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When you plan a trip to the Netherlands, it’s easy to get hyper-focused on Amsterdam alone. However, there are more places to visit in the Netherlands. One of the best cities to visit in the Netherlands is Haarlem. This small town is just 20 minutes from Amsterdam. Haarlem offers all the same beauty and magic as Amsterdam but with its own special charm. It is a city full of history and culture. With so many amazing things to do in Haarlem, it is a must-visit while in the Netherlands.

Guest post by Samantha Karen

One of the most enticing factors of Haarlem is that it is not nearly as full of tourists as Amsterdam. Amsterdam’s streets are often full of tourists. However, if you are looking for something a little more local and authentic, a trip to Haarlem is in order. Discover the 10 best things to do in Haarlem and prepare for an unforgettable adventure in this idyllic Dutch city.

10 Best Things to do in Haarlem Netherlands

1. Explore Grote Markt – One of the popular things to do in Haarlem

Grote Markt is the heart and soul of Haarlem. Right in the middle of the city, you will find this iconic market in the city’s main square and beside the beautiful De Grote Cathedral. This is the most lively part of Haarlem with a fresh vibrancy that is contagious. The street market is only open on Saturdays. During this day, you will find tons of local stands selling clothing, food, art, and more.

It is the perfect place to head to on a lazy Saturday morning to experience Haarlem’s most wonderful event. There is nothing better than planning a visit to Amsterdam in autumn and then heading to Haarlem on Saturday to skip out on the busy Amsterdam streets and enjoy the local market. 

If you are not in Haarlem on a Saturday, you can still visit Grote Square to walk around and admire all the beauty. There are also events and concerts regularly hosted. Keep an eye out for anything going on when you visit!

Grote Markt is one of the best things to do in Haarlem Netherlands

2. Venture inside Haarlem’s Cathedral

De Grote of St. Bavokerk Te Haarlem is a huge cathedral located in the center of the city right beside Grote Markt. This towering cathedral dominates the skyline and demands your attention. Both the interior and exterior of this cathedral are amazing to see and experience. It was built in the 14th century and is still in amazing condition. If you have time, entering the cathedral and viewing its beautiful interior is one of the most exciting things to do in Haarlem.

3. Visit Molen de Adriaan – An authentic Dutch windmill

Not many cities in the Netherlands have an authentic Dutch windmill in the middle of the city, except Haarlem. Windmills are an iconic Dutch symbol and viewing at least once while in the Netherlands is a must. In Haarlem, you will find Molen de Adriaan in the middle of the city. This windmill has been a staple of the city since its construction in the 18th century. Walking to see it for yourself is surely one of the best things to do in Haarlem.

4, Drink Beer in the Church 

If you like your beer and want to experience one of the Netherlands’ more unique beer experiences then you must head to De Jopenkerk. This is an old church that has been remade into a brewery and serves fresh-brewed Jopen beer. This beer is using a medieval times recipe, making it all the more unique and exciting. Stopping into De Jopenkerk to enjoy a glass of beer in this amazing and different environment is a must.

5. Take a Boat Tour – A complete tour of the city in a short time

Haarlem, like most of the Netherlands, is a city built around many canals. As a result, one of the best ways to see the city is by boat. There are tons of boat tours available that will take you all around the city and show you all the highlights of Haarlem. This is one of the best things to do in Haarlem if you are just visiting on a day trip. It will allow you to see as much as possible in a short amount of time.

Scenic summer view of the Old Town architecture and Spaarne canal embankment in Haarlem, Netherlands

6. Explore Teylers Museum Haarlem – The oldest museum in the Netherlands

Teylers Museum was the first museum ever built in the Netherlands, making it the oldest museum in the country. It was built in 1778 and is one of the top things to do in Haarlem. This museum is full of all kinds of exhibits from art to history to science. There is an exhibit for everyone!

7. Visit The Corrie Ten Boom House – One of the most interesting things to do in Haarlem

The Corrie Ten Boomhuis is very similar to the very famous Anne Frank House in Amsterdam but with its own story. This house was owned by a family who helped hide and smuggle Jewish people out of the country during WW2. Today, you can enter the house and learn more about this family who took a strong stand of resistance during a troubling time in history.

8. Have a Drink Along the River – one of the most relaxing things to do in Haarlem

The main river that runs through Haarlem is the Spaarne. Along this river, you will find iconic Dutch houses and restaurants. Choosing one of the many riverside restaurants to sit out on and enjoy the beautiful surrounding is a simple yet wonderful thing to do in Haarlem.

9. Enjoy the Quiet Streets of Haarlem Netherlands

As mentioned before, Haarlem is less touristy than Amsterdam. This means you can enjoy the streets without being amongst huge crowds of people. Take advantage of this to roam the streets freely and take many photos without anyone ruining the shot.

10. Day Trip to the Beach from Haarlem

Haarlem is conveniently located just 10 minutes by train from one of the country’s most amazing beaches. Just a quick train ride will bring you to the beachfront of Zandvoort Beach – a huge white sandy beach lined with restaurants and bars. Not many people think of beaches when they hear about the Netherlands, but the country is actually a great place to visit for huge sandy beaches in the summer months.

Zandvoort is always packed with people on a warm summer day and the atmosphere is super electric. It is also a great place to sit on one of the beachfront restaurants to enjoy the view and eat some local Dutch food.

Did you find anything you’d like to do in Haarlem?

About the author

Samantha Karen is the founder of the travel bog Sam Sees World. She is a twenty-something traveler on a mission to explore the world to seek the new and unknown so she can document her experiences and inspire others to explore this wondrous world. Her objective is to learn about the world while also searching for her place in it. Check out Sam Sees World for valuable information on the best things to do, see, eat, and experience while traveling and making memories along the way.

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