This is a guest post from Samantha Karen of Sam Sees World.
Haarlem is one of those cities that charms you from the moment you arrive. It is a small city in the Netherlands located only 20 minutes from Amsterdam that is packed with culture, history, and exciting things to do. If you are visiting Amsterdam, I recommend you extend your trip to make time to spend a few days in Haarlem.
Haarlem offers all the same beauty and magic as Amsterdam; however, it attracts many fewer tourists and exploring is more authentic. The best thing about Haarlem is that it is a great place to visit all year. There is something to do and see in each season and even in the winter the temperatures are quite mild. If you are looking for the perfect Dutch city getaway, Haarlem should be your number one choice. Two days in Haarlem give you just enough time to see all the main attractions of the city and to do a few extra things. Follow this itinerary for two days in Haarlem to plan your adventures.
Day 1: Main Attractions of Haarlem
The Grote Market is one of the main attractions of Haarlem and is in the heart of the city. The market is located right beside the iconic De Grote Cathedral and it is the main square of the city. There are regular events here and even a market on Saturdays that has fresh fruit, vegetables, clothing and more.
De Grote of St Bavokerk Te Haarlem
De Grote of St Bavokerk Te Haarlem is the towering cathedral within the city’s main square that demands your attention. The cathedral looms high above the other buildings in Haarlem and dominates the skyline. Both the interior and exterior of the building are amazing and visiting this 14th century gem in a must.
Molen de Adriaan
Molen de Adriaan is Haarlem’s most iconic windmill that sits in the middle of the city. It has been a staple of the city since the 18th century. However, it burnt down in a fire in the 19th century and has seen been rebuilt. You can admire this windmill from a distance or go on a tour inside.
Explore Haarlem’s City Centre
The city centre of Haarlem is nothing short of beautiful and really demonstrates why Haarlem is one of the best places to visit in the Netherlands. The streets are lined with typical Amsterdam looking houses, there are cute shops and cafes all around, and even a few canals. Spending a few hours wandering around and discovering all the small streets is a must.
Have a Beer at De Jopenkerk
De Jopenkerk is an old church that has been remade into a brewery! It serves fresh brewed Jopen beer, and the recipe that makes it dates back to medieval times. Make sure you stop here for a beer to sample the local flavours.
Take a Boat Tour
Haarlem has quite a few canals and rivers which makes getting around by boat easy. In fact, taking a canal cruise can be more enjoyable than walking because you see the city from a new perspective and get around much quicker.
Dinner in the City
After a busy day of exploring the city you will be ravenous. Thankfully, Haarlem is full of great restaurants to stop at for some food. If you are as crazy about cheese as the Dutch, then you must go to In ‘t Goede Uur – they have the best cheese fondue in the city.
Day 2: Additional Activities in Haarlem
Visit a Bookstore
Bookstore H De Vries Books is one of the most charming bookstores in the city. The wooden interior and large selection of English books make it a great place to start off your day.
Go to a Museum
Spending some time in the Teylers Museum in Haarlem is a must. This is the oldest museum in the Netherlands and has been in operation since 1784. Here you will find art and science-based exhibits and artifacts such as fossils, books, paintings and more!
Lunch along the Spaarne River
The Spaarne River is the city’s main river. It is beautiful on both sides as it is lined with Dutch houses and buildings. Enjoying a drink in one of the cafés that line its sides is the perfect way to spend an hour of two.
Reflect at Corrie Ten Boomhuis
The Corrie Ten Boomhuis is similar to the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam, but with its own unique Haarlem story. It is a house that was owned by the Ten Boom family who helped hide Jewish people and smuggle them out of the country during Nazi occupation. Today you can see the house they used to hide people and learn about the family’s noble resistance to the Nazis.
View some Contemporary Art
Within the Grote Market is De Hallen which is full of contemporary artwork waiting to be discovered. Each piece is moving and socially engaging and made by both international and local artists.
Haarlem is full of both chain stores and local shops. It is the perfect place to go shopping and pick up some unique items. This is the time to find a souvenir to bring home to remember you adventures.
Dinner in the City
For your final night you will need a nice dinner in the city. Choose any restaurant that suits your needs and soak up the stunning surroundings.
About the author: Samantha Karen is the founder of the travel bog Sam Sees World. She is a millennial traveller on a mission to seek the new and unknown so she can document her experiences and inspire others to explore this wondrous world. Her objective is to provide valuable information on the best things to do, see, eat, and experience while travelling and getting some good Instagram photos along the way. Follow her on Pinterest and Instagram.