Top 5 Things To Do in Haarlem, Netherlands by

Top 6 Things To Do in Haarlem, Netherlands

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When we arrived in the Netherlands, we had three full days before we boarded our European River Cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest. At first, we considered staying in Amsterdam – a place that we love and one that could easily entertain us for weeks – but we were on a streak of visiting new places (Riga, Latvia and Tallinn, Estonia were our previous stops) and wanted to stay in that new-city groove.

Our focus shifted from Amsterdam to the historic and charming town of Haarlem – just 12 miles away. During our three-day stay, we packed our days with sightseeing and discovered the Top 6 Things To Do in Haarlem, Netherlands!


6 Best Things To Do in Haarlem, Netherlands

Statue on Grote Markt Haarlem in Haarlem, Netherlands

Our list of the top 6 things to do in Haarlem are based on our experiences. We stayed for three days, but our list of Haarlem things to do can be seen in a single day (which works well for Amsterdam day trips). Below, you will find information about the Haarlem hotel we stayed in and how to get from Haarlem to Amsterdam.

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#1 Grote of St. Bavokerk (Great Church of St. Bavo)

Great Chruch of St. Bavo, Grote of St. Bavokerk in Haarlem, Netherlands

Churches abound in the city of Haarlem, their steeples rising above the gabled houses to create a lovely skyline. The Grote of St. Bavokerk, however, is the Haarlem church that can’t be missed. Not to be mistaken for the Haarlem Cathedral (confusingly named Cathedral of St. Bavo), Grote of St. Bavokerk is located in the center of town on the Haarlem Grote Markt (big market square).

Haarlem Organ at Grote of St. Bavokerk in Haarlem, Netherlands

Main features of the church – once Catholic, now Protestant – are the 255-foot-tall tower, the Haarlem organ (dating to 1738, with more than 5,000 pipes), the choir, stained-glass windows and more than 400 gravestones – all of which make the church one of the top Haarlem attractions.

Information about opening hours and pricing.


#2 Molen De Adriaan (Haarlem Windmill)

Red tourist boat and Haarlem Windmill in Haarlem, Netherlands

Molen De Adriaan stands on the bank of the Spaarne River at the edge of Haarlem’s old town. Built in 1778 atop a former guard tower, the Haarlem windmill has been used to crush stone, tobacco and grains.

Iconic Molen De Adriaan Windmill in Haarlem, Netherlands

Due to fire in the 1930s, the windmill had to be completely reconstructed and only reopened in 2002 – and is now one of the top things to see in Haarlem. Inside there is a museum and tours of the windmill are also possible.

Details about opening hours and prices.


#3 Jopenkerk (Jopen Brewery and Haarlem Craft Beer Bars)

Beers on tap at Jopenkerk Jopen Brewery in Haarlem, Netherlands

Wherever we are in the world, we seek out the flavor of local craft beer. The task can be difficult in some cities, but in Haarlem – a city with a long history in brewing – it is easy find some of the Best Dutch Craft Beer. While there are several bars in Haarlem that serve craft beer, Jopenkerk is the Haarlem brewery that ranks the most popular.

Glass of craft beer at Jopenkerk, Jopen Brewery, in Haarlem, Netherlands

At the brewery, which is located in the Haarlem city center inside the former Jacob’s Church (thus the name, Jopenkerk), the brewers use classic Haarlem beer recipes that date to the 15th and 16th centuries, as well as producing other unique and award-winning brews. If you are not into beer, you can still take a break from your Haarlem sightseeing for a bite to eat at the Jopenkerk restaurant!

Looking for more Haarlem nightlife and the best bars in Haarlem for craft beer? In addition to Jopenkerk, be sure to try Uiltje Bar and Bierlokaal de Uiver.


#4 Corrie ten Boom House, Haarlem

Artifacts displayed at Corrie ten Boom House Museum in Haarlem, Netherlands

The Corrie ten Boom House is one of the best places to visit in Haarlem to learn about the history of the city during World War II. Now a museum, the house was occupied by the ten Boom family for more than 100 years – from 1837 until 1945. In 1943 and 1944, the devout Christian family opened their home to Jews and others trying to escape the Nazis.

Gathering room at Corrie ten Boom House Museum in Haarlem, Netherlands

A false wall was built in Corrie’s bedroom, where people could be hidden. Her room and the hiding space are visited on the tour and are must-see Haarlem sights.

Top Tip: Before going to the museum, read the book, The Hiding Place, written by Corrie ten Boom.

The Corrie ten Boom House museum and tours are free (donations accepted). Information about booking and tour times.


#5 Hofje (Haarlem Courtyard Gardens)

Spacious Hofje Courtyard Garden in Haarlem, Netherlands

In the city of Haarlem, there are at least 20 courtyard parks, called Hofje, which are open to the public. The trick is: you can only go in if you can find the door! The secret gardens – most of which date to the 17th and 18th centuries – once served as the communal area for the houses that surrounded them and today they are peaceful, green retreats in the Haarlem city center.

Hofje Garden in Haarlem, Netherlands

The oldest hofje in the Netherlands, Hofje van Bakenes or Bakenesserkamer, is in Haarlem and dates to the year 1395. As people dwell in the homes around the gardens, the hofje aren’t exactly Haarlem tourist attractions, but visiting them was certainly one of our Haarlem highlights!

Information about the hofjes and locations.


#6 Market at Grote Markt Haarlem

Market day on Grote Markt Haarlem in Haarlem, Netherlands

The market at the Grote Markt Haarlem is one of the top things to do in Haarlem, but the market only takes place on Saturdays. If you visit on a Saturday, be sure to check out the Haarlem Markt booths overflowing with fresh produce, meat, cheese, flowers and other goods. Peruse the booths for picnic items or buy fresh flowers to brighten your room!

Flowers for sale at Saturday market in Grote Markt Haarlem, Netherlands

For Haarlem shopping every other day of the week, stroll The Golden Streets in the city center. The historic shopping streets are lined with hip stores and trendy boutiques. 

Information about Haarlem markets and shopping

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Top Tips For Your Trip to Haarlem, Netherlands

Drinking local craft beer in Haarlem, Netherlands

We have a few final travel tips and packing hacks, and then you’re ready for your vacation to Europe!


More Haarlem Activities

Bicycle rests against brick wall in Haarlem, Netherlands

We have shared our Top 6 Things to Do in Haarlem, but it is by no means an exhaustive list. Here are a few more suggestions for your Haarlem visit:

  • Art lovers, check out the Frans Hals Museum.
  • History buffs may like to visit the Teylers Museum, the Netherlands oldest museum founded in 1778.
  • Anno Haarlem are the city hall cellars, and they’re also a museum detailing the history of Haarlem.
  • The Frans Hals Museum combines classic works of art and contemporary pieces all under one roof.
  • If you’re visiting the Netherlands in summer, discover the sand dunes and beaches of Haarlem, which are just a quick bike ride away!
  • For those more interested in outdoor activities, consider one of the Haarlem Canal Tours or a bike ride.
  • Tour Haarlem with a professional Haarlem travel guide (you can book a private tour through Viator) or wander the city on your own to find hidden gems, historic buildings or quirky sights (like the Haarlem Red Light District).
  • Going to Europe For the Holidays? Learn about what it’s like to spend Christmas in The Netherlands!


Places to Stay in Haarlem, Netherlands

Beautiful street in Haarlem, Netherlands

During our visit to Haarlem, we stayed in the centrally located Ambassador City Hotel, which we liked for its proximity to sights and uniqueness. We had a spacious room that looked right out to the Grote of St. Bavokerk. It was also well-priced within our budget. However, there are many Haarlem hotels to choose from in – or close to – the center, which you can search for here

If budget is a concern, we have found that staying in Airbnb Apartments is often less expensive than hotel rooms – with the added benefit of a kitchen and, usually, more space. FlipKey (which is part of TripAdvisor) or on VRBO – Vacation Rentals By Owner. Budget travelers can also search for Haarlem Hostels


Getting from Amsterdam Central to Haarlem

Houseboat and riverfront buildings on Spaarne River in Haarlem, Netherlands

The Haarlem-Amsterdam Train is the easiest way to get between the two cities. However, if you are closer to the west side of Amsterdam, Bus #300 may be faster.

  • Plan your Amsterdam to Haarlem Train journey here.
  • Plan your Haarlem to Amsterdam Train journey here.
  • Haarlem to Amsterdam Train Cost: Starting at €5.42 one way

More information about traveling from Amsterdam Central to Haarlem can be found on the I Amsterdam website. For more information on Amsterdam public transportation or to plan your journey in the Netherlands, go to the the website.


Before You Go To The Netherlands

Haarlem Red Light District in daytime, Haarlem, Netherlands


We want to know: Have you visited Haarlem, Netherlands? What were your top things to do in Haarlem? Give us your best tips in the comments below! 


Start planning your trip to the Netherlands! Search for the lowest airfares, the best accommodations and fun things to do…then start packing!  Want more travel planning tips? Head over to our Travel Planning page for more information and tips on traveling – and for country-specific information, take a look at our Travel Guides page!


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