Haarlem *the Netherlands*

What’s the first thing that comes in mind, when talking about The Netherlands? Windmills, of course! Well, it’s no different in Haarlem-the country’s national symbol doesn’t seem to disappoint us- it appears wherever it can: in-between buildings, next to canals or even standing solitary in the middle of a tulip desert. It is one of those characteristics that defines the city. Another representative is the big amount of tulips existent and grown in and next to the city (the Dutch call it Bluemenstad which means flower city).

Located in North Holland, on the river Spaarne, it is the capital city of the province of North Holland and is part of the sixth-largest metropolitan area in Europe, the Randstad.

Haarlem, Holland

Haarlem, Holland

The road to the city of Haarlem is full of varieties, depending on each person’s likes and dislikes. Sorry to say that Haarlem doesn’t have an airport, but for all you Plane-lovers: don’t give up your hopes yet! At a distance of just 10 kilometers away from the city center lies Schiphol Amsterdam Airport which has a large range of national and international flights from which you can choose, no matter how far you live from this gorgeous city. If you don’t like this choice, there is another option that may fit your needs: Rotterdam The Hague Airport which also comes with some international flights, but lies 48 kilometers from the city. The choice is yours- choose wisely! If you like other means of transport, like the train or prefer travelling by bus, you have options either way. Most visitors find that travelling by train is most effective, convenient and comfortable. European tourists who prefer buses may choose between two large Bus Line companies, which can take you to Amsterdam: Eurolines and Busabout. If you’d like to travel from one city to another, you should use the Connexxion, a bus company which has lines that go through most of the cities in Holland. But, if you’re really into adventure and the Dutch spirit, you should plan a trip by bicycle. Because Holland is a relatively small country, its distances are easy to reach even by bike. So, let others contribute to pollution and be different: ride a bike!(necessary while in Holland).

If you’re hesitating on whether you can find a perfect, luxurious hotel to fit your style or not, i can assure you: you definitely CAN! Anything for your expensive taste, my dear guest!-says the Dutch, thus creating loads of different accommodation styles and potential for all kinds of customers. Of course, if you don’t want to throw away all that money for unnecessary luxury, there are plenty of Bed & Breakfasts to choose from. And if you’d like to go camping, or prefer a bungalow, you can most certainly find the perfect one for your needs and desires.

Dutch cuisine is famous for its multicultural influences and varieties in food and spices. You can find everything from fish to cheese, made and prepared in different ways. Some traditional Dutch foods are: hagelslag, vlokken, muisjes, gouda and etam cheese for breakfast and lunch (i have added a few links, in case you’d want to order and try some); HutspotStamppot rauwe andijvie, Hete bliksem and Zuurkoolstamppot for Dinner (for which i have included their recipes, in case you’re in the mood for cooking) and let’s don’t forget typical Dutch drinks which include tee and coffee (which they drink all day long), lemonade, hot chocolate or chocolate milk. Also, Dutch are famous for their beer making, they make some of the best beer in Europe. So, in case you’re looking for a wide variety of restaurants, or a large range to choose from, you’ve come to the right place!

Haarlem is rich in entertainment and culture, so don’t worry- you’ll have lots to see! I would like to start with Teyler’s Museum, which is the oldest museum in Holland. You can check out some cool fossils and minerals, physical instruments, paintings, prints and drawings, coins and medals and a quite impressive library. If you’re more of a nature-freak than a pricey museum visitor, then my advice is to take a walk along Bakenesser Gracht, which can offer you a lovely and scenic site regardless of whether it’s spring, summer, autumn or winter. You shouldn’t miss out the central market square, Grote Markt, where you can find plenty of cafe’s and tones of souvenirs to choose from. Next up is the Frans Hals Museum, a collection of lovely paintings from the famous Dutch Golden Age painter. If you’re more of a religious person, don’t forget to check out the huge church located in Grote Markt, the Cathedral of St.Bavo. Don’t you dare forget to visit at least Windmill De Adriaan while you’re there!- you should never omit to see a typical site from any country. I would also like to mention how fun a trip on the canal can be, so if you’re not usually seasick, you should really try the Haarlem Canal Experience! Last, but not least, if you’d like to organize a business meeting, or are looking for a nice place to have a celebration or, why not, even a wedding, then Orangerie Elswout is the place for you! It’s a few kilometers from the city. The place is more than lovely, the staff is very kind and is open to your every wants and needs.

If you’re looking for some entertainment, I already mentioned the bars and cafe’s existent on on Grote Markt. Besides all these, there are a number of events all year long, in which anybody can participate. Some are : the Haarlem Jazz Festival (for music lovers), the Haarlem Culinair (for food lovers) and the “Haarlemse Stripgarden”(comic days). If you have other preferences, I’m sure you can find something perfect for you here. Of course you know that Marijuana is legal in Holland. So you shouldn’t forget about drinking a coffee in a typical Dutch coffee shop, and if you’re open-minded enough, try some of the house’s specialties like hash brownies and experience a new feeling.

Let’s not forget about shopping! Don’t forget to buy a wooden shoe for grandma! (and make sure it’s her favorite color). Also, speaking of souvenirs, well I know that food isn’t really a souvenir, but you should really buy some cheese, because everyone knows that Dutch make some of the best cheese in the world! Believe me- you won’t regret it. Haarlem is less expensive than the capital city, so you’re in the right place if you want to save up some money.

Enjoy your Haarlem stay as much as I did, and try to experience every bit of the city while you’re there!

3 Responses to “Haarlem *the Netherlands*

  • Oh, I simply adore Haarlem. I always joke that it’s he most Dutch city in The Netherlands (which could actually be true!). Basically, I already fell for Haarlem when I saw the station, simply stunning. I really should hop on a train soon and see it again.
    Esther recently posted…7 things to do in Middelburg, The NetherlandsMy Profile

    • Thanks so much for your comment, Esther!
      It’s been so long since I’ve last visited, I really feel I need to go back soon 🙂
      The Netherlands are calling!

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