18km (11 miles) W of Amsterdam

Some visitors to Amsterdam prefer to "commute" from Haarlem. The small city (pop. 150,000) has a similar 17th-century ambience, though since it was founded probably in the 10th century it is older than Amsterdam. By being thoroughly provincial, prosperous and conservative (meaning there's only a tiny red-light district here), Haarlem gets along nicely without the many hassles that go with the nearby capital's famously tolerant and often eccentric lifestyle. You can easily get around this quaint, quiet center of music and art on foot. Haarlem is home to one of Holland's premier art museums. Besides, it's close to the North Sea beaches and to the bulb fields, at the heart of an area dotted with elegant manor houses and picturesque villages.