Where The Locals Go In The Hague
Travelling to the Netherlands? You’re probably considering Amsterdam and/or Rotterdam as potential destinations already, but how about The Hague? The oft-overlooked Dutch city has a lot going for it: parts of it are better known, such as the Royal Palace Noordeinde (yes, Amsterdam is the country’s official capital but The Hague is where the Dutch royal family resides for most of the year). The city also houses the International Court of Justice and is the administrative centre of the Dutch government.
But, did you know about the huge beach of Scheveningen that’s just a short tram ride away? Go beyond the surface and discover this and much more by following these tips by The Hague locals and experiencing the Netherlands from a local’s point of view.
How to get to The Hague by train: There are frequent and fast train connections across the Netherlands. You could get to The Hague from Schiphol Airport or Rotterdam within 30 minutes and from Amsterdam or Hoek van Holland in under an hour. Take advantage of the Global Pass or the Interrail Benelux Pass to plan your rail trip!
Spend a day at the beach
The Hague has an 11 km stretch of beach – the famous Scheveningen. There, you’ll find plenty of pavilions during the warm season (April - October) that are set up and taken down every single year. Take advantage of the opportunity to go surfing in the North Sea, hang out at surfer beach club Hart Club, or visit the iconic Scheveningen pier, complete with a ferris wheel atop which you can relax with a drink and take in the views of the majestic sea. You can even hop on a trampoline at Fonk or head to one of the quieter places on the beach, where you can visit the beach cafe de Fuut, which organises small jazz concerts and live theatrical performances from April to October.
Strange artificial life form or just plain art?
If you drop by the aforementioned de Fuut, you can’t miss these ‘sculptures’, or Strandbeesten (beach beasts) created by world-renowned local artist Theo Jansen. He makes animal-like constructions that move around independently on the power of the wind alone, and every year he brings his new creations to this space to test them out. Are they works of art, science, or the imagination? You don’t have to riddle this one out – just come here and enjoy watching this local hero’s creations come to life. If you’re interested in more art on the beach, check out the Scheveningen Sculptures.
Best fried seafood in town
Still in Scheveningen and feeling hungry? You should check out local favorite Simonis. It’s not just your average fish ’n’ chips shop! This place combines the vibe of a butcher’s shop (where you’ve got to get a number to stand in line!) with a snack bar (where they serve affordable fried fast food). You can either stay here to eat or take your seafood away and enjoy it on the beach. Just be mindful of the seagulls – they know what they want and exactly how to get it!
A real Dutch windmill
Few things convey Dutchness more strongly than an iconic windmill, and this one, the Molen de Korenaer, isn’t just a tourist attraction – it’s an operational agricultural facility that still grinds wheat into fine flour. It was restored in 1721, and today it has to keep working so as to not fall into disrepair. Thus, it is operated by volunteer millers who can show you around the mill, tell you more about how it works, and you can also buy different types of fresh milled flour, müsli, yeast (hard to find in regular supermarkets), and organic honey at the mill’s shop.
A crispy-crunchy outside, creamy-smooth inside kroket, made of fried breaded meat, is as close to a real Dutch snack as it can ever get. And there’s honestly no better place to get one in The Hague than Dungelmann, a traditional butcher shop in the city centre. Having a kroket here while shopping on Hoogstraat is a local custom you should definitely try. Be prepared to get in line (although it does move fast), ask for a “broodje kroket” and you’ll get the question “traditional or special?” – it all depends on taste. Enjoy it with mustard!
The burying ground of Fahrenheit – yes, that Fahrenheit!
Hague local Jenny Huttinga's neighbourhood church, the Kloosterkerk, which dates back to the 15th century, organises cute second-hand bazaars twice per year that she tries to never miss. It’s also the church that former Dutch queen Beatrix used to attend, and (unknown to most people) it also happens to house the remains of Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit, the inventor of the mercury thermometer. Also good to know: every last Sunday of the month, a cantata composed by Bach is performed during Mass.
A centuries-old drugstore
Tired of shopping in personality-less megastores? Van der Gaag has been in business for more than 200 years and has changed little over the centuries – it’s still got glass bottles and jars, and wooden panels that display products. Its stock isn’t limited to medicines, of course; here you can buy personal care products and over 250 kinds of spices and herbs, the shop’s traditional specialty. You can also buy sweets including dropjes, a Dutch variety of licorice, straight out of the glass jar. Even though most foreigners usually dislike dropjes (especially the dubbel zoute drop), we definitely recommend trying them!
The King’s backyard
The Palace Gardens might be the King’s property (and it’s also right next to the King’s workplace, Noordeinde), but they’re an excellent place to enjoy a day in the sun for everyone. If you’re into fitness, there’s also an extensive yoga class here every Sunday morning.
What’s most charming about the Gardens are all the anecdotes and curiosities about it. In 1785, the first hot-air balloon took flight from here! And hidden in a little corner, there’s an inconspicuous door which, if you ring the bell for the guards to open for you, will lead you directly to the city centre through a beautiful archway via a royal shortcut. Now that’s real luxury!
For more local favorites across Europe, check out Spotted by Locals.
Edited by Sukriti Kapoor, Eurail.
Header image by Zairon
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