Located on the northern edge of Randstad in Netherlands, Haarlem is a charming city offering great cultural scene, friendly atmosphere, exotic beaches and some excellent food and shopping opportunities. There is a place named Harlem in New York that has nothing to do with Haarlem so it should not be confused with that. Haarlem is provincial capital of the North Holland and lies on the banks of the Spaarne River. Haarlem is the main export hub of flower bulbs and there are beautiful flower fields and famous Keukenhof gardens near the city. The name Haarlem means “Wooden place on high sandy soil” which was first mentioned in the 10th century. If you are looking to explore North and South Holland then Haarlem will be an excellent choice to stay in.
Haarlem has a maritime climate just like the rest of country. It has mild winters and relatively cool summers with rare extremes. The temperature remains easily tolerable around the year with maximum of 60 degrees and minimum of 1 to 6 degrees. August is the warmest month and March and April are the coolest months. Precipitation is quite common and you can expect rain anytime because of its oceanic climate. The best time to visit is from December to March.
How to get here?
Haarlem is situated just 20 minutes from Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport which is one of the busiest airports around. There are frequent trains running between Amsterdam and Haarlem’s Central Station. You can also come by train from Schipol and Newcastle easily. If you prefer to come by your own vehicle but keep in mind that most of the parking here are paid. You can get around the city by hired bikes or bicycle. There are also buses and taxis running around the city.
Accommodation and Food
Whether you want a boutique hotel, holiday apartment, camping or a budget hostel, Haarlem offers accommodation for all needs, budget and tastes. One of the best is Ambassador City Hotel, located in the city centre, has 29 rooms each having free internet, two restaurants, one swimming pool and one health club. You can also choose Amrath Grand Hotel Frans Hals which is very close to Grote Market and Philharmonie. In other good options, there is Carlton Square which is a four star luxury hotel with all the facilities you want, Golden Tulip Lion, Hotel Amadeus, Hotel Bloemendaal and many more.
Haarlem may not have a long list of restaurant and cafes but surely it has much to offer in its limited range. There is Jopenkerk which was a church and now it has become a brewery now offering breakfast and lunch with cocktail hour. You can also try Lambermon’s and Truffels with its exciting six course meal each month. Other options include Restaurant ML, Café Restaurant Stempels, Hofje Zonder Zorgen, Grand Café Nobel, Restaurant Zuidam, Brasserie Van Beinum, and Dodici.
Frans Hals Museum
Frans Hals was a well known painter of seventeenth century in Haarlem and his collections are stored in Frans Hals Museum. The Museum is located at Groot Heiligland in Haarlem and was opened in 1913. The Museum remains open from Tuesday to Saturday from 11 am to 5 pm and sometimes opened on Sundays and public holidays. The entrance fee is free for under 18 and $8.33 for adults. The museum has free wifi all over and you can also enjoy some shopping at the Museum Shop offering exhibition catalogues, cards, gifts, glassware and children’s items.
Grote Kerk, located in Grote Market of Haarlem, is a Protestant Church famous of its amazing interior furnishing. The view starts from the west door going towards the choir which was built in 1400 and the wooden vaulting was forwarded in 1538. The interior was designed by Gerrit Berckheyde in 1698.The Admission is free and don’t forget to see one of the great organs of the world built by Christian Muller in 1735 to 1738.
Toneelschuur is a famous theatre located at Lange Begijnestraat, Haarlem. It has two stage theatres where plays and dances are performed and two movie theatres where movie shows are organized. There is also a bar on the ground floor with good range of drinks and snacks. The building was designed by a Dutch cartoonist, Joost Swarte and the theater was located in the building in 2003 which was in Smedestraat earlier.
City Hall is the seating place of Haarlem’s government and it is located on the Grote Market of Haarlem. You will be amazed to see the beautiful rooms of City Hall where all the important decisions are taken regarding the city. You can plan a tour of City Hall or even get married here. It was built in 14th century after shattering the Count’s Castle. If you are visiting the City Hall on Friday you can see brides entering and leaving from the stairway. This tourist place is really worth a visit.
Haarlemmerhout is a public park located in the South Haarlem. You can see children playing at the petting farms, families coming for picnic and some people doing running just when you enter the park. On May 5 every year, some national and international artists gather here and give some magical performance and thousands of music fans enjoy it. The park is just on a 15 minute walking distance in a straight line from Grote Market.
Haarlem is a cool city with clean streets, historic buildings, grand museums and fine cafes so you have all the reasons to visit this beautiful city.