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Sometimes, you don’t need to go far in order to treat yourself. On a recent weekend, my husband and I took a cycle through the lovely towns of Voorburg and Leidschendam prior to visiting the Molendriegang, one of the most famous landmarks of the Hague area.
Although the Hague is quite modern, you can easily experience the cuteness of these adorable towns just outside of the Hague and the classic Dutch polder landscape, including the famous Molendriegang (Three Windmills).
Keep reading for an scenic bike ride outside of the Hague, including stops for lunch and beer, totals about 23 kilometers from the Hague city center. This route should take about 1.5 hours without stopping on a lazy Saturday or Sunday.
Why visit Voorburg and Leidschendam?
As much as I love the cosmopolitan feeling of the Hague, I enjoy a respite from the bustle of the Hague occasionally. There’s nothing as relaxing as cycling along a scenic polder path and stepping into a cute cafe for a beer with a view of a traditional Dutch town.
Voorburg and Leidschendam are different from each other as Voorburg has a larger shopping street, however Leidschendam has the perfect canal to sit out on a nice afternoon. I’ll be writing more about Voorburg, but I hope that this will have to tide you all over.
Where to rent a bike in the Hague
If you’re visiting the Hague and you’re wondering where to bike, I feel you as I struggled to find bikes for my visiting friends. My main source of bikes is the Haagse Stadfiets. This distinctive bike can be picked up in over twenty one locations although I can personally vouch for the Babylon Hotel Den Haag near Den Haag Central. This should also minimize your bike ride.
My bike route through Voorburg and Leidschendam
I start and end the bike route in the Hague center, but feel free to adapt it. I’ve been taken with Voorburg, which I had overlooked for my first couple months in the Hague, and I’ve included some food/drink recommendations!
Lunch at Blend One
This new cafe in Voorburg, close to Laan van NOI, serves up incredible food and tasty drinks at a reasonable price. I’m particularly taken by their ice coffee with soy milk (with this weather) and the avocado smash. The interior is cozy enough that you’ll want to sit for a while.
The story goes that two lovers, one who lived by the royal palace Huis ten Bosch, and the other who lived at Vreugd en Rust, wanted to have sight of each other’s houses. A long strip of land was created between the two houses to prevent construction from blocking the view. On the way back, you’ll pass the park where Vreugd en Rust lies. Now, this land is a narrow park.
I love the moment that you pass by Stadskinderboerderij Essesteijn. This scenic children’s farm has friendly cows, adorable sheep, and and a stunning windmill (Molen de Vlieger). Even if you don’t stop off, this is always a highlight of mine on a bike ride as you’ll be instantly transported back in time.
Molen de Vlieger dates back to 1621 and it’s still fully functional although it’s primarily used as a museum as this point. It’s possible to visit between April and October for a few euros.
Parts of Leidschendam has been inhabited prior to Roman times. This area thrived due to the Vliet canal, which leads to Leiden. Following the drainage of the swamps in one part of Voorburg, the peat and wheat/wood industry flourished. Although there’s more to Leidschendam, I love the area close to the Sluis, the historic lock that brought Leidschendam so much priority.
On a nice day, it’s great to sit at one of the cafes with a cold beer or a warm coffee in hand watching the boats pass through the canals. Otherwise, stop for an cold ice cream at ijs & zo on a nice summer day. During King’s Day, the city has a massive street sale in this historic area.
The Molendriegang, known as the Three Windmills, is exactly what you’d expect it to be. The windmills dating back to 1672 were built to be used as mills although these famous windmills outside of the Hague, often seen on postcards, aren’t in use anymore.
All three of the windmills are inhabited and it’s not possible to enter these windmills, however it’s worth admiring them from a distance as you’re biking and you can get fairly close considering you can’t enter. (There’s a super cute sheep farm that you’ll see while biking!)
Voorburg is the oldest continuously settlement in the Netherlands although not much remains from the early roots of Voorburg in Roman times, after Voorburg was given city rights. Most of the town center dates back to the 1600s and it’s lovely to just walk along the Huygenskwartier admiring its stunning architecture.
Although I had mostly only seen photos of the former town hall, Swaensteyn, which dates back to 1632, the street goes quite a bit further than I had expected.
The church (Oude Kerk /Martinichurch) was first built in the 1200s although it sustained such significant damages during the time of the Reformation that it had to be almost entirely rebuilt as the pastor was forced to give over the keys. Inside the church, you can admire the church organ, which was endowed by Princess Marianne, who moved to Voorburg after her divorce and attended services weekly.
Be sure to admire the Hofwijck in the distance, which can be visited for free with a Museumkaart. This stunning manor was the home of famous Dutch author Constantijn Huygens and his son.
Binkhorst & Kompaan
The Binkhorst is a neighborhood of the Hague, mostly composed of former warehouses and factories. Although this area used to have far more abandoned buildings, the Hague has been making significant effects to modernize this area. Many businesses have shifted their offices to this area and one of the best breweries in the Hague is also located here.
Kompaan is a craft brewery that was created in 2015 that is creating some of the most experimental and delicious beers in the area. Their space is modern, sleek, and perfect for ending the day at. Their food, especially their barbeque, is especially tasty if you’re hungry after this leisurely bike ride.