Route: Art meets Nature
Duration: 1/2 day
- Take a 15-minute train ride from Amsterdam Central Station to Haarlem Station (platform 1 or 2, trains run every 10 mins). With 21 unique examples, Haarlem is truly a city of hofjes. These hidden gardens are surrounded by almshouses, where poor, unmarried and widowed women once lived.
- Be sure to visit Hofje van Bakenes which, founded in 1395, is the oldest. There are special guided walks through these gardens (available at the Tourist Information Centre A, Grote Markt 2). Most hofjes can be visited daily except Sundays and entrance is free.
- Finish your morning with lunch or a cup of coffee at one of the many cafés and restaurants on the Grote Markt square in the city centre.
- Or bring your own food and enjoy a picnic in De Haarlemmerhout park, the oldest green monument in the Netherlands. You can reach the park in minutes from Haarlem Station (buses 340/346/356 to the Tempeliersstraat stop). Located at the edge of the park, the beautiful neoclassical Paviljoen Welgelegen has been the seat of the provincial government since 1930. Walk around this 60-acre park and discover deer, a petting zoo and a pancake house.
Route: Cultural Highlights
Duration: full day
- Take a 15-minute train ride from Amsterdam Central Station to Haarlem Station (platform 1 or 2, trains run every 10 mins). For centuries, Haarlem has been a centre of art and culture. The railway station is actually your first stop; it’s the only station built in the Jugendstil (art nouveau) style. Pick up a walking guide to Haarlem’s monuments at the Tourist Information Centre A (Grote Markt 2, a five-minute walk south of the station) and start your tour through this historic city.
- Don’t miss the Teylers Museum, (FREE entrance with your I amsterdam City Card), the country’s oldest museum, which feels like leafing through an antique encyclopaedia.
- A must-see for anyone interested in Dutch Masters is the Frans Hals Museum, (FREE entrance with your I amsterdam City Card), which focuses on the 17th-century Haarlem School and boasts the world’s largest collection of paintings by the artist after which it is named.
- The Grote Markt square has plenty of cafés and restaurants for a short break and magnificent views of St. Bavo’s Church. The 50-metre steeple of this UNESCO protected monument still dominates Haarlem’s skyline and contains some beautiful Renaissance works of art.
Hotspots (1/2 day)
- Just 15 minutes from Amsterdam Central Station (platform 1 or 2, trains run every 10 mins), Haarlem is a shopper’s dream. Voted ‘Best shopping city in Holland’ more than once, it offers quirky boutiques, fashion-forward concept stores and delicious delis.
- Don’t miss ID (a small concept store), Jansje (sustainable gifts) and Kloffie (voted most innovative retailer in Holland) in the ‘golden streets’ around the Grote Markt square.
- Stop for lunch at Hofje zonder Zorgen, a local favourite with a beautiful view over a small courtyard garden. Many more cafés and restaurants are situated around the Grote Markt, such as Grand Café Brinkmann.
- No trip to Haarlem is complete without a visit to former church-turned brewery Jopenkerk, which brews and serves the best ‘real Haarlem’ beers on site. And don’t worry about the time: trains back to Amsterdam run till 01:00 (platform 1 or 3). If you decide to stay, the city offers plenty of affordable hotels.