Things to see and do in Haarlem
Haarlem is a relaxed, historic, pretty city only 20kms from Amsterdam (15 minutes by train), the capital of North Holland province and adjacent to large and attractive coastal sand dunes around Bloemendaal. The city dates from the 10th century; the origin of its name is a pretty fair description of it’s location, ‘a sandy, high place covered with trees’.
Haarlem has been the focus of Netherlands’ tulip bulb growing industry for many years which is why it’s Dutch nickname is ‘Flower City’.
Sailing though the city on Haarlem’s River Spaarne. Photo by Frank Schwichtenberg.
Haarlem has a well-preserved historic centre including the gothic Grote Kerk church (see below), a 14th century city hall and a main square which hosts a lively market. A cluster of fine museums offer brain as well as eye candy. Top of the pile is Teyler’s, the oldest museum in the country with an eclectic mass of displays set in an authentic 18th century building; Frans Hals Museum specialises in Dutch Golden Age paintings; the History Museum depicts Haarlem’s past; Ten Boom Museum does guided tours of this house where Jews on the run from Nazis hid until the operation was discovered in 1944. Entry free.
The Cathedral of Saint Bavo on the Leiden canal. Photo by Ludvig14.
Completed in 1930 and officially Haarlem’s boss Catholic institution this cathedral has practically the same name as the previous Protestant cathedral; don’t confuse it with the more touristy and interesting St Bavokerk in Haarlem’s Market Square, see below.