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Haarlem vs. Amsterdam


I'm heading to the Netherlands with my husband and his parents for a long weekend in April. Any recommendations on whether to stay in Haarlem or Amsterdam? My in-laws are 60-something and my husband and I are nearly 30. My gut says Haarlem, but would love any input you all may offer.


Posted by
3255 posts

I highly recommend Haarlem. It's a lovely town--not quite as gritty as Amsterdam. It very easy to get to Amsterdam using the train. We stayed at the Hotel Amadeus ( right on the Market Square. The hotel is a few blocks from the train station but a very pleasant walk. I think that your in-laws will enjoy it and if you and your husband want to spend more time in Amsterdam you can easily do so.

Posted by
591 posts

Your gut speaks wisely. Haarlem is very nice and much better for those over thirty. It's also a good location to catch a bus that goes to Lisse so you can visit Keukenhof Gardens when the tulips are at their peak in April.

Posted by
658 posts

Everything that Tim says and a bit more.

We're not going to see 50 again. 25 years ago Amsterdam was exciting, now we prefer the tranquility and easy pace of Haarlem. It's got a lot of interesting architecture, a great market on Saturday, great local beer and ( forgive me for saying this ) even the weed in the coffee shops is better quality and cheaper.

Stay in Haarlem, take a quick train journey into Amsterdam for the day, do the tourist stuff and head back out to Haarlem and sanity.

Posted by
3551 posts

I enjoyed Haarlem and recommend it if you are not visiting Amsterdam its museums and canals. But if you are going to Amsterdam anyway just stay there. Yes amsterdam is gritty and costly but it depends on what you want to see and do.

Posted by
12172 posts

Amsterdam is dirty and caters to the sex and drugs crowd. I suppose I knew that going in but wanted to see it once. After a day, I couldn't leave fast enough. I wouldn't go for a second visit, let alone travel there with my in-laws.

Posted by
18 posts

Thanks, everyone. We're really there for the tulips--so I think I'll stick with my gut and head to Haarlem.

Posted by
2788 posts

I am not sure what the fellow who said that Amsterdam caters to the drug and sex crowd did there but I was there in August (for the second time) and found it a totally enjoyable city and I would return there any time. And I do not use non-perscription drugs, smoke, or go looking for sex.

Posted by
5 posts

We are travelling to Holland in June and have found a B&B in Edam, very close to Amsterdam and central to many smaller places one tends to visit. This is our 4th visit in Holland over the years. Amsterdam is not the cleanest but certainly requires visiting and some tolerance. You can find many B&B's listed on-line.