Quite frankly I prefer Haarlem to Amsterdam for two reasons, one from the past:
Arts in Haarlem, especially painting, preceded Amsterdam and Haarlem was often at the top of arts and culture in the Netherlands.
Around 1600 started in this town what would be called nowadays an "art nouveau". Painters started painting canvasses with dimensions adapted to the interiors of the bourgeois and left aside religious and mythological subjects.
Many thousands of paintings of landscapes, marines, still life's, genre scenes were put on the market. There were even lotteries of paintings.
Painters specialized in all sort of themes:
Still life's with fish, winter scenes, Italian type landscapes, coast landscapes, etc. etc.
All this can be found in the famous Frans Hals museum.
The second reason at present is that Haarlem has kept something in the air of that glorious time. A touch of Dutch culture has been maintained. A style of life smoother than that of Amsterdam. And more, even unique, they still speak Dutch in Haarlem! See my review "Does anybody speak Dutch in Amsterdam?".
I made this one day trip to Haarlem by train from Amsterdam CS. There are 4 or 5 trains per hour and the trip takes about 15 minutes.
I visited first the Tylers Museum about 1 km south-east from the station and then the Frans Hals museum 1,5 Km south from the station. I finished the visit by the Grote Markt.
I wrote a number of reviews "Between us, I prefer Haarlem to Amsterdam" .
Located just 15 minutes west of Amsterdam is a beautiful town called Haarlem. It is host to a number of museums, picturesque canals, a handful of coffeeshops, a small Red Light District and of course, a history of it's own.
The first thing noticable is there is no tram system in Haarlem, which makes walking the streets more peaceful with less noise and objects to look out for. The whole aura of Haarlem is much more relaxed than that in Amsterdam, I made a trip on a Tuesday morning till evening and it felt like a lazy Sunday afternoon all day long.
Make your way to the market in the centre of town and you could spend literally hours exploring all the roads spidering outwards.
Also known for the close by tulip fields, this small town holds regular flower festivals/events which add so much more colour and decoration to an already stunning setting.
A day return ticket on the train from Amsterdam will cost you a little over €6
When you are in Amsterdam you should really pay a visit to the beautiful city of Haarlem. This 750 yeras old city is only 15 minutes by train from Amsterdam. Interesting things to see are the Netherland's oldest Museum, the Teyler's Museum. The windmill Adriaen, the Big Market Square with a huge church and the Amsterdam Gate, which is the only remaining gate left from the citywalls that used to surround the city of Haarlem. If you want to know what else to see when visiting Haarlem, please take a look at my Haarlem page, or contact me.
Haarlem, just a short train ride away, quaintly beautiful little town, that most people overlook when traveling to Holland. Full of restuarants, shopping, and cultural history, Haarlem is well worth a day trip, or two.
This is my location of choice for accommodation, mainly because of the more laid back atmosphere and it is cheaper!
Nol in front of the former location of Willie Wortel Workshp. Now newly renamed Willie Wortel Sinsemilla Coffeeshop and relocated to the Houtplien, with all the same neon signs
Right at the Haarlem station, the Sativa is the most convenient coffeeshop to hit after getting off the train. This place stays very busy due to the location, so don't be surprised to see a line out the door!!
As the name indicates, they specialize in sativa strains so you can find the authentic Thai Sticks here.
Also the best coffeeshops are in Haarlem, the three Willie Wortel's Coffeeshops owned by Nol are the one's to go to. Great prices, great weed, great people!
Here is Marcel, manager of the Sinsemilla, showing his stuff. He is very proud of all his merchandise!
Our day trip to Haarlem was a fantastic day mainly because of the variety of historic sights, the ease of using public transport from Amsterdam, walking the preserved waterfront along the Spaarne River and canal.
The small city of Haarlem (approx 180,000 people) is crammed packed with historic buildings, they are never out of sight within the Old Town.
We caught the metro train from Amsterdam Centraal, with only one stop along the way we arrived at Haarlem Railway Station within 30 minutes.
For more information on Haarlem visit my Haarlem page.
Many tourists unjustifiably miss out on sites outside of Amsterdam.
Haarlem is located very close to the West of Amsterdam. Actually, its exact distance from Amsterdam as Harlem in New York is from the tip of Manhattan.
It has a very lovely square, beautiful church and canals. I strongly recommend visiting it, as it is less touristy than Amsterdam. In fact, if you are staying for an extended period, I would recommend staying in Haarlem and commuting: it is probably cheaper, and the town is very friendly and tranquil.
Get out of the city for a few hours and take a drive along the coast. Head towards Haarlem and North after that and you will see sand dunes and flower fields a plenty as well as some beautiful homes. I could totally see myself living in a place like Haarlem. The homes that lined the road looked very inviting, however the water on the coast did not! BRRRRRRRR!!
Sauna Van Egmond
Haarlem is just 20km West of Amsterdam. A short 15 minutes train ride will get you there for 8 euros or so.
It has an impressive church with a pipe organ but that`s not why you should go there.
I have only 3 words for you: Sauna Van Egmond.
26 euro per person will let you in and let you stay in for as long as you wish (up until midnight when it closes).
Reservation (by phone) is advised, but we were able to get in without one.
The website is in Dutch, but I`ll give the link anyway :)
Before you dial the number, have in mind that it`s mixed and nude. If you have a problem being naked in front of opposite sex, don`t go. But, please, try to go beyond your comfort zone, after 5 minutes it`ll feel normal and you`ll have a great time. I know we did. For 7 hours! :)
No need to bring anything with you. Shampoo/soap/salt scrubs are free. You can rent a robe, towels, slippers. And you can buy food/beverage in the restaurant there. It`s the only place where you should be dressed - in robe that is.
BUS: 3 or 5, from Haarlem train station. Ticket costs 1.60 euros one way.
TAXI: would be about 10 euros.
I took a short train ride, about 10 miles outside of Amsterdam to Haarlem. My thought was that I needed to see a small town/village, in addition to the city.
It turned out to be just a mini version of Amsterdam. It still had the cafes and coffeeshops, only on a smaller scale. The architecture is the same, too.
If you're looking for something different than Amsterdam, this probably isn't it. But, if you're looking for something smaller and more quaint than Amsterdam but with the same charm, this is your place.
On this spot was in the past a city entrance – a city gate. The gates functioned as guarded entrances to the city and as exits out of town. This gate led to Haarlem.
This neo-classic gate, which was restored in 1840, was in fact a triumphal arch for King Willem II. Cornelis Alewijn designed it and in the 19th century it was a custom office and a police station. It is now inhabited by private persons since 1986.
Near the Grote Market, the Indica coffeeshop has a great view of the beautiful windmill in town. It is also right on a canal which makes it very gazellig.