After discovering all of Amsterdam’s gems, I encourage you to take a Haarlem day trip from Amsterdam. This one day in Haarlem itinerary provides all the best places to visit and 19 popular things to do in Haarlem, Netherlands. Highlights include museums, restaurants, places for high tea, chocolate and beer, as well as wonderful places to wile an afternoon away people watching.
What is Haarlem Netherlands known for?
Three of the top attractions in Haarlem, Netherlands, are the St. Bavokerk (Grote Kerk) Church, Corrie ten Boom Museum and Teylers Museum. Learn more about the history of each and details for seeing them below.
Haarlem has a rich history dating back to medieval times and endured through some of the most difficult eras in time, including World War II. On top of being a historic treasure, it is a food haven. Being both a foodie and history lover, this quaint town is ideal for a one-day visit. Read on below for the perfect one-day Haarlem itinerary with all of the must-sees and must-eats!
Top Things to Do in Haarlem, Netherlands
If you are wondering what to do in Haarlem, Netherlands before shopping or visiting the museums, I’ve got you covered.
#1 Be Awed by St. Bavokerk (Grote Kerk) Cathedral of St. Bavo’s Beauty
Cost: 4 Euro
Hours: Monday – Saturday 10AM-5PM
During your one day in Haarlem, you must stop by the gothic St. Bavokerk (Grote Kerk), in Haarlem’s city center, to admire the noteworthy historical elements that reside within the church. While I’m not a religious person, I’m awed that medieval structures like this were constructed without any of our modern-day tools and cranes. What an engineering feat to build a remarkable church like this from 1370-1538!
The mammoth organ, which towers 100 ft (30 m) has 5068 pipes.
We were fortunate to visit when they were preparing for a performance. In fact, we had the privilege of listening to a gentleman play the organ while a woman accompanied him with myriad melodies on violin. Being enveloped by a sound symphony due to the church acoustics is truly enchanting.
Some other points of interest inside St. Bavo Church include:
- Paintings on the massive columns dating from the 15th century. It’s impressive to see how these tapestries have withstood the test of time
- A statue of Mary dating from 1496 that previously resided on the church exterior
- Intricate model ships hanging from the ceiling, dating from the 16th and 17th centuries
- A pulpit dating from 1434 and a choir screen from 1517
- Gravestones in the floor dating from the 15th century – Frans Hals is buried here. Find out more about the Frans Hals museum below.
Visiting on a Sunday from May to October? You can attend services at the church at 10AM or 7PM. Listening to an organ concert on Tuesday evenings or Thursday afternoons is also an option.
Haarlem Day Trip Highlights
#2 Stroll Through Grote Markt
The Grote Markt is one of the places you must meander through during your self-guided walking tour of Haarlem. Gothic architecture and charming outdoor cafes flank this medieval square, which is far less congested than Dom Square in Amsterdam.
Gaze upon the town hall and imagine counts traipsing through the square in the 12th century.
If you plan your visit on a Saturday, peruse the weekly market in the Grote Square from 9AM to 5PM. During our Monday visit, a few proprietors had small booths selling Moroccan looking lamps and Bali-themed knick knacks.
The Corrie ten Boom Museum and HAL Museum are close to Grote Mrkt. Read more about both below.
#3 Wind Through the Bakenessergracht Neighborhood
If you enjoy meandering past adorable homes, be sure to explore this neighborhood with its narrow canals. Given it’s only a few minutes from Grote Mrkt, it’s worthwhile to amble through here on your way to the various museums. I enjoy leisurely wandering while admiring historic architecture.
#4 Tour the Molen De Adriaan Windmill
Cost: 7.50 Euro
Hours: Monday – Friday 1-430PM, Saturday & Sunday 1030AM-430PM
If you have the time and interest when visiting Haarlem for one day, you can tour the Adriaan windmill for 45 minutes. It serves as a sentry above the River Spaarne. Given the large number of windmills in the Netherlands, glean insights about how windmills were built and their myriad functions by touring this charming windmill. It’s a quick 10-minute walk from Grote Mrkt.
#5 Relax Aboard the Smidtje Canal Cruise
Cost: 18.50 Euro (FREE with I Amsterdam card)
Hours: Monday – Sunday 11AM-430PM
If you are game for a canal cruise, you can opt for a 50- or 90-minute cruise with Smidtje Canal Cruises. You can book in person or in advance online at email@example.com.
It’s just across the street from Teylers Museum. Learn more about the Netherland’s oldest museum below.
#6 Discover the Secret Garden at Hofje Van Oorschot
Hofje Van Oorschot is one of 21 secret garden courtyards hidden in Haarlem. I sought hofjes out throughout my time in Amsterdam and enjoyed the one I visited in Amersfoort. Since they are often hidden behind doorways or gates, part of the fun is finding them during your Haarlem one day walking tour.
Since the Middle Ages, hofjes have been utilized to provide housing and services for the elderly and sick.
What to Do in Haarlem: Haarlem Museums
#7 Ponder Dutch Golden Age Artists at Frans Hals Museum & HAL
Cost: 16 Euro (FREE with I Amsterdam Card)
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 11AM-5PM
Interestingly, the Frans Hals Museum has two locations. They are a seven-minute walk from one another.
Visit both or choose based on your interests. The location on Grote Markt, known as HAL, showcases modern and contemporary art. The Frans Hals Museum at Groot Heiligland exhibits 17th century Dutch artists.
#8 Pay Respects to Dutch Resistance Heroes at Corrie ten Boom Museum
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, tours are offered hourly from 10AM-3PM
During your full day in Haarlem, head next to the Corrie ten Boom museum, a short one block (two minute) walk from the main square in Grote Market.
While the world is familiar with Anne Frank and her family’s story, many don’t know about the ten Booms. This courageous Christian jeweler family played a critical role in the Dutch underground, protecting Jewish families by providing refuge and helping them escape.
The Dutch Resistance efforts and commitment saved ~800 Jews. Sadly, 106,000 Jews perished as a result of Nazi persecution during WWII. To learn more about the Dutch Resistance, I highly recommend visiting the Dutch Resistance Museum in Amsterdam.
Tragically, the ten Boom family was betrayed and sent to concentration camps. Six Jews were in hiding when the home was raided. Ultimately, assistance from double agent police officers allowed the six individuals to be rescued and escape through the underground network. Fortunately, Corrie ten Boom survived Ravensbruck and was able to share her family’s story.
Similar to the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam, the 60-minute guided tour for the Corrie ten Boom House fills up quickly as this is one of the top Haarlem attractions.
You can also learn more about the family with this ~60 minute online virtual tour.
#9 Stop by Netherland’s Oldest Museum – Teylers Museum
Cost: 15 Euro (FREE with I Amsterdam City Card)
Hours: Tuesday – Sunday 10AM-5PM
Continuing with museums in Haarlem, head to Teylers Museum after the Corrie ten Boom museum as it’s only a six-minute walk.
Dating from 1784, walk in the footsteps of Napoleon and Albert Einstein (prior museum visitors), as you admire the picturesque interior while gawking at fascinating machines, million-year old fossils and priceless drawings from Rembrandt, Raphael and Michelangelo.
Visiting the Netherlands’ oldest museum is one of the best things to do in Haarlem.
One Day in Haarlem: What To Eat in Haarlem Netherlands
Best Savory Haarlem Restaurants
#10 Indulge in lunch at Grand Café Brinkmann
Sipping mint tea at Grand Café Brinkmann while people watching on Grote Square is a wonderful place to rest and enjoy lunch during your Haarlem day trip. Marvel at the St Bavo Church while watching the bicyclists pedal past the striking buildings encircling the square.
I highly recommend their hummus on toast garnished with greens and tomatoes. My Dutch friend, Anjali, commented my first day in Amsterdam that the bread in the Netherlands is more flavorful than in the United States and I absolutely concur.
Mint tea (verse muntthee) is a popular drink throughout the Netherlands and appears on most menus. I personally love to sweeten mine with honey.
#11 Sip on High Tea at Bij Babette
Given how much joy savoring distinctive teas brings me, high tea is something I seek out when traveling.
Hankering for a slice of pie or cake? Bij Babette is your spot! Sip your tea at one of their lace-covered tables while pouring your refreshment from a delicate porcelain tea pot. They also offer gluten-free options. Bij Babette is an ideal place to stop and rest while strolling through Haarlem, shopping or visiting the museums.
As an aside, if you are a tea connoisseur like I am and will be traveling in Montana, it’s worth stopping in Whitefish or Missoula to procure unique teas. Since I’ve amassed a collection of 40+ teas, I indulge in a different flavor each day and cherish the time spent sipping it with friends and family.
#12 Grab lunch or high tea at Hofje Zonder Zorgen
Hours: Tuesday-Friday & Sun 10AM-5PM, Saturdays 10AM-6PM
Given their tranquility, I recommend visiting as many hofjes as you can in the Netherlands.
Hofjes served an important purpose, providing charitable housing for widowed or unmarried women or those who were financially insecure. These almshouses are typically hidden behind doorways or gates and surround a central courtyard.
Hofje Zonder Zorgen is a restaurant that overlooks the Proveniershofje, dating from 1707. This unique Haarlem experience lets you relax as you gaze upon one of the 21 hofje courtyards in Haarlem. Nosh on grilled cheese, toasted avocado or homemade apple pie or banana bread. High tea is also offered for 25 Euro.
#13 Admire St Bavokerk During Your Rooftop De Dakkas Dinner
De Dakkas offers a scrumptious menu perfect for sharing. My sister and I munched an artichoke and tomato starter, roasted carrots, and chicory, accompanied by a flavorful Marselan wine our server recommended.
Apparently, Marselan wine is a combination of Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon. Given our affinity for both of those varietals, it’s not surprising that we really enjoyed it.
The Yuzu hard iced tea caught my eye too. Surprisingly, Yuzu featured prominently during my Brussels self-guided chocolate walking tour. Since I’ve rarely seen Yuzu flavors outside of Japan, you can imagine my joy that it frequently appeared in different preparations throughout the Netherlands and Belgium!
De Dakkas is located on the roof of a parking garage, treating you to a panoramic view of St. Bavokerk (Grote Kerk) Cathedral of St. Bavo. Finish your sightseeing in Haarlem with dinner here.
#14 Swill “High Beer” at De Jopenkerk
Hours: Monday to Sunday 10AM – Midnight
If you are a beer drinker, stop at De Jopenkerk to imbibe. Since I’m a wine gal, I tend to skip breweries unless I’m with people who enjoy beer. However, I do enjoy Belgian sour ales.
This brewery offers a number of vegan options including, Thai green curry bites, hummus, vegan burgers and kebabs.
Get your Chocolate Fix During Your One Day Trip to Haarlem
#15 Experience “High Chocolate” at Chco Café Haarlem
If you’ve been following me for a while, you are well acquainted with my insatiable sweet tooth.
Chco Café Haarlem has chocolistas who can steer you towards the best chocolate flavors to satiate your cravings. While this is the first I’ve heard of this role, it’s brilliant! Pop in and get takeout or enjoy an extended brunch or an afternoon high chocolate. I adore high tea, but a high chocolate service is next level. Yes please!
Chco Café also sells exceptional products you can bring home as gifts. Personally, I feel unique food presents are delightful as you can share the backstory of where you discovered them when gifting them to your friends and family. On your day trip to Haarlem, you don’t want to miss this place.
HotChoc spoons, offered in milk, dark or white chocolate, are filled with accompaniments that melt and transform into decadent hot chocolate. Apple crumble and raspberry coconut are two standouts.
#16 Sip on an Exquisite Hot Chocolate at Chocolatiere Pierre
Chocolatiere Pierre is the ideal treat for your sweet tooth. This family-run establishment offers truffles, ice cream and hot chocolate. Their delectable, salted caramel hot chocolate is on point!
Elation awaits with a 16-ounce glass of hot milk accompanied by a bowl of thin chocolate “wafers,” allowing you to customize your hot chocolate decadence level. Not surprisingly, I added ALL the chocolate and dolloped it with most of the whip cream. When it comes to sweets, I go all in!
They also offer an assortment of ice creams, truffles, cookies and more!
It was DIVINE and the perfect way to relax after wandering around Haarlem. If you are a chocoholic like I am, this will also be one of your favorite places to visit in Haarlem.
#17 Shop for Stylish and Functional Jackets at Carol’s
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 11AM-6PM, Sunday 130-5PM, Monday 1-6PM
Living in San Francisco, I must admit to my jacket addiction. Given the fog and 50-60 F (10-16C) year-round temperatures, jackets are a necessity. It’s KEY to dress in layers to combat the microclimates that result in 10–15-degree temperature swings throughout the city.
As a result, I’m always on the search for stylish, multipurpose jackets that address both form and function. Without fail, printed jackets in various shades of blue or red call to me like sirens from shop windows. A dark blue rain jacket with a wave like pattern enticed me from Carol’s window.
The salesperson also introduced me to Ilse Jacobsen, a well-known Danish brand. I hope to make it to Scandinavia sometime soon to explore the sites and jackets! With all the adorable shops, there is no shortage of places to peruse when visiting Haarlem for one day.
Since I’d just purchased a jacket at the Noordermarket market in Amsterdam, I abstained. However, I still think about both the jackets I tried on and wonder if I should have bought one of them. Years ago, I learned the lesson that if I continue to think about items for days after, I should go back and purchase it, which is exactly what I did in Amsterdam.
#18 Find Unique Natural Remedies at A.J. van der Pigge Pharmacy
Hours: Monday to Friday, 930AM – 6PM and 930-530 on Saturdays
Apothecary pharmacies fascinate me. I always pop in and inquire about any interesting herbal remedies.
After hearing about their “Haarlem oil,” which is renowned for its healing properties, I stopped in to inquire. However, when they told me the ingredients are a secret (even to employees), I opted not to purchase since I didn’t know how it might react with my other medicines and supplements. Having worked in the pharmaceutical and medical device industries for years, I am cautious about using or taking any unregulated supplements.
This is one of the popular free things to do in Haarlem! Keep your eyes peeled for the alligators on the ceiling.
#19 Peruse Asian Crafts and Food at Toko Nina
Raja Ampat, Indonesia, is one of my favorite places for scuba diving in the world.
So, you can imagine my delight when I stumbled upon Toko Nina in Haarlem. They offer two of my favorites for take-out- Nasi Goreng (Indonesian fried rice) and tempeh.
They also sell beautiful Japanese and Chinese dishware that I wish I had space to bring home with me.
How far is Haarlem from Amsterdam?
If you are wondering how to get to Haarlem from Amsterdam, you’ll be happy to know it’s only 15 minutes by train. So, it’s easy and worthwhile to visit Haarlem in one day.
Trains depart every 15 minutes from Amsterdam Centraal Station to Haarlem, with roundtrip fare costing ~10 Euro.
I wish our train system in the United States, and particularly the San Francisco Bay Area transit system, were this extensive and well connected as I much prefer train travel to sitting in traffic.
Is Haarlem, Netherlands, worth visiting?
Indeed! Haarlem is definitely worth a visit. With its 21 hofjes, myriad places for tea and chocolate, medieval square in the city centre, I definitely recommend spending one day in Haarlem. I’ve got you covered with all the must-see Haarlem highlights in this Haarlem travel guide.
How much time to spend in Haarlem, Netherlands?
Wondering how much time you need in Haarlem? You can easily visit Haarlem in one day, covering all of the fun things to do in Haarlem, Netherlands, as the town is compact and Haarlem attractions are easily walkable.
Is Haarlem better than Amsterdam?
While I loved my 10 days in Amsterdam, I found sitting in the city center at Grote Mrkt far more pleasant and enjoyable than Amsterdam’s Dam Square. Haarlem is smaller, easier to navigate and has a plethora of great places to eat and things to see.
I hope this Haarlem travel guide has helped you with planning a Haarlem day trip from Amsterdam.