Haarlem is one of the oldest cities of the Netherlands and the capital of the province of Noord-Holand. In its cosy, monumental city center, there are many places of interest and museums. There is also a great variety of shops, cafes and restaurants. Haarlem's nickname is 'Flower City'. The annual flower parade attracts many visitors and the city has a flower promotion team. There's a chance that a beautiful girl will come up to you to pin a daffodil on you!
Haarlem has 150,000 inhabitants, who are also called 'mosquitoes'. It is not entirely clear where that name comes from. It has probably to do with the fact that the city used to be surrounded by water, a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
Haarlem is located in the west of the Netherlands on the river Spaarne, which is where it got its other nickname from: 'Spaarne City'. The city is located behind the dunes of the North Sea coast. To the east of Haarlem, at about 20 kilometers, lies Amsterdam.
Haarlem's economic growth in recent years has failed to match that of the rest of the country, among other reasons for lack of space, which meant that large companies decided not to move to Haarlem, and growing companies decided to leave. Services are the most important economic sector: over 80% of the inhabitants are active in that sector. About half of the service sector has to do with government. In addition, there are about 100 graphical companies, the largest of which is Joh. Enschede, who prints the Dutch euro notes.
Haarlem is not far from the national airport Schiphol (or: Amsterdam Airport). The airport can be easily reached by car via the A9 motorway. There is also a rapid bus connection between the city and the airport.
The train station is located at the edge of the center, but every 7 minutes a bus (the 'Zuidtangent') will take you to the city center. In the other direction, the Zuidtangent will take you to Schiphol. By train, you can be in Amsterdam in 15 minutes.
In the city itself, Connexxion buses provide public transport. From the end of 2006, all buses will be replaced by vehicles that are fuel led on natural gas, and that are equipped with air conditioning and screens with up-to-date information.
Buses that display the letter 'R' and the word 'Regioliner' on the side are fast buses that take you to places near Haarlem.
Haarlem has an old city center with narrow streets. There are many one-way streets and some shopping streets are car-free. Haarlem does everything it can to keep traffic out of the center and the make the center a car-free zone. You can save yourself a lot of irritation by parking your car in one of the four car parks in the city center. That is also cheaper than parking your car in the street. Although parking in the street is free at night (between 22 pm and 9am), a car park will only charge you € 2 for the entire period. Plus your car will be safe. The car parks are clearly indicated on signs along all the entry roads.
Haarlem and its surrounding areas have a variety of hotels. Many hotels are situated in characteristic historical buildings, each with a style and atmosphere of their own. Needless to say, the best hotels are the most popular. If you have a certain hotel in mind, we recommend you book your room in advance.
For more information about Haarlem, we recommend Google, and the following sources: