Netherlands Western Europe

The Hiding Place in Haarlem

We love discovering small towns, especially the charming ones spread all over Europe. One such town is Haarlem, located not far from Amsterdam in the Netherlands. Haarlem is a lot like Amsterdam but way more localized, very quaint and unique. It has that ‘small town’ feel while having all the necessary amenities. It is worth taking a day trip from Amsterdam to see this sweet, little Dutch town or if you’re like us, spend a few nights here getting to know the culture. We liked it 100 times more than Amsterdam and definitely recommend if you want some time away from the big city!

getting there

Haarlem is very easy to get to, especially when coming from Amsterdam by train or car. We came by train and hopped off around the 4th stop, about a 10 minute ride. From the main train hub, we were only about a 7-10 minute walk from where we stayed. Since it’s a relatively small town, everything is within that amount of time walking and even quicker if you have a bike!

where to stay

Haarlem is full of really cute little Airbnb’s, which are much easier and just as cheap to find than a hostels. We had the absolute cutest, most perfect little room – and you can stay here too! It’s only about a mile walk from the train station and was equipped with everything we needed for a great stay. There is a little breakfast nook that had some bread, peanut butter, nutella, jelly, etc. for lunches and easy breakfast! It’s close to the market square and in a really cute neighborhood that’s close to a lot of amenities. It has since changed hosts since our stay back in 2015 but seems like the reviews are just as good as when we had stayed.

what to see

We spent one whole day exploring around Haarlem, which was an adequate amount of time to see the one big thing we wanted – the Corrie ten Boom house. Anything else we saw in Haarlem was things we just happened upon and explored. Everything in Haarlem is pretty close so you won’t have to use public transpo, just put your walking shoes to good use!

Market Square

The Market Square within Haarlem is like any of your typical Market Squares in Europe – equipped with shops, restaurants, and of course a church! We never went into the St. Bavokerk church, although we enjoyed a drink at one of the restaurants in the Square during a bought of sunshine. All of the Market Square restaurants have a good view of the grand stone building and stained glass windows. We ate and drank at a couple places in the Market Square during the afternoon and evening, but the lit up church is the most picturesque during the evenings in our opinion! We also shopped in the little alleyways for some random goods we needed and felt like a local the entire time.

The Hiding Place

The main reason we stayed in Haarlem was because of a very special book called the The Hiding Place, written by Corrie ten Boom. The short story of her history is that she and her family secretly housed Jews during the war. The people who stayed at her house would live normally in the unoccupied bedrooms, unless there was a Nazi raid, at which point they would all hide in a small room that the ten Boom’s had built in Corrie’s bedroom. At one point there was up to 8 people hiding in this small hideaway just inches away from getting seized by the Nazi’s. The ten Boom’s owned a watch making store that is still in use today, although it mainly sells jewelry now. Eventually, the ten Boom’s got sold out by their German apprentice, and Corrie’s entire family was murdered in concentration camps. She has written many books about her journey through forgiveness and her experiences before, during, and after the war. They do guided tours with very knowledgable tour guides and it’s free so that’s a plus. You can find information about tours and times here. They run tours about every 2 hours and it’s recommended to show up early, they only allow 20 people in at a time and it fills up pretty fast. We came for the second to last tour of the day, stood in line for about 45 minutes and just barely missed the cutoff for maximum people. They gave us a little reservation card to come back so we had a guaranteed spot but there was still people they had to turn away. They do tours in Dutch and English and times are posted on the door to the entrance.

The side entrance is the main museum entrance and the same door that desperate Jews would come to seek refuge.

We walked up the little stairwell into the second story of the house into their parlor/sitting area and got a brief history of the family and their roles during the war.

Corrie’s brother was a preacher, these are some of his original sermons.

This map shows how many people were killed in the Holocaust from each country.

And this is the hiding place. They took a chunk out of the wall so that people can step inside, but the original door was the bottom of the cabinet that you see open. There was no way out of the hiding place, the Jews would have to wait until Corrie opened the hatch. They staged drills to make sure they could get all the people into the hiding place in 30 seconds, and making sure they took all their belongings and leaving the house without a trace of them being inside. The room was made by constructing an additional brick wall to Corrie’s room and the little room is TINY!

The plaque on the inside is from the German government, apologizing and commemorating the ten Boom house, lest people forget what happened during the Holocaust.

Visiting Corrie’s house is a really cool experience and such an honor to be able to see her house, her hiding place, and see first hand the courage that it took herself and her family putting their lives on the line to save their friends. You can see the way Corrie’s faith and perseverance led her to sacrifice literally everything she had to fight against the injustices of the Nazis.

where to eat + drink

◊ Anne & Max – This is the coolest little coffee house in the middle of a little shopping district. We recommend hanging out enjoying the Dutch culture while sipping a french press coffee and some rice cakes with salmon and wasabi mayo sauce!

◊ Bij Babette – This tea room is a well known haunt in Haarlem serving afternoon teas and scones in a quirky, little setup that allows for relaxing and hanging out while enjoying your beverage. There are many different kinds of loose teas to choose from and even the pickiest drinker will find something to love!

◊ Jopenkerk – We walked into this brewery and had we been able to find a place to sit/stand we probably would have stayed. It is a pretty big brewery in an old church, has a cafe and lunch spot, and has a super fun atmosphere; you can even take a virtual tour online to see what the inside looks like!

◊ Carriage Inn – We ate a scrumptious dinner here on our last night in Haarlem. It’s a pretty cool little spot in a neat neighborhood with great food! It’s worth a stop if you can find it.

Cafe Coop – This pub in the Market Square area is one of the coolest local pubs we visited. It’s a great place to meet other travelers and locals and chat with the bartender about Dutch life.

Even though we didn’t do much in Haarlem, we still really enjoyed our time here. We much prefer this charming town to the hustle and bustle of Amsterdam. Do you have any favorites in Haarlem we have to know about? Let us know in the comments below.


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