Bloemendaal aan Zee


A very compelling reason to live in Haarlem is the proximity to the sea.

The whole area is a unique part of the country. Whereas you can't swing a dead cat in the Netherlands without hitting a canal or a fiets, a trip to the coastal towns of Zandvoort and Bloemendaal takes you through dunes that you don't see in most parts. These big, winding (and environmentally protected) sand dunes go for miles in several directions.

An easy 30-45 minute bike ride from Haarlem brings you to Bloemendaal aan Zee - a huge chunk of North Sea beach lined with cafes and clubs. The bike ride itself takes you along a winding path through the dunes for a good 15 minutes, with dozens of stops along the way to take a breather and check out the view.

The beach is apparently packed in the summer, at least on each of the 3.5 warm days here between June and September. In fall and winter, as this past weekend showed, it is a great spot when the sun is shining for a long walk and a lunch with coffee or a drink.

These straw roofs (rooves?) are popular in higher-end neighbourhoods in Holland. This one was spotted between Haarlem and Zandvoort.

The views from the dunes