A day trip to Haarlem Netherlands with kids – itinerary

FlipFlopGlobetrotters.com - blog: day trip to Haarlem Netherlands with kids - Grote Markt HaarlemAlthough a lot of foreigners never make it past Amsterdam, The Netherlands really has a lot to offer for such a small country. Haarlem, only about 15 minutes away from Amsterdam by train, is a great place to spend a day during your family’s stay in Holland. Haarlem has some great petting zoos, lovely family-friendly restaurants and beautiful historical buildings. I always find that insider tips from locals can change a city trip from just sightseeing to actually experiencing the local life. I’m sharing our favorite places in our hometown Haarlem in an easy-to-follow step-by-step itinerary, so you too can stop being a tourist and start being a local (even if it’s only for one day).

Visiting Haarlem should definitely be on your list of things to do in The Netherlands. Since it’s very close to both Amsterdam and Schiphol Airport you can easily fit it into your Netherlands itinerary.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, check out this cool video explaining the difference between The Netherlands and Holland.

Seasons in the Netherlands

The Netherlands in the wintertime are either cold and wet, or just plain cold. And often windy. In January and February temperatures can be around 0 Celsius. Sometimes we even get a bit of snow. Of course, you don’t want the weather to spoil your city trip to Haarlem, Netherlands. So dress appropriately, wear a warm coat, warm shoes and bring a winter hat and gloves. Oh, and don’t forget a raincoat or umbrella as The Netherlands generally gets a lot of rain. By far the best time to visit is April-June, when the weather is a bit milder. Although September can have some really nice days too. Haarlem is definitely worth a visit in any season and luckily our city offers plenty of indoor activities for those rainy days!


Since especially in the morning it can be cold, you’ll want to find a nice cosy place for a proper breakfast. Some good options are By Lima (Zijlstraat 65) and Anne&Max (Zijlstraat 68). If you have young kids and are looking for a restaurant with a nice play area, try Yoghurt Barn (Kruisstraat 15). It has a great wooden play kitchen. All three restaurants are open from 8:00, 9:00 on a Sunday. If you’ve already had breakfast at your hotel, quickly skip to the next step.

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Play kitchen at Yoghurt Barn

Spend the morning exploring

When the hungry mouths are fed and everybody’s happy, it’s a great time to go exploring for a bit. Walk to the Grote Markt (big market square) and take a look around. There are some beautiful buildings in this old central square, such as the old Town Hall (people still get married here!) and the Grote or St. Bavokerk. The large and beautiful church is well worth a visit. It’s open Monday-Saturday from 10:00 -17:00. Inside you’ll find the famous Müller organ, dating from 1738, which was played by both Händel and Mozart. Our toddler was very impressed and often asks to go again. One of the other old buildings lining the square is the Vleeshal (meat hall). This building was built early 1600 and used for selling fresh meat. Now, it’s a gallery. If your kids are past the toddler stage, it’s fun to visit the Archeologisch Museum Haarlem (archeologic museum) in the cellars of the Vleeshal.

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Outside view of the St Bavo Church at the big market square
FlipFlopGlobetrotters.com - blog: day trip to Haarlem Netherlands with kids - Inside of the St Bavo Church
Inside the St Bavo Church


Around lunch time your kids are probably tired of walking around and ready to play for a bit. So it’s a good there are some great family-friendly restaurants in Haarlem’s city center. Meneer Paprika (Koningsstraat 19-21) and Brownies & downieS (Schagchelstraat 26) are great choices. Brownies & downieS is more suitable for younger kids, with a nice play kitchen (our 3,5 year old really enjoyed it last time we were there). Meneer Paprika is always a good choice. It has a wooden train track and lots of other toys to play with (be advised, it’s both a café and a toy store ;-)).

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Play area at Brownies & downieS

Some culture

After playing and eating a nice lunch, your kids will be energized enough to continue your city trip. Of course, they might not want to leave the nice play areas… If your kids are still very young and happy to be in the back carrier or stroller, or past the toddler stage, you could visit one of the many art museums or galleries. The Frans Hals Museum is no. 1 on TripAdvisor for a reason! But a lot of things kids aren’t supposed to touch are within easy reach, so avoid it if your kids are in the ‘I want to touch everything’ phase! Another great museum I recently visited with our toddler is the Teylers Museum. Our tot was a bit too young to really appreciate it, but he enjoyed it anyway. The museum holds a curious mix of fossils and bones, rocks and gemstones and old scientific instruments. And the building it’s in is absolutely stunning.

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Impressive collection of old scientific instruments at the Teylers Museum

… or nature

With infants and toddlers, visiting a museum might not be such a great experience. Luckily there’s a great little playground tucked away between the houses in the city center, it’s called Het Paradijsje (little paradise, Witte Herenstraat 36). Our son loves it and we go there pretty much all year round, provided it’s not raining. It’s open Tuesday-Saturday from 10:00-17:00 and you can play there for €1 per child.

There’s also a petting zoo within easy walking distance of the city center. Kinderboerderij De Houthoeve is located in park The Haarlemmerhout (Hertenkamplaan 3). Check out our post about petting farms around Haarlem for more info. If you do visit this petting zoo, you might also consider Theehuis De Haarlemmerhout for either lunch or dinner. It’s located next to De Houthoeve and open every day from 9:30 – 17:00 (18:00 on weekends). This cute little place serves great Dutch pancakes, but also sandwiches and burgers. You can also just have a coffee or tea with cake.

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Paradijsje is one of our favorite playgrounds in Haarlem
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Sandpit at playground Het Paradijsje

Afternoon exercise… shopping

Later in the afternoon and before dinner, why not go back to the center for some shopping. Haarlem has won multiple awards for Netherland’s best shopping destination. Fun shops for kids toys are Meneer Paprika (Koningstraat 19-21), Krokodil (Gedempte Oude Gracht 84) and Tante Steef (Zijlstraat 66). Kiekeboek (Gierstraat 29) is an awesome kids book store. At Kruisweg 66a you will find Het Spellenhuis, where they sell every board game and role playing game you can imagine. Definitely worth a visit if your kids are a bit older.

Of course, don’t forget to bring some snacks for your kids to munch on in the afternoon, hungry kids are no fun. You will find some supermarkets in the city center: DekaMarkt (Gedempte Oude Gracht 56-58), Albert Heijn (Drossestraat 11 and Grote Houtstraat 182).

Plan B

Of course, if the weather turns really bad, you can always spend a few hours at the cinema. You can find Pathé Haarlem on Zijlvest 41-43.

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If it’s raining going to the cinema is the perfect solution


After a full day of city tripping your kids are probably up for an early dinner. Haarlem has so many restaurants it will be hard to choose! Italian, Japanese, Moroccan, Thai, Indonesian, Indian, Chinese, Mexican… Haarlem’s city center has plenty of restaurants to choose from. The Netherlands is generally pretty child-friendly. Most, if not all, of the restaurants will have high chairs for you to use and most have an area to change diapers. If you fancy a burger, try Rubens Burger (Drossestraat 3), guaranteed a lot tastier than McDonalds! Otherwise, you could go to Tatsu (Oude Groenmarkt 14-16) or Nagoya (Spaarne 48) for all-you-can-eat sushi. It’s fun to let the kids choose which types of sushi or other Japanese dishes they want to try. La Cubanita (Grote Markt 21) is a nice place for tapas. If you like bbq try Roast Bistro (Turfmarkt 26) for some tasty chicken or other roasted goodies. Budget option: Cafe Bruxelles (Lange Wijngaardstraat 16) offers a daily meal for €9.

4 thoughts on “A day trip to Haarlem Netherlands with kids – itinerary”

  1. I love your child-friendly stops and places to eat in your cultural itinerary. This is exactly the type of days that we enjoy the most at the moment. Just enough to keep the kids happy and give the adults the does of culture we crave. Thanks for linking this up with #MondayEscapes

  2. I have to admit I too have been guilty of only visiting Amsterdam and not venturing further around the Netherlands.
    Looks like you found lots of interesting yet kid friendly things to do and explore.

  3. I haven’t yet made it to Haarlem (although with a Dutch Grandmother, I have seen a lot of Holland!), but it’s now very firmly on my list! It looks great! 🙂 #mondayescapes

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