How to spend one day in Haarlem

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Charming typical Dutch city only 20 minutes from Amsterdam

Only 20 minutes by train from Amsterdam there is a small, charming and cozy medieval city of Haarlem. Haarlem is a typical Dutch city lying on a River Spaarne and is just seven kilometers away from the Northern Sea. Those are just several reasons which make Haarlem a place you should definitely add to your map when visiting Holland.
Our stay in Haarlem was limited to less than 24 hours, and we had to decide what it is the best way to have the most of the place where it is so easy to enjoy in a local charm and suddenly forget about the time.

Haarlem (11)

Walk and explore the picturesque city center of Haarlem

We were lucky and stayed in Haarlem on Saturday, and had the opportunity to soak up the atmosphere of lively and colorful open-air market in the town square where you’ll find groceries and authentic Dutch treats targeting local shoppers.


As we read the story about Haarlem’s courtyards (ie. hofjes), we decided to explore and walked around the city following the courtyard’s route. Following the route of 21 unique examples of hidden courtyards it can be seen that many of them have been modernized or removed altogether, but we could still spot some of the old entrances. Courtyards were mostly built in the 14th century by Christian communities and wealthy members of society. They founded them to house poor, unmarried or widowed women. Most of the city’s courtyards are free to visit between 10:00 and 17:00 except Sundays, and it is important to respect the privacy of the people living there. This tour is useful as guides you next to the most of Haarlem’s highlights, and if you are more into a culture, you can visit some of the museums on the route.


Cafes and restaurants are numerous in Haarlem, and are offering variety for every taste and budget.  One of our picks was a restaurant De Oveerkant which is tucked away down a side street next to the Groete markt, and offering excellent customer service and good food with a reasonable price.


Bicycle from Haarlem to the Northern Sea beaches

Slight breeze on our face was telling us that we are reaching out our destination at the Northern Sea – Bloemendaal aan Zee.  Bloemendaal is a place where everybody can find its own activity – water sports fans will enjoy in kite surfing or kite boarding, children will run down the sandy beach, and the others can choose one of the beach bars and restaurants.


After a bit more than half an hour ride through a green and flat terrain, we arrived to the sea side, and were ready for enjoying in a sea view and comfortable daybeds in one of the bars while listening to the chilled-out lounge music and thinking how this trip was a good idea.


Bloemendaal is also a place where regularly live bands and DJs create open air parties that go on well into the night. Unfortunately due to our early flight next morning we had to miss one of them, but this might be another reason to come again and hit a dance floor once the sun goes down.

On our way back from the sea we thought how lucky we are as this time we had the opportunity to explore even more of Holland, enjoy in its simplicity and treat ourselves with new sceneries and experiences.

Photo credits: magic4.club

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