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MartinM Jul 30th, 2012 09:31 AM

Haarlem or Gouda?
My wife and I are in our late 60's and I have a physical limitation as well (limited walking). But, we can ride bikes although only on easy and fairly level terrain.

We'll be staying in Amsterdam for three nights in late August, but want to get into "the country" for one day to enjoy the sights and sounds and flavors of Holland. We planned to take the train either to Haarlem or Gouda and rent bikes there.

Can someone please comment on these two cities I have chosen or perhaps suggest a better place? I'd love to see either cheese being made, flowers or just riding among the windmills in the countryside.

Thanks, in advance.


Rastaguytoday Jul 30th, 2012 10:11 AM

I like both Haarlem and Gouda. I stayed in Haarlem for 3 nights. It's a very pretty town, with colorful buidings.

It's essentially flat in Haarlem, not so much in Gouda.

My choice is Haarlem, but you'd be happy in either town.

PalenQ Jul 30th, 2012 10:22 AM

Though not peas in pods both towns are similar. I also have stayed in Haarlem many times, a nice base for Amsterdam and all of Holland.

I have biked extensively around Gouds - biking - short treks would IMO be better from there - smack cross the bridge over the main canal and you are in the countryside - Kinderdijk - the largest conglomeration of windmills in Holland is a longer - about 15 mile but flat each way ride from Gouda.

Gouda to me has a small town feeling - do not expect I think to see cheese making there even though Gouda (kind of 'How-dah") is a famed brand - at least I did not see any.

You may consider going to Alkmaar for the Friday morning world-famous cheese market and cheese museum where perhaps you would see cheese making.

You cannot go wrong, Gouda - farther away by train than nearby Haarlem - or Haarlem - just 20 mins or so by train from Amsterdam.

menachem Jul 31st, 2012 04:16 AM

Why not Dordrecht and go to see the windmills at Kinderdijk? Gouda - KInderdijk is quite a distance, and it's easy to take the bikes on the waterbus, go to Kinderdijk and cycle back to Papendrecht, take the ferry across to Dordrecht again.

And maybe you can write to

In Kinderdijk to ask if they will show you around there cheese farm. They do tours for groups. Chances are they would be able to fit you in.

The entire Alblasserwaard area is beautiful: very nice excustions along the Graafstroom where, at Oud Alblas you can also rent launches with electric propulsion to tour the network of peat rivers.

Dordrecht is a beautiful city. For a wonderful hotel experience you might want to contact

menachem Jul 31st, 2012 04:31 AM

Forgive me, you're planning a day trip. You might want to visit Graft and De Rijp villages from Amsterdam. For instance, take the bus to Edam (these leave from Amsterdam Central Station) and there do:

this one is in De Rijp and there's also an excursion with a cheese farm in Katwoude that also seems interesting

isabel Jul 31st, 2012 05:49 AM

I just came back last week from there. I stayed in Haarlem five nights and did day trips to Amsterdam, Gouda, Leiden and Delft. Gouda felt like the smallest - it has a huge main square with very impressive town hall, and a nice windmill on the river/canal that circles the old town but not much else. Haarlem also has a giant main square and a windmill on a canal but felt more like a substantial town. Delft had the most in terms of canals and places to wander (or bike, everyone was biking everywhere) - also a giant main square. Delft was the 'prettiest'. Leiden was actually more interesting in some ways, but is larger and has a more 'city' feel (and no giant main square!). If you are going by train from A'dam, Gouda is the furthest, though still very doable as a day trip. Haalem is only 15 minutes from A'dam, Delft another 20 minutes.

I'll be doing a trip report and link to my photos when I get time, don't know when you need to make your decision but if not for a while yet maybe looking at the photos will help you decide. I hope to get them done in a couple of weeks.

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