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Image from Koen Smilde

Family and kids in Haarlem

With many families moving from Amsterdam to Haarlem for more space, it’s no wonder that the city has such a kid-friendly feel. Whether you’re visiting Haarlem with the kids or you’re a current resident looking for family days out in the city, here are a few suggestions to get you started.

Stop for refreshments and playtime

If you’re in the city centre, take a pit stop at Meneer Paprika, a cafe and toy shop in one. Tables are arranged around a vast toddler-height train set so you can keep an eye on your little ones wherever you’re sat. The menu includes cakes, sandwiches, juices and more, and everything is fresh and organic. Another option is De Oerkap, situated at Haarlem's city beach. While the little ones build sand castles, parents can enjoy a much-deserved drink in the sun. Or, just outside the centre of Haarlem, the lovely Kweekcafé in the Kweektuinen (Nursery Gardens) is a huge glasshouse café with an extensive play area, lots of space to run around, an adventure playground and a petting zoo. And for the grownups - the coffee is also delicious!

Get out into the dunes

Situated in the dunes just outside Haarlem, Kraantje Lek in Overveen is the perfect space to simultaneously refuel and burn off steam. Children can play for hours on end at the spectacular wooden playground, whilst parents feel the sense of history in the wooden interiors as you tuck into Dutch classics like appeltaart and krokketen, alongside a range of warming stews, snacks and sandwiches for the little ones. And, of course, Haarlem's location on the edge of the coastal dunes means that the lure of the sea is never far away. Read our guide to family adventures at Amsterdam Beach for more.

Discover mini play paradises

Image from koen smilde

Haarlem is overflowing with beautiful speeltuinen (play gardens) where parents can relax in quaint surroundings while the kids blow off steam. For every kid that loves to climb, run, build and get dirty, there’s Natuurspeeleiland in the Veerplas. Let the youngsters spend hours building huts, climbing in the jungle gyms, playing mini golf and looking for insects. Nestled in the city's heart, the community Speeltuin het Paradijsje offers a giant sandpit, swings, little cars and tricycles. It will keep younger children entertained for hours while parents enjoy a coffee surrounded by cute Dutch houses. Another notable playground is De Glasblazers on the River Spaarne, which boasts a wooden pirate ship and outdoor trampoline. 

Experience art and science

Museum Haarlem
Image from Teylers museum Haarlem

Go fossil hunting in the oldest museum in the Netherlands! Slightly older kids will love Teylers Museum, where fantastic fossils, preserved beasts, sparkling minerals and impressive gadgets are just some of the weird and wonderful items on display. Masterfully combining art and science, the museum is worth a visit just to admire the magnificent building. Kids up to 12 can even take a free treasure hunt through the collection.

Build fantastic creations

ABC Architectuurcentrum Haarlem
Image from Philip Fokker

Have you ever seen 60,000 LEGO bricks in one space? That’s what you'll discover at Haarlem’s ABC Architectuurcentrum, a centre for architecture with its very own LEGO room. With so many bricks, kids can play and build to their heart’s content. But don’t forget the exhibitions about the architecture of Haarlem and its surroundings: In the Haarlemzaal, you'll even find scale models, construction drawings and 3D-printed buildings.

Dig up ancient history

Archeologisch Museum Haarlem
Image from Wiebrig Krakau Fotografie

What does an archaeologist do? And what treasures do archaeologists find in the ground? Discover Haarlem's ancient secrets at the Archeologisch Museum - a true hidden gem situated in a beautiful historical building that is free to visit. Especially for English-speaking little visitors, there's a treasure hunt and language-no-problem activities like digging or crafts.  

Go sailing

People sitting on benches enjoying their view at the Spaarne river in Haarlem. On the other side of the water, you see the Molen De Adriaan windmill.
Image from Koen Smilde

Haarlem doesn’t have as many canals as Amsterdam, but there are still enough waterways for an enjoyable cruise with the family. Take a guided boat tour to see the city from the water and learn interesting facts about its history and development along the way. The various tour operators - including Smidtje Canal Cruises and Haarlem Canal Tours offer plenty of options. Or if younger children might struggle to sit still for the duration, hiring your own boat via Luxe Sloepen Haarlem allows you to set your own pace as you explore Haarlem.

Visit historic monuments

The ruins of Brederode are the remnants of castle Brederode near Santpoort-Zuid.
Image from koen smilde

Haarlem is a historic city with much to discover for little visitors. Take them back in time by visiting the Ruïne van Brederode (Brederode Ruins) on the north side of the city - a ruined medieval castle with a moat, dungeon and far-reaching views from the highest turret. Kids can dress up as knights or damsels to explore the ruin’s many rooms and towers and play traditional wooden games at the ye very olde outdoor café. If you’re lucky enough to visit in June (check the website for dates), you’ll have the chance to watch the Knight's Tournament but keep an eye out for other events and concerts held at this historic site throughout the spring and summer.