Sunday Special – Haarlem, Netherlands

Everyone know Amsterdam in the Netherlands and rightly so…it is a great city to visit with plenty to see. Being both the country’s capital and most populous city it is very accessible. Though, there are a number of other cities and regions to see in this lovely country that are worth the time (I’ve been twice and plan to return again). Today we will look at the northern city of Haarlem.

A mere 20 km /12 mi from Amsterdam this historic city is a popular with day trippers from Amsterdam though I suspect that visiting for a bit longer would be worth it. Due to its proximity to Amsterdam you can take a train or bus with relative ease and maximize your visit.

Molen De Adriaan, Haarlem – Photo credit: MichielverbeekHaarlem, molen de Adriaan foto2 2015-01-04 09.37CC BY-SA 4.0

So what is there to see in this city based on the the River Spaarne? Let’s take a look.

Tulips are synonymous with the Netherlands and seeing the variety of colours and the sheer number is reason enough to visit. Spring is a colourful array of blooms and in Haarlem it marks the arrival of the Bloemencorso Spring Festival. The festival hosts a parade that is filled with floats of thousands of flowers. The colours would be amazing. And in nearby Lisse, you can visit Keukenhof Garden for a few weeks to see millions of colourful tulips on display. If you are visiting in non-flower season Haarlem offers many other interesting sites, ones that are worthwhile any time of year. There is no lack of museums here. In fact, one museum in Haarlem is so old that the museum is a museum (as stated by a close Dutch friend 🙂🙃). That would be the Teylers Museum which was established in 1778. This museum has something for just about anyone. It is an art, science, and natural history museum showcasing paintings, drawings, fossils, minerals and gems, coins, early instruments of science, and books. And the ceiling in one area looks stunning. I’m always a sucker for an ornate ceiling! Other notable museums include Frans Hals Museum that houses art from the Dutch Golden Age and the Ten Boom Museum that shares information about Corrie Ten Boom and her family’s experiences hiding Jews from the Nazis during WWII. Het Dolhuys is a newer museum that located in an old building that was once used as an asylum. This is significant since Dolhuys is psychiatry museum, allowing visitors to learn about Dutch psychiatry through the ages. And if you want to learn about classic Dutch windmills then a visit Molen De Adriaan is necessary. Visitors can learn how this source of clean energy was used back in the day right without leaving town as its located right on the river.

Haarlem along the River Spaarne, Netherlands – Photo credit: Jane023Haarlem on the spaarneCC BY-SA 3.0

Wanting to spend some time outdoor? Well Haarlem has you covered. Being situated on a river you can take some time on the water by hiring a boat or taking a river cruise. Make your way along the Bakenessergracht canal (on water or on footpaths) to take in some of the oldest architecture in the city. In this area you can see the only surviving city gate, Amsterdamse Poort or take in the charming courtyard, Hofje van Bakenes which is one of many many courtyards or “Hofje” to be found and enjoyed.

As with many European city centres, wandering about on foot is an excellent option. Alternatively, you can be like the locals and use bicycles to get around. With plenty of places to rent two wheels you can soon be whizzing about, taking in all there is to see in the city and its history that goes back centuries. Wander about Grote Markt square, the city’s main square and historic centre. The square is surrounded by the looming gothic St. Bavokerk Church (Grote Kerk),which was built in the 1400s, as well as the long-established City Hall built in the Middle Ages on the grounds of the Count’s former castle. Of course the market square is where you can find any number of restaurants and cafes to recharge and enjoy local favourites. This is a town that loves its dining so there is much to try. In fact, in August it the site of annual culinary festival Haarlem Culinair.

That is just a few of the things you can see and do in this northern Dutch city, be it a day trip from the capital or spending a few days to get to know it. I can’t wait to check it out.

Disclaimer: The purpose of this blog is for entertainment only and does not provide legal, medical or any other professional advice. Reading this blog is of your own choice and any information that you choose to use from this blog is at your own risk. I have not received any compensation from nor am I responsible for the actions of any company or website listed. I assume no responsibility or liability for any errors or omissions in the content of this site.

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