HAARLEM TRAVEL GUIDE – ALL THE BEST SPOTS!
Amsterdam’s “little sister”, although this city deserves much more praise. This historic city full of cute stores, little streets that is filled with restaurants and cafés, has many pearls of which we would like to highlight.
Haarlem in a Nutshell
Complete with canals where you can spend hours cruising around in a boat or paddle board. From the train station, walk right into town. This city can be compared to Utrecht or Amsterdam if you like, but Haarlem really stands its own. The people who live here are happy, and leaving is hardly an option. Haarlem is often described as one of the best places to live in the Netherlands due to its quality of life, cultural offerings, and proximity to Amsterdam. Lucky for us, we live fairly close by, and managed to find the best and most unique spots in Haarlem for you.
WHERE TO STAY
By all means, Haarlem is worthy for more than just a one-day-visit. There are plenty of accommodations to choose from, but these are our favourites.
This former school building is only a few minutes walk from Haarlem’s train station, making it super convenient. More importantly though, it’s a boutique hotel with unique and spacious rooms. We tried their beds, and slept through the alarm clock, which rarely happens – bed approved. Breakfast can be enjoyed in De Ripper, the next door restaurant. If you want to drink a coffee, tea or beer, you can chill in the Livingroom, that is open to all. hotelstaats.nl
Hello I’m Local
Have you ever heard of a boutique hostel? Well, at Hello I’m Local you can experience the perks of a boutique hotel, with the prices of a well maintained hostel. In total, this hostel offers 20 rooms, and one apartment. You can share with people, or you can book private rooms starting from €55,-. Book your stay here.
Hotel Lion d’Or
Some call this the oldest city hotel in Haarlem – which you can find right across from Haarlem’s train station. It may be, but they’ve renovated since and we love their restaurants space where you can also come for a coffee or lunch as a non-guest. Rooms are available from around €150,-.
WHERE TO EAT IN HAARLEM
Where do we start! Haarlem is full of quirky lunch spots, heavenly dining places, but also has some hidden gems. We want to highlight some of our favourites here, but for extra lunch tips check: Best Lunch Spots in Haarlem.
Mama Gaia, Gonnetstraat 26
Now, we need to clearly introduce this restaurant before you make any assumptions. Mama Gaia serves 100 precent plant-based food, but not just any. No vegan junkfood here, but carefully selected and seasonal ingredients, most of them local. Make no mistake, this place knows how to cook with veggies. They’ve even won the award for Best Vegan Restaurant in 2022! Sustainability is also important here; tables, the ceiling and building materials are recycled, and they cook 100% electric. Sidenote: Mama Gaia is only open for dinner – lunch is exclusively for those who rent a desk.
Nice to know; above the restaurant you can rent flex-workspots, where you can also find the head-office of Dopper, founders of Mama Gaia.
Ti Bisou Crêpes Boutique, Korte houtstraat 4
From one French spot to another, oh byes we do love it. This time the place to be for traditional French crêpes – savory and sweet! Definitely try their weekly specials, and mocktails! Oh, and enjoy the walk towards this pretty lunch spot, it’s located in one of Haarlem’s prettiest streets.
Menu Corridor, Harmenjansweg 4
Relatively new to the food scene in Haarlem, is Menu Corridor. Besides its special location – joined together with De Koepel (more on that further down in this article), we really loved the food and ambiance here. In our opinion, a good restaurant doesn’t need to be complex, and Menu Corridor keeps it simple. On the menu you can find corn fed chicken, seabass, and seasonal veggies, all with maximum flavours. We almost licked our plate after the miso sesame eggplant, and roasted haricot on the side. It’s a perfect location for a date!
De Dakkas, De Witstraat 1A
One of the first places in Haarlem we fell in love with. Situated on top of a car park, this oasis above the city, is a local gem that everybody loves. You can come for lunch or dinner, with plenty of vegetarian or vegan options. Ingredients are often local and they serve a special kids menu. We’ve selected this restaurant as one of our favourite lunch spots in Haarlem, go check it out.
Le Petit Café, Gedempte Oude Gracht 27
If you love Paris, you will love Petit Café. Opened in 2023, this French spot in the middle of Haarlem, is where you come for coffee, pastries, lunch and dinner. From croque monsieur, to eggs benedict, french fries (what else) and confit de canard. But best of all, Le Petit Café is joined with the prettiest bookstore in Haarlem, and you can even dine in a hidden room that is surrounded by books. Tip: you won’t pay anything extra for this round table, but not everybody knows this. Perfect for a birthday dinner!
Another lunch spot that is unique because of their large hidden garden. Dishes are simple, but they serve what the Dutch love. Soups, salads, and the famous Dutch broodje kroket” is what you can order here for your portion of Hollandse Gezelligheid!
Mooie Boules, Oerkapkade 8
If you are looking for a fun night out with your friends, this is the place! Just outside the city center, you can eat, drink and play. Book a lane, and show off your best Jeu de Boules skills! Grab your food at the foodbar where you can choose from a carefully selected menu that has been put together by Ron Gastrobar, Fish Monk and Roast Bar Haarlem.
HAARLEM FOR KIDS
Haarlem is great for those who have kids, because there are plenty of places where they can enjoy themselves – and so the parents are happy. Here are a few tips.
Now, this is not our best-food-tip, but it’s a great place for people with kids. Coffee is good, and they serve toast and simple salads. De Oerkap is open from the end of February to the end of September. You can easily reach them by bicycle or by foot as they are located near the train station. Nice to know: Currently, there is a big renovation happening at De Oerkap for a new large terrace on the water and the realization space which will include a restaurant with a stage.
Truth be told, we’ve spent many mornings and afternoons at Meneer Paprika with our babies and small kids. It’s basically the perfect spot for parents that want a good cup of barista coffee, but don’t want to run after their kids. In the middle of the café the train-table is the perfect playground for young kids, next to the corner where they can play dress-up. Looking for a gift, go walk around in the toy store that is joined.
Playgrounds in the city
Did you know you can find many hidden playgrounds in the middle of Haarlem? Playground Het Paradijsje is amazing, they even sell kids snacks and serve free lemonade! Entrance is free. Playground De Glasblazers is located in between some pretty houses in Haarlem, and is perfect to sit down while kids play safely. If you go out of town towards North Haarlem, you will find De Kweektuin, this is a hub with a café, but also playground made of natural materials where kids can get a little dirty. Every first Saturday of the month there is an organic market.
Also nice; check out the Best Asian Restaurants in Haarlem!
WHERE TO SHOP
Like all cities, Haarlem has a main shopping streets where you can find the big labels we don’t need to mention (although we can like to tip our fave Fabienne Chapot). However, it’s the charming shopping streets we want to highlight. In Haarlem you have the Gouden Straatjes (Golden Streets), which consists of 7 streets; Warmoesstraat, Zijlstraat, Koningstraat, Anegang, Gierstraat, Kleine Houtstraat and Schagchelstraat. Stroll here for hours!
Shops we love in Haarlem; take a look at Stitch, The James, Trendrecipe, Biolie, TET, BrandMission and make a stop at Coffee Habits for a break.
WHAT TO DO IN HAARLEM
Besides shopping and eating, there is plenty more you can discover in Haarlem.
This former jail closed 10 years ago, and since then it has had an incredible makeover. Cool detail; they’ve kept the original staircases and cell doors – which now welcomes various businesses and freelancers. While on the top floor you can find flex-workers and businesses, in the middle you’ll find Haarlem Campus – an institute of higher education. Down in the basement, you’ll find the FilmKoepel – a cinema with five spaces which you can also hire for events.
New at De Koepel: a new escape room by Escape Haarlem where you need to escape jail! They will open soon…
Visit one of the many Museums
Haarlem is a city with a lot of history, as it officially dates back from the 12th Century already, making it at least 775 years old! Needless to say that there are plenty of tales to tell. We would like to highlight the most famous museums in Haarlem:
- Frans Hals Museum: This is the most famous museum in Haarlem and is dedicated to the Dutch masters Frans Hals and other painters of the Golden Age. The museum has two locations: Court and Hall.
- Teylers Museum is a museum of science and art, and the oldest museums in the Netherlands!
- Verwey Museum Haarlem: This museum focusses on the history and culture of the city and its surroundings.
Hire a bicycle and visit the beaches
One of the best things about Haarlem is that the beach is fairly close by. You can hire a bicycle or electric step, and explore the surroundings. Within 20 minutes you will find yourself alongside the far stretched beaches of Bloemendaal aan Zee and Zandvoort.
All in all, Haarlem may be a small city, but it has a so much to unveil and discover. In fact, Haarlem is in our top 3 favourite cities in the Netherlands.