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Haarlem is only 15 minutes away from Amsterdam. This makes it a good base to visit Amsterdam instead of staying in the big city. There are many advantages to this choice: it is cheaper than staying in Amsterdam (for example, food and lodging), you get the feel of the real Holland, shopping is splendid as you can find some great antique and vintage clothing stores, and people don't bear the stress so typical, and unavoidable, in big cities.
The best way to come and go is by train. The service is frequent (about six times per hours), efficient and cheap (the round ticket costs 7 Euros). For details about schedule and stops, check out the Transportation system website at www.ns.nl (it has a version in English).Its search machine on the first page will help you plan your ride not only to Amsterdam but also to other destinations in the country. You can buy the tickets at the NS machines that are on every station. You can't buy the ticket on the train.
Once in Haarlam, you can walk: the city is beautiful and most popular destinations are at a walking distance.