Haarlem, the capital of North Holland, has everything a bustling city needs: a pleasant historic center, cozy streets, trendy boutique shops, the best coffee shops and fantastic places for lunch. The nice thing about the old center of the city is that you can do almost everything on foot. In short, the perfect city for a wonderful city trip.
Turn Your Day in Haarlem Into a Weekend Away
Haarlem is great during a day trip, but it is even more fun if you stay overnight. At the invitation of Stay okay, one of the coolest hostel chains in the Netherlands, we were allowed to discover this fantastic city from Stayokay Haarlem. If you are also looking for a nice place to stay, we really recommend this one.
Things to Do in Haarlem
In this article we share ten great tips about what to do in Haarlem!
The Best Coffees in Town
But first, coffee! In Haarlem they know better than anyone how to brew the best coffee. A flat white or a cappuccino, they do not turn their hand for it. The best start to the day or as a snack during your day of shopping. On the Grote Markt you have wonderful places for a cup of coffee, but you will also find super nice coffee shops in the Kleine Houtstraat and in the Gouden Straatjes.
A Few Nice Address for Coffee in Haarlem:
Native: a very nice address in the always pleasant Pentagon of Haarlem. Both inside and outside you can sit very comfortably, but to go is also possible. Be sure to check the display case for something delicious with your coffee.
Frenchie: another nice place where you can relax and where you can feast your eyes on the beautifully styled interior. Tired of watching? Time for the menu, they have a card full of goodies. Breakfast, lunch or dinner? They serve it all. And for the digital nomads there are nice workplaces to work undisturbed.
Discover the Hidden Courtyards of Haarlem
One of the nice things to do in the center of Haarlem is the courtyard walk. The ancient courtyards are small hidden spots in the center of the city that you would otherwise pass by. In the past, only older women were allowed to live in the courtyards. Today they are still inhabited, but now several Haarlemmers live in them. Most courtyards are open for visitors, some courtyards have opening hours and others are closed to the public. The nice thing is that you can read a background story for each courtyard on the website. If you visit the VVV of Haarlem in advance, you can also buy a courtyard walk booklet for a few euros and you will also receive current information about the opening hours of the courtyards and which courtyards can and cannot be visited. Very handy.
Shopping in the Heart of Haarlem
If there is one thing you have to go to Haarlem for, it is the fantastic boutique shops. Forget the big shopping street with its big chain stores and stroll through the cozy streets behind it. Believe me, there you will find all the beauty you are looking for and much more. Beautiful clothing, beautiful jewelry, art, fair fashion, handmade products, the sweetest sellers and the best gifts to give away or to give yourself as a present of course. Because ideally you want to keep everything from these awesome boutique shops to yourself. The finest boutiques can be found in De Gouden Straatjes, seven fine shopping streets in the center of Haarlem.
Shopping Addresses in Haarlem:
Project 35: A beautiful boutique store with the most beautiful clothing, trendy home accessories and a cozy corner where you can enjoy a cup of coffee. Banana bread or a piece of Haarlem apple pie with it? Yes, they have that there too.
Sûr Atelier Foundation: I like projects with a nice story and Sûr Atelier Foundation is one of those projects that makes me very happy. Everything about the Sûr Atelier Foundation is simply beautiful. Sûr Atelier stands for style and sustainability. In the studio everything is made locally by New Dutch people. On my wish list: a white summer dress made by one of the tailors of the Sûr Atelier and then strolling over the finest sandy beaches and lovely boulevards.
Monkey and Poes: the nicest gift shop in Haarlem with the most beautiful gifts, jewelry and beautiful items for the home. Lovely to stroll around. They are always looking for the most beautiful items from Aap en Poes, so the collection changes regularly and you can therefore find unique items every time.
Even More Beautiful Things in Haarlem:
Passion for Pure: a beautiful concept store where you can go for pure and honest (home) accessories and delicious coffee.
Vintage Adventures: the shop for real authentic furniture and home accessories from India.
Rugs and Ramblers: the Rugs and Ramblers community stands for unique, fair and sustainable. They are inspired by the most beautiful places far away. You can find beautiful handmade products from Bali, France, Morocco and Portugal, but also a selection of locally handmade products.
DeDAKKAS: Lunch With a View
Have lunch, drinks, dinner or enjoy the sunset with a glass of wine on top of the roof of a parking garage. Who doesn’t want that? DeDAKKAS is truly an amazing place in Haarlem for a moment of enjoyment during your city trip or day trip to Haarlem. DeDAKKAS prefers to work with local and seasonal ingredients. The nice thing about this is that the menu changes with the seasons. In addition to good food and drinks, there is a year-round program that includes yoga, network meetings or a film festival. DeDAKKAS also offers a platform to novice and experienced photographers from Haarlem. In short, a place that you should definitely not miss when you go to Haarlem.
Experience the Spaarne
The Spaarne is a river that flows through Haarlem to Spaarndam. The river also flows through the center of Haarlem. Early in the morning, during sunrise, you can enjoy a quiet walk along the Spaarne. Another recommendation is to rent a boat from, for example, Club Spaarne and sail on the Spaarne for a day. Super nice to see Haarlem from the water.
De Vijfhoek is a cozy hipster neighborhood in the center of Haarlem. This part of the city owes its name to the five streets that lead to a kind of square where Café de Vijfhoek is also located. If you walk through the neighborhood you will see characteristic houses and cozy narrow streets and alleys. The trees, flowers and plants with here and there a cozy front garden complete the streetscape. The Pentagon is one of the cozy parts of the city that you really have to walk through during your day or weekend away.
Even More Great Places to Eat and Drink
In Haarlem you have many super nice hotspots where you can eat and drink. One of those nice places is food hotspot By Lima, where you are assured of a menu full of healthy dishes. Another very nice place is cafe de Volkslust. The place to meet, to start your day with a fresh breakfast at the long reading table or to drink a nice cup of coffee on the terrace by the water. The Jopenkerk is a cool place where you can enjoy a delicious beer. The nice thing about this place is that it is located in an old church and that you can also see the brewing process of the beer right away. In addition to drinking beers, they also have a Grand Café and a restaurant.
Discover Haarlem by Bike
One of the best ways to discover a city is by bike. Haarlem is also a really nice city for that. When you spend the night at Stayokay Haarlem, you can rent a bicycle there and discover Haarlem. There are several bicycle parking garages in the center where you can park your bicycle for free. Ideal if you want to stroll around the center for a while. Do you like to discover the city with a guide? Then you can book a bike tour with a guide. During this 2-hour bike ride you will ride along the highlights of the city, while you hear the best stories and facts about Haarlem. Super cozy and very interesting.
Spend the Night in the Stayokay Hostel Haarlem
Stayokayis the hostel chain in the Netherlands with hostels in the most surprising locations. Stayokay stands for social, sustainable, organic and affordable. The perfect ingredients to spend the night in a hostel in your own country. Stayokay Haarlem is a wonderful place to stay if you go on a city trip to Haarlem. The hostel is located on the edge of the center. It is easy to reach by public transport and ideal if you come by car (free parking). Stayokay Haarlem is the place to be if you want to go into the city, but also if you want to discover the nature in the area. The hostel has a nice terrace on the water where you can reminisce about a day in the city. At the bar you can enjoy a delicious fresh local drink. You spend the night in a private or shared room and you have breakfast in the common room where you can connect with other travelers. The Stayokay employees are ready to assist you and are happy to share their tips with you to make your stay complete.
Even More Tips for Haarlem
During my weekend away I certainly didn’t get to see everything of Haarlem. Reason enough to go back to this nice city again. The markets of Haarlem are still on my list, as are visiting the Koepel Cathedral and the St. Bavokerk. You can also visit various museums in Haarlem and for a bit of greenery you can visit the Haarlemmer Kweektuin city park.
Do you want to go out into nature? Haarlem is located on the Zuid-Kennemerland National Park and close to the Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen. Here you can enjoy walking and cycling. Haarlem is also a perfect base for a day at the beach at Bloemendaal aan Zee or Zandvoort. In Bloemendaal aan Zee, after a day at the beach, you can go to the hip and colorful San Blas where you can share dishes. And in Zandvoort, Hippie Fish or Ubuntu Beach Club are fine beach bars to settle down for a while.
Do You Want to Plan Your Trip to Haarlem?
Haarlem is easily accessible by train, but you can of course also take the car. So we slept in the Stayokay in Haarlem itself, from here you can enter the city but also dive into nature and from Haarlem you can of course drive to the beach.