The Netherlands

Weekend break in Haarlem near the sea

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The sea is attractive, most people will agree. Who doesn’t like to walk barefoot through the surf, overlooking a setting sun? A favorite summer activity for many. But beach and sea also call out in winter. Braving the cold and wind dressed up thickly and then enjoying a cup of hot chocolate in a cozy beach bar. I love it! So glad I live in Haarlem. Close to the dunes, the beach and the sea. And then also a fantastic city center within reach. I give you a few reasons why you should really come this way.

Old city center of Haarlem

The history of Haarlem goes way back. In the 10th century Haarlem was first mentioned in documents and in the 13th century it received city rights. In the Middle Ages, Haarlem was one of the largest cities in the Netherlands. Industry flourished and Haarlem was important in textiles and painting for centuries. Much from these earlier times has been preserved. See beautiful old buildings and museums in Haarlem, including the Teylers Museum, the Frans Hals Museum and the Corrie ten Boom Museum, among others. Stay overnight in Haarlem and catch the evening life right away. Eat at one of the many cozy restaurants, walk along the Spaarne at night and enjoy the beautifully lit old buildings. Still have some hours left in daylight? Rent a whisper boat and see Haarlem from the water. Or let yourself sail around in a beautiful sloop with captain, so you also get a lot of background information.

See a movie in the FilmKoepel

Bad weather? Or are you just a movie buff? Then a visit to the FilmKoepel is a must. This cinema is located in the basement of the former dome prison. There are six movie theaters and as many as 600 seats.

Cycling around Haarlem

Something I definitely wouldn’t leave out of a few days in Haarlem: exploring the area by bike. From many accommodations you have many good cycling possibilities. You can actually go in all directions! Cycle towards the sea or the other way, into the polders. Keep in mind that the wind is often quite strong here along the coast. If you are going for a relaxed bike ride, be sure to rent an electric bike.


The bike paths through the Kennemer Duinen (dunes) are beautifully landscaped and the vistas are almost foreign in many places. If you are lucky you will see Scottish Highlanders, Konik horses or a shepherd with sheep. Can’t get enough of wildlife? Then hike the wisent trail in Kraansvlak. Here, with a little luck, you can spot the European bison (wisent).


If you cycle towards the north of Haarlem you can go into the polder, towards Spaarndam. This town arose in the 13th century around a dam at the mouth of the Spaarne in the IJ. Residents lived off tolls collected at the lock in the dam and fishing. In Spaarndam, everything feels very rural, right in the middle of the polder. You have no idea that a big city like Haarlem is nearby. Stroll past all the pretty dike houses, have a drink at Fort-Zuid or on one of the terraces along the Grote Sluis.

Grab an electric scooter instead of a bicycle

Do you want to travel some longer distances or are you not so into cycling? Then you can explore the surroundings of Haarlem with an electric scooter. Drive along the boulevard between Bloemendaal and Zandvoort, take a look at the Circuit Zandvoort and don’t forget to eat some kibbeling. With a scooter, you can even drive a bit north to admire IJmuiden’s new sea lock. Who knows, maybe a cruise ship is just coming into the North Sea Canal. I can tell you, that’s really impressive!

As you read, there is plenty to do in Haarlem; truly everything is within easy reach. Culture, history, vast nature, good food and activities. Haarlem is the place to be!

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