10 Best Things to Do in Haarlem

Best things to do in Haarlem

One of my favourite cities to wander around is Haarlem in the Netherlands. The relaxed chilled vibe gives Haarlem a villagey feel even though it is a city. Only 15 minutes by train from Amsterdam, Haarlem has cobbled streets to stroll down, gabled houses to admire, museums to visit, and delicious food to try and is one of the best day trips from Amsterdam.

Pick up an I Amsterdam City Card to get discounts on entrance into many of the museums and attractions as well as discounts on public transport. It can be ordered for 24 hour up to 120 hour durations.

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10 things to do in Haarlem

Grote Kerk: St Bavokerk

Visit Grote Kerk, one of the things to do in Haarlem
Groete Kerk in Haarlem

Standing in the centre of Haarlem is the imposing gothic Grote Kerk – also known as the St. Bavokerk – with it towering 75-metre high spire. The church is built in the shape of a cross 140 metres in length and dates back to the 15th century when building began.

The Müller Organ was built in 1738 and has 3 manuals, 68 stops, and 5,000 pipes. The largest pipe is 40 centimetres in diameter and 10 metres long. The organ is considered to be one of the finest in the world for decoration and tone and it was played on by a young Mozart.

The interior is walls are beautifully decorated with many items dating from the Reformation including the lectern and choir. The wooden ceiling is exquisite and there are many stained windows. The gravestones of Frans Hals and many other lunimaries of Haarlem are in the church.

Address: De Grote Kerk, Grote Markt 22, 2011 RD Haarlem

Grote Markt

In front of the Grote Kerk is the beautiful Grote Markt square. Lined on all sides by bars and restaurants; stop for a coffee, lunch, dinner or drink and watch the world go by. When it is cold out, most have fabulous heaters and blankets to keep you warm, and parasols to keep you cool in the summer.

On Saturdays the square turns into a market place filled with stalls selling delicious produce. Choose from meats, freshly baked breads, cheeses, bright plump fruit and vegetables, all manner of Dutch and international delicacies.

At the lower end of the market are the flower and plant stalls. There are flowers of every hue and colour, all fresh and waiting to be taken home.

Pink Roses in the market in Haarlem
Orange Tulips in the market in Haarlem
Lilac Roses in the market in Haarlem

Frans Hals Museum

Frans Hal Museum
Frans Hals Museum

Dutch Painter, Frans Hals’ paintings from the Dutch Golden Age are celebrated in the Frans Hals Museum. Hals was born in Antwerp, but came to Haarlem when he was a small boy. He lived the rest of his life in the city and he is buried in the Grote Kerk.

The museum is divided between two locations; The Hof in Groot Heiligland and the Hal in the Grote Markt.

The Hof was once a home for old men, where they could live out their lives in peace. In 1908, the buildings were acquired by the municipality and were used for exhibiting the municipal art collection. Parts of the building were demolished and rebuilt and in May 1913, the Frans Hals Museum was opened to the public.

The Hof houses the world’s largest collection of Frans Hals’ work along with works from the Haarlem Academy of painters which he established. As you walk through the many rooms the paintings are artfully placed alongside artefacts, furniture and sculpture.

Regents of the St Elizabeth Hospital of Haarlem 1641
Regents of the St Elizabeth Hospital of Haarlem 1641

Address: Frans Hals Museum – Hof, Groot Heiligland 62, 2011 ES Haarlem

Teylers Museum

Teylers Museum
Inside one of the Teylers Museum galleries

Teylers Museum is the oldest in the Netherlands dating back to 1784. The art and science museum sits facing out over the Spaarne river and inside you will find the extensive collection of scientific objects, paintings and drawings including items by Michelangelo and Raphael as well as many of the Dutch Romantics. There are also fossils, minerals and scientific instruments and books.

The museum is free to get into with your I Amsterdam City Card if you book in advance.

Address: Spaarne 16, Haarlem

Corrie Ten Boom Museum

The unprepossessing door to the Corrie Ten Boom Museum
The Corrie Ten Boom Museum

A black understated door in Barteljorisstraat leads you into The Corrie Ten Boom Museum. The museum traces the history of the Ten Boom family over three generations from 1837 to 1945, a living memorial. This devout Christian family fostered the children of missionaries and devoted their lives to serving Haarlem’s religious community and general people.

During the Second World War, Corrie Ten Boom and her family showed great courage and determination and hid Jews, fugitives, and members of the Dutch underground from the Nazis. With other families in the area, they saved over 800 lives. Sadly the family was reported to the Nazis and by the end of the war, most of the family had died. Corrie Ten Boom was one of the survivors.

After the war, Corrie Ten Boom wrote a bestselling book – The Hiding Place – which details the dangers the family faced in helping and providing a safe hiding place for the refugees. She went on to travel the world spreading God’s love before her death in 1983 at the age of 91.

In 1988 the Corrie Ten Boom Museum was opened where visitors are guided through the house by volunteers. There is no charge for individual visitors, but there is a blessing box for contributions. Groups of 10 or more need to be prebooked.

Address: Centrum, 2002 CE Haarlem

Have a beer tour in de Jopenkerk

Housed in a former church, de Jopenkerk is now renovated and is home to a microbrewery, restaurant and grand-café. It is open for lunch and dinner and of course, drinks. Try one of the famous Jopen beers while you eat or take a tour around the brewery.

Address: Gedempte Voldersgracht 2, Haarlem

de Adriaan Windmill

De Adriann Windmill Haarlem
The de Adriaan Windmill in Haarlem

If you would like to see inside a windmill, head to the Molen de Adriaan. The windmill is within walking distance of the centre along the Spaarne River.

It is worth paying for a guided tour of the windmill which will give you detailed information about the history and workings of windmill. There are models and interactive installations to explore. Try to get out onto the windmill’s deck for stunning views over Haarlem.

There is a souvenir shop and coffee area to sit while waiting for your tour or afterwards. Please note that there are some steep stairs to climb.

Address: Papentorenverst 1A, Haarlem

Take a canal trip on the Spaarne River

Canal trip in Haarlem

For a relaxing tour around Haarlem, take to the waters with an organised cruise on the River Spaarne. With a guided tour, you get to hear about the history, art and architecture of the Haarlem, in the comfort of the boat.

There are several different cruise companies including Haarlem Canal Tours, Smidtje Cruises which has a hop-on, hop-off ticket or De Waterkoets.

Go electric on a Greenjoy boat

Take out a Greenjoy Electric boat
A relaxing way to see Haarlem from the water on a Greenjoy Electric Boat

To see Haarlem from the water at your own pace, hire an electric boat from Greenjoy. Available for up to 8 people, you can take your lunch aboard and meander around the waterways and be eco-friendly at the same time.

Greenjoy provides online booking and you activate the boat with your phone. They provide suggested routes for you to follow.

We meandered through the back canals followed by swans and ducks, who were after the leftovers from our lunch.

Just wander

Alley in Haarlem
Tiny House in Haarlem
chimney tops in Haarlem

I always find that the best way to get to know a place is to take to the streets and wander about it. It is amazing what places you can discover: little alleyways that lead you to artists’ ateliers; a shop front decorated in comics; a violin makers; funny little buildings squeezed in between others and don’t forget to look up and see the architecture and the chimney pots!

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Best Things to do in Haarlem de Adriaan Windmill
Best Things to do in Haarlem flowers 1
Best Things to do in Haarlem canal

10 thoughts on “10 Best Things to Do in Haarlem

  1. Avatar of MacKenzie
    MacKenzie says:

    I’ve wanted to make it to more places in the Netherlands (I’ve only been to Amsterdam and Keukenhof Gardens), so I love knowing there are so many awesome things to do in a nearby town.

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