Located in western Netherlands in the South Holland province, Zoetermeer has developed from a small village in the 1960’s into a large city that is the third largest in the region behind The Hague and Rotterdam. During its early years, Zoetermeer was a small village and a village centre wasn’t formed until the 13th century.
The city name derives from the lake that was present here until it was reclaimed in the 1600’s. As Den Hague grew in prosperity, there was an increased need for additional housing, therefore many moved to Zoetermeer hence its growth in the 1960’s. A contrasting city of old traditions and new modern developments, this is a wonderful place to visit that will provide a mix of both old and new culture.
Lets explore the best things to do in Zoetermeer:
This fine public park covers a wide area and is a fantastic place to enjoy the outdoors and nature.
You can find the Westerpark in the western part of Zoetermeer, adjacent to the A12 road.
With over 220 acres of landscaped parkland, this truly is a great place to explore.
The landscape includes woodland, reed beds, several playing grounds and many different waterways with quaint bridge crossings.
An island lies in the centre of the park where you can explore a small nature garden.
If you want to relax, enjoy the beautiful weather, and get away from the city, Westerpark makes a great retreat.
2. Zoetermeer SnowWorld
If you are looking for a unique day trip and want to try your hand at a fun and exciting set of activities, the Zoetermeer SnowWorld is the perfect option.
Created in 1996, this ski resort is actually the largest of its kind in the world and uses real snow! Included in this mammoth attraction are 10 ski lifts, and three separate ski paths with many ramps, bumps and slopes.
Try your hand at skiing and snowboarding or take private lessons from one of the trained instructors.
Aside from the skiing facilities, there is also a gym, saunas, a massage parlour and a beauty clinic.
Don’t worry if you get peckish after hours of skiing – There is also 4 different restaurants to sample!
3. Balijbos Park
Another of the fantastic parks in Zoetermeer, the Balijbos park is a more modern development and is still flourishing as a manmade natural retreat.
Just 25 years old, if you visit now, you can still see the Balij park in its infancy.
Covering a wide area on the opposite side of the A12 to the more mature Westerpark, the Balij is easily accessible.
Here you will find a myriad of different landscapes including forest, marshland and swamp.
Aside from the wonderful walking trails and forests, there is also a petting zoo and a children’s playground in the form of a castle.
For a fun filled and adventurous day out, the Balijbos is a delightful venue.
A relatively flat and open park, Buytenpark can be found behind the Snow World establishment and should be visited as part of a day trip to this area of Zoetermeer.
Originally a landfill, this area of 100 acres has been reclaimed and is now a combination of public park and grazing land for cattle and wildlife.
Perfect for mountain bikers, this park has a plethora of twisted paths and uneven ground that makes for a challenging ride.
If you are not into cycling, you can hike through the trails, enjoy a picnic, or do a sport of bird watching and look for the butterflies and birds of prey that sometimes frequent the area.
5. Zoetermeerse Plas
Located in the northern part of Zoetermeer, this large body of water has a variety of different sights and activities.
The grounds of Zoetermeerse Plas are huge and there are plenty of trails for cycling and walking.
Furthermore, around there lake there are several beaches (one of which is a nudist beach) where you can relax and enjoy the sun, or even paddle in the water.
Moreover you can find several restaurants and cafes for a bite to eat, and also several establishments where you can participate in water sports.
If you fancy boating, swimming or jet skis this is the place for you!
6. Stadshart Zoetermeer
If you are looking for an engaging shopping trip, the Stadshart complex is a great place to spend some cash and enjoy a little retail therapy.
Located in the centre of the city, this complex has been built up and added too over numerous years and now has a fantastic variety of shops and restaurants.
Included in the arsenal is C&A, H&M, Primark, Esprit and a host of small independent chains.
You can also find a fitness centre, a public library, and a great selection of fast food establishments and gourmet eateries.
7. Aquapark Keerpunt
Located in the Van Tuyllpark in the eastern corner of Zoetermeer, the Keerpunt Aquapark is a delightful place to take the family.
With only outdoor facilities, this park is best visited in the spring and summer months.
Here you can find a vareity of different swimming pools including a toddler bath, a 75m high water slide, and an exciting water creek.
If you are looking for some energetic activity and a place to spend a fun filled afternoon, this water park is a wonderful choice.
8. Ayers Rock Zoetermeer
Only a stones throw away from the snow world, you can find the enchanting and entertaining Ayers Rock entertainment centre.
This large complex can cater for up to 800 people and has a myriad of different activities including rock-climbing, canoeing, an obstacle course and even a mountain biking trail.
Inside the centre, you will find an extensive climbing wall that reaches up to 17m high, an archery pen and even a darts board.
For those individuals and families who love to keep active, Ayers Rock will keep you entertained for hours.
9. Molen de Hoop
Throughout the Netherlands you will find several restored windmills.
Due to the flat nature of the country, windmills have historically been used in various industries.
Molen de Hoop (Hope) is a stone mill that was created in 1897 – The mill was used exclusively as a flour grinder and operated in the baking industry.
With blades that span 24m and a noticeable white-washed facade, this windmill is a fantastic structure.
You can now visit the windmill and see it in action on certain days – It still grinds flour to this day, and there is also a shop that sells baked goods that are produced at the windmill.
10. Take a day trip to the Hague
While Rotterdam lies below Zoetermeer, The Hague sits on its western side and can be reached in just 15 minutes by car.
You can also reach the political centre via bus and train in relative ease.
As the seat of the Netherlands government (but not the capital!), the Hague has a rich history and is full of great architecture and museums.
Popular attractions include the Binnenhof palatial complex and the Ridderzaal hall, the Peace Palace, the Prison Gate Museum and the Saint Jacob’s Church.
The coastal resort of Scheveningen is also a huge draw from here with its sandy beaches and amusements.
11. Take a day trip to Rotterdam
Just 20 minutes to the south of Zoetermeer lies the huge city and port of Rotterdam.
As the third largest city in the Netherlands, Rotterdam is an immensely popular tourist destination and has a host of popular attractions and sights.
You can take the train or bus which both take around 40 minutes owing for multiple collections and drop offs, but car is the quickest option.
Sights in this wonderful city include the Euromast viewing tower, the Erasmusbrug bridge, the Royal Zoo, and of course the gigantic Europort.
In particular, the Europort is a great place to see, and a boat trip here is advised.
12. Zoetermeer Water tower
Shaped like a large pepper pot, this ornate water tower stands as one of the cities famous landmarks and can be seen at various points throughout Zoetermeer.
Constructed in 1927, this tower stands at just shy of 49 meters and the reservoir at the top can hold 500 meter cubed of water.
This impressive tower has an unusual and imposing design with a hexagonal shaft and a domed roof and a series of narrow windows.
Although you cannot climb this tower, you can admire this feat of architectural genius and take some great photos.
13. Oude Kerk
Whilst the Oude Kerk may not be one of the oldest churches in the Netherlands, it still has a great deal of charm and character.
Located in the centre of the city, near the theatre and the Grote Dobbe, this church has stood since 1785 and has the shape of a cruciform.
The clock tower that sits ontop of this building features a circular design and inside is a clock mechanism design by the famous clock maker from Leiden, Harmannus Brouckman.
Inside the church there are many glass windows that let in a great deal of light and provide interesting shadows and contrast on the wooden pulpit, organ and seating.
14. Burggolf Zoetermeer
For the enthusiastic golf pro, or for someone who is wanting to try their hand at the sport, the Zoetermeer golf course is a brilliant venue to play on.
You can find this charming course next to Westerpark and above the Balijbos park – Why not send the family on an adventure while you kick back with a round or two? A hugely popular course in the South Holland region, the holes are challenging and varied, and you can expect a surprise at the 12th hole with the large hill that splits the range.
Aside from the course there is also an academy where you can book private lessons, and also the quaint club house and restaurant.
15. Nelson Mandela Bridge
Who would have thought that a simple bridge could be so attractive and intriguing? This particular bridge is named after the famous South African politician and activist Nelson Mandela and crosses the busy A12 road in the southern part of Zoetermeer.
Originally created as an extension for the Floriade Horticulture Exhibition in 1992, the stunning blue and yellow design was created by J. Bak.
You can admire the architecture of this bridge, its myriad of colours and its interesting shapes and even travel up the escalators at each end.