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Haarlem’s urban lungs: discover De Bolwerken city park

There’s no shortage of green spaces in Haarlem. Next time the sun is out, pack a picnic and discover one of Haarlem’s urban lungs: De Bolwerken city park. I think this is one of the city’s most beautiful parks.

De Bolwerken city park isn’t part of an official walking tour of Haarlem and that’s why I want to tell you about it. This is my favourite city park because the landscape design tells a story about Haarlem’s history. 

I’ve looked through all my photos to find snapshots of De Bolwerken during every season. I hope you enjoy looking at them (and maybe even exploring the park) as much as I do.  

Former city walls

Fortunately those in power at the time had the foresight to transform this area into a green lung for the city, instead of building houses or roads.

While researching De Bolwerken, I found out that it was designed by Jan David Zocher jr, a landscape architect from Haarlem. He made a name for himself by designing other well known parks such as Vondelpark in Amsterdam. 

A park for every season 

When I just moved to Haarlem, De Bolwerken was the first place I explored. It was late afternoon on a weekday in March. It was cold, grey and raining (nothing usual about that 😂.).

I wasn’t dressed warmly enough having just stepped off a plane which left South Africa in summer. Four years later I still find this park beautiful at any time of the year. 

Good to know

Coffee ☕️ When I’m exploring I always treat myself to a cappuccino en route. My favourite spot for coffee at De Bolwerken is Museumcafé Thuys at the Museum van de Geest. The museum café has just reopened after extensive renovations. After a two-year closure I’m so happy that it’s back. There are also other quality coffee places in the city centre of Haarlem if Museumcafé Thuys is closed.

Flowers 💐 B&B Bloemen at the Kennemerbrug sells the most beautiful flowers and small house plants. Would we even be in there Netherlands if it wasn’t possible to buy fresh flowers on just about every street corner? 😃 On a weekend you can also buy flowers at the main market square in front of the Grote Kerk.

Food 🐟 The V.O.F. Leo van Rhijn fish store is opposite the B&B Bloemen kiosk. This fish kiosk is very popular with locals and on weekends or around lunchtime in the week you’ll often see a queue here. Pop in for some delicious fish.

Dogs 🐶 De Bolwerken has always been my favourite park to walk my dog. There is plenty of space to run, sniff around and socialise with other dogs.

Off-leash is permitted but remember to carry waste bags to clean up after your dog’s toilet stop. You do have to cross the road and bicycle paths at the Kennemerbrug (near the flower kiosk) and at the Noorderbrug, so rather keep your furry friend on the leash here. 

Play 🏃🏻 If you have kids, there are numerous play areas scattered throughout De Bolwerken. The ducks will always be grateful for some extra food. The best spot to feed the ducks is at the Museum van de Geest next to the colourful concrete fish. 

De Bolwerken city park in Haarlem is a beautiful fantasy world.
Gnome houses hidden in the trees at De Bolwerken in Haarlem.

How to find De Bolwerken

The park is north of the Haarlem Station and winds its way along Kloppersingel and Schotersingel.

I made this map with notes. I hope it helps you to find your way around.

Descriptive map of De Bolwerken park in Haarlem.

What’s your favourite area of the park? Please let me know!

Like this post? Please spread the word. 😀

You can also see this in Haarlem:

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