Hoofddorp and Haarlemmermeer: between city and beach - Holland.com
Photo: © Michel van Der
North Holland


Hoofddorp, the main town in the municipality of Haarlemmermeer, is just 15 km away from the idyllic city of Haarlem and just 27 km from Amsterdam. The best thing is that a mere 30-minute drive takes you to the sea! Their great location between city, beach and nature make Hoofddorp and Haarlemmermeer the perfect base from which to explore North Holland.

  • Admire the world’s biggest steam pumping station.
  • Enjoy nature and the beautiful flower bulb fields.
  • Schiphol Airport is nearby: perfect if you are flying in!

Water turned to land

The name of the municipality of Haarlemmermeer says it all: in the past, this was not the sea but rather a lake (unlike in German, the Dutch ‘meer’ means lake, not sea). The lake posed a danger to the surrounding cities and farms, since they were threatened by flooding whenever a big storm raged. This is why it was decided, midway through the 19th century, to drain the Haarlemmermeer. The huge project was realized thanks to a new invention: the steam pumping station.

World class industrial monument: the Cruquius

The Cruquius steam pumping station, which was built in 1849, boasts the world’s biggest steam engine: its cylinder has a 3.66 meter diameter! Each of the station’s eight pumps lifts 8,000 liters of water five meters upward with every stroke. The Cruquius and two other pumping stations drained the 18,000-meter square Haarlemmermeer in just three years’ time. Several villages were established on the newly reclaimed land. Hoofddorp, which is located in the center of the former lake, is now a city with a population of 74,000 – a great place for shopping and a night on the town.

A sea of tulips

Because of its location close to Schiphol Airport, Hoofddorp is the perfect destination for anyone arriving in Holland by air. The municipality is also a great base for holidaymakers who arrive by car, since you can drive to the seaside town Bloemendaal aan Zee with its trendy beach bars by the North Sea in just 30 minutes. In spring, you should visit the nearby Keukenhof flower paradise with its millions of tulips and daffodils.

Nature in the municipality of Haarlemmermeer

The Haarlemmermeerse Bos is a 115-hectare forested area with a small lake to the northwest of Hoofddorp. Where you like hiking, fishing, surfing or horseback riding, there is something to do for everyone. You can enjoy a cup of coffee or lunch at the organic restaurant Vork & Mes, which is to be found in the futuristic Haarlemmermeer Pavilion. The green dike called the Geniedijk runs through the Haarlemmermeer is not modern, but it is of historic significance. It is part of the Stelling van Amsterdam, a 135 km defense line that is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Geniedijk is the perfect place for cycling and hiking. You can take a break on the 160-year-old De Olmenhorst country estate.

Editor’s tip

The Dance Festival Mysteryland, which has been held since 1993, is Holland’s oldest dance event and occurs in the Haarlemmermeerse Bos at the end of August. Dance to the beat of the world’s best DJs with 60,000 dance fans.

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