Discovering the reclaimed land of Haarlemmermeer

Are you visiting Amsterdam and looking for a fun day out of the city? Take a trip to Haarlem and visit Haarlemmermeer. See how the ‘low lands’ were made back in the 19th century and listen to amazing stories. It’s only a short trip by public transport away – you’ll be there just about as fast as when you visit another part of Amsterdam – and it’s easy! Here’s how we did it: 

Where to start
Start your trip at the I amsterdam store. Here, you can watch a video about how Haarlemmermeer polder was created after battling the water (‘the waterwolf’) for centuries. This is a great introduction for a visit to Cruquius Museum later on. At the I amsterdam store you can get information about Haarlemmermeer and its attractions, as well as maps, guides and practical info on how to get there. 

Getting to the museum
A short train ride from Amsterdam Central Station gets you to Haarlem. As you leave Amsterdam, watch the landscape change until you find yourself in typical Dutch polders. When you arrive at Haarlem station just about 15 minutes later, be sure to take some time to look around before you move on. The station is housed in a beautifully decorated Art Nouveau style building with lots of amazing details. The original waiting rooms and signal house are still on the platform and definitely worth at least a quick look.

The fastest and easiest way to get from Haarlem station to the museum is by bus. Be sure to get line 340 (Haarlem-Uithoorn). It will take you to bus stop Ringvaartbrug in 15 minutes and within two more minutes you’ll be able to walk from the bus stop to the museum, right in front of you. 

Add a little adventure 
If you like to add some activity and adventure to your day out, why not rent a (e-)bike to get to the museum? Rent a bike Haarlem is close to the station, on the other side of the square. They can provide you with a route map to the museum. Check out their website for information and reservations.

For an even more special experience and bigger adventure, sail the Spaarne river to the Cruquius Museum. We got a rental boat from Club Spaarne and really had a great time taking the water route. Club Spaarne is about a 10-minute walk through the center of Haarlem. Cushions, fuel and maps with routes are included in the boat rental. You’ll find Cruquius Museum on the map, it’s an easy route. It had been a while since we last sailed a boat by ourselves, but the staff was great helping us get settled. After some instructions, you’re on your way! 

Take about an hour into account to get to the museum, if you want to relax and enjoy the sights along the Spaarne river as you sail. It would be a shame not to, because on the way you pass several bridges, terraces, houseboats and some really nice monuments and historical buildings including windmill ‘De Eenhoorn’. You get a unique perspective of the city from the river. When you finally get to Cruquius Museum, you can moor the boat at the jetty on the Ringvaart in front of the museum. Mooring is free when visiting the museum. 

At the museum
Arriving at Cruquius Museum, the large building of the pumping station stands out immediately. The museum tells the story about the age-old Dutch battle against the water and the reclamation of Haarlemmermeer. Thanks to the wonders of the industrial revolution, pumping stations were built with pumps powered by steam engines and they reclaimed the land, which is now the Haarlemmermeer polder. 

Today, one of these pumping stations, housing the largest steam engine in the world, is part of the museum. Make sure to witness a demonstration of this enormous machine, it’s really impressive. You can also visit the exhibition, see how the Netherlands would look without its dykes and take an audio or guided tour. For kids the Stoomlab (steam lab) is a great experience where an engineer explains the operation of steam engines up close, through models which produce real steam. Making the steam whistle go off is fun for all ages, just ask our teenagers! 

Take a break 
After your visit to the museum, you might find yourself in need of some refreshments, food and relaxation, as we did. Theehuis Cruquius is a great place to attend to these needs – and it’s right next to the museum. Settle down inside or in the lovely garden and enjoy a delicious tea or lunch break with a view of the Ringvaart and the pumping station you just visited. Check their website for the menu and other information. (Tip: make sure if you rent a bike or boat to take this break into account for your rental time.) 

Explore some more 
When you’re done refreshing and have returned by bus, bike or boat to the center of Haarlem, instead of heading back to Amsterdam immediately, you might consider staying a little longer to explore Haarlem’s city center – maybe check out another museum, do some shopping or get something to eat. Lots of opportunities there before you take the train back to Amsterdam!

Thinking of spending more time outside of Amsterdam? There are so many options for places to visit! Check out I amsterdam’s suggestions for the Amsterdam area:

Our trip was part of a video shoot organised by I amsterdam for this video: Visit Haarlemmermeer. It was real fun playing our part in it and our visit was a great experience. This blog isn’t part of the promotion.

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