When I was telling you guys a few months ago why you should really visit The Hague if you come to The Netherlands, most of you showed a lot of surprise. Not only were you all delighted to know that The Hague holds so many cultural gems, like Vermeer’s The Girl with the Pearl Earring, but many of you were pretty surprised that The Hague is right by the sea. Well, it is. And The Hague beach, Scheveningen, is an absolute must-visit. Especially this year.
Okay, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out The Hague is by the sea. Just open Google Maps or an old-fashioned atlas (ah!) and the proximity to the coast is more than obvious. Through history, this wasn’t the case, however.
The Hague was once the capital of The Netherlands, until (under French occupation) the capital and government were moved to Amsterdam. The government moved back when The Netherlands became an independent republic, and later a kingdom. Back then The Hague was a centre of the Dutch royals, government and diplomacy. And the villages along the coast were simple fisherman’s villages, detached from the city, albeit not too far away.
This year, it’s 200 years ago that the first bathhouse was opened at Scheveningen beach, with royal permission. The 4 cabins with baths launched the era of high-class entertainment at sea. Within a couple of decades, more bathhouses were built including the impressive pier and luxurious Kurhaus, which is still one of the most popular beach resorts in The Netherlands.
For centuries the royal, rich and not-so-famous came to Scheveningen as doctors prescribed stays at the seaside for health reasons. Lungs, skins and weary minds from the busy and often overcrowded industrial cities benefited from the clean sea air the entertainment Scheveningen provided. Some wonderful historical photos from The Hague beach have been published lately and I can’t wait to share these (with permission) with you all.
Photos were kindly provided by MuZee and The Hague city archives
Aren’t these photos just amazing! I love those wicker seats where people would just lounge and read in. Except for the ones brave enough venturing into the sea into a carriage, whilst wearing massively heavy bathing suits.
Art at sea
Since Scheveningen became such a popular destination, ways had to be found to keep the masses entertained and for some reason, art was the way to do this. And this is pretty much the same today. MuZee is at the heart of it all. A cultural and historical museum depicting Scheveningen history, culture and everyday life.
But even more visible are all the sculptures scattered in along the boulevard and throughout the sand dunes. They’re known as Beelden aan zee (sculptures by the see), also exhibited in the museum which also hosts a variety of exhibitions every year.
Ringen aan Zee: beach art
To celebrate the 200 anniversary of Scheveningen being Holland’s most popular beach town, art was also chosen a way to do this and I must say: I love this beach art so much. Artist Bruno Doedens has created Ringen aan zee (rings at sea) to redevelop the seaside landscape. Rikke Munkholm is making sea faces and SLeM has placed shells on the beach, which are telling the stories of The Hague beach.
The iconic pier
Just like other historical beach resorts throughout Europa, like for example Brighton in the UK, Scheveningen was enriched with a proper pier. It was opened in 1901 so rich guests from the Kurhaus hotel were able to walk, covered and sheltered from the masses, along the promenade and felt like they were actually walking over the sea. On the end of the pier music, acrobats and actors were always entertaining the crowds. The pier was heavily bombed during the Second World War and a new pier was opened in 1961.
Surfing and beach clubs
You may not think The Netherlands are the best of summer destinations in Europe, but when the sun is out, it’s actually quite nice to be at the beach. You can even take surf lessons in Scheveningen if you like, or just have a drink at their beach club Hart Beach. Scheveningen has a lovely variety of great beach clubs, though I like the ones along Zwarte Pad best as they’re a little bit more remote from the main beaches.
How to get to The Hague beach, Scheveningen
- Getting to The Hague is actually quite easy, as you can simply catch a train from Amsterdam. There are regular trains and it’ll take less than an hour to get there.
- In The Hague simply hop on tram no. 1, 9 or 11 to get to Scheveningen.
- You need an OV Chip Card, which you can charge as you go, to travel on all public transport in The Netherlands.
- Or you can grab a rental bike and cycle to Scheveningen within 20 minutes.
- If the weather is going to be nice, why not stay at a hotel in Scheveningen? The Hague is only 10 minutes away from the beach and there is just something about waking up to the sound of the sea.
Read more about The Hague
- Want to spend a day in The Hague? Here’s how you spend 24 hours in The Hague.
- A special place to see. Don’t skip a visit to The Peace Palace in The Hague.
- Check out my city guide The Hague to plan your trip.
- Staying in The Hague? Then the pretty town of Delft is just around the corner. Trot along the streets Johannes Vermeer used to wander and check my city guide Delft on all you need to know and see.
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