Den Haag, Scheveningen

Although Amsterdam is Holland’s largest city and its official capital, Den Haag, Scheveningen on the North Sea is the seat of government and residence of Queen Beatrix. More than 150 international organisations are based here, most significant of which are the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court. The Hague has a strong UN and NATO presence, and has been an ‘international city of peace and justice’ since 1899. The magnificent early 20th century Peace Palace was built in neo-renaissance style by the French architect Cordonnier to house the Permanent Court of Arbitration. In addition to the international courts it now also contains the Peace Palace Library.

If you are interested in the history of crime and punishment and have a strong constitution, there is the Prison Gate Museum with a 700 year history of imprisonment and torture. Children must be 9 and over to join the guided tour of the Jailer’s Quarters, the Interrogation Room and the Judges’ Chambers. (At Buitenhof 33, closed Mondays.)

The city of The Hague is small enough to get around on foot, and most of the medieval, renaissance and baroque architecture is in the centre. In the elegant square, ‘Plein’, historic government buildings face bars and cafes with outdoor tables in summer. The nearby Lange Voorhout, an attractive tree-lined square of grand 18th century townhouses, hosts the Hague Sculpture exhibition in the summer months.

The Dutch Senate and House of Representatives meet in The Binnenhof, a complex of buildings around a huge courtyard. Some of the open spaces including the main square are open to the public.  

How could you come to Holland without wanting to see some paintings by celebrated Dutch Masters? The Royal Picture Gallery in the beautiful 17th century baroque palace of Mauritshuis has some of the most famous, including Vermeer’s ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’ and Rembrandt self-portraits. (Open Tuesday to Sunday, 11.00 to 17.00)

For a day of family fun, Drievliet Amusement Park in Den Haag has attractions and rides for all ages (open April to October). However many families head for the nearby resort of Scheveningen, the most popular in the Netherlands, with its 3 km long sandy beach and modern pier. In summer North Beach is very busy with water sports, fishing and sunbathing; South Beach on the other side of the harbour is a lot quieter. If the weather is not good enough for the beach, try the Sea Life aquarium, where the latest attraction is ‘Monsters From The Deep’ (daily 10.00 till 17.00).

Nightlife in Scheveningen offers clubs, restaurants and the Holland Casino, a live entertainment venue and restaurant, as well as a gaming hall. Since the seaside resort is really a suburb of The Hague, residents and visitors easily move between the two for nights out. Den Haag itself has a number of theatres, with a few nationally renowned companies based in the city.

Where to stay

As you would expect of a city with so many international visitors, Den Haag has a wide range of accommodation to suit every taste and budget. In the luxury category, the 5-star Hotel des Indes in the city centre offers elegance and opulence. A well-recommended 4-star hotel, also in the city centre, is the Mercure Den Haag Central. Here rooms are in a modern style and there is a restaurant serving international cuisine. For something cheaper than either of these, try the 2-star family-run Staten Hotel. In an area of antique shops and bookshops, yet only 5 minutes by bus from Den Haag’s main attractions, this traditional hotel offers free breakfast; however not all rooms have ensuite bathrooms, so check first. There are several hostels catering for backpackers which are about 8km (5 miles) from the city, but one that is closer in is the Stayokay Den Haag in Scheepmakersstraat. Here they have a range of rooms, including doubles and twins with own shower and toilet, and dormitory rooms with bunks for 4 or 6 sharing.

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Exploring Scheveningen

Nestled along the North Sea coast, Scheveningen is a charming seaside resort town in the Netherlands, renowned for its stunning beaches, vibrant atmosphere, and rich cultural heritage. Whether you’re seeking a relaxing escape by the sea or an adventure-filled getaway, Scheveningen offers something for every traveler. In this comprehensive travel guide, we’ll delve into the top attractions, dining options, outdoor activities, and insider tips to make the most of your visit to Scheveningen.

1. Beach Bliss

Scheveningen’s expansive sandy beaches are the town’s main draw, attracting sunseekers, surfers, and families alike. Stretching for kilometers along the coast, the beaches offer ample space for sunbathing, swimming, and beach games. For adrenaline junkies, there are opportunities for kite surfing, windsurfing, and even beach volleyball tournaments. Don’t miss the iconic Scheveningen Pier, where you can stroll above the waves, enjoy panoramic views from the ferris wheel, or dine at one of the many restaurants offering fresh seafood and stunning vistas.

2. Cultural Gems

Beyond its beautiful coastline, Scheveningen boasts a wealth of cultural attractions waiting to be explored. The Beelden aan Zee museum is a must-visit for art enthusiasts, showcasing a fascinating collection of sculptures set against the backdrop of the sea. History buffs will appreciate a visit to the Atlantikwall Museum, housed in a former German bunker complex, offering insights into the region’s wartime past. Additionally, the Scheveningen Lighthouse provides a glimpse into maritime history and offers panoramic views from its observation deck.

3. Culinary Delights

Scheveningen’s culinary scene is as diverse as it is delicious, with a plethora of dining options to satisfy every palate. Sample traditional Dutch herring from one of the many fish stalls lining the promenade, or indulge in freshly caught seafood at a beachfront restaurant. For a taste of international cuisine, explore the vibrant Keizerstraat, where you’ll find a variety of cafes, bistros, and eateries offering everything from Italian gelato to Indonesian rijsttafel. And no visit to Scheveningen is complete without trying a stroopwafel, a sweet treat made from thin waffles sandwiched with caramel syrup.

4. Outdoor Adventures

Nature enthusiasts will find plenty to explore in and around Scheveningen. Take a leisurely stroll through the picturesque Westbroekpark, home to colorful flower gardens, tranquil ponds, and winding pathways perfect for a morning jog or afternoon picnic. For a more adventurous outing, rent a bike and cycle along the scenic coastal dunes, stopping to admire panoramic views and spot native bird species. And if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, embark on a guided sea kayaking excursion, paddling along the coast and exploring hidden coves and sea caves.

5. Nightlife and Entertainment

As the sun sets, Scheveningen comes alive with a vibrant nightlife scene offering something for everyone. Enjoy live music and cocktails at one of the beachfront bars, or try your luck at the Holland Casino, where you can play a variety of table games and slot machines late into the night. For a dose of culture, catch a performance at the Zuiderstrandtheater, which hosts a diverse range of concerts, dance performances, and theatrical productions throughout the year.

Insider Tips:

  1. Transportation: Getting around Scheveningen is easy thanks to its well-connected public transportation network. Consider purchasing a Den Haag City Card, which offers unlimited access to trams and buses, as well as free admission to many museums and attractions.
  2. Weather: The weather in Scheveningen can be unpredictable, so be sure to pack layers and a waterproof jacket, especially if you plan on spending time outdoors or exploring the beach.
  3. Local Events: Check the local events calendar for festivals, concerts, and special events happening during your visit. From the annual Fireworks Festival to the Scheveningen Kite Festival, there’s always something exciting happening in town.
  4. Safety: Scheveningen is generally a safe destination for travelers, but it’s always wise to exercise caution and be aware of your surroundings, especially in crowded areas or late at night.

With its picturesque beaches, vibrant cultural scene, and array of outdoor activities, Scheveningen offers the perfect blend of relaxation and adventure for travelers of all ages. Whether you’re seeking a romantic getaway, a family vacation, or a solo adventure, Scheveningen is sure to captivate your heart and leave you longing to return time and time again.