An afternoon in Alkmaar is the ideal escape for days when you want a change of scenery without much hassle. These are my non-touristy recommendations of fun things to see and do.
There is something for everyone: the atmosphere is vibrant and the historic city centre has an extensive network of charming little streets, quirky stores and upmarket boutiques (paradise if you’re in the mood for shopping). There are so many beautiful buildings and rows on rows of canal-side restaurants and cafés. And of course, relaxing green spaces and museums (but more about that in another post). 😀
Alkmaar is easy to get to by train (from Haarlem and Amsterdam about 40 minutes) and it is small enough to explore on foot. I don’t think an afternoon in Alkmaar is enough time to experience everything this city has to offer, but one has to start somewhere, right?
You can’t walk past the Wim van Assem Bloembinderij without taking a look inside and outside. You can smell the fresh flowers as you walk past. It is colourful, bold and there are just so many pretty things. You could definitely find something here for your home or terrace. Find the store at Fnidsen 66.
Chocolate makes everything better
At Sweets & Antiques it feels like you’re stepping into a sweet shop from a different era. You are surrounded by vintage interiors, old-world charm and walls covered with antique trinkets. It is just gorgeous.
Here you’ll find the most decadent and unusual chocolates. Imagine flavour combinations such as mojito and coconut or balsamic raspberry. Delicious! You can’t leave the store without buying chocolate. Visit the store at Hekelstraat 8.
Gotta have soul
You can’t walk past the Soul Store Hand-Picked at Fnidsen 54. It’s a feel good store with loads of sustainable, handmade and quirky goodies. And for the vinyl fans there is a superb selection of records and so many collector’s items. Make your way to this store at Fnidsen 54.
Living Roots Lunch Café serves fresh and beautifully-presented sandwiches, soups, flatbreads, cakes and breakfast. I also noticed many vegan food and drinks options on the menu. Their concept store (right next to the café in the same building) sells accessories and has gorgeous home, fashion and textile items. Living Roots is next to the water at Mient 13.
De Bonte Bengel on Kerkplein has a cosy terrace (heated when it is cold) and we ordered burgers here. They were delicious! They have an extensive menu, including specific items for children and many Dutch classics. 💛 If you’re hungry, find De Bonte Bengel at Kerkplein 3-4.
If you live in Haarlem (or are thinking of visiting Haarlem) and these pictures are making you hungry, I can recommend that you visit Haarlem’s only English tearoom, Bij Babette. It’s one of Haarlem’s most fabulous spots, full of old-world charm, glamour and decadence.
The House with Bullet
This 16th century green wooden house on Appelsteeg is one of Alkmaar’s most well-known buildings. It is one of only two remaining wooden houses in Alkmaar. If you look at the front you’ll notice that each floor of the house stands further out than the one below it. This helps to protect the house from the elements ensuing that rain and snow doesn’t collect on the wooden structure.
It is also known as the “House with Bullet.” It is believed that during the Spanish Siege of 1573 a cannonball struck and remained in the top left facade of the building. Historians question the accuracy of the story, but it has become very much part of the history of Alkmaar.
One of Alkmaar’s oldest houses
At Kannisstraat 1 you can see one of Alkmaar’s oldest surviving houses, built around 1540. It is a stone building and the original facade is still intact. Alkmaar had many older houses but as they were constructed using wood they didn’t survive the many fires in the city at the time.
Look out for all the colourful flower displays and stained glass windows dotted throughout the historic centrum of Alkmaar.
Have fun in Alkmaar! 😃
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