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3 nights Netherlands - home base Haarlem or Edam?

We're a family of 4 (2 teenagers and 2 adults) spending 3 nights in the Netherlands. We know we want to likely stay away from Amsterdam center and looking at booking via AirBnB.

We definitely want to visit Edam but not sure if it's a good idea to stay there as home base if we want to spend 1.5 days in Amsterdam.

Is staying in Haarlem maybe a bit easier to get to both Amsterdam and Edam?

From our home base in the Netherlands, we will head to Brugge via train.

Thank you!

Posted by
6742 posts

I would chose Haarlem for ease of transportation, nice town.

Posted by
1026 posts

Definitely Haarlem. But when you say "Amsterdam center" I just want to be clear that while there is a center that tends to be more on the grungy side, the areas surrounding this are not (the "outer rings" are very nice). I have been to Amsterdam several times with my t/weens and we love it. We always stay in the outer rings or beyond (last time in the De Pijp neighborhood, but this is probably not interesting to first timers)
But Haarlem is good too, if you prefer to be somewhere a little less crowded, and less expensive.
Edam is fun but with only 3 nights, I might skip it altogether. Zans Schans is closer and very stereotypically Dutch (windmills, countryside...) if you want something like that. You could rent bikes there for an afternoon ride. Renting bikes to ride around AMS is also great fun, but maybe only for those who like bike riding in general.

Posted by
2487 posts

Haarlem is the more practical of the two. Haarlem to Amsterdam is a 15-min train ride. From Edam you'll have to take the bus to Amsterdam Centraal station, which takes some 40 mins.

Posted by
6742 posts

I answered your question above but it isn’t what I would prefer. I wonder why you don’t want to stay in Amsterdam? I love staying in the Central Canal Ring area.

Posted by
49 posts

Thank you guys!

Jessica - we are huge bike fanatics and definitely want to ride as much as possible. But a friend recently discouraged me from thinking it was easy to ride around Amsterdam as it may be too crowded. But if you've been and enjoyed riding inside the city, then we'd love to try it too.

Suki - I did initially plan to stay in A'dam but was thinking we may encounter a more dutch experience outside of a big touristy city? I don't mind being cramped and we're OK in terms of price as we're not too picky. Would you recommend staying inside the city then, rather than Haarlem?

Thanks for your thoughtful replies!

Posted by
3551 posts

Haarlem, for sure. But visit Edam if u can.

Posted by
2487 posts

Haarlem is a good base for bicycle trips. The beach at Zandvoort, the tulip fields, Spaarndam of Hans Brinkers fame. They are all nearby.

Posted by
26033 posts

Edam can be seen in less than an hour, including the floating basement.

Haarlem has all sorts all around.

Amsterdam, Edam and Haarlem are all Dutch in different ways.

I think Haarlem has it all - I've been going there for many years and never tire.

Ask who played the organ there in the big church. There aren't many places where you can see steam pumping station in the round. There is plenty to keep you busy, and cycling into the countryside is very easy.

Posted by
111 posts

Another vote for Haarlem. We loved staying at this place . I think the price is lower if you go through their website rather than Airbnb. Just look up Where els haarlem and it should come up. It was a 5 minute walk from the train and down a lovely side street. The pictures are accuarate. It is also a 5 minute walk to the main square. We really enjoyed the extra square footage and our family of 4 didn’t feel on top of each other.

Posted by
306 posts

Haarlem is a good choice to stay.
You might also consider Zandaam, a suburb of Amsterdam.
In any case, if you have biking on your agenda, some air bnb and VRBO offer bikes for use as part of the package. -
something to consider...
Zaanse Shans has something for everyone and lots of cheese to taste.
If you have time consider the Eise Eisinga Planetarium. It is off the beaten path but worth the trip.

Enjoy your trip and have fun!