About Haarlem

Haarlem, with its attractive cityscape, is one of the most beautiful and oldest cities in the Netherlands. With 150.000 inhabitants, Haarlem is a pleasant and safe city situated on the river Spaarne. Haarlem has a beautiful, monumental city centre with many places of interest and a great variety of shops, cafés and restaurants. Moreover, Haarlem is traditionaly a city of art and culture. Just a few kilometers away lies the North Sea with its splendid beaches. All of this makes Haarlem a wonderful place to be.


Provincial capital Haarlem, which was granted its city charter more than 750 years ago in 1245, is a real administrative centre. In part, this is due to Haarlem being the seat of government for the province of Noord-Holland and the fact that various national government departments and a district court are located there. The Municipal Executive is responsible for the day-to-day running of the city. The 39 elected members of the Municipal Council monitor the Executive and put forward proposals with regard to policy. The province of Noord-Holland is governed from a building named Welgelegen, the former palace of King Louis Napoléon.


Approximately 2.5 million people live in Noord-Holland and are spread over a large number of municipalities. One of these municipalities is Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands.


Haarlem’s central location is one of the reasons it is so easily accessible. Over land by road and rail, by air and across water. The A9 motorway runs past Haarlem and connects the rest of the Randstad. There are two train stations and Schiphol airport is a stone’s throw away. There is also a direct waterway to the North Sea. Amsterdam (just 21 kilometres away), Alkmaar (33 km), Utrecht (55 km), The Hague (58 km) and Rotterdam (73 km) are all easily accessible from Haarlem.


Haarlem has more than fifteen museums, which all house unique collections. From paintings to barrel organs and from straitjackets to 18th century scientific machinery. For example, the Frans Hals Museum is the place to be for art originating from the Golden Age, and the Teylers Museum, dating from 1784, is the oldest public museum in the Netherlands. Among many other museums, Het Dolhuys (the National Museum of Psychiatry) and the Historical Museum are also to be found in Haarlem.


Haarlem is a pleasant and green city. Woodland park Haarlemmerhout and various 19th century urban parks lie in and around the city centre. Parks such as Kenaupark, with its statue of Vrouw in het Verzet (Woman in the Resistance) dedicated to Hannie Schaft –a resistance fighter from Haarlem who was executed during the Second World War. Bolwerken park meanders around Kinderhuissingel, opposite Haarlem station, while Zaanenpark and Schoterbos in Haarlem-Noord are mainly frequented by day-trippers.


Four important cultural venues have undergone facelifts, which had put Haarlem firmly back on the map as city of Art and Culture. In a period of ten years, the Stadsschouwburg (the municipal theatre), pop venue Patronaat, theatre and film venue Toneelschuur and concert hall Philharmonie have either been thoroughly renovated or completely rebuilt. For many centuries, Haarlem has been an artistic city, where famous painters such as Frans Hals, Jacob van Ruisdael and Pieter Saenredam all lived and worked. In the Spaarne city, Laurens Janszoon Coster invented the movable type printing press in the 15th century.


Haarlem is a paradise for shoppers. No wonder that the city was twice voted best shopping city in the Netherlands. The historical centre offers a wealth of shops. In addition to the high street, which houses the most important international retail chains, there are many delightful side streets with smaller shops. Haarlem really does surprise! Exclusive home furnishing shops, trendy fashion boutiques, shops that sell antiques and collectables, and a large range of specialist shops are all to be found in the charming and traffic-restricted city centre. Parking is available in the car parks situated on the edge of the central shopping area. Grote Markt is a ten-minute walk away from Haarlem station.

Haarlem has a large number of cafés and restaurants. These can be found near the city’s squares, on the banks of the Spaarne and in the picturesque shopping streets. Many cafés and restaurants are located centrally in the numerous idyllic, small streets around Grote Markt. The main square in the old city centre is also a gastronomic heaven for food lovers. The same applies to the area around the Spaarne and Botermarkt. Nearly all international cuisines are represented in Haarlem; from French to Spanish and Thai to Indonesian.


Haarlem’s vibrant! Throughout the year, large crowd-pulling events are organised in the city. Music, food and drink, flowers, sailing, monuments, comics and sport all have their own event. Whatever the theme, Haarlem has a great event to celebrate it. Here are just a few of the events Haarlem organises: the world famous Bollenstreek Flower Parade, Bevrijdingspop, the Haarlem Baseball Week, Haarlem Jazz, Haarlem Culinary Festival, the Heritage Days, Haarlem Comics Festival, the Sailing Festival and the traditional Christmas market.


Haarlem embraces entrepreneurship. Haarlem offers ample opportunity for new initiatives. Commercial services and new media are well represented and more and more innovative companies are setting up businesses in the Spaarne city. One of the reasons for this is the constant flow of highly educated young people, who benefit from the city’s excellent education facilities. With its new, modern and easily accessible campus, Haarlem’s Hogeschool INHOLLAND attracts many students interested in studying at HBO (Higher  Vocational Education) level.


Content is not the only ingredient for success when it comes to conferences. The location, surroundings and atmosphere are just as important. Haarlem offers all of this. There are a number of conference facilities in efficiently equipped historical buildings. There are also a multitude of hotels and restaurants, both in and outside the city centre, and visitors will feel at home straight away. One of the most unique locations for a conference or event is the Philharmonie, which offers a range of multifunctional areas. These offer capacity for up to 1228 people.


More information?

Tourist Board (VVV) Haarlem, Grote Markt 2, 2011 RD Haarlem, telephone 0031-(0)23-5317325, e-mail