Going Dutch for a Weekend in the Hague, Holland
It’s all too easy to be seduced by the bright lights and thick smoke of the Dutch capital, but once you’ve recovered from the sensory overload ofAmsterdam, venture further a-field. The Netherlands that you find outside the capital is a different place. It’s more relaxed, more cultured and friendlier too.The Hagueis in fact the seat of the Dutch parliament; unusual in that it’s not the country’s capital. It’s perfect for a weekend break with stacks of culture, a very walkable centre and lots of snug pubs and cafes.
An easy excursion – just a quick jump on a tram – is the seaside suburb of Scheveningen. The main draw for culture creatures here is Sculptures by the Sea (Beelden an Zee; 1 Harteveltstraat), the only museum in theNetherlandsthat’s dedicated to sculpture. Inside this airy and attractive space you’ll find an array of sculpture ranging from the traditional to the distinctly abstract – but all of them represent the human form in one way or another. If you want to see a different view of Scheveningen then head back toThe Hague to the Panorama Mesdag (Zeestraat 65). You might think 3D cinema is a modern invention, but here you can see an early predecessor from the 1880s. The world’s largest circular painting depicts in perfect detail the seaside and town of 18th century Scheveningen.
Out on the Town
Nightlife in The Hague is cosy and relaxed. There are several nightclubs, but the main draw is the plethora of smokey old ‘brown cafes’. These are snug old traditional pubs that usually serve food too and stay open late; some are relaxed and quiet, others raucously noisy. Just few favourites include: Schlemmer at Lange Houtstraat 17 for a few warm up drinks, Cocoon at Spui 6, with its funky bar upstairs and new dance floor in the basement and Café Boomers at Kazernestraat 116A for crazy local boozing till the very small hours.
5 things not to miss in the Hague
– Looking at the Girl with the Pearl Earring’s enigmatic stare – Vermeer’s remarkable canvas is surprisingly small in real life but totally enthralling.
– Swallowing raw herring. If you’re in town in June you have to sample this very Dutch delicacy. Hold it by the tail and swallow it down in one!
– Marvelling at 3D technology from the 19th century – the detail on the Panorama Mesdag is genuinely amazing
– Eating your fill at a rijsttafel. The Dutch do fantastic Indonesian food – just make sure you turn up hungry!
– Take a trip to the seaside – nearby Scheveningen is a great place for swimming in the sea in summer and walking along the prom and the pier too.
Ferries to Holland from Hull in the UK dock at Rotterdam just a 30 minute drive away from The Hague. If you’re driving from the south of England you’re better off doing a channel crossing and then driving from Calais. The journey time is about 3 hours.
If you plan to fly to Amsterdam, The Hague is a short 40 minute train ride away.