I would like to hear from people who stayed in Haarlem instead of Amsterdam. Were you glad you did, or did you feel left out of the action?
Haarlem is a most attractive historical city with the absolute advantage of still being Dutch, while Amsterdam is more and more becoming a theme park crowded with tourists.
As said above, it's just a short ride from Amsterdam on very frequent trains.
Haarlem is a great city with easy and fast access to Amsterdam. We've stayed there several times and will do so again when in the area.
I've stayed in both. Haarlem is much less hectic than Amsterdam and seems less touristy and more homey to me. Or I guess you could put it another way and say Amsterdam is much livelier than Haarlem. I am not much for action!
Jeri - This fall we stayed in Amsterdam for a week and Haarlem for three days. I enjoyed both cities thoroughly. Depending on how long you plan to be there you might consider staying for a few days in each place. I would not have wanted to stay in Haarlem the whole time and have to deal with the train back and forth every day.
We have stayed in Haarlem twice (over a week total) but never in Amsterdam so it is hard to compare. We stayed in a hotel right on the square next to the cathedral. We like it because, as others have stated, it much quieter and relaxing after a day in Amsterdam. We like having beer in the outdoor seating around the square watching the world go by. A number of good restaurants around the square. Great little fry shop across from a wine bar, just a block off the square. Behind the church is a great little ice cream and choc shop. On the weekends there is often a market in the square. Also, the town itself, has a lot of interesting sites. The red light district is much smaller than Amsterdam but probably adequate. Saw no coffee shops but wasn't looking too hard either. So I don't what action you might miss.
The train is quick (ten minutes ??) and easy with a direct bus to the airport or from the airport. It is a very convenient place to stay.
amsterdam gets my vote!!!!
We've stayed in both, same trip, opposite ends. In the future, I'll stay in Amsterdam as it has so much more to offer.
Thank you everyone for your input!
Amsterdam gets my vote!