Haarlem – a beautiful Dutch city a bit off the beaten track

Every time you hear about a trip to The Netherlands, the names of cities like Amsterdam and Rotterdam first come to mind. But there is another town, not as famous as those just mentioned, but definitely worth a visit – Haarlem. The city of Haarlem has two very big advantages – it lies very close to Amsterdam and it is very close to the beaches of Bloemendaal and Zandvoort. The town itself is also very interesting, with many places to visit: a gorgeous cathedral, interesting shops, historical buildings, windmills and the infamous Dutch canals. Whether you want to wonder the city’s streets, take a bike ride to the nearby beaches, walk around the town’s beautiful park, or take a cruise around the canals – you name it Haarlem has it.

Dutch Windmill on the canals in Haarlem

Few minutes train ride from Amsterdam

Haarlem is very easy to reach from Schiphol airport or from Amsterdam – by train and by bus. Bus line 300 takes you directly from Schiphol airport to the central bus and train station of Haarlem. The bus ride is around an hour long and costs about 5 EUR per person. You can reach the city also from Amsterdam Central Station; the train ride is much shorter, about 20 – 25 minutes. You can visit Haarlem for a day if you are staying in Amsterdam or even better – you can book a hotel in Haarlem and dedicate more time to this wonderful town.

The streets of Haarlem

Wondering the streets of Haarlem

Haarlem has the feel of a typical Dutch city. The central streets are lined with the typical Dutch houses; cafes, restaurants or shops usually occupy the ground floors. The beautiful cathedral, St. Bavo Church, is the centerpiece of the town’s square. It also has a museum.

Haarlem Cathedral

Every Saturday there is a market on the town’s square. You can buy homemade pastries, typical Dutch sweets, cheese, the infamous herring, flowers, etc. Saturday markets, which are held on the central squares of most Dutch towns, are a very pleasant way to be acquainted with the Dutch foods and feel like a local. The building of the Haarlem philharmonics is situated next to the cathedral. It is a very beautiful building.

Haarlem Philharmonic

The building of Haarlem’s central train station is also very beautiful and is worth a visit. Unfortunately, as in most Dutch cities nowadays, you cannot enter the building if you do not have a train ticket.

Haarlem Central Train Station

Canal cruise or a bike ride along the shores of the Northern sea

Haarlem, as most Dutch cities, can be seen from a boat. You can book a canal cruise and look around the city from the water.

Canal Cruise in Haarlem

If you want to visit the gorgeous beaches, there are two ways to do it. A bus (line 81) goes from the central station to the beaches of Bloemendaal and then to Zandvoort. You can also rent a bike from the Central Station and feel like a local, because, as you probably already know, this is the most Dutch way to move from one place to another. Picturesque bike lanes go from the city to the beaches. Go shopping, go for a walk, have a beer or a tea. Enjoy your stay in Haarlem in your own way.

Lidiya Aleksandrova

I come from Bulgaria, a small but beautiful country in Eastern Europe and I am a travel addict. I am 38 years old. My hobbies include traveling and photography. I am good at foreign languages. I know perfect English, some Spanish and Russian, a little Italian and I am studying Dutch at the moment. I am a huge trance music fan and a lot of my travels abroad are associated with that. I love cats.