The Hague is not only the seat of the Dutch government, the city also holds an important position internationally, as it’s the base for embassies, the UN’s International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court. But The Hague is also the place to meet The Girl with the Pearl Earring and MC Escher’s intriguing fascinating drawings. On a visit to The Netherlands, please do spend 24 hours in The Hague.
You will arrive in The Hague, with public transport, on either The Hague Central Station or The Hague Holland Spoor. Jump on a tram and head into the city centre.
First stop: coffee at Lola bikes & coffee
You can choose from so many great coffee places in The Hague, but Lola bikes & coffee is a lovely first stop. At first glance, the vintage bikes mounted on the wall and the bearded clientele may mislead you into thinking this is some kind of hipster hotspot. And maybe, it is. A little. But in all honesty, the coffee is absolutely excellent, the staff is friendly and the bike-themed book shop in the back has a great selection.
A tour through the Peace Palace or meet MC Escher
One of the most special tours you can take is a bit of a hidden gem. It’s a visit to The Hague’s Peace Palace (take tram 1 to get there). The palace was never actually used by royalty but was specially built for the purposes of keeping international peace by maintaining the law. Throughout the centuries many countries have visited the court to try and amicably work out their differences, without going to war.
The Peace Palace can only be visited on a guided tour, but it’s worth buying tickets. The interior design of the palace is simply amazing with beautiful marble floors, stain glass windows and sculptures. You can get an impression by reading the article about my visit to the Peace Palace. Now, you better check the website if guided tours are available. Because if the court is in session, guided tours are suspended.
If you’re out of luck don’t worry. Because it’s just the perfect excuse to visit MC Escher in the palace. Another palace? Yes, The Hague has many. And a lot of palaces nowadays hold museums, so by visiting a museum you automatically get to see a century old palace as well. And this is also the case for the MC Escher Museum at Lange Voorhout, which was once the working palace of Queen Emma, the great-grandmother of the current Dutch King Willem-Alexander. While you stroll through the old palace you’ll see MC Escher’s complete works.
The best Dutch masters at Mauritshuis
Mauritshuis is not only on the top of my must-visit list for The Hague, but I think this museum is an absolute must-see when you’re in The Netherlands. The best Dutch and Flemish masters in history can be found in this uncluttered museum. Of course, you can’t miss Vermeer’s Girl with the Pearl Earring, but the works of Rembrandt, Jan Steen and Frans Hals are also more than impressive.
The seat of the Duch government: Binnenhof
Right next to Mauritshuis are the Dutch houses of Parliament: Binnenhof. It’s a nice stroll through the courtyard, surrounded by the parliamentary buildings that were constructed in the 17th century. If you’d like to visit inside Binnenhoft, join a Prodemos guided tour.
Lunch in The Hague
I am having a hard time telling you where to go and have lunch in The Hague, as there are so many cool places. Near the Markt there’s is the brand new, rejuvenated project Bleyenburg which used to be s store, but now houses a really nice restaurant and über cool roof terrace.
During my last visit to The Hague, I was very impressed by all the eateries around the cosy Anna Palownaplein. I had lunch on the square, at Room which was excellent. But if you’re going on a boat trip in the afternoon, I highly recommend having lunch at De Overkant, near the canal boat pier, which is both a café as well as a shop for cool graphic design.
An afternoon boat tour
Are you visiting The Hague between April and October? Then I can highly recommend going on a boat tour exploring the The Hague canals. I once went one of these, when I was still working in The Hague, and I simply never expected the city to have so many small and secluded canals. The tour also brings you to neighbourhoods and nooks of the city centre that you wouldn’t be able to find on foot that easily.
Street art spotting in The Hague
Just like Rotterdam, The Hague has an upcoming street art scene and in the neighbourhoods between the city centre and the seafront many murals have popped up over the last couple of years. You can find most murals on this website or you can go on a little stroll discovering Dutch art movement De Stijl on the streets of The Hague.
Afternoon drinks at the beach
One of the best features of The Hague is that the city is right at the beach. The easiest way to reach the sea is to catch the tram to Scheveningen and you can walk right to the boulevard and Holland’s most famous pier. If you’d like to go for drinks the beach clubs at Zwarte Pad are good or go for a bit to eat and cocktails at Hart Beach, the club of The Hague’s surf school.
Dinner time in The Hague
For dinner in The Hague, I really like to go to Ciao Ciao across Binnenhof: a cosy Italian restaurant with a fabulous wine list. If you’re into Korean food, Seoul Garden (just off Plein) does an excellent Korean BBQ, which Korean expats also really enjoy (good sign!). Boterwaag is a bit more of a Dutch experience, serving nice food in a beautiful 17th-century building on the market square.
Where to stay in The Hague? Dibbus B&B
Why stay in a hotel if you can stay in a cosy B&B Dibbus (check the latest rates and deals), on the edge of The Hague city centre? I stayed in B&B Dibbus and thought it was actually quite a bit more than just a B&B. The owner Wendy has converted the first floor of her house into a small self-service apartment. There is a cosy, light living room, a kitchenette, quiet bedroom, brand new bathroom and even a little garden.
Plan 24 hours in The Hague
These articles will help you plan your trip to The Hague:
- The Hague: inside the Peace Palace
- De Stijl: spot Dutch Design on Dutch Streets
- City guide The Hague
- You can easily visit both Delft and Rotterdam from The Hague.