Here’s the thing, I’ve got a plan to finally go to Europe maybe next year. In fact, I’ve been saving up for this since enough money in my bank account is necessary in order to get the Schengen visa. You know, Indonesian passport holder problem.
Speaking of which, I heard the easiest way to apply for Schengen visa in Indonesia is through the Dutch embassy. I don’t have any plan yet to stop by the Netherlands quite yet, but I’m considering it. And just when I’m considering it, Lisa from Flip Flop Globetrotters reached out to cover the first city in the Netherlands for our very own $10 series.
Not Amsterdam, but it is definitely not so far from the capital city… It’s Haarlem.
Or as my friend Keshia said sarcastically, “It’s a city close to that Amsterdam country.” And it is due to the ignorance of some people who think the Netherlands is only Amsterdam. 😛
Stroll Around and Enjoy the Richness of Dutch Culture in Haarlem
Since we live in The Netherlands we think nothing special of it, but many people would love to cross a visit to the land of cheese, tulips, windmills and clogs off their bucket list. Amsterdam is favorite and surprisingly family-friendly, but if you want to experience the real Dutch culture you need to get out of the capital city.
Haarlem is only a short train ride away and definitely worth visiting. Sometimes called ‘little Amsterdam’ Haarlem offers a lot of historical architecture and canals… and a lot fewer tourists. Since the Netherlands isn’t a cheap country to travel around, let us give you some tips on what you can get for $10.
Just like a lot of other European countries, The Netherlands uses the Euro (€). One Euro is about $1,12, so $10 equals around €8.90. Which won’t get you very far, to be completely honest. Especially food can be expensive, so you have to spend your money wisely. One good thing – among many! – of Haarlem’s city center is that it’s very compact. You can easily walk everywhere. So that saves you quite a bit and walking is healthy for you.
Visit St. Bavo
Most people visiting our city start at the Grote Markt (lit. big market), the central square.
Immediately your eye is drawn to the reformed Great or St.-Bavo Church that dominates the square. It’s not free to visit, but at only €2,50 your money is well spent. Kids below 12 get in for free and kids above 12 pay half price.
Archeological Museum Haarlem
In the same square, in the 17th century vaulted cellars of the former Vleeshal (lit. meat hall), you’ll find Archeologie Museum Haarlem. It’s a museum run by volunteers and it’s free to visit. It’s interesting to discover some of Haarlem’s rich history by checking out the treasures that were once buried.
Kids usually love this small museum, all display cases are low enough for them to see and there’s a small excavation pit for them to ‘play archeologist’.
Try Some Dutch Snacks
Getting a proper lunch with drinks will easily cost you your total €8.90 but there are some Dutch snacks that are quite cheap to try. A novelty for many people visiting The Netherlands are the ‘snacks from the wall’ automated vending machines.
Drop in some coins and you can open a little glass panel to retrieve your snack. Try a kroket for €1,80 or a vegetarian kaassoufflé for the same price. A basic hamburger will set you back about €2,50 as will a ‘patatje mét‘ (french fries with mayo).
An insider tip: in the Barteljorisstraat just off the main square you’ll find a cheese shop called Kaashuis Tromp that often offers free samples of cheese to taste.
On Monday and Saturday, there’s a weekly market on the Grote Markt. Definitely a good way to experience Dutch culture.
You’ll find a lot of different stands, offering anything from clothes and bicycle components to fresh fruits and veggies. You’ll also find fresh fish, fresh meat, cheese, bread and lots of snacks.
One of our son’s favorite stands is the one that sells ‘stroopwafels‘, Dutch syrup waffles. They’re always tasty, but only at the market you can get them freshly made and still warm. A bargain at only €1,60 and a must-try!
Free Walking Tours
You’ll find a lot of interesting architecture in Haarlem and see a lot of historical buildings simply walking around the city center.
Haarlem doesn’t offer free walking tours with guides anymore, but there are a number of self-guided walking tours you can do. We can especially recommend the Hidden Green Oasis tour, where you can check out the ‘Haarlemse Hofjes‘.
Take a step back in history and discover these almshouses that are usually built around a picturesque inner garden. Unless you know they’re there, you’ll never find them.
These are only a few of the tips we can give you about visiting our city on a budget. If you’re planning to visit and want to know more, check out our social media and drop us a line!
Contributor: Lisa from FlipFlopGlobetrotters
In March 2015 Lisa, Maurice, and their 1,5-year-old son packed their bags and traveled around South East Asia for 10 months… ‘We travel with our little world traveler… and so can you!’ is the motto of their family travel blog. From personal stories to itineraries, destination posts and reviews, FlipFlopGlobetrotters tells you all you need to know about traveling with kids.