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Top 8 things to do in Haarlem

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Haarlem is a small city located just 27 minutes with a train outside of Amsterdam. Its abundance of historical sights, cultural attractions and hidden gems crammed into a relatively small city, a visit to Haarlem makes for a brilliant day trip from Amsterdam. There are many attractions to keep you busy – including river cruises, flower markets and more.

A day trip to Haarlem center and surroundings

historic Grote Kerk
Photo credit: garzhia / Flickr

Grote Markt

The square is located at the historic heart of Haarlem, underneath the imposing Grote Kerk, and is the image of the city that many people will recognize. Hosting regular festivals, concerts and markets, the Grote Markt is the hub of daily life in Haarlem.

St Bavokerk
Photo credit: Wikimedia

The Grote Kerk: St.-Bavokerk

The Grote Kerk or St.-Bavokerk is a Reformed Protestant church and former Catholic cathedral located on the central market square in the Dutch city of Haarlem. This Late Gothic cruciform basilica, now reaching 140 meters in length with its slender 40-meter tower, was started in the 14th century. The cathedral’s famous Müller Organ is considered one of the greatest such instruments in the world for its tone and decoration.
The beautiful giant towers high above Haarlem’s rooftops and the gothic interior is nothing but breathtaking.

Frans Hals Museum
Photo credit: Wikimedia

The Frans Hals Museum

The Frans Hals Museum is one of the leading art galleries in the Netherlands. The museum has the world’s largest collection of works by Hals, including five of his large civic guard pieces.
It was founded in 1862 in the newly renovated former Dominican church cloisters located in the back of the Haarlem city hall.

The museum is specialized in restoration and research on the works of Haarlem painters in the 17th century and of the painters of the 16th century who taught them to paint, most notably Jan van Scorel, Maerten van Heemskerck, Hendrick Goltzius and Cornelis van Haarlem.

The museum includes a collection of modern and contemporary art, including paintings, sculptures, textiles, ceramics, and graphic art by artists from Haarlem and the surrounding area.

Stadhuis Haarlem Netherlands
Photo credit: Janusz Sliwinski Flickr

The Old City Hall

The City Hall in Haarlem is the seat of the city’s government. The oldest parts of the City Hall date back to 1250. The north wing, and the Neoclassical façade were added in the 1600s. The interior is also of interest and includes numerous fine paintings, relics, and mementos.

Teyler Museum Haarlem
Photo credit: Frans de Wit Flickr

Teylers Museum

Teylers Museum, the oldest museum in the Netherlands, was founded in 1778. The museum is in the former home of Pieter Teyler van der Hulst. He was a wealthy cloth merchant and Amsterdam banker of Scottish descent, who bequeathed his fortune for the advancement of religion, art and science. Nearby the museum is the Teylers Hofje, a hofje which was also founded in Teyler’s name.

Teyler’s Museum displays an eclectic collection of fossils, minerals, scientific instruments, medals, coins, and paintings. It is most famous for its extensive collection of old master’s prints and drawings, including several works by Michelangelo and Rembrandt.

In the 19th century, the museum was expanded with two painting galleries.

Amsterdamse Poort
Photo credit: Marcelo Campi Flickr

Amsterdamse Poort

Bakenessergracht is home to some of the city’s oldest and most spectacular buildings. At the end of the Bakenessergracht is the River Binnen Spaarne, crossed here via an attractive old drawbridge, and from which you get a great view of the Amsterdamse Poort. Haarlem’s city gate, built in the early 1400s and a national monument has two octagonal towers and two round towers.

In the 1960s the gate was declared a national monument. In 1985 a complete renovation of the gate took place.

Courtyard of the Proveniershof
Photo credit: wikipedia

Proveniershuis

The Proveniershuis is a hofje and former schutterij on the Grote Houtstraat in Haarlem, Netherlands. The complex of buildings surrounds a rectangular garden taking up a city block that is on the Haarlem hofje route. The homes around this courtyard are much larger, and the garden itself is about twice the normal size.

This home for Haarlem proveniers was founded in 1707 by the city council to house elderly men. The main buildings are much older than that.

Cathedral of St Bavo
Photo credit: Guilhem Vellut / Flickr

The Cathedral of St. Bavo

The Roman Catholic Cathedral of St. Bavo is a relatively recent three-aisle cruciform basilica built between 1895 and 1906. Some 100 meters long, 42 meters wide, and 60 meters high
That church was itself a replacement for the Sint-Bavokerk, that had been converted to Protestantism from Catholicism in 1578.

Haarlem has been voted as the Netherlands’ best shopping destination. You can find a unique combination of big brands to independent labels, as well as charming antique and curiosity shops. The best-known streets in Haarlem are the Grote Houtstraat, the Barteljorisstraat, and the Zijlstraat. But you’ll find many interesting shops if you explore the smaller streets such as the Schagchelstraat, Kleine Houtstraat, Anegang, Warmoesstraat, Koningstraat and Gierstraat.

Want to find more sustainable destinations? Check our other posts.

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