Do questions like “Where should I live?”, “What makes Haarlem attractive?” keep popping up in your mind? Then you’re probably looking for convincing reasons to make Haarlem your new home, right? If so, then you’ve definitely come to the right place! Here are five reasons that might help you decide to move to our amazing city..
1. Beautiful old city, with lots of art, monuments and culture
Haarlem is one of the most beautiful old cities in the Netherlands. It is a delightful, safe city with ca. 150,000 inhabitants. Haarlem lies on the river Spaarne and has a beautiful, cosy historic city centre with many attractions and a wide range of shops, cafés and restaurants. Haarlem is sometimes called “the most Flemish city of the North”. The monuments created by city master builder Lieven de Key and the large number of places to eat and drink give the city a southern feel.
Haarlem was granted privileges over 750 years ago and has always been one of the most prosperous cities of Holland. Historically a city of arts and culture, it still boasts a lot of cultural attractions. In recent years, four cultural centres have been renovated or rebuilt (Stadsschouwburg Haarlem, Philharmonie, Toneelschuur and Patronaat). A real treat for culture vultures!
At the Frans Hals Museum, visitors can enjoy a wealth of paintings from the Golden Age. When you visit the Teylers Museum, the oldest museum in the Netherlands, you will feel like you have stepped back into the 18th century. Exhibitions include a vast collection of fossils, minerals, scientific instruments, farthings, coins, books, prints, paintings and drawings. The museum was nominated for inscription on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Haarlem also has a large number of interesting galleries.
There are over 1,000 listed monuments in the well-preserved historic city centre. Situated in the Grote Markt square, the oldest part of the city and once the tournament field of the Counts of Holland, are the medieval town hall complex, the Hoofdwacht (Main Guardhouse), Grote or St. Bavokerk (St Bavo’s Church), the Vleeshal (Meat Hall) and Vishal (Fish Hall). In addition, Haarlem also has 21 hofjes, courtyards with almshouses, the oldest of which dates from 1395.
2. Great shopping
Haarlem is a great city for shopping. The inner city is reserved for pedestrians and boasts a line-up of clothes shops, jewellery shops, antiques shops, boutiques, international retail chains and specialty shops. Of course shopping for hours makes you hungry. Fortunately the city centre has dozens of pleasant lunchrooms. With its car-free centre, great shops and lunchrooms, Haarlem has been voted ‘Best shopping city in Holland’ on more than one occasion. The shops are open on Sundays as well.
Haarlem’s shopping streets
The Grote Houtstraat, Barteljorisstraat and Zijlstraat are the big shopping streets in Haarlem. This is where you will find the popular brands that are probably found in every city. Walk a little further and discover the special little shopping streets, where the shops sell surprising objects and special collections. We recommend the Schagchelstraat, Kleine Houtstraat, Anegang, Warmoesstraat, Koningstraat and Gierstraat.
Haarlem Shopping Night
Haarlem Shopping Night is held every year in June. Shops, artists, musicians, cafés and restaurants team up to present Haarlem as Holland’s best shopping experience for an entire evening.
3. Boating Haarlem
The Spaarne is the S-shaped river that meanders through the old city centre of Haarlem. Enjoy a spectacular view of the canal houses, churches and De Adriaan windmill from the water. A tour boat will guide you past the most beautiful hotspots in Haarlem. The tour lasts about an hour. If you want to spend more time on Haarlem’s canals, we recommend hiring your own boat. Read more about this topic in our articles: Renting a Boat in Haarlem, Greenjoy Boat Renting and Ride the waves with Greenjoy.
There are many ways to explore the waters of Haarlem, the most well-known is a boat tour. The regular tour boats take you past various city highlights and run several times a day. In addition to the regular boat tours you can also enjoy several arrangements, such as the Cocktail Boat, a High Tea Cruise, ‘Rondje Haarlem’ (Haarlem tour) or a Romantic Candlelight Cruise. Wouldn’t a boat tour with a drink and some nice food be even more fun?
4. Haarlem and the Flower Bulb Region
There are large bulb fields north and south of Haarlem, that draw hundreds of thousands of tourists every spring. Just a 15-minute bicycle ride will take you from the city center of Haarlem to the colorful bulb fields, where you will find yourself surrounded by millions of tulips, crocuses, daffodils and hyacinths.
The annual Flower Parade is the biggest flower-related event in the Bulb Region or ‘Bollenstreek’. The parade of dozens of floats traces a colorful ribbon from Noordwijk to Haarlem. The floats are made up with thousands of flowers to resemble the most beautiful creations. After arriving in Haarlem they are displayed on the Grote Markt for another day so visitors can view them up close.
The Keukenhof in Lisse is the world’s most famous flower bulb park. The flower-packed park is less than a 30 minute drive away from Haarlem. If you are up for a sportive challenge, rent a bike to ride the twenty kilometres to Keukenhof park through the loveliest flowering fields. Expect to spend at least an hour on your bike, although it is likely to take you longer because you will want to stop to take some photographs.
5. Perfect location
Haarlem is ideally located, just 15 minutes from Amsterdam and Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, but at the same time very peaceful. The city is sometimes referred to as ‘the most beautiful suburb of Amsterdam’. The beach, sea and dunes form the backyard of the city, together with the seaside resorts of Bloemendaal aan Zee and Zandvoort. There are also a number of stunning places off the beaten track, country estates and nature reserves in the region such as National Park Zuid-Kennemerland and country estates Landgoed Elswout and Landgoed Duin en Kruidberg. Fantastic recreational places.
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