Haarlem Shuffle


Haarlem Station Haarlem station
Haarlem enjoys a strategically good position for transport in the busy Randstad area of Holland (Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Utrecht) but also affords easy access to the coast and inland areas alike.

The main railway station is situated on the northern edge of the old city centre, five minutes walk from the main square. It is an interesting building in its own right and worth a look even if not travelling. Trains to Amsterdam are regular and frequent and the journey takes about twenty minutes. From Amsterdam (Sloterdijk station), there are connections to the national airport, Schiphol. Trains heading for the North Sea ports also stop in Haarlem and tickets can be bought to most European destinations.

The bus terminal is situated on the square in front of the station and most of the local town buses pass through it. The town buses stop around midnight although there are some night services available. There are also regular regional buses to Amsterdam, Hoofddorp, the Bollenstreek and nearby coastal towns, including Zandvoort.

Payment for bus journeys is effected with the 'OV-chipkaart', a smart card that is swiped through a reader on entry and exit. You can find more on the card's website (for English, hit the 'UK' link top centre of the page). If not staying long enough to justify buying the card, you can pay cash to the driver - obviously at higher rates. A special rate is available for use outside peak times (a 'dalkaart'). The buses themselves are clean and usually run on schedule.

Taxis can be found in the ranks in front of the main railway station. Many rival firms compete for custom but prices, though on the high side, do not vary much between companies. It's normal to give around 10% tip.

As the crow flies, Schiphol airport is not far from Haarlem. However, reaching it by road can be problematic at peak times due to clogged motorways. Unfortunately there is no direct rail link to the airport and passengers must first go to Amsterdam and catch a train from there.

Perhaps the best way of reaching the airport is the 'Zuid Tangent' bus service which runs for much of its route on traffic-free bus lanes. Due to the many stops on the way, the journey is rather slow (approximately three quarters of an hour) but the service is frequent, with buses leaving Haarlem every eight minutes at peak times.

New arrivals in Haarlem are always struck by the number of bicycles on the streets. There is a good reason for this as the ground is flat and the humble bicycle is by far the best means of transport for short jouneys in and around the city. The local tourist office (VVV) and hotels can provide information on bicycle hire.