The Hague's Beach at Scheveningen – An Afternoon by the Sea

It’s only a 15-minute hop from The Hague’s roster of magical landmarks – including the world-renowned Mauritshuis and the Peace Palace – to seaside Scheveningen, a chic beach resort with a tongue-twister name set amid sand dunes on the North Sea coastline.


As the painting “View of Scheveningen Sands” by Dutch Golden Age master Hendrick van Anthonissen evocatively shows, by 1641 there was already a small settlement on the coastline. By the early 19th century, those few cottages had grown into a quaint fishing village, but it wasn’t until the European elite began bathing in seawater for its health-giving properties that Scheveningen began to attract holiday crowds and slowly evolved into an internationally known spa. 

Today this glossy seaside enclave has become a suburb, albeit a charismatic and much-loved one, of The Hague. The town supports a cast of upscale seafood restaurants, designer boutiques and surfing shops, alongside family-friendly attractions and a lively night-time scene. 

Whether you’re holidaying with family, looking for some water sports action or planning a few romantic hours by the sea, here’s how to make the most of your afternoon at Scheveningen. Locals and visitors all agree that it’s the best beach in The Netherlands.

What’s what on The Hague beach

Bookended by the dunes of the Westduinpark and Oostduinpark nature reserves, the beach resort in The Hague is called Scheveningen. A 4.5-kilometre (2.75-mile) stretch of soft golden sand, it is roughly divided into four sections, each with its own beguiling and distinctive vibe. Whether you’re looking for peace and tranquility, waterfront bike rides, surf shops or trendy beach clubs, there’s an area on this broad, sweeping strand that’s perfect for you and yours. 

  • Zwarte Pad: North of Scheveningen’s iconic pier, Zwarte Pad is party central in summer, with rustic beach bars and late-night music spots.

  • Noorderstrand: Running from the pier southwards to Scheveningen’s marina and fishing harbour, this is the busiest of the beaches, backed by scores of elegant hotels, hip bars and clubs, food kiosks, surf shops, water-sports rentals and family attractions including Sea Life Scheveningen and LEGOLAND® Discovery Centre Scheveningen. Developed in 2022, the Noordboulevard area is often a little quieter, and you can source organic treats for an afternoon picnic from the fabulous Foodhall Scheveningen. 
Local surfers congregate around the concrete breakwater at North Pier to catch the best of the waves.
  • Zuiderstrand: You’ll find locals in the know at Zuiderstrand, which boasts a sprinkling of low-key but select beach bars, a sailing school and surfing spots, all backed by undulating dunes. Certain sections of the beach are designated for nudists. 
  • Kijkduin: Protected by the artificial peninsula of the Zandmotor – an eco-friendly, artificial buffer against storms and flooding – Kijkduin is a tranquil stretch of sand for anyone looking to escape the crowds. Here you can cycle or hike along the beachfront boardwalk into Westduinpark, splash in the sea with the kids and enjoy a leisurely lunch in stylish beach clubs.

Scheveningen beach activities

Can you swim at the beach in The Hague? The answer is a resounding "yes"! And you can do a whole lot more too. Rent all the equipment you need to try your hand at sand yachting, surfing, kite surfing or dinghy sailing, and take lessons too. Go sea hiking, exercise at the outdoor gym, watch beach volleyball at the Hague Beach Stadium, hike the North Sea sand dunes, take a rib cruise, zoom up and down the coast by powerboat, or cycle along the Strandweg promenade… Of course, if all that simply sounds too much like hard work, it's easy to spend your entire afternoon soaking up the balmy summer air.

Arty things to do near Scheveningen beach

Like to add a little cultural background to your afternoon at the beach? Learn about the history of Scheveningen through the world of art. Time-travel back 150 years to visit the extraordinary Panorama Mesdag, a startlingly realistic 19th-century seascape by Hendrik Willem Mesdag – presented in the round, it’s 120 metres (400 feet) in length. Hague School artist Jan Hendrik Weissenbruch (1824–1903) often painted at Scheveningen, and you can see several of his sublime landscapes not far from the beach in the Kunstmuseum Den Haag

Overlooking the North Sea, the Museum Beelden aan Zee showcases sculpture by contemporary stars including Fernando Botero, Igor Mitoraj and Giacomo Manzú. Free to access along the Strandweg promenade, the gallery’s wacky “Fairytales at Sea” installation by US sculptor Tom Otterness is based on local maritime legends.

Family things to do at the beach

Staying at Novotel Den Haag World Forum with the kids? There are plenty of family distractions to more than fill an afternoon at this lively seaside resort, from the mini-Holland model village at Madurodam to Lego-built giraffes, windmills and cars at LEGOLAND® Discovery Centre Scheveningen. Enjoy panoramas over the North Sea and shoreline dunes from the Skyview Ferris Wheel – or if you have nerves of steel, try the exhilarating zipline over the beach or go bungee jumping at the end of the pier.

If the weather's not quite conducive to splashing about in the sea, ideas for a rainy afternoon include encounters with turtles, rays and sharks in aquariums at Sea Life Scheveningen, and 360-degree films on the conservation of the planet at kid-centric Museon-Omniversum (take a selfie with the Nelson Mandela statue right outside). Round off a family day in Scheveningen with tickets for big-name musicals at AFAS Circustheater.

Eating out in Scheveningen

The Hague’s famous beach bars backing Scheveningen’s coastline get going at the beginning of March. With an al fresco venue to suit every gourmet taste from tapas and Mexican to vegan, and diverse ambiances to match – chilled, grungy, luxurious or lively – the beach brasseries are open from morning until night, offering awesome views over the North Sea and the iconic pier from their waterfront decks. 

To taste a local speciality, try herring, which is something of a national obsession. When freshly caught (May–June) this Dutch delicacy is topped and tailed and then eaten whole. It is also often served chopped with onion, or pickled and sold year-around as maatjes from beachfront fish stands – a delightfully salty snack between dips. If you’re after a sweet treat for the kids, you’ll find Dutch pancakes (pannenkoeken) oozing with chocolate at food trucks along the Strandweg. For a more substantial supper, round off your day at the beach at a harbourside restaurant – some of the top spots for viewing the sunset – and order succulent seafood straight off the fishing boats. 

What you need to know

How to get to the beach

Road traffic into Scheveningen is hectic at the weekend and over summer, so consider getting to the beach in The Hague mid-morning and leaving earlier in the afternoon or later in the evening to avoid snarl ups. While there are several underground car parks at the resort, on busy days it’s still difficult to find a parking space. There’s a “Park and Beach” system in place to cut down on traffic into Scheveningen, designed so you can book parking space in secure garages outside the resort and catch public transport to the beach.

Of course, when you're staying at The Hague hotels, you can dodge the traffic jams completely by using public transport. There are a number of services running from each of the city's train stations to Scheveningen and Kijkduin. Trams 1, 9 and 11 and bus lines 22 and 23 are particularly useful; each takes about 15 minutes.

Alternatively, get to the beach under pedal power; there are dedicated cycle lanes and free, secure parking spaces for bikes along the seafront Strandweg.

When’s the best time to go

Perfect for lazing on the beach on sunny days, the weather in Scheveningen is at its best between May and late August, with temperatures averaging 20°C (68°F). Of course, it's at its busiest during these months too, but this genteel resort is magical to visit at any time of year. 

Surfers will find optimum conditions between December and March, when reliable winds mean that sea swells are fairly consistent. Although rain is your occasional companion during the winter months, the sand dunes and seafront boardwalk make for good hiking and cycling adventures all year round. Partygoers will adore the festive season in Scheveningen, when all the funky beachside clubs, pubs and cafés are trimmed up for Christmas. 

Events to look out for during the year include the North Sea Sailing Regatta in May, September’s International Kite Festival, and the Jaarmarkt food jamboree, held monthly on the seafront prom over summer.

Is there a dog-friendly beach?

As long as you clean up after your four-legged friends, the whole strand at The Hague's Scheveningen beach is dog-friendly between October 1 and May 15. For the rest of the year, canines are welcome on certain sections of Zuiderstrand and all of Noorderstrand.

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