Haarlem is the cutest little town only about 15 minutes away from Amsterdam by train. If you have a chance to add another day onto your Amsterdam adventure, I highly recommend Haarlem. Those fifteen minutes on the train transport you to a small, beautiful town with great food, gorgeous attractions and some amazing shopping.
My visit to Haarlem
Since I was already in Amsterdam for a few days, I decided that it would be a huge mistake to not venture out of the city and see more of what The Netherlands has to offer. Read my post on mistakes to avoid in Amsterdam if you are interested in having the best trip possible!
I hopped on the train from Amsterdam arrived in Haarlem at about 4pm on a Saturday. I checked into my Airbnb with no issues and decided to research a bit what to see in Haarlem. While doing a google search, I quickly realized the Grote St. Bavo church that I wanted to see was closing at 5pm and wouldn’t open again until Monday. So, I sprinted (ok, walked briskly) over to the church to get a glimpse at the gorgeous interior.
The Grote Kerk or St.-Bavokerk is a Reformed Protestant church and former Catholic cathedral is located in the central market square. It’s claim to fame is it’s amazing Müller organ that Mozart played at 10 years old. It stands 30 meters and is worth a visit in person! The floor is also made from gravestones.😟
Next onto dinner at the fabulous De Pizzabakkers Haarlem, where I had an amazing margarita pizza that didn’t break the bank. The restaurant was really busy and lively on a Saturday night and I felt very comfortable as a solo diner.
Molen de Adriaan is a windmill that burned down in the 1930s and was rebuilt in 2002. You can join a guided tour (5 euro and on the hour) to see the inside of it and climb up to the top. I can highly recommend the tour for all those that don’t mind steep steps. I learned so much about windmills!
Just down the road from the windmill is the Teylers Museum, the oldest museum in The Netherlands. This is a wonderful museum to see some great art and interesting minerals/fossils. I spent about an hour here and then off to lunch!
I stopped for some beef croquettes which are a Dutch specialty and very hard to explain. Sort of like a Bitterballen, but not. Anyway, I couldn’t figure out how the heck to eat them but I managed. If anyone knows how this should be eaten, let me know!
Haarlem was voted “best shopping city in The Netherlands” so you could imagine I was in heaven. There were so many cute little boutiques where I could have spent days but I was running out of time so only had a quick browse. There are several little cobblestone streets to turn down and you’ll see a ton of shops. Have fun getting lost down the little streets off the main square!
I encourage you to take a least a day trip to Haarlem and see a different side of The Netherlands. It was a very solo friendly place where I felt safe atall times.
Solo travel tip: base yourself in Haarlem instead of Amsterdam to save a ton of money on accommodation. It’s only 15min on the train and about half the cost of staying in the Amsterdam.