- 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.
- While you’re in the Grote Markt, make sure you head to check out Haarlem’s magnificent cathedral, the historic Grote Kerk, which dates to the 14th century. The building’s turbulent history has seen it damaged by fire and struck by lightning, yet still the beautiful giant towers high above Haarlem’s rooftops. Inside, the gothic interior is nothing short of breathtaking and is the final resting place of several famous Haarlemmers, including Frans Hals and Willem Bilderdijk.
- If you fancy a break from shopping, then seek out one of Haarlem’s 21 unique hofjes. These hidden gardens are surrounded by almshouses, where poor, unmarried and widowed women once lived, and provide a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of the city.
- 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. 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.