The Dutch capital of Amsterdam is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, but it’s also worth taking time to get out of the city and its neighbour Haarlem is a must while in the Netherlands. With a population of just more than 150,000 residents (compared with the 800,000 within Amsterdam’s city limits), it’s a much more relaxed atmosphere and offers some of the best aspects of the capital but without the hustle and bustle. Here’s five reasons why you need to visit.
It’s only 15 minutes away from Amsterdam
Short on time? Don’t worry, Haarlem is just down the road from the Dutch capital. Many of the trains from Amsterdam Centraal call at Haarlem and the journey takes about 15 minutes. The trains run until late in the evening so you can make the most of your visit.
Haarlem is just as beautiful as Amsterdam – but much more compact
Jam-packed with beautiful buildings, canals and picturesque streets, Haarlem has plenty to explore. The centre of the city is dominated by cathedral the Grote Kerk, and surrounding it are the streets full of historic buildings and stunning architecture. Wander and explore on foot or hire a bike.
Plus, it has a windmill
If one of your to-dos in the Netherlands was to visit a windmill, then you’re in luck in Haarlem as there’s one just a short walk from the train station. De Adriaan windmill is located on the banks of the River Spaarne and there’s a restaurant with outdoor seating and some benches nearby if you want to sit and admire it. You can also visit the inside which has an exhibition with an information video but the outside is definitely more impressive than the exterior.
There’s a fantastic market
In the shadow of the cathedral, Haarlem’s markets are held twice a week on Mondays and Saturdays and feature a wide range of traders. From fresh fruit and vegetables to souvenirs to food to eat on the go, there’s plenty to explore and some great local food to sample.
And it’s also home to a pub inside a church
Do you want somewhere a bit quirky for a beer or a bite to eat? Haarlem has you covered. As well as its range of restaurants and cafes, you can also find Jopenkerk – this former church has been converted into a brewery with a bar and restaurant on site. It’s an impressive space with its copper brewing equipment but it’s the large bar that dominates and really catches the eye. A great place for a quick drink, lunch or an evening with friends (which is when it gets quite lively). If Jopenkerk isn’t your thing, there are some other eateries on the same square – but you definitely won’t go hungry in Haarlem!
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