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Netherlands Travel Guide:

Best Places to Visit in Haarlem

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Haarlem Travel      


Haarlem is a good place to spend an afternoon, especially if you have tired of Amsterdam, but are not ready for a longer trip to other sites in the country.  Conversely, If you want to avoid the crowds in Amsterdam (and the hotel prices), you will find Haarlem a pleasant place to stay. 
A quiet, little town, Haarlem has friendly people and good access to the rest of the Netherlands.  It does not have the energy or attractions of Amsterdam but can be a good home base for daytrips by train to other parts of the country, especially if you do not want the bother of packing, repacking and changing hotels during your stay in the Netherlands.

Haarlem is a little short on quality hotels.  The Golden Tulip across the plaza from the train station is  comfortable and includes a good quality breakfast, for a reasonable rate.  It can be noisy on the weekend - but our experience is that most hotels in the Netherlands are noisy on the weekends, since the Dutch like to party. Although the hotel has a rap of being a  "business" hotel, we found the staff to be friendly, polite, and helpful.

The Grote St. Bavokerk, Haarlem(1)

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Haarlem is a short train ride from Amsterdam  (approximately 15 minutes) and its train station is a modest walk from the Grote Markt, which is the cultural and historical center of the town.

If arriving by train, follow the signs for “Centre” to exit on the “town” side of the building and visit the VVV Tourist Information shop at the  east end to the station to purchase their inexpensive, detailed panoramic tourist map of Haarlem. 

  • The map shows the town's  main streets and includes illustrations of the city’s major historical buildings. 

  • In addition, the text side of the map describes two detailed walks through the city (each walk is about an hour and half, depending on your pace and ability to pass up some fine pastry shops surrounding the Grote Markt).  

  • Both walks feature interesting, mostly minor attractions but are a pleasant way to explore Haarlem.

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The town hugs its canals and the water adds a little scenic beauty.  The most interesting attractions in Haarlem are the Great St. Bavo's Church (Grote St. Bavokerk)  and the Grote Markt (Great Market).

St Bavo's in Haarlem (1) is named after the same Saint Bavo who is the patron saint of the masterful cathedral in Ghent, Belgium. 
  • The church in Haarlem, dating from  the fourteen hundreds is a late gothic, cross style church.  The interior side of the wooden roof  is extremely impressive (2). The majority of the floor of the church is composed of engraved stone flats that cover graves from the sixteen hundreds and later. 

  • The church features a dog whipping chapel - to honor those patrons in the Middle Ages who whipped unruly dogs whose barking interrupted services.

  • The premier feature of the church is the large, handsomely decorated Muller organ (3) (4), which was played by Mozart and Handel.

The Grote Markt  (5) was the town's market during the Middle Ages and now serves as a center for restaurants and shopping. 
  • Replete with a mobile herring stand (and a McDonald's), the Grote Markt includes numerous places to eat and is surrounded by interesting, historical buildings and good shopping. It is a pleasant place to take a rest and order one of the Netherlands's fine beers.

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Three other Haarlem attractions deserve notice. 

Teylers Museum (6) on Spaarne, the oldest museum in the Netherlands, has an interesting facade and beautiful foyer.  Step inside and take a look at the architecture but make sure you want to see the museum before paying the fee.  See the official website  for more details on the collection and visiting.

The Frans Hals Museum at Groot Heiligland 62, several blocks south of the Grot Markt, is a well-known museum of the Dutch Golden Age that includes  works  by Frans Hals and Goltzius, among others. The museum is housed in an impressive seventeenth century building.  See the official website/ for more details on visiting and to decide whether this is a collection of interest to you.

A walk along the Bakenesser Gracht has several scenic sights but the prettiest is the steeple of the Bakenesserkerk (7)

The spire of the Bakenesser Church was recently restored to its orignal beauty, Haarlem               Teylers Museum has a wonderful neo-classical architecture, Haarlem. 

                  (7)                                                   (6)

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The wooden ceiling of the Great St. Bavokerk is unique and beautiful, Haarlem(2)


The Christiaan Muller Organ - 1738, Grote St. Bavokerk, Haarlem(3)


The detail in the Muller Organ at Grote St. Bavokerk is outstanding, Haarlem(4)


The Restaurant-Cafe Brinkman on the Grote Markt, Haarlem(5)








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