From its humble beginnings as the House of Wassenaer in the 12th century, Wassenaar has grown to be a thriving town in a geographically ideal location. (It is also the official residence of Willem-Alexander, Prince of Orange and his wife Maxima and his children princesses Amalia, Alexia and Ariane.) Its proximity to the beach, major cities like Den Haag, Leiden and Amsterdam and international schools make it a popular town for expats.
The consequence of national and expatriate popularity is that Wassenaar has developed into a town with excellent facilities. The Langstraat, the main shopping street, boasts some top-notch shops and more delicatessen than you can shake a stick at. Fortunately the growing popularity in recent years means that many high-street shops have now also stores in Wassenaar, which bodes well for expat-kids dependent on pocket-money. The cafes in the centre are particularly attractive for young expats as staff all speak English and snacks on offer include a wide range of both Dutch and foreign foods. The expat team is particularly fond of Bagel Alley, which will do you any bagel you can think of.
Wassenaar even has its own bars! Admittedly, it’s not the hub of nightlife in Holland, but the bars are pleasant for a quiet drink with friends, or a noisy one with strangers. If you prefer clubs, the bus links to Leiden and Den Haag are reliable and frequent, however end shortly after midnight, so it may be advisable to consider this beforehand.
As far as living in Wassenaar is concerned, you could have it a whole lot worse. There’s a selection of parks and sports facilities which you can enjoy, and the beach is 20 minutes cycle from the city centre, if you’re in no rush. The beach cafes and restaurants make this a pleasant place to hang out, and for those who prefer activity the miles of both cycle and pedestrian paths leading through the dunes provide relief.
Even if you’re not going to live there, it pays to visit Wassenaar, if only to see the giant windmill in the city centre. From tanning on the beach to some serious shopping, Wassenaar has grown to cater for all the needs of the growing population.
Article written by Elisabeth Veit