Due to its close proximity to Amsterdam, Haarlem is an easy day trip, but staying a few days longer is an even better idea as Amsterdam’s little brother has a whole lot to offer. Haarlem’s historic centre is littered with monuments, some of Holland’s greatest museums can be found here, the city offers some of the best shopping in the country and the laid-back atmosphere could even make a jaded traveller want to linger. Haarlem is the centre of the bulb growing district and it's often called the Bloemenstad (Flower City). Discover its hidden gardens (hofjes) or visit the oldest museum in Holland.Trace the city’s Flemish heritage or learn about the great painters that were born in Haarlem. In short, leave Amsterdam's canals for another day and hop on a train to visit Holland’s most beautiful flower.
Haarlem was first mentioned in historic documents as early as the 10th century and by the 14th century it had become one of Holland’s most powerful cities. During the Eighty Years’ War (1568 - 1648), the city suffered greatly from a siege by the Spaniards (1572 - 1577) as well as a large fire that destroyed almost a third of medieval Haarlem in 1576. By the time the Spaniards left town, the Dutch Golden Age had begun and the city flourished as a centre for art and the tulip trade. A tolerant attitude towards religion attracted lots of Flemish immigrants and, due to the city’s prosperous cultural life, some of the world’s greatest painters made their way to Haarlem. The glory days of the Flower City are also reflected by the founding of New Haarlem in 1658 in an area of what is now known as New York City. During the Dutch Golden Age, Haarlem had been one of the most important cities in Holland and this is still very much visible today.