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Things to do in Haarlem with kids – Netherlands

When you’re planning a visit to any new destination in Europe like the Netherlands, there are so many decisions to make. And if you want to visit the beautiful city of Haarlem with kids you’ll need to work out what Haarlem attractions to visit, which area in Haarlem is best to stay in, and which are the best places in Haarlem to eat with a hungry family.

We love taking the guesswork out of planning your family vacation by finding the best insider information from local families. The beautiful city of Haarlem in The Netherlands has so much to offer families, so we got talking to Lisa from FlipFlop Globetrotters to get the insider story on Haarlem for kids.

About Haarlem, Netherlands

Haarlem is a proper city, with lots of restaurants, museums, great shopping, and a movie theatre, but has a small-town feel. It’s nice and compact, easy to navigate and has lots of history. There are interesting smaller villages close by to visit, as well as the ocean. Haarlem is also not far from Amsterdam and other big cities such as Alkmaar and The Hague.

Historic City Hall at the Grote Markt

Favourite things to do in Haarlem with kids

My favourite place to go with our little boy is the dunes area, especially a dune lake called ’t Wed in National Park Zuid Kennemerland. It’s about 20 minutes by bike from where we live. We also love to go to the beach, but the dunes are the absolute best place for running, climbing and playing. In the city, we often visit the playground Het Paradijsje (little paradise) to go for lunch at Meneer Paprika, where they have wooden train tracks to play with. Haarlem also has some great petting zoos, which are always a hit with our little boy.

What is Haarlem famous for?

Haarlemmerolie (Haarlem Oil) created in 1696 by Claes Tilly is known worldwide. It’s a popular home-remedy mainly used for healing and disinfecting wounds and treating kidney and urinary ailments.

Favourite places for breakfast and lunch

Our little one isn’t a fussy eater and he loves going to restaurants. I think it’s because we always went out for lunch and dinner while we were travelling around South-East Asia for 10 months when he was younger. As a family, we don’t have dinner out often in our hometown, since it’s so expensive. But I regularly go out for lunch with our little world traveller. Our favourite places are:

  • Meneer Paprika (Koningsstraat 19-20)
  • Pippa’s (Stationsplein 64)
  • Yoghurtbarn (Kruisstraat 15)
  • Brownies&Downies (Schaghelstraat 26)

Read more about our favourite places to eat.

Must-see attractions in Haarlem with kids

There are a number of great places in the city and surrounding area. In the city centre, the Teylers Museum and Archeologisch Museum (Archeological Museum) are very interesting. You’ll find the archaeological museum in the underground vaults beneath the Vleeshal (Meat Hall). I recently visited the Teylers Museum with our toddler, but he was still a bit too young to fully enjoy it.

Entrance to the Archeological Museum, in the basement of the Vleeshal

Playground Het Paradijsje (open Monday – Saturday) is fun for the youngest boys. It’s a city playground, well hidden in a residential area. You have to know it’s there or you’ll miss it. The Ruïne van Brederode (ruins of Brederode) in Santpoort (15 minutes by car) is a great place to stimulate the imagination. It’s a lot of fun for the boys to dress up as knights and chase each other around the ruins. For the sporty or adventurous, Haarlem has an ice-skating rink (open October – March), an indoor climbing wall, and an indoor ski hall. In the recreation area Spaarnwoude, you can go laser gaming or paintballing.

Playground Het Paradijsje, Witte Herenstraat Haarlem

Wet weather attractions in Haarlem

It rains quite a lot in The Netherlands, so we’re not too bothered by the rain. Just grab an umbrella or wear a raincoat and you’re good to go. Haarlem has won numerous awards as the best shopping city of The Netherlands and there are some great toy stores. We like Meneer Paprika (Koningstraat 19-21, also great for breakfast and lunch), Tante Steef (Zijlstraat 66) and Krokodil (Gedempte Oude Gracht 84). If you’re into children’s books, definitely check out Kiekeboek (Gierstraat 29) and for board games or role-playing games don’t miss Het Spellenhuis (Kruisweg 66a).

Haarlem accommodation for families

If I had friends coming to stay in Haarlem, I’d tell them to find a nice apartment on AirBnB in Haarlem. The best areas to stay are close to the city centre including Centrum, Stationsbuurt, Patrimoniumbuurt, Transvaalbuurt, Frans Halsbuurt and Kleverpark. Haarlem is a fairly popular city, so book your accommodation well in advance.

Picturesque street in Haarlem

Best family day-trip from Haarlem

If you’re travelling with little kids, Sprookjeswonderland (fairytale wonderland) in Enkhuizen is a fun place to spend a day. It’s a lovely little amusement park, with a fairytale theme.

How to get to Haarlem

Haarlem is only 15 minutes away by train from Amsterdam Central Station. It’s also easy to reach from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport by bus (line 300).

About the author

Lisa is the proud mum of a cheeky ginger-haired little boy. She and her partner Maurice spend most of 2015 travelling around South East Asia with their little world traveller. They have a home base in Haarlem, Netherlands, and travel whenever they can. Follow Lisa on Facebook or Twitter.

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