Embracing Winter’s Charm: A Guide to Rotterdam and The Hague

13 Dec 2023  |  Inspiration

Often overshadowed by Amsterdam's allure, Den Haag (The Hague) and Rotterdam are hidden gems bursting with surprises. While The Hague is quaint and historic, Rotterdam is dynamic and modern. Yet, both cities strike a harmonious balance between vibrancy and tranquillity - making them ideal winter getaways. With inviting Christmas markets and other cherished local traditions, the colder months unveil a spirit of celebration and festivity that sets these cities up to rival their neighbour, Amsterdam. Here’s a look at the best ways to experience Rotterdam and The Hague in winter.

Ring in the New Year in Rotterdam with the National Fireworks

31.12.2023 – 01.01.2024

12 min walk from Savoy Hotel Rotterdam

Who can resist a spectacular fireworks display? On New Year’s Eve, Rotterdam lights up with the country’s largest fireworks show – the National Fireworks. For the best view in town, make your way to the Maas riverbanks, where locals gather with loved ones to usher in the new year. And, while you’re there, contemplating your New Year’s resolutions, don’t forget to taste the delicious ‘oliebollen’ from a nearby food stand. Trust us, your tastebuds will thank you for trying these quintessentially Dutch winter delights. Take a look at how you can celebrate New Year’s Eve here.

Festive vibes await at Christmas markets in The Hague

7.12.2023 – 23.12.2023

14 min walk from Babylon Hotel The Hague

Stalls galore and festive décor is what you can expect at the delightful Royal Christmas Fair in The Hague. It’s gingerbread-like stalls, that stand in the city’s historic centre, are brimming with winter furs, Christmas accessories, wooden crafts and more. Local delicacies, delicious hot chocolate, and warming mulled wine (gluhwein) are served up by food trucks. And just when you thought it couldn’t get any more colourful, Santa Clause himself pays a daily visit. How he finds time remains a mystery. But like Santa, we recommend making space in your diary to pay this cosy winter event a visit. The Royal Christmas Fair is open daily from 12 noon to 9 p.m. and is free of charge. Get to know more about the event here.

Experience ‘Koek and Zopie’ as you skate through Rotterdam

25.11.2023 – 25.02.2024

13 min cycle from Savoy Hotel Rotterdam

Skating season is here, and that means so too is ‘koek en zopie,’ a Dutch tradition of enjoying warm drinks and snacks at the edges of frozen waterways. Rotterdam is the perfect place to savour both. One of the best places to embrace these Dutch winter customs is at Schaatsbaan Rotterdam, an ice rink that guarantees ice-cold fun. Here, you can glide under rainbow lights on a 400-meter-long rink. All skated out? Explore the ‘koek en zopie’ offerings at the rink’s cosy clubhouse or head over to Café Bakeliet for a cup of Dutch pea soup, known as ‘snert’. While the name may not sound appealing, the dish is the perfect choice for a chilly winter day. Plan your visit at Schaatsbaan Rotterdam here.

Discover a foodie’s paradise at Markthal Rotterdam

Open all year round.

2 min walk from Savoy Hotel Rotterdam

If you’re a foodie, then there’s one place you cannot miss this season: Markthal Rotterdam. Not only has this impressive building become an icon of the city, but it also hosts one of the finest food markets in The Netherlands. Opened in 2014, the horseshoe shaped Markthal is filled with over 40 market stalls, offering typical Dutch specialities and international culinary delights. Start local, then explore the world through your taste buds. From fresh bakeries and cakes to local cheese and haring, your spoilt for choice at every corner. Plus, there are plenty of free samples to encourage you to try something new – so indulge your curiosity! Even if you’re not in the mood for snacks, the architecture of the hall itself is worth a visit. While the Markthal is a perfect year-round attraction, it takes on an extra layer of charm during winter thanks to its elaborate festive decorations. So, whether you have a sweet tooth or lean toward healthier options, a winter visit to this memorable food court is a must. Dare we say it, Markthal Rotterdam may just be the coolest food hall in Europe… Check it out yourself here.

As winter blankets Rotterdam and The Hague, a world of frosty wonder awaits. Glide beneath rainbow lights on ice or savour Dutch delicacies; these cities offer unforgettable moments in the chill of the season. While the chances of snow may be slim, one thing’s certain – incredible fun is in the forecast.

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