Amsterdam could get busy, especially during the good weather summer months. Finding a spot to sit beside a canal can get challenging. You might have to wait in lines to grab a seat at a cafe. If this doesn’t sound right, but you still want to be surrounded by pretty ginger bread houses and Dutch “gezelligheid” why not go to Haarlem?! In this post we are sharing our itinerary for a perfect day in Haarlem with children.
We have visited Haarlem by an accident. Let us explain, our good friends have been camping at one of the campgrounds nearby the city and have invited us to visit them.
Even though Netherlands is a dear neighbour, it just 2 hours drive from Dortmund, for no particular reason we don’t visit it that often as we probably should. Anyhow, we gladly accepted the invitation and the trip turned out to be great!
Haarlem is a mini version of Amsterdam.
As a proper Dutch city from the pre-medieval times, it is full of charm and fairytale looks.
The old town is as cute as Amsterdam and has as much history to it as the famous neighbour. Back in the days of the Dutch Golden Age Haarlem lost it’s significancy to Amsterdam and turned into a laid back town.
Haarlem has a pedestrian zone, cute cafes and shops to roam, canals to cruise and adorable facades to dream about. It is as hip as Amsterdam, maybe a little less, but there are enough of Dutch vibes for everyone.
The only thing Haarlem lacks is crowds! And I’m sure you’d agree that noone really likes those.
In this post we offer different opportunities for you and your kids to choose out of for your day trip itinerary away from Amsterdam.
But don’t try to fit them all!! It’s either city or beach, it would be difficult to fit both in one day trip to Haarlem.
Why is Haarlem Great for Travelling With Kids?
Haarlem is a great day trip destination with kids away from busy Amsterdam.
We have mentioned it previously, Haarlem lacks crowds and has a more relaxed pace of life to it. That is to say, no hustle. And this is what families with kids usually search for – to explore, but to take it at a comfortable speed for adults and for the children.
Another big bonus of Haarlem that Amsterdam lacks, is that it is located not far from the beach, about 10 km away.
So on a good day if you rent a bike you could treat yourself to an afternoon of waves and sand spa. Another great bonus for a perfect family day trip itinerary away from Amsterdam.
Haarlem is easy to navigate with kids. We had no troubles whatsoever of walking the streets with a stroller. If you plan on renting a bike you can also request a child seat – Netherlands is THE kingdom of awesome biking opportunities fro the whole family.
Haarlem also has some nice coffee shops and inside play areas made for kids – a great combinations of kids playing and adults having coffee under the same roof. Keep reading to learn more about those.
Things To Do in Haarlem With Kids
Haarlem Activities With Kids Inside the City
There is nothing wrong in doing some sightseeing, even with kids, especially in compact cities like Haarlem.
Most of the old city is pedestrianised and easy to access with stroller or on foot.
If you want to see the main attractions just wonder around the city centre – you won’t miss on Grote Kerk – Haarlems impressive gothic church from the 14 th century. The Stadhuis from the same period – an old City Hall building worth passing by.-
Grote Markt (Main Market) is also worth paying a visit especially on Saturday morning.
We usually cut our sightseeing to wandering around the city with camera and see where the path will lead us or where the next playground is. We did precisely this when exploring Haarlem with kids and ended up in a beautiful neighbourhood around Grote Houtstraat.
Grote Houtstraat is full of cute houses and the typical large Dutch windows which are never covered with drapes. Spying inside the windows is another favorite activity of ours.
Have a look at this post to learn more about sightseeing options in Haarlem.
Whenever you (well, who are we kidding, it’s probably your little ones) had enough sightseeing for the day, head to one of this places for a coffee, snack and play date:
This cafe, books and toys shop is very popular among locals. It’s all about kids here. Seriously, no idea how Dutch do this, but they have some of the best kids spaces we have ever seen!
Parents can have a coffee while their offsprings happily play in the middle of the room with a huge wooden railroad. Needless to say that diaper changing facilities and baby food are on stock. It is a bit old school but it serves it’s purpose well.
Olivia made some Dutch friends while we’ve been having a long chat and a piece of cake.
Mini Markt (Kruisstraat 11)
I think we might have enjoyed this place a bit more than Olivia. Simply because it was more to our minimalistic taste. Mini Markt is a store selling design items for kids combined with a cafe.
Great for nursing or a in between break for your little one.
Things to Do With Kids Outside the City
Remember we told you that the Dutch always have great ideas for the kids activities?! So here we go, the activities inside the city are one thing, but the children activities outside Haarlem is a different scale!
They could take your entire day. So be sure to choose wisely when choosing activities for your Haarlem itinerary with kids, especially when it is only on a day trip from Amsterdam.
We will give you some options to choose from:
Relax at the Beach at Camping de Lakens
For the beach activities aim towards the Camping de Lakens area which is also an awesome campground with plenty of space. That’s where we stayed for 2 nights with our friends and enjoyed every minute.
Glamping option, air streams and basic camping opportunities are there. It is not as touristy as it’s neighbour Zandvoort. All sorts of activities like surfing lessons and yoga in the dunes are there too. That’s where we stayed for 2 nights with our friends and enjoyed every minute.
Visit Informatieboerderij Zorgvrij – an Educational Farm
About 10 km to the north of Haarlem, right next to the North See Canal (Noordzeekanaal) you will reach Informatieboerderij Zorgvrij.
Informatieboerderij Zorgvrij is located in the middle of the huge recreational area if Spaarnwoude, in the North-Holland region. The Spaarnwoude in general offers tons of opportunities for kids, families, adults and toddlers.You can ride a bike, hike, swim, play gold, kayak or ski.
Informatieboerderij Zorgvrij is an educational farm. The word ‘zorgvrij’ literally means happy-go-lucky in Dutch.
Here you can pet cows, tap milk, make cheese and romp in the playground or read a newspaper in the pancake restaurant with a cup of coffee.
Young and old can see and experience what life on an organic dairy farm entails. Admission is free and almost always there are calves, goats, chickens, pigs and rabbits.
Check the web page for the opening times and the schedule of the activities.
Visit Speeltuin Groenendaal – a Playground which is over 100 Years Old
8 km to the South of Haarlem and you will reach another great place for children – the Speeltuin Groenendaal (Playground).
The Speeltuin Groenendaal could be called ‘grandma’ – it has been in playing business since 1916. Okay, the facilities have been renewed several times, so don’t worry – the kids are safe there!
This playground is an adventure on it’s own and you can easily spend the day here. Apart from a regular playground area it has a scooter track, climbing frames, a family swing, a water track, a mini train on real rails and much more.
Playground Groenendaal is an adventurous playground for children of all ages, but especially for an age group of up to 10 years. For the younger ones there are smaller climbing devices, so that they can play quietly.
Please note, that you need to pay the entrance fee, but you get a drink for the price – adults get a cup of coffee and kids a cup of lemonade.
Playground Groenendaal reminded us about the playground we have visited in Stockholm. Want to learn more? Have a look at this post of ours about Stockholm with kids.
Eat and Drink in Haarlem with Kids
Finding great foo din Haarlem is not difficult. There are many eateries and cafe all over the city as well as on it’s outskirts. This post will also give you some insights into lunch and brunch spots.
Most of the places are kids-friendly and have a high chair or a changing room facilities.
We usually don’t choose particular places for kids to eat, meaning that they just come along. Here is a list of places for your Haarlem day trip itinerary away from Amsterdam, which we found great for people with and also without kids.
Not sure what we have enjoyed more about this place – it’s delicious selection of food and coffee or the fact that it was opened by two sisters – making it s girls place =).
Blender in Haarlem is a lovely coffee and breakfast spot serving a great selection of healthy food and drinks. Open daily and is very popular among locals. No English menu, but Dutch speak fluent English.
Another wonderful coffee place opened by ladies! Located on a small cute street it’s a great place for watching people while sipping on your coffee. There are snacks too.
This is actually a chain, but they serve delicious bagels with all sorts of toppings. They also serve gluten free bagels in case you’ve been looking for those.
Friethoes is located right next to the Haarlem Main Train Station. This place is extremely popular for it’s french fries. And they are DELICIOUS!!!! It is also a good place to try frikandel – traditional Dutch snack which looks like a hot dog but has minced meat inside.
It’s all about burgers here and delicious ones too.
Hippie Fish is worth the ride all the way to Zandvoort. A beautifully designed and set right at the beach this restaurant serves lunch and dinner as well as drinks.
Be sure to book ahead if you are planning to visit on the weekend or during holiday times. Have a look here to get the impression of what’s waiting for you, since I don’t have any photos from the place.
Shopping in Haarlem
This is probably the least kids-friendly option in this post – because with small children shopping never turns out well (at least in our case).
But if you have kids free time and want to spend a couple of Euros, Haarlem is a great shopping place – people actually come shopping to Haarlem from Amsterdam for a day trip.
Saying this, Haarlem is no exception and provides great shopping opportunities for every taste and pocket. Have a look at this post with 10 shopping hotspots in Haarlem and this one to get a glimpse of what I’m talking about.
Koningstraat is a good starting point for shopping enthusiasts.
One of those “dangerous” shops selling cute miscellaneous items. Even if you enter with a strong intention of “just having a look” you might give in and end up with a gift for your cousin or a friend.
A treasury filled with home goods, prints and beautiful interrior design items.
Another “dangerous zone” with a high risk of spending money. They sell all sorts of items – from plants to notebooks. You might need to dig in, but the choice is HUGE!
This is a chain of furniture and home goods stores. The best about them is that they combine modern design and retro furniture under one roof. One of a kind pieces reside side by side with pretty modern creations. Happy hunt!
Getting to Haarlem With Kids on a Day Trip From Amsterdam
Haarlem is very easy to reach for a day trip from Amsterdam – it is just about 15 minutes train ride from Amsterdam Train Station.
You can book your ticket directly over the official Dutch Railroads page. Check out this link to learn about train fares fro children. The kids up to age three drive for free.
There are also bus services going from Amsterdam to Haarlem as well as multiple connections from the Schiphol Airport. Have a look at this post for more information on how to get to Haarlem.
We hope that you found this post helpful and we wish you a wonderful day trip to Haarlem with your kids!