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Like a miniature Amsterdam, Haarlem fascinates visitors with its old cobbled streets, languid canals and genteel mix of interesting shops and galleries. Easily visited in a few hours, the focus of town is the Grote Markt, which is dominated by the Gothic Grote Kerk van St. Bavo, with its 165-foot-high steeple. Amidst the swarm of alluring cafés on the square, look for De Haerlemsche Vlaamse, which sells up perfectly crispy Dutch fries (frites). Venture down a few streets and you'll find the Frans Hals Museum, which chronicles the triumphs of the 17-century painter who lived here. Look for bookstores that are legacies of the town's ...

Like a miniature Amsterdam, Haarlem fascinates visitors with its old cobbled streets, languid canals and genteel mix of interesting shops and galleries. Easily visited in a few hours, the focus of town is the Grote Markt, which is dominated by the Gothic Grote Kerk van St. Bavo, with its 165-foot-high steeple. Amidst the swarm of alluring cafés on the square, look for De Haerlemsche Vlaamse, which sells up perfectly crispy Dutch fries (frites). Venture down a few streets and you'll find the Frans Hals Museum, which chronicles the triumphs of the 17-century painter who lived here. Look for bookstores that are legacies of the town's Renaissance printing legacy. Further afield, Kennemerduinen National Park is a patch of preserved Dutch coastal dunes. It's a mere two and a half miles from Haarlem and just beyond is the beach town of Zandvoort; cycling here is easy. In fact, Haarlem makes an excellent day trip by bike from Amsterdam, a flat 15-mile jaunt along a national bike route.

Ryan Ver Berkmoes
About the Expert

Ryan Ver Berkmoes has written many books for Lonely Planet, including Bali & Lombok and the Southeastern Alaska and Western Canada sections for LP's Canada guide.

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Ryan Ver Berkmoes for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Western Europe, located on the River Spaarne, Between Belgium and Germany
  • Language: Dutch, Frisian
  • Currency: Euro
  • Research: Wikitravel | Haarlem
  • Weather: Daylight | Rainfall
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Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Like the rest of the Netherlands, Haarlem is cold and damp in winter. Other seasons bring the prospect - but not the promise - of sunshine and warmth.