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Day trip from Haarlem, Netherlands

My wife and I plan to spend 4 nights in Haarlem with 1 or 2 day trips.
We are considering Le Hague, Lieden, and Delft. What are your preferences?
What did you do in that city that you found interesting? Other cities to consider?

thank you,
David

Posted by
5135 posts

I absolutely loved Leiden, which is a beautiful university town and is a quick train ride from Haarlem. It is the home of Leiden University, which is one of the oldest universities in the country, and is quite lovely with charming cobblestone streets, 17th century gabled houses. It has many historic buildings but does not have the "touristy" feel of many other places. It's a much more livable feel. The city has many picturesque canals and waterways, which are lovely to walk along and there are boat tours you can take. And there are lots of parks, gardens, and green spaces in Leiden.

There are several museums, including the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden (National Museum of Antiquities), which has an wonderful collection of Egyptian artifacts. There is the Museum De Lakenhal (Municipal Museum), and the Naturalis Biodiversity Center. The Hortus Botanicus (botanical garden), which was established in 1590, was the site of the planting of Holland’s first tulip bulbs in 1593. Rembrandt was born in Leiden, as was Albert Einstein, who taught at Leiden University. St. Pieterskerk is quite historic and worth seeing, even if you just check out the outside of it. Rembrandt's parents were married and buried there.

In terms of transportation, Leiden has very easy access by train to other cities in the Netherlands. Its charm and beauty and overall residential atmosphere made it a wonderful destination. I hate to gush too much, but I really cannot recommend Leiden enough.

I did enjoy den Haag, but do not feel it compares to the charm of Leiden. I did not go to Delft.

Posted by
427 posts

Leiden is I think bigger than Haarlem and highly recommended. It’s a lovely university town with canals and rivers (take a boat trip) and has a lovely liveliness about it. I completely concur with Mardee’s views. Leiden (and also Utrecht) were two places where I thought: “I’d happily live here.”

Delft is extremely pretty. I mean, absolutely classic Netherlands of the old masters. A photographic opportunity on every corner. More touristed than Leiden I think.

The Hague is a much bigger city. It’s an interesting place but without the immediate charm of the other two. Much more businesslike and busy. But the main art gallery the Mauritshuis has Girl with a Pearl Earring.

Posted by
5135 posts

I would think that you could easily do 2 day trips.

Personally, I did not find that much in Haarlem to keep me occupied for more than a day. I enjoyed the Corrie ten Boom museum and some of the other sights but if you're there for 4 nights, you would easily have time to do 2 day trips; such as Leiden and Delft.

Posted by
6100 posts

I’m a bit conflicted here; we loved both Leiden and Haarlem, and spent about 4 days in each recently, I think you can’t go wrong with either town, When we were in Leiden a few years ago, we did make a short day trip to Den Haag to visit a couple of museums; otherwise, we spent the entire time in Leiden, and never ran out of interesting things to do.

Ditto for Haarlem; we always find plenty to do there without taking side trips.

Posted by
3861 posts

If you do a day trip to Leiden try to go on a Wednesday or Saturday, canal market days.

Posted by
3970 posts

Jane,
I'm planning four days in each next April, and going to Bruges in between. Did you write a Trip Report? We will use Haarlem as our base for Amsterdam.
Thanks for sharing.

Posted by
6826 posts

Month of year? tulips?

Note that Den Haag and Delft are easy to pair in one day. "The Girl With The Pearl Earring" is in Den Haag when not on loan.

I agree that Leiden is a superb choice, one which can't be exhausted in one day. Utrecht is virtually as good. Do you have a plan for one of the "windmill" sites? Kinderdijk is a UNESCO WHS.

I haven't been in years, and it is a special-interest location, but the weekday wholesale flower market auction in Aalsmeer will perhaps become "virtual" in the future. It's really early in the day, so non-car transportation requires careful planning.

You didn't ask, but if I could possibly afford it, I would stay in Amsterdam to visit Amsterdam.

Posted by
6100 posts

Pat,I’m not sure; I’ll try to find time to search. We’re on a tour right now - Heart. of Portugal- and don’t have much free time. I don’t think I did a Haarlem report, but I might have done one for Leiden.

Posted by
10337 posts

You can see all three on one day. We stayed in Leiden, a beautiful university town full of canals.
Delft is very near The Hague. There is a tram between them.
What did we do in each city? Walked the cities.
Leiden has a small Pilgrim museum as they lived there for ten yrs after fleeing England.
The Hague- see the Mauritshaus, a special, small museum. The Girl with the Pearl Earring should be back there now. Walk by the Govt Buildings.
Delft- Visit the Old Church and the New Church in that order. Go to the Royal Delft factory and buy a piece. They will ship it home for you. Treasures!

Posted by
35 posts

Thanks to all for the advice!

We'll spend several days in Amsterdam, but taking Rick's advice and staying in a
smaller city (Haarlem or Leiden) when we first arrive and are a bit jet-lagged.
After 4 days, we'll travel to Amsterdam.

best wishes
David

Posted by
35 posts

Leiden looks very appealing

Any suggestions for a hotel or B&B - price range $150-$200/night?

thank you in advance.

Posted by
5135 posts

I did not stay here, but a friend did and really liked the Boutique Hotel Oude Morsch in Leiden. She said it was quite large with a good breakfast, and was close to the train station, which makes it nice for day trips. I've also seen a few posters here recommend Steenhof Suites in Leiden.

Here are links to a few other posts with hotel information:
https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/general-europe/sleeping-delft-and-or-leiden-must-i-choose
https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/netherlands/leiden

You also might enjoy this very comprehensive trip report from a poster here who spent 3 nights in Leiden in April of this year. https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/trip-reports/netherlands-trip-report

Posted by
35 posts

Mardee,

Thank you for your second response. VERY helpful especially the links to other comments on
RSF. We will 're-plan' our itinerary for certain!

David

Posted by
1643 posts

I am taking notes on al of this as well. We are headed to Amsterdam the first week of February. I just booked it yesterday, so am just beginning my research on everything. Are the markets running that time of year? How long does it take to get from central Amsterdam to Leiden as well as Delft? We will not be moving real fast, which is not the norm for us at all, but I will be coming off of TKR.

Posted by
5135 posts

mikliz97, it takes about 30 minutes by train to get between Leiden and Amsterdam, and around 60 minutes for Delft. Obviously, these can change depending on the time of day, but it's what I've put is a decent average time.

Posted by
1643 posts

Mardeee--Thank you so much. I had initially thought to come in late March or April, but I am squeezing this trip in between the knees. We just have a week, so should easily be able to do several day trips and just wander.

Posted by
5135 posts

Oh yes, definitely! I really love the Netherlands as it's so easy to get from place to place, and even if you only have a week, you can visit a lot of places! And it's such a lovely country!

I am pretty sure the markets are open year round, but not totally. :)

Posted by
1012 posts

Trainline is a 3rd party train ticket reseller. There is absolutely no reason to use them and pay a premium on the ticket price. A single ticket from Leiden to Schiphol Airport should only cost €6,90 in 2nd class and €11,73 in 1st class.
The Dutch national railway company is called NS. They have an English version of their website where you can buy tickets using credit cards. https://www.ns.nl/en
Or even easier, you simply use your credit card to tap in and out; https://www.ovpay.nl/en