The Hague (or Den Haag in Dutch) is maybe the most important city in The Netherlands, as it’s both the seat of the Dutch government and residence of the royal family. Therefore, The Hague has a stately reputation due to the dozens of embassies, palaces, government buildings, wide boulevards and parks. But The Hague is also home to refined museums, cutting edge restaurants and cafés, excellent shopping and… the beach. Find all must-sees and hidden gems in this city guide The Hague.
- You can get to The Hague from both Amsterdam airport as well as Rotterdam/The Hague airport. Check out flights to Amsterdam and flights to Rotterdam/The Hague to see what’s the cheapest option for you.
- From both Amsterdam and Rotterdam/The Hague airport you’ll be able to reach The Hague within the hour by train.
- To travel on all public transport within The Netherlands you’ll need an OV Chip Card, which you can charge as you go, though you can also buy single-use train tickets from the machine at the station.
- If you’re in Belgium, Germany, the UK of France it’s just as easy to travel by train to The Netherlands. If you book your tickets three months in advance you’ll find the cheapest deals.
- There are many beautiful hotels in The Hague as well as many options on Airbnb.
- Pressed for time? From Amsterdam, join a small group tour and discover the best of The Hague, Rotterdam and Delft in a day.
Marriott Hotel The Hague
The Marriott Hotel is one of the most popular hotels in The Hague and with reason. It’s perched at the most perfect location, just behind the Peace Palace. You’ll be able to walk to all the famous sights of The Hague and you’ll be able to get to The Hague Beach in no time. The rooms are spacious and comfortable. And The Marriott offers a great breakfast and fine dining options.
The Student Hotel The Hague
Are you looking for affordable but good accommodation in The Hague? The Student Hotel, The Hague is such a great place to stay. The rooms are large, colourful and very comfortable and the fairs are really good. The rooms have small kitchenettes and a good desk if you want to get some work, or blogging, done. The hotel’s facilities are also amazing. There a cool bar, restaurant en several relaxed lounge areas. There’s even a laundromat.
If you’re into camping or if you’re travelling to The Netherlands with your kids, a stay at Duinrell is just perfect. Duinrell has a campsite for your own tent, campervan or caravan, but it’s also possible to go glamping in one of the fully equipped lodge tents or rent a chalet for a couple of days. Duinrell is part of one of the most fun amusement parks in The Netherlands and when you stay at Duinrell unlimited access to the amusement park is included in your stay. Duinrell is a stone’s throw from The Hague and several beautiful beaches. f you’re into hiking or cycling, there are a huge number of routes to take from the park.
Largo Beach Houses
If you ever wanted to stay at a beautiful beach house, your trip to The Hague can give you just the excuse. Largo Beach Houses in Kijkduin is just a few minutes away from The Hague and the beach houses are perched upon one of the most beautiful beaches in The Netherlands. It’s a perfect stay if you’d like to combine a beach holiday and a city trip. The beach houses overlook the sea, have fully equipped kitchens, bathroom and nice beds. You’ll fall asleep to the sound of the see and can overlook the sun setting before going to bed. If prices are a tad too steep for you, nearby Roompot Kijkduin may be a good option for you. Check out more beach houses in The Netherlands.
Before there was Amsterdam, there was The Hague. The government and the royals of The Netherlands resided there, so it seemed only natural to make The Hague the capital. But under the rule of Louis Bonaparte, the government was moved to Amsterdam and that’s how the city became capital. When the French were ousted in 1814 the Dutch government went back to The Hague, but the title of capital remained with Amsterdam.
20th-century Den Haag is very internationally orientated, as the city became the home of several international legal entities like the UN’s International Court of Justice, making The Hague a popular place for ex-pats. But mostly I find The Hague the place where you meet The Girl with the Pearl Earring, see MC Escher’s fascinating work, eat the best Chinese food in The Netherlands and chill out at the beach at night.
Explore The Hague by bike
If you are only in The Hague for a day or two and you’d like to see all there is to see and do, I highly recommend joining this bike tour which takes you along all the highlights. If you’d rather explore the city by yourself, go on a self-guided street art tour and cycle along the beach, it’s a great idea to just rent a bike for a day, or maybe two.
To me, Mauritshuis is not only a must-see on a visit to The Hague but a must-see on a trip to The Netherlands in general. Mauritshuis simply houses the best Dutch and Flemish masterpieces that we know. Of course, you can’t miss Vermeer’s The Girl with the Pearl Earring, but also a dozen excellent works by Rembrandt, Frans Hals and Jan Steen.
Binnenhof is the heart of Dutch politics, as it is the seat of the Dutch government. You can visit the central courtyard, surrounded by 17th-century parliamentary buildings, for free. But you can also join a tour to visit the 13th-century Ridderzaal (hall of knights) and the Dutch senate.
The Escher Museum is another absolute favourite of mine, as this museum is housed in the old winter residence of Queen Emma on Lange Voorhout. So visiting this museum catches two flies in one throw, as you both get to see the beautifully restored old palace, as well marvel over the drafts, photos and completed works by MC Escher, including a virtual reality reconstruction of one of Escher’s labyrinth buildings.
Kunstmuseum is maybe the best regional museums in The Netherlands, as it’s particularly focussed on De Stijl, the Dutch art movement made famous by Piet Mondriaan and Gerrit Rietveld. The museum houses a large collection of works from the 19th onwards, with Mondrian’s unfinished Victory Boogie Woogie as the highlight of your visit.
The Peace Palace (Vredespaleis in Dutch) was built in the 19th century for peace negotiations only, not a bad idea with two world wars on its doorsteps. Currently, it houses the UN International Court of Justice and in summer you can join tours through the palace unless courts are in session.
The Netherlands aren’t big as it is, but in Madurodam you will see The Netherlands in miniature, scale 1:25, including miniature windmills, the Utrecht Dom, the Rotterdam harbour and even the airport. It’s one of the most popular attractions for people with children.
The immense work by Hendrik Willem Mesdag is a 360-degree painting of Scheveningen, The Hague Beach. The Panorama Mesdag is 120 meters long and 14 meters high. You watch it from a constructed dune inside the museum, including actual sand. You can also admire some other work by Mesdag and collected by the Mesdag couple.
I used to work in the office buildings adjacent to De Gevangenpoort, across from Binnenhof! The museum looks like a typically Dutch gabled house, but it’s actually the last surviving remnant of The Hague’s fortifications. Your leave every hour and show how justice was administered throughout history.
One of my friends used to live in the heart of The Hague’s China Town, the largest Chinese oriented neighbourhood in The Netherlands. China town is situated in the triangle between Amsterdamse Veerkade, Wagenstraat and Gedempte Burgwal. This used to be the Jewish neighbourhood, but after the Second World War, few Jews returned from the concentration camps, which left the area empty and impoverished. From the beginning of the century, more Chinese families started to settle in this neighbourhood and it’s swarming with Chinese restaurants, shops and antique stores ever since.
The Hague street art
From the city centre to the beach neighbourhoods: there are a lot of murals to be found scattered all over The Hague. The street art scene is pretty much underground for years but has recently launched a website locating all major works and local restaurants and cafés that support artists. If you have a rental bike at your disposal I highly recommend you follow the Binckhorst street art route and see the most amazing murals.
Beelden aan Zee
As soon as you reach the Scheveningen beachfront you’ll see some pretty funny sculptures. They will lure you into visiting the Beelden aan Zee (Sculptures by the sea) museum, yearly hosting several interesting exhibitions.
Highlanders in The Hague? Oh yes. The advantage of being so close to the sea is that The Hague has some amazing nature parks nearby, one being Westduinpark in the dunes between Scheveningen and Kijkduin. There are both hiking and bike trails helping you discover the varied landscape of open plains, valleys, high dunes, Second World War bunkers and beautiful flora and fauna. And yes, Highlanders.
The historical heart of Delft is one of the prettiest and most unspoilt of all Dutch cities. The quaint canals are lined with traditional red-brick houses dating back to the 17th century and will make you dream of the time when Johannes Vermeer used to roam these streets. Get acquainted with Delft on a day trip from The Hague, Delft is only a 20-minute train ride away so you’d be crazy not to go and see the magical Dutch city with its stunning market square and Nieuwe Kerk, which is the burial place of the Dutch royal family.
Rotterdam is Holland’s second-largest city and is so different from Amsterdam that it simply deserves a visit. And since it’s only a 20-minute train ride from The Hague, you should really go there. The city was completely bombed during the Second World War and has been rebuilt with the most groundbreaking modern architecture. You’ll spend a day with your nose in the air and your mouth wide open. The world’s best architects have put their mark on Rotterdam, though every now and then the old city peeps through. Rotterdam is also the home of a dozen top-notch museums and excellent restaurants. The city deserves to be on your radar.
Did you think Gouda was just a cheese? Guess what, the cheese is actually from the city of Gouda in the very heart of The Netherlands. Gouda is everything you’d expect a Dutch town to be like, with quiet canals and ancient Golden Age buildings lining narrow lanes. The Marker Square, where Gouda cheese used to be auctioned off, is the prettiest square in The Netherlands. The old weighing house will immediately draw your attention, though also visit the impressive St. Janskerk and hidden courtyard. Gouda is just a 15-minute train ride away from The Hague.
Lola Bikes & Coffee
Yes,Lola Bikes & Coffee is absolutely hipster central with bearded cyclists and artisan coffee. But really, it’s such a great place to have a cup of coffee before you start exploring The Hague. The staff is ever so friendly and there is a nice adjacent shop to browse through travel and bike books.
You really don’t need another guess to what this place has to offer. PIM is the perfect place for coffee and cake or a quick lunch. If you see some item you like in the café, chances are it will be for sale. Pim has two branches in The Hague.
Authentic Portuguese food in the middle of The Hague. Bliss is actually a Portuguese deli, but there are a couple of tables inside and the owners whip up some amazing piri piri chicken or bacalhau.
Greens in the park
Escape the bustle of the city and go and relax at Green in the park, which is open from morning until late in the evening. Find a spot in the pretty greenhouse that serves as a restaurant and order one of the dishes that is made with 100% organic produce. In summer you can often enjoy live music from the lush gardens surrounding the restaurant.
A brand new hotspot at the Market in The Hague. Bleyenburg is set in an old household store and designed with old building materials. There is a cool rooftop terrace and a spacious indoor restaurant. Prices are a little higher than average but definitely still fair for what you are served.
Hart Beach is actually the surfing school of Scheveningen, but the beach club is actually also very nice and (oh coincidence) a place where husband and I had one of our first dates. The meals are prepared for hungry surfers, so expect huge but healthy plates of food.