A delightful city with a vibrant culture, cafés, shops, and restaurants in Haarlem. It is frequently ranked as one of the greatest cities in the nation for shopping. In addition to being home to some of the best museums and internationally renowned artwork in the Netherlands. Here are the best attractions and things to do in Haarlem, such as visiting Frans Hals Museum, Teylers Museum, Amsterdamse Poort, Grote Markt, and more.
What Is Haarlem Famous For?
Between Amsterdam and the North Sea is Haarlem, the provincial capital of Noord-Holland. This traditional Dutch town is located on the northern edge of the Bollenstreek, a famous bulb-growing region that yields tulips, hyacinths, crocuses, and daffodils, only seven kilometers from the shore on the tiny River Spaarne (the origin of the city’s nickname, “Spaarnestad”).
Haarlem has a lengthy and illustrious past. It served as the home of the Counts of Holland from the eleventh to the thirteenth centuries. In 1245 it acquired its municipal charter, making it the second-oldest city in the Dutch central region.
The city had a lot of artistic activity in the 17th century. It was home to a lot of artists, including Frans Hals, Jacob van Ruisdael, Philips Wouwerman, and Adriaen van Ostade. Even now, this rich cultural history is still there. And the Frans Hals Museum is one of the most popular attractions in Haarlem.
Top 10 Things To Do In Haarlem
Look around the Frans Hals Museum
The Old Men’s Almshouses (Oude Mannenhuis) is one of Haarlem’s most significant historical buildings. It served as the location for the Frans Hals Museum, which opened its doors in 1913. It is now one of the top art museums in the country. The museum, which is split between the “Hof” and the “Hal,” concentrates on the creations of the Haarlem Academy. Frans Hals found a collection of artists in the 1600s.
The biggest collection of Hals’ artworks in the world includes five of his significant civic guard pieces. It is currently housed in this magnificent museum. His mastery at capturing a moment and bringing it to life in each of the faces is on full display in these enormous paintings.
Other noteworthy pieces include the marksmen’s guilds, groups of willing volunteers from the wealthier residents of the city who would band together to form a municipal militia. A collection of modern and contemporary artwork, including paintings, sculptures, textiles, ceramics, and graphic works by artists from Haarlem. The collection also includes the surrounding region, along with portraits and landscapes from the 17th century. You can also browse a sizable collection of modern artwork and photographs.
Visit Grote Kerk, the St. Bavo Church (St.-Bavokerk)
The St. Bavo Church, also known as the Grote Kerk (St.-Bavokerk), is the most prominent structure in Haarlem. It is situated in the center of the Grote Markt, the city’s central plaza. This 140-meter-long late Gothic cruciform basilica has a thin 40-meter tower. The construction of the choir was begun in the 14th century, and the transepts were later completed in the middle of the 15th century.
Rich furnishings from before the Reformation, such as the choir and lectern from 1499, the exquisitely carved choir stalls from 1512, and the brass choir screen from 1509. They are among the interior highlights. Three replicas of Dutch warships stand in front of the former Seamen’s Guild chapel. Paintings from the 15th and 16th centuries covering the piers in the choir and under the tower represent the Apostles, the guilds, and church theology.
The church’s renowned Müller Organ, however, is the primary attraction. This amazing instrument is one of the best in the world for its tone and decoration. Christian Müller constructed it in 1738. It has three manuals, 68 stops, and 5,000 pipes. The largest of them is 10 meters long and 40 cm in diameter.
Mozart and Handel are two musicians that have played the organ. Try to time your visit with one of the attraction’s regular organ performances for a unique experience.
Explore the Grote Markt and the Old City
The historic market square (Grote Markt) in Haarlem is home to a variety of other magnificent views. In addition to being the location of many of the city’s key tourist attractions, such as the Town Hall and Grote Kerk. A visit to Grote Markt is one of the most well-liked activities.
The Brinkmann-Passage, with its stores and eateries, and the Old Guard House (Hoofdwacht), one of Haarlem’s oldest structures and famous for its gable from 1650.
The Vleeshal, or Meat Hall, is Grote Markt’s true gem, though. It rates as the finest example of the Northern Renaissance trend. It has been flawlessly kept as an extension of the Frans Hals Museum since it was constructed in 1603 to house the municipal slaughterhouse as well as the butchers’ guild.
The Teylers Museum, Haarlem
The Teylers Museum, the oldest museum in the Netherlands, was established in 1778 thanks to the bequest of its namesake. A wealthy cloth and silk merchant who left his fortune to create a facility to trace the advancement of science and art. Teylers Museum is one of just four of its kind in Europe. Teylers Museum has a sizable art collection that includes many works by early Dutch masters.
Michelangelo’s figure studies for the Sistine Chapel, Raphael’s drawings, and exceptional collections of scientific equipment, minerals, and fossils are among the other significant creations. The magnificent Oval Room as a space for inquiry and study. It also scientific experiments that were formerly carried out are particularly fascinating.
There are guide tours in English. The nearby Weigh House (Waag), built in 1598 and used until 1915, is well worth a visit.
Explore Amsterdamse Poort
Around the Bakenessergracht, one of Haarlem’s most scenic areas, are some of the city’s oldest and most impressive structures. Hofje van Bakenes, a charming tiny courtyard built in 1395 and known for its cryptic rhyme, is particularly attractive (look for the plaque above the entrance).
The River Binnen Spaarne is located at the end of the Bakenessergracht. It is bridged here by a charming old drawbridge from which you can see the Amsterdamse Poort, the last remaining city gate in Haarlem. Amsterdamse Poort was constructed in the early 1400s and is now a national monument. Amsterdamse Poort is surrounded by the remains of the former city walls as well as two round towers and two octagonal towers.
The Old City Hall Haarlem
The older portions of the old City Hall (Stadhuis), located across from the Grote Kerk, dating back to 1250. The north wing, the external staircase, and the neoclassical façade were more modern additions made in the 1600s.
The tower, Haarlem’s most iconic structure, was restored in 1913 using the original designs (the original bell still rings at the beginning of council meetings). Additionally fascinating is the interior, which is filled with exquisite wood carvings, artifacts, and paintings.
View the Old Historic Houses on Providershuis
Proveniershuis is a group of beautiful ancient buildings from the 17th and 18th centuries situated on Grote Houtstraat, Haarlem’s main shopping street. It should be on your list of sites to see. In the past, a variety of city residents have lived in this charming location, including nuns, priests, businesspeople, and old guildsmen.
Today, it’s a wonderful location to meander while taking in the ambiance and discovering the side streets that branch off into the city’s numerous hidden nooks and crannies. The numerous antique almshouses, where the less fortunate residents once resided, are among the highlights.
At the Cathedral of St. Bavo, take in a recital
The three-aisle cruciform basilica, known as the Roman Catholic Cathedral of St. Bavo, was constructed between 1895 and 1906. It’s a good illustration of how church architecture evolved from traditional to more contemporary styles, measuring around 100 meters long, 42 meters wide, and 60 meters high.
Highlights include a reliquary containing St. Bavo’s remains and the Cathedral Treasury with its priceless silver liturgical objects. Fine stained glass, well-known Dutch artists’ sculptures, and paintings are further noteworthy elements.
The Willibrord Organ, constructed in 1923 with four manuals and 75 stops, is also noteworthy. You should check the schedule for regular organ recitals.
Visit the De Adriaan Windmill
The De Adriaan Windmill (Molen de Adriaan) is situated on the banks of the Spaarne River. It is an exact reproduction of the mill that first stood there in 1778. It was constructed on the ruins of an old fortification. The original, used for crushing tufa into a powder for producing cement and then for grinding tobacco and corn, was burned in 1932.
You may find out more about the history of the mill and Haarlem on a 45-minute tour and observe how a windmill works. You may get wonderful views of the city and river from the viewing platform.
Brederode Castle (Kasteel Brederode), albeit now entirely in ruins, provides an excellent glimpse into life in The Netherlands in the 13th century. Santpoort-Zuid, the site of the nation’s first national monument, is a short drive (or bus trip) from the center of Haarlem.
Particularly for those visiting with children, there is no shortage of entertaining things to see and do here. Staff and volunteers frequently hold period-themed costumed activities, such as markets and musical performances, in addition to its exceptionally picturesque surroundings, which include a moat and bridge.