Zoetermeer is a city located in the province of South Holland in the Netherlands. The first record of the city's existence dates back to the 11th century, when veen, a fuel for stoves, was harvested from the land.
In 1966, Zoetermeer was pointed out as an expansion area for the nearby The Hague. In 1962 the village had around 10 000 habitants. March 2008 brought the 120 000th habitant. Nowadays, the city is no longer a so-called satellite city of The Hague but a city of its own.
Being set up as a commuter city, Zoetermeer has a good infrastructure.
From the A12 highway, take the "Zoetermeer-Oost" or "Zoetermeer-Centrum" exit.
From The Hague you can take the sprinter train to Gouda or Utrecht. Jump out at "Zoetermeer" or "Zoetermeer-oost". Please note: the Intercity Services do NOT call at Zoetermeer Stations.
You can also take the "randstadrail", this light rail transport system runs throughout the city. It connects Zoetermeer with the Hague, Rotterdam and Leidschendam.
Zoetermeer has an excellent transportation system. The "randstadrail" runs throughout the whole city. Parts that are not covered by it are easily reachable by bus.
When coming from The Hague or Utrecht you probably end up at Zoetermeer train station (note that it is not advised to stop at Zoetermeer-Oost, since there are no good connections from there). Walk across the footbridge to another platform. There, you will find the Randstadrail, which brings you to "Zoetermeer Centrum West". All buses depart here. Here you will also find the police station, shops and town hall.
You can buy a ticket on the bus from the driver: note that this is quite expensive, between 2 and 4 euro for a one-way ticket! Like the rest of the Netherlands, all busses, trams and trains otherwise require the OV-chipkaart. These can be bought at most trainstations, kiosks and some supermarkets. The cost of a blank card is 10 euro, and after that you will have to top it up in special machines.
The "randstadrail" has ticket machines, BUT they will only take coins. If you don't have any, or the machine is broken, walk up to the conductors as soon as they come in. If you are a foreigner, they will either let it be, or require you to buy a (more expensive) ticket with them. Probably the first option though.
Being such a young city, there is not a lot of old stuff to see:
- The old church, Dorpsstraat 59 (at the crossing of the Dorpsstraat/Delftsewallen/Leidsewallen). With first constructions dating back to the 16th century, it's one of the oldest buildings around. The Italian architect Guidici made the design in Classicist style. The church houses some nice antiquities, for example a Lodewijk XVI style pulpit, made in 1664 by Harmannus Brouckman from nearby Leiden.
- Windmill "de Hoop" (hope), Stationstraat 37a. In its present shape, it's been around since 1896. You can visit the windmill when the blue wimple (flag) is up or when it works.
- Stadsmuseum Zoetermeer (Zoetermeer City Museum). A small museum about the history of the city with temporary exhibits.
- Watertower "De Tien Gemeenten". A 45 m watertower built in 1928. Not really interesting to see unless you have some special affection for them.
Zoetermeer likes to see itself as a fun city. It's possible to do some snowboarding or skiing, ice-skating, see movies, rock climbing, do some rafting, or some white water canoeing.
- Snowworld, Buytenparklaan 30 2717 AX, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Around €25 an hour.
- Kinepolis Cinema, Oostwaarts 70 2711 BB, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Monday to Thursday: 12:00 to 22:00; Friday and Saturday: 12:00 to 22:15; Sunday: 10:00 to 22:00. Normal rate: € 8,00; Reduction: € 6,50 (65+, students); Children under 12: € 6,00 (except when the movie is rated 12+); Sunday morning: € 5,50; Movies more than 140 min have a € 1,50 surcharge..
- Nationaal Videogame Museum, Theaterplein 11, 2711 EK (get off at Randstadrail stop 'Stadhuis' and enter the shopping arcade. You'll find it inside.), ☏ . The museum has a selection of arcade machines and gaming consoles on display that can be played with tokens (available at the register).
Zoetermeer has an excellent shopping area called 'het Stadshart' (meaning city heart). It's easily reachable by public transport, get off at 'Centrum West'.
You'll find a lot of franchise stores and chains: H&M, WE, C&A, Hema, Media Markt, etc.
Just a short walk from the Stadshart, you will find the Dorpsstraat. This is the oldest part of the city and offers a wide variety of specialty shops and boutiques (most are closed on Sundays and Mondays.)
There aren't a lot of restaurants around in Zoetermeer. Most of them serve Chinese and Indonesian food, just like the other cities in the Netherlands.
Like restaurants, there are few pubs in Zoetermeer.
You will find some in the old centre (Dorpsstraat), mostly open at daytime. Around the 'Stadhuisplein', there are some pubs (The Old Pal, Queen of Hearts, Vrienden).
These are opened until 2AM in weekends, until midnight at weekdays (Sunday-Thursday)
It is strictly forbidden in the centre of Zoetermeer to have any opened cans, bottles, etc. containing alcoholic beverages. There is strict police enforcement and a fine will cost you around €60.
There are some hotels in Zoetermeer, mostly around the business district, and they cater to businessmen mostly.
Here are a few:
- NH Hotel Zoetermeer, Danny Kayelaan 20, 2719 EH Zoetermeer (Straight next to station Zoetermeer on the Rokkeveen side), ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 23.00 h., check-out: 11.00 h.. 80 euro per night.
- Golden Tulip Zoetermeer, Kinderen van Versteegplein 18, 2713 HB Zoetermeer (Straight on the other side of the station, on the Driemanspolder side), ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 23.00 h., check-out: 11.00 h.. 75 euro per night.
Your best option as a young traveller would be to go couchsurfing, since the community is quite active and sufficiently large. This is also advised if you are having troubles finding a host in, for example The Hague, since its only 20 mins by lightrail from downtown to downtown.