Ask locals how to say the name of this town, then try it. It’s a great ice breaker and fabulous way to laugh at yourself. The name of this town is so difficult for non-native Dutch speakers that it was actually used in WW2 to expose German spies. They’d just ask the possible spy to say the name of this town (which, after much practice and tutilage by Dutch friends, I still can’t properly say), and it became instantly clear if that person was native-Dutch or not. The trick still works.
For a little bit of everything, Scheveningan is the place to be. Close to The Hague and under an hour drive from Amsterdam, this 4 kilometer beach allows you to take in the sea while still enjoying the sites of the cities close by.
The boardwalk lining the coast has restaurants, shops, and play areas for the kids. Beachcombers will find small shells, kids can splash in the shallow waves, and athletes will enjoy wind surfing, kite surfing, board surfing, and sailing.
If you have dogs, don’t bring them between May 15 and October 1. Dogs are not allowed in the peak season.
Your food choices are endless, but for a quick, affordable meal, the pannekoeken are filling and delicious. You’ll find them at take-out stands and sit-down restaurants. If you’re looking for something special, try a seafood restaurant. The fishing boats bring the fresh catch to these places daily.
Children will enjoy the trampolines and large inflatable toys along the beach, or drive just a few minutes to Madurodam, a 1/25 scale model of a Dutch city.
Since Scheveningan is so easily accessible, it is often crowded and parking is difficult. Go early to find a good parking spot.
To escape the crowds, you can walk among the dunes near Harstenhoekweg or drive to the Meijendel dunes natural preserve near Kijkduin, but if you’re looking for a quiet beach, it’s better to go north.
Near: 10 minutes from The Hague, 35 minutes from the Keukenhof Gardens, 5 minutes from Madurodam
We went to Scheveningan in early June after a full day in Amsterdam, so we still had daylight and wanted to spend a few hours on the beach before heading back to the guest house. We arrived around 5.
Parking there was insane. Really, I don’t know if I’ve ever had to sit in traffic that long at any beach anywhere before. It moved slow, painfully slow, and the parking lots were full. I think we’d pretty much decided to go back to the farmhouse, but we were stuck in the parking lot, unable to go anywhere with cars in front of us waiting for spots and no room to go around. Then, two spots opened and we actually got parking! (This is when a shower of confetti would burst forth from the page, for at this place, getting parking is like winning the lottery.)
A long sidewalk ran along the road paralleling the coastline. The beach was below, so from the sidewalk, you could see out, over the rooftops of cafes and ice cream shops, to the waves. A children’s playground of large inflatable toys was close by. One toy had a big cowboy standing tall on it’s bouncy platform. Silly. Cowboys are popular here. It really didn’t look like anything special to me. Meaning, it didn’t look like anything that I wouldn’t see in the states. Restaurants, gift shops, kids play spaces. It was all modern and beachy. The sand was sand. Nothing unique… probably very similar to the Atlantic sand on the East coast of the US. The shells we collected were small versions of the conches we found in Florida. Still, it was nice to walk barefoot in that sand and collect those tiny shells.
The kids teased the waves running wildly away laughing at the slightest movement towards them, splashing in the puddles and burying their feet in the sand. One built a sand castle – sort of. One played. We just enjoyed being there. We all collected some shells. I think most of the beach went home in our hair. (It’s windy – good place for kites) The beach is long, so you can walk quite a ways.
There was one interesting landmark there – a large narrow pier that went out over the water and ended in a large circle containing a restaurant. It wasn’t horribly exciting, but it was something “out-of-the-ordinary.”
We ate at Peverelli’s. The food was pricey and average. The smartest choice for flavor and price was the pannekoeken – a thicker crepe topped with ham and cheese. That meal was reasonable and very tasty. I got the fondue and it was very average. In fact, it was horrendously overpriced and not nearly as good as what I could make at home. Next time I’ll get the pannekoeken.