When hiking in or around The Hague, you’ll be surprised about the amount of nature you’ll find yourself in so close to the 3rd biggest city of Holland. While The Hague (in Dutch: Den Haag) is a mildly interesting city to visit from a touristic point of view, this blog is all about hiking. The Hague is situated close to the North Sea, so it’s a good starting point for hikes in the dunes and along the sea. While Scheveningen beach may be overcrowded and loud, the area north of it feels so much more laid back and is great for a good hike.
Finding hiking trails in and around The Hague
The Hague houses a lot of international organizations and embassies. Many expats live here and it seems that makes it easier to find hiking trails with English descriptions! Look especially at the set of routes that the The Hague City Tourist Office has made available online. You can follow the trails and the instructions on your mobile phone.
Hiking in The Hague: through forest and dunes to the sea
My favorite hiking route near The Hague is “Through forest and dunes to the sea” (14 km), because of the beautiful parks, forests and dunescapes it passes through. It starts close to The Hague central station. Did you ever see a deer park right in front of the central station of a big city? Well, in The Hague you will!
Between the deer park and a grassy square behind it is Paviljoen Malieveld, a lunch restaurant that is famous for its poffertjes. Poffertjes are puffy mini pancakes, served traditionally with butter and powdered sugar. Not healthy at all! This restaurant is where your hike starts. Perhaps you should try the poffertjes first!
A royal forest
The trail passes by Malieveld, a field of grass that’s often used for demonstrations, then crosses a busy road and enters a forest. Yes, there is a forest within a kilometer of The Hague central station! On weekdays you may come across public servants during their lunch walk or -run in this area, but otherwise, it will be rather quiet. Later on you’ll pass by Huis ten Bosch, the residency of the King and Queen. It isn’t possible to visit, but you can catch a glimpse of it through the entry gate.
Further on you’ll need to cross a rather busy freeway. Once on the other side peacefulness rules in stately Park Clingendael. This is a huge estate surrounding a country house. This park has been here since the 16th century! During the centuries many landscape architects have contributed to its looks and it has had many styles. This is a lovely place to walk around or to have a picknick. In spring you may be lucky to visit the secluded Japanese garden (only opened from the end of April to the beginning of June). You may also notice some defensive walls within the park grounds. These walls were part of the Nazi’s Atlantikwall in World War II.
The dunes! Hiking in Meijendel, The Hague
When leaving Park Clingendael at its western gates, you’ll need to cross another freeway before entering the Meijendel dune area. This is a slightly hilly area, with sandy dunes and patches of forest. The path passes by a monument at Waalsdorpervlakte with four crosses and a Bourbon clock. This is one of the places where the Dutch commemorate the victims of World War II and more specifically the members of the resistance movement that were shot here by the Nazi’s.
Further on you’ll enter a forest with crooked trees, shaped so strangely due to the strong winds. They offer a welcome bit of shade after the dunes. Just enjoy it while it lasts! Right in the center of this bit of forest you’ll find the visitors center, some restaurants and a crazy amount of people who seem to have turned up out of nowhere. (There is a road nearby, so this bit is actually accessible by car). When hiking on things will quiet down pretty soon.
Towards The Hague beach
After a quite strenuous hike through the dunes you’ll finally arrive at The Hague beach. If you like big crowds, hike on towards the pier in Scheveningen (visible from afar). However, if you would like to enjoy the beach at a more quiet spot don’t hike on too far and have a drink at one of the first beach restaurants you come across. You may think it’s crowded there, but believe me, things will only get worse if you continue! That is, in summertime. In winter many beach restaurants are closed or even completely gone. Catch a tram back to central station from Zwartepad.
How to get to The Hague by public transport
The Hague is easy to reach by train from practically anywhere in the Netherlands. Note that The Hague has two main railway stations: Den Haag Centraal, and Den Haag Hollands Spoor. Central station is more convenient if you intend to visit the city center OR go on the hike that I described.
In The Hague you can get around by tram and by bus. If you intend to use local public transport a lot it may be interesting to buy a day ticket. Check the info at the website of HTM, the public transport company of The Hague (in English).