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Image from Mo Schalkx

4 hours in Haarlem: 17th-century art history

Offering remarkable historical sights, incredible art museums and some of the Amsterdam Area's best restaurants, Haarlem should sit at the top of anyone’s list of places to visit in the Netherlands. But, if you’re not planning a long stay in the city, here's what you can do in just four hours.

Peddle through the city on two wheels

Image from Marie Charlotte Peze

For those pressed for time, one of the best ways to explore everything Haarlem has to offer is the Dutch way: on two wheels. There are various locations in both Haarlem and Amsterdam where you can rent bikes, and this Authentic Haarlem cycle route showcases the best of the city. You’ll venture past the Teylers Museum, Grote Markt, City Hall and the imposing Sint-Baafskerk church, built in 1520.

Explore science and art at the Teylers Museum

Image from Teylers museum Haarlem

The Teylers Museum is an art, natural history and science museum all rolled up into one. Wandering through the period rooms, you’ll find extensive collections of paintings, drawings, fossils, minerals, instruments and books - making a tour here feel like leafing through an antique encyclopedia. The museum's art collection includes drawings by Michelangelo and Raphael, and its rotating exhibits frequently feature world-class inventors and artists. When visiting, don’t miss the spectacular Oval Room, the world’s only authentic 18th-century museum interior.

Take a break at the city’s coffee and lunch spots

Maroosh is a typical middle eastern mezze restaurant located on the Botermarkt in Haarlem.
Image from koen smilde

Haarlem has no shortage of places to take a break and enjoy something delicious to drink and eat, whether it’s a quaint café, a stylish bar or one of the city’s cosy restaurants. For an especially relaxing experience, soak in the literary ambience of Coffee-Star, located in an actual library. From fresh apple pies to its charming terrace, it’s the perfect place to unwind and people-watch.

Learn all about Frans Hals and the Dutch Masters

Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem
Image from koen smilde

Frans Hals is one of the most beloved Dutch painters, renowned for his lively painting style and incredibly lifelike portraits. Originally opened in 1862, the Frans Hals Museum is now based at two locations in the city, both within a short, scenic walk from each other. Beyond Hals’ work - considered some of the best produced during the era - the museum also features contemporary artists and numerous paintings from the 16th and 17th centuries, many restored by the museum itself.

Tuck into delicious cuisine

Landgoed Duin & Kruidberg meal
Image from Duin & Kruidberg

For a small city, Haarlem boasts a wealth of superb restaurants and gastronomic delights. Spend your evening in the city enjoying some delicious food, then while away a few hours discovering trendy bars and the local craft beer scene before heading home.

Don’t fancy leaving Haarlem so soon? Check out these 12 and 24-hour guides, which will provide more information on the culture, craftsmanship, parks and green spaces the city has to offer.