12 hours in Haarlem: culture and craftsmanship
With an abundance of historical sights, cultural attractions and hidden gems crammed into a relatively small city, a visit to Haarlem makes for a brilliant day trip from Amsterdam. There’s plenty to keep visitors entertained including weekly markets, fantastic shopping boutiques and a lively craft beer scene.
Photograph a Dutch icon at the Molen de Adriaan
If you’ve ever wanted to get up close and personal with a windmill, then head to Molen de Adriaan, which overlooks the Spaarne River. There’s a museum inside which uses models and visual installations to explore the history of Molen Adriaan and other Dutch windmills, and, for the full experience, you can take a guided tour. The stunning views of Haarlem from the windmill’s deck are guaranteed to leave you breathless.
Learn about the Ten Boom family
Next, head to the Corrie ten Boomhuis. During World War II, the Ten Boom family provided a hiding place for Jewish people and members of the resistance in their home. The family was betrayed, imprisoned and deported to concentration camps – only Corrie survived. The house is now a museum, the majority of which recreates how it would have looked in the 1940s.
Head to the Grote Markt and Grote Kerk
Haarlem’s main square, Grote Markt, is the city’s beating heart, with charming cafés, bars and restaurants that all offer a brilliant place to relax and people watch. A farmers’ market brimming with fresh foods and flowers pops up in the expansive square every Saturday. While visiting Grote Markt, you can’t miss the imposing Grote Kerk, Haarlem’s gothic cathedral, which was first built in the 14th century. The building’s turbulent history has seen it damaged by fire and struck by lightning, but a look inside (and out) will show that it’s still as magnificent as ever. Several famous Haarlemmers, including Frans Hals and Willem Bilderdijk, are also interred here.
Shop for Dutch design in Haarlem’s streets of gold
Once you’re feeling suitably refreshed, why not head into Haarlem’s famous Gouden Straatjes (Golden Streets), full of independent boutiques, concept stores, design showrooms and delis.
Dine out and sample local beers
Haarlem has a wealth of great restaurants, so spend your evening in the city enjoying some delicious food. When is a church not a church? When it’s a cafe, brewery and restaurant, too. Perhaps the perfect place to take some time out and enjoy something nice to drink (and eat), Haarlem’s Jopenkerk offers guests an extensive menu of brews and bites, including its own extensive range of Jopen beers. You can also take part in group beer-tasting sessions and brewery tours. Don’t worry about the time: trains back to Amsterdam run till 01:00 . And if you decide to stay, the city offers plenty of affordable hotels and hostels.