Haarlem is a lovely historical city on the river Spaarne 20 km from Amsterdam. International tourism finally seems to have discovered the town’s many charms, and an increasing number of visitors find their way here each year. A quick glance at the city centre makes it obvious why. Haarlem boasts a magnificent old centre with plenty of monumental buildings. As the city was home to several first class Dutch painters, including Frans Hals, there’s a lot of art to go around. And if you’re into shopping, a day in Haarlem is a day well spent too, as it was best shopping city of the country several times. Other towns may lay claims to that title, but Haarlem’s centre undisputably offers a colorful mix of large chain stores, specialty shops, boutiques and art galleries. A broad range of bars and restaurants makes the picture complete. In short, Haarlem is well worth a visit. For those who are wondering: yes, the famous New York City neighbourhood of Harlem is named after this once powerful Dutch city.