsterdam and many other Dutch cities. Haarlem train station is lovely and is one of the oldest in the Netherlands. The train trip from Amsterdam takes less than 20 minutes.
Haarlem is a small town and it is easy to walk from sight to sight. However you can also rent a bicycle at many shops near the station or hop on the local buses to get you around the city.