Tourist’s guide to Haarlem, Netherlands: the main attractions

Haarlem (Netherlands) is a Dutch town located 20 km from Amsterdam. This is a very beautiful and cozy place with many attractions, and, unlike the capital, there are not many tourists.

Haarlem, the Netherlands

General information

Haarlem is a city located in the northern part of the Netherlands on the Sparne River. It is the capital of North Holland. The population is about 156 thousand people.

This is one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands, the first information about which dates back to the X century. In the 1150s, a large village turned into a vibrant city. The name Harlem itself is derived from the words Haaro-heim or Harulahem, which literally translates as “a high sandy place where trees grow”. You can verify the name by looking at the photo of Haarlem.

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Attractions and entertainment

City plan in 1550

Over its centuries-old history, Haarlem survived many invasions (sieges of 1270, 1428, 1572-1573), severe fires of 1328, 1347 and 1351, the plague epidemic in 1381. The city is considered to be the 17th century as a golden age – the country began to grow economically , a large number of wealthy peasants appeared, art began to develop. And the 17th century in Holland is, first of all, the heyday of architecture. Most of today’s Haarlem attractions were erected at that time, and today in Haarlem, of course, there is something to see.

The Corrie ten Boom House Museum
Corrie Ten Boom Museum

Corrie Ten Boom is a Dutch writer who created an underground organization to save Jews in 1939-1945. In her house (today it is a museum), an underground bomb shelter was built, which housed 5-7 people. Throughout the war, Corrie Ten Boom and her family saved more than 800 people. The writer herself ended up in a concentration camp, and only by a miracle did she manage to survive. After her release, she served in the church and traveled the world. Died at the age of 90.

At the Corry Ten Boom Museum

In 1988, a museum was opened in her house, which today remains one of the most popular attractions in Haarlem. The main emphasis in the exposition is on what Corrie and her family had to go through. The whole apartment is a living witness to the horrors of World War II. One of the most valuable exhibits is the Bible of the Boom family.

  • Location: 19 Barteljorisstraat | North Holland, 2011 RA Haarlem, The Netherlands.
  • Opening hours: 9.00 – 18.00.
  • The cost of visiting: 2 euros.
Mill De Adriaan

De Adriaan Mill is a symbol of the Dutch Harlem. Alas, this is a reconstruction of the famous landmark, built back in the 18th century. By the way, it is named after Adrian de Boyce – the only person involved in the manufacture of cement in the Netherlands. The mill is located on the right bank of the Sparne River, and is visible from afar. Inside the museum you can see old mechanisms, as well as an exposition dedicated to the construction of the mill. There is also an observation deck for sightseeing, climbing up to which you can see Haarlem from a bird’s eye view.

Mill De Adriaan
  • Location: Papentorenvest 1a, 2011 AV, Haarlem, The Netherlands.
  • Opening hours: 9.00 – 17.00.
  • The cost of visiting: 4 euros.
Basilica of Saint Bavo (Cathedral of Saint Bavo)

St. Bavon’s Cathedral is the largest temple in the city, built in the 14th century. Named after St. Bavon – the patron saint of Haarlem. The church has a patterned vault, and the bell tower of the cathedral is visible from anywhere in the city. The landmark is famous for its four organs, which were once played by Handel, Mendelssohn and Mozart. Concerts are held here today. This place is worth visiting at least in order to feel the life of old Haarlem.

Basilica of Saint Bavo

As for Bavon himself, this is a saint who is worshiped throughout the Christian world. He is considered the patron saint of Haarlem, Ghent, as well as all of Belgium. In Western Europe there are many temples lit in his honor.

  • Location: Leidsevaart 146, 2014 HE Haarlem, The Netherlands.
  • Opening hours: 8.30 – 18.00 (Monday – Saturday), 9.00 – 18.00 (Sunday).
  • Admission: 4 euros for adults 1.50 – for students.
Catholic Cathedral of Saint Bavon (Sint-Bavokerk)

The Catholic Cathedral of St. Bavon in Haarlem is one of the most grandiose buildings in Holland. It was erected at the beginning of the 20th century, thanks to Bishop Gaspard Botteman. Today it is one of the most recognizable sights of the Dutch Harlem. There is a museum in the old sacristy where tourists can learn interesting facts about the Reformation movement in Europe and better understand the history of Christianity.

Catholic Cathedral of Saint Bavon
  • Location: Grote Markt 22, 2011 RD Haarlem, Netherlands (Centrum)
  • Opening hours: 8.30 – 18.00 (Monday – Saturday), 9.00 – 18.00 (Sunday)
  • Admission: 4 Euro for adults 1.50 – for students
Central Square (Grote Markt)
Haarlem Central Square

Grote Markt is the main square of Haarlem, on which is located the Cathedral of St. Bavon, many cafes, shops and other attractions. The buildings are decorated with flowers, and in the evenings locals and tourists like to walk here. Every day until 15.00 there is a small market where farmers sell cheese, vegetables and bakery products. Also, tourists have a unique opportunity to buy the famous Dutch herring here. Music never ceases on the square, and the seductive smells of food will surely make you look into one of the restaurants.

Many tourists note that the central (or Market) square of Haarlem is very similar to the streets of some German cities – it is also spacious and crowded here.

Location: Grote Markt, Haarlem, Netherlands.

Teylers Museum

The Taylor Museum is the oldest in the Netherlands, opened back in 1778, with the aim of educating the local population. Moreover, this is the first museum in the world, which is located in a preserved building of the 18th century with a unique interior.

Taylor Museum, Haarlem

In the museum you can see unique exhibits: paintings by famous artists (Michelangelo, Raphael, Rembrandt), coins of various eras, unusual fossils mined in the Netherlands, as well as the library of the early 19th century, which still houses magazines and books of the time.

By the way, the attraction is named after its founder, a Dutch-Scottish merchant by the name of Taylor. It was he who began to collect works of art, which he later bequeathed to the city, with the goal of developing religion and science. He also funded the Taylor Foundation and the Center for Research and Education.

Paintings at the Taylor Museum
  • Location: Spaarne 16 | Haarlem, 2011 CH Haarlem, The Netherlands.
  • Opening hours: 10.00 – 17.00 (Tuesday – Saturday), 12.00 – 17.00 (Sunday), Monday – day off.
  • Admission: € 12.50 for adults and 2 for children.
Frans Hals Museum
Painting at the Frans Hals Museum

The Frans Hals Museum is an art museum created in 1862 in Harlem, the Netherlands. The exhibition presents the most famous paintings of Holland artists of the Golden Age. Most canvases are religious and historical. The attraction is named after the main restorer and the famous Dutch portrait painter Frans Hals.

The first attempts to create such a museum were made back in the 16th century. At first, the paintings were stored in the city hall, which actually became a museum. However, over the years, the collection increased, and the Dutch authorities were forced to look for new premises. Their choice fell on the popularly known “House of the Old Ones”. It was here that until 1862, lonely residents of Haarlem spent their last years of life in peace and comfort.

Frans Hals Museum
  • Location of Attractions: Groot Heiligland 62, 2011 ES Haarlem, Netherlands.
  • Opening hours: 11.00 – 17.00 (Tuesday – Saturday), 12.00 – 17.00 (Sunday), Monday – day off.
  • Admission: EUR 12.50 for adults, free for children.

Holidays in Haarlem

Room at the three-star Ambassador City Center Hotel
Ambassador City Center Hotel

Haarlem (Holland) is a small city, but there are no problems with hotels. The cheapest room in a 3 * hotel for two will cost $ 80 (breakfast is already included here) per day. To rent an apartment or apartments will be much cheaper – there are many offers from 15 euros per room and from 25 euros for the whole apartment (apartment or country house). Haarlem is a fairly “compact” city, so all the hotels are close to attractions.

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Lunch at The Golden Bull Steakhouse
Steakhouse the golden bull

There are many cafes and restaurants in the city, but the prices are quite high. For example:

  • the average bill in an inexpensive restaurant is 30 euros for a dinner for two;
  • dinner for two in a middle-class restaurant will cost 60 € on average;
  • combo set at McDonald’s costs 7.50 €;
  • a glass of local beer 0.5l – 5 €;
  • a cup of cappuccino – 2.5 €.

It is clear that cooking yourself is much more profitable. For example, 1 kg of apples or tomatoes will cost 1.72 €, 1 liter of milk will cost 0.96 €, and 1 kg of potatoes – 1.27 €. The cheapest products can be found in chain stores Albert Heijn, Jumbo, Dirk van den Broek, ALDI and Lidl.

How to get to Haarlem

Haarlem (Netherlands) is located 23 km from Amsterdam, so getting to the town is quite easy.

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From Schiphol Airport
Bus 300 from Schiphol Airport

You must take bus number 300. The fare is 5 euros. Travel time is 40-50 minutes. It goes every 20 minutes.

If for some reason the bus option is not suitable, pay attention to train travel. First you need to get to the station Amsterdam Sloterdijk, and then transfer to the train going towards Haarlem. Cost – 6.10 euros. Travel time is about 35 minutes.

The most convenient way to get from the airport to Haarlem is by taxi. The cost is 45 euros.

From Amsterdam
Amsterdam Centraal Station

In order to come from Amsterdam to Haarlem, you need to take the Intercity or Sprinter train (they run every 15-20 minutes from 06.00 a.m. to 02.00 a.m. in the center of Amsterdam at the Amsterdam Centraal station). The fare is 4.30 euros.

If you plan to travel a lot by train, you should consider buying an Amsterdam & Region Travel Ticket card, with which you can travel on any route for free. The cost of a ticket for 2 days is 26 euros.

Prices on the page are for June 2018.

Haarlem (Netherlands) is a wonderful city for leisurely walks and exploring historical sites.

Video: 35 interesting facts about life in the Netherlands.

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