When someone talks about the Netherlands, you start to imagine a lot of things: tulips, wooden shoes, cheese, wind mills, canals, no fue penal!, or greenhouses. But one thing that never crosses your mind: beaches. And still, in Europe at least, the Netherlands is pretty famous for its beaches. I think is mainly because their beaches actually contain a lot of fine sand.. and they are really wide and long.
Scheveningen is probably the most famous beach in the Netherlands. Pretty popular among Germans to go on holidays. It is located 7 km from the city center of Den Haag, which is actually part of the magic: the unexpected. When you walk around Den Haag, you see all this majestic buildings, you never imagine that 7 km away you would have a nice sandy beach!
I went not in the most ideal day. It was a little bit cloudy, although it was one of the most warm days we have had since this cold winter. I have to admit I was surprise when I first saw the beach, I wasn’t expecting something like that in the Netherlands. It has kind of a Santa Mónica beach feeling (maybe I’m being too optimistic), with the pier and the super long sandy beach. The only thing missing that day was the sun 😦 (and the surfers).
Scheveningen has some curiosities. One of them is the Kurhaus of Scheveningen (now called Grand Hotel Amráth The Hague), which is a five star hotel build in 1885. Besides a hotel, the Kurkhaus was also a popular concert hall (even the Rolling Stones played there in 1969). The hotel started to decay, and there where concerns about being demolished. Nevertheless, the building was saved from disappearing in 1975 and listed as an historic building.
The most famous pier in the Netherlands is also located in Scheveningen. The pier was first constructed in 1901, made of wood on a steel foundation that was directly connected to the Kurhaus Hotel. During the World War II, the pier was completely destroyed, but a new Pier was constructed years after the war ended. This was an ambitious project: a two floor Pier with a shopping mall and a few restaurants. They invested big amounts of money, and yet the Pier went through periods of decay. The last one was in 2011, when after a fire occurred, the Pier fall into bankruptcy, and the town management had to closed it do to safety issues. The pier was renovated and re-opened on July 2015.
I’ve to say, nowadays, is a pretty depressive Pier. Its under poor maintenance and it seems really neglected. It gives you the feeling of a sadness, something that back in the days could have been a fancy Pier, but now is completely forgotten. And I don’t even think is salvageable. But at the same time, is such an iconic Pier in the Netherlands, that they can’t just let it die. If I were to decide, I would just build a whole new Pier, modern.. maybe less ambitious.. and realistic to maintain.
There is also a beautiful spot in this beach: the Scheveningen Harbour Entry. The entry is surrounded by big cubes of concrete, placed as if someone just drop them off, in an unorganized way. This stone blocks serve to protect the harbor entrance from the waves . It is a very popular spot to fish.
If you would continue along the coast, you would arrive to Rotterdam’s port. Is strange because Rotterdam’s port is more close to Den Haag than to the city of Rotterdam. However, is the biggest port in Europe. In fact, until 2004 was the busiest port in the World, until Shanghai and other Asian ports surpassed it.
Den Haag is a very special city in the Netherlands, primarily because is the sit of the dutch government, parliament and the supreme court. All embassies (or well, most of them) and also some other international organizations like the international court of Justice and the international criminal court are located in here
I would say that Den Haag is one of the most charming cities in the Netherlands, because numerous historical buildings incredible well preserved (the race for me is between Maastrich and Den Haag). Also, is not a very crowded city, like Amsterdam. So, it still preserves its essence as an old city, with an elegant atmosphere, and is not over-exploited by tourism.
The Binnenhof is a very impressive building. Is located in the city center alongside the Hofvijver lake. I think the most impressive part about this complex of buildings is that, The Binnenhof, is the oldest House of Parliament in the world still in use. There are several other buildings, like the Palei Noordeinde (one of the official palaces of the Dutch Royalty) and the Vredespaleis (Peace Palace) that definitely worth visiting.
Visiting Den Haag is a very convenient alternative to the touristic over-exploited Amsterdam. Since is the third largest city in the Netherlands, is easy to get there (direct train from Amsterdam Central to Den Haag). Once you are there, and only if there is sun 😛 , visiting Scheveningen is something you must do! Is also convenient to get there; just take red line 1, 5 or 9 of the tram and you will be there in less than half an hour 🙂 .
Coffee pitt-stop in Den Haag!
If you want to reload energy, try Lola Bikes and Coffee. An unusual shop, since is a bike shop but also a coffee place. Besides the place itself, coffee is surprisingly good (ask for a cortado!).