The Hague or Den Haag in Dutch is one of the most special cities – a hidden gem in the Netherlands. Not only because the seat of the Dutch government is located here, but because of the many monuments, historic neighbourhoods and its ideal location near the coast. It isn’t for nothing that The Hague is known as the “Royal City by the sea”.
While The Hague may not be the official capital of the Netherlands, parliament and the office of the Prime Minister can be found here. On the third Tuesday of September, the golden carriage leaves the Noordeinde Palace and rides through the city in what is called Prinsjesdag or Prince’s Day in English.
The Hague is also the only major Dutch City on the North Sea. The coastline is 11 kilometres long. The city has two seaside resorts: Scheveningen and Kijkduin. The natives love to lie in the sun in the summer and to get a breath of fresh air on the coast in the fall. And then, of course, eat some fish. With a metropolitan population of more than 1 million, it is the third-largest city in the Netherlands, after Amsterdam and Rotterdam. The Hague is a city of bars and terraces. Even in the winter and summer, there are always people having drinks on Het Plein and Grote Markt. Tourists can also enjoy the famous Bakkie Pleur (a real Hague delicacy). Although The Hague is not the capital of the Netherlands, it does play that role. Almost all embassies and ministries in the Netherlands are located in the city.
Things to see in The Hague
There is so much to see in The Hague and a visit in the summer months is always worth it. The city is full of historic buildings and monuments. The canals offer you the chance to get a good view of the city during a cruise. It is advisable to plan your trip and see the sights at your own pace. The large selection of museums and sights does not make it easy for visitors to make a choice. The neighbouring and popular resort of Scheveningen is one of the busiest parts of The Hague. That’s where you can relax on the boulevard or on the beach on hot days. There are so many things to see, some of the most prominent sights are listed below. It is advised to rent a bike and cycle around the city as that is the best way to see the sights.
Here are a few interesting places to visit and fun things to do in The Hague:
1. Mauritshuis Museum
The Mauritshuis museum is where you can mainly see paintings from the 17th and 18th centuries. The world-renowned Mauritshuis houses a collection of more than 800 paintings, about twenty sculptures and some miniatures busts and drawings. The oldest part of the collection was once owned by Prince William V of Oranje-Nassau. The Mauritshuis is definitely worth a visit and it is possible to take a tour with a guide.
2. Do a Canal Cruise on the Historic The Hague Canals
The Hague is known as the city of the king and queen, the political centre and home of many international organisations and embassies. While all of that is true, the city also has so much more to offer. During the one and a half hour boat cruise through the centre of The Hague, the skipper skilfully manoeuvres you through the beautiful canals of The Hague, while the guide reveals secrets and shows the sights of the beautiful city.
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3. Historical Museum of The Hague
The beautiful building on the Korte Vijverberg still has its original entrance with columns and arches from the 17th century. The building once served as a building for the St. Sebastiaanschutterij, a kind of civilian guard. Later it became a court of law and subsequently served as a museum. The museum is home to objects and paintings from the 16th to the 21st century. The first floor serves as a space for temporary exhibitions. The attic is where visitors can find the dollhouses of Jonkvrouwe Lita de Ranitz (1876-1960).
4. The Ridderzaal and Binnenhof
The most important and oldest building on the Binnenhof is the Ridderzaal. It was built in the 13th century to serve as an administrative centre from which Count Willem II governed. Since 1904, the Speech from the Throne has been read by Dutch monarchs from the royal family. The inner court still functions as a government quarter, since this is where senior Dutch politicians do their work. The office of the Prime Minister of the Netherlands is in “Het Torentje”. The gate that used to serve as a gateway to the Binnenhof is also known as the Gevangenpoort or prison gate. Nowadays, it is a museum about punishment and crime throughout the centuries.
5. Huis Ten Bosch Palace
This residence of Princess Beatrix is located in the Haagse Bos. The first stone was laid in 1645 as an initial summer residence of Frederik Hendrik and his wife Amalia van Solms. After his death three years later, the palace became a mausoleum. After the death of Amalia, their daughters sold the palace to their cousin Willem III van Oranje. And that’s how it ended up in the hands of the Dutch Royal family. From 1981 and onwards, the former queen has lived there with her family.
6. Noordeinde Palace
This is the palace of King Willem Alexander and unfortunately, it is not open to the public. After it was built in 1533, the palace has always housed influential people who have played an important role from here. In 1880 Princess Wilhelmina was born in this palace, the grandmother of Queen Beatrix. And then her mother in 1909. The entrance to the palace is regularly used for important events such as the departure of the Golden Carriage and also the greeting of well-wishers from the balcony by the king and queen on Prince’s Day. The Royal Horse Stables are also located in the palace.
Scheveningen is where you can visit Madurodam to see the miniature version of the most famous buildings in the Netherlands. Here you get a clear picture of all important and historical buildings, farmlands, modern neighbourhoods, palaces and cemeteries. Everything has been recreated on a 1:25 scale. Various exhibitions can be seen regularly. It is the ideal attraction for families with kids because little children always can relate to a smaller version of the Netherlands. There are also lots of temporary exhibitions in the Madurodam and they’re definitely worth checking out.
8. The Hague Photography Museum
The Photography Museum The Hague was opened in 2002 and is part of the Municipal Museum The Hague. The Photo Museum (fotomuseum) works closely with the Print Room of the Leiden University Library. The museum organises around six exhibitions each year on diverse disciplines and genres of photo history. The human form is often central. Thanks to this broad approach, from national to international, classical to contemporary, black and white to colour and applied to autonomous, the museum offers something for everyone and a visit is always surprising and different. The museum is therefore primarily known for its high-quality exhibitions.
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9. The International Court of Justice
It’s not possible to visit The Hague and not go to the International Court of Justice. The Statute of Rome was drawn up on a proposal from the United Nations in 1998 and that statute led to The Hague becoming the home of the International Court of Justice. The International Criminal Court has jurisdiction over war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. The court is often the venue of international protests, high-profile trials and important international rulings. It’s definitely worth a visit.
10. Gemeentemuseum The Hague
Located close to the Scheveningen beach is The Hague’s famous Gemeentemuseum. The beautiful building which was constructed in 1935, designed by the architect H.P. Berlage is made to allow you to wander through the halls while being surprised by the versatile collection and a large number of temporary but interesting exhibitions. The Gemeentemuseum owns the largest collection of Piet Mondrian paintings in the world, especially the Victory Boogie Woogie, his last work. There is also an outstanding silver collection, meticulously decorated Delft Blue and interactive Wonderkamers in the famous building all designed by architect Berlage. The Hague Gemeentemuseum is worth a visit!
11. The Gevangenpoort Museum (The Hague Prison Museum)
Located on the Hofvijver, the Gevangenpoort Museum is one of the most interesting museums in The Hague. In the 13th century this building formed the impressive gateway to the Binnenhof. A few centuries later it became a prison and courthouse of the mighty Hof van Holland. This is where suspected criminals waited for their trial and were also imprisoned. Nowadays the museum tells the exciting story of crime and punishment in times long gone. Here you can see and experience how people were locked up, tried and punished in those days. You see the cells they were kept in and also find out if there was a difference between poor and rich prisoners! You will learn everything about the museum during a tour with a guide. Some important moments in Dutch history also took place here, such as the murder of the De Witt brothers. Visitors can also view the national collection of torture and punishment tools in the museum.
12. Escher in the Palace
The former working palace of the queens on the beautiful Lange Voorhout is now a museum and houses the permanent exhibition of the most famous Dutch graphic artist, M.C. Escher. Maurits Cornelis Escher (1898-1972) is a master of drawing fake situations and knows how to fascinate everyone with his wonderful world. He has a way of making water flow upwards in his work, birds turn into fish and men go up and down the same stairs endlessly. With one hundred and thirty works, Museum Escher in the Palace is home to almost all the pieces of the world-famous Dutch artist. The highlight is the 7-meter long Metamorphosis III. This enormous woodcut and its special design allow the viewer to experience the Escher coupling of eternity and infinity, as a result of which time and space are united into an organic whole.
13. Beelden aan Zee Museum
Beelden aan Zee museum was founded in 1994 by the collector couple Theo and Lida Scholten and focuses exclusively on modern and contemporary international sculpture. The museum is a private museum, supported by a large group of enthusiastic volunteers and structurally supported by an association of friends. In relation to artistic policy, the museum organises numerous other cultural activities that have earned it a special place in the international climate of The Hague.
The collection of Museum Beelden aan Zee comprises almost 1000 images and several hundred tokens. The majority of the works date from the second half of the twentieth century. There are large and small sculptures, made by well-known and unknown sculptors from all over the world and made from the most diverse materials. The museum organises three to four large exhibitions a year in the Grote Zaal and nine to ten smaller exhibitions in the other halls and on the terraces. An extensive selection from the museum’s own collection has been permanently exhibited. In the past fifteen years, solo exhibitions have been organized on Dutch and foreign sculptors such as Magdalena Abakanowicz, Karel Appel, Zadok Ben-David, Caspar Berger, Eugene Dodeigne, Jeroen Henneman, Fritz König, Igor Mitoraj, Peter Otto, Charlotte van Pallandt, Arthur Spronken, Johan Tahon, Fritz Wotruba and Cornelis Zitman.
14. Louwman Museum
The Louwman Museum in The Hague is home to the oldest and one of the most extraordinary private collections of cars in the world. You will walk through the history of the car on the basis of a few hundred cars. The museum has a wide collection with everything from antique and classic models to Formula 1 and hybrid cars. Since 1934, two generations of the Louwman family have been collecting cars. Opened in 2010, the museum showcases its unique collection of cars to a large audience every year. You will be taken from the horse and carriage to the first vehicles that were not horse-drawn. You walk past the luxury means of transport of the early 1900s, the post-war “affordable cars” and the first racing cars. Highlights of the Louwman Museum are unique examples, such as the boat car, the beach car and the swan car, but also famous cars such as the Aston Martin from the James Bond movie Gold Finger and Elvis Presley’s personalised Cadillac Fleetwood.
There is so much to do in the Hague. From picnics in the parks to boat cruises and other activities, the city has everything for different types of tourists.
1. Go chill on the Scheveningen seaside resort
Scheveningen is the largest of the two seaside resorts within the municipality of The Hague. The cosy and lively boulevard and the impressive Kurhaus hotel, in particular, attract thousands of visitors to this old fishing village every year. On summer days the beaches are full of locals and tourists enjoying the sun and all that the seaside resort has to offer. The oldest part of Scheveningen is around the Oude Kerk on Keizerstraat, which is also the busiest shopping street. Scheveningen Pier is also another interesting place for visitors.
2. Pay a Visit to the Hague Market
The largest, most colourful and most extensive market in the Netherlands can be found in the city of The Hague. Some claim that it is the largest in Europe. All kinds of merchandise are displayed between the Hoefkade and the Hobbemaplein four days a week and around 25,000 visitors pass through it every day. The famous The Hague Schilderswijk is close to the market. This neighbourhood is known for its multicultural inhabitants and this means that there are many stores with foreign foods and other exotic products. The restaurants around there also offer some of the best foreign delicacies.
3. Pay a Visit to the Peace Palace
There are a number of organizations in this palace that are primarily concerned with international law and politics. There is also a law library, an Academy of International Law and events are regularly organized that are connected to international politics. The building was designed by the French architect Louis M. Cordonnier. In the palace there are many gifts from different countries and statues and portraits of champions of peace in history. Although the foundation stone was laid in 1907, construction was not completed until 1913. Since 1999, an eternal flame has been burning right next to the entrance. Pay a visit to the palace and see what you can find about the state of world politics.
4. Pay a Visit to the Kijkduin Seaside Resort
This suburb of The Hague is located in the dunes and on the beach. It is a smaller seaside resort than Scheveningen, but also has a boulevard with some shops. There are lots of restaurants on the beach and they all serve different types of dishes from different parts of the world. There are also a number of recreational parks in the Kijkduin.
5. Hague Greeters
The Hague Greeters are volunteers and hospitable residents of The Hague with a heart for the city. They show visitors their beautiful city behind the dunes. They don’t bore tourists with dates and years of buildings, but real stories about The Hague. City walks with the enthusiastic Greeters are therefore different than usual, but a lot of fun. You choose the neighbourhood or the cultural theme of your city walk. The tours of The Hague Greeters are free, but you have to book 2 weeks in advance. This way they have the time to find a suitable volunteer for you.
6. Go Jet Skiing in Scheveningen
Jet skiing is definitely something anyone would love to do on a summer holiday destination! You can also rent jet skis in Scheveningen. The jet skis of Fun & Fantasy (part of Watersport Scheveningen) are some of the best in The Hague. You can use this to race across the waves of the North Sea – even without a license. There is also the possibility to rent fly boards. Flyboarding is fun and is one of the most popular water activities on the Scheveningen beach! You stand on a board with a plastic frame with tubes on top. By pressing water through these tubes at high pressure, you float above the waves. It is actually a kind of jetpack that you can fly with. Who doesn’t want to experience that now? You will of course receive lessons for flyboarding to get the hang of it. You can, of course, also take a leisurely jet ski tour where you get to enjoy the beautiful view of the beach and the boulevard.
7. Go Bungee Jumping
Do you love the adrenaline rush from adventurous activities or the top of tall buildings? Then bungee jumping above the water from a 60-meter high tower on the Scheveningen Pier is exactly what you need. At this peak you have the best view of Scheveningen. You can book this adrenaline rush at Bungy Jump Holland.
8. Go Ziplining
You can also go down the zip line from the same tower where you do the bungee jumping. Zipline de Pier is for the real adrenaline and speed junkies. The tower is 60 meters high, which means you can reach speeds of up to 90 km per hour! Doing it alone is only alone is always fun, but it’s more fun when you do it with friends and enjoy the zip line next to each other in a race of course. Whoever gets down first wins!
9. Go for a Walk Around the City Centre
Do you know that The Hague has the most sights per km² in the Netherlands? You can go hiking, alone or with friends and family. During the summer when the weather is favourable, you can go for a hike and visit the museums and markets on your way. There are not many old historic buildings in the city but you will also walk past beautiful mansions, large villas and a lot of embassies. Who knows, you might even find the embassy of your country!
How to get to there
Trains to The Hague
From Amsterdam Central station
From Amsterdam Central Station, there’s a regular connection with The Hague. The trains depart every 15 minutes from platforms 2. The journey is approximately 50 minutes and a one-way ticket costs about € 12,20 from either of the two stations.
From Haarlem Central Station
There are trains leaving Haarlem Central Station every 15 minutes for The Hague Central Station. The train ride lasts 36 minutes and costs € 8,90- for a one-way ticket. There is a quick stop at Leiden Central Station.
From Leiden Central station
There are trains leaving every 15 minutes from Leiden Central station. It’s a 20-minute train ride from Leiden to The Hague and the train makes quick stops at Den Haag Mariahove and Den Haag Laan v NOI stations. A one-way ticket costs € 3,70-.
From Schiphol Airport
There’s a train departing every 15 minutes from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport to The Hague Central Station. The train ride lasts 30 minutes and the ticket costs € 8,90- for a one-way ticket. The train also makes a quick stop at Leiden Central Station.
Parking in The Hague And How to Get Around
The Hague can be reached by car via the motorways: A4, A12, A13, A44/N44 and the Ring The Hague. You have to be aware that parking can be very expensive, especially in the city centre.
Paid Parking in the City Centre
Paid parking applies in the city centre:
Days: Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to midnight
On Sundays from 1 pm to midnight.
Note: Paid parking applies in a number of streets on Saturday and Sunday mornings until 2 a.m. You can park for a maximum of 120 or 240 minutes in a number of streets. Do you want to park longer for longer hours? Then park in one of the parking garages in the city centre.
Motorbikes and Mopeds
Motorbikes and mopeds can park everywhere where cars are allowed to park. However, if you have a motorbike or a moped, you have to pay for parking in areas where paid parking applies.
Public Transportation or Bicycle
The centre is always easily accessible by public transport or by bicycle. On busy days, the bicycle is often faster than a car.
Finding your way around The Hague is actually quite easy. Public transport in the city is operated by HTM. The city has 9 tram lines, 3 express tram lines (RandstadRail) and 10 bus lines. The Hague has two important stations: The Hague Central and The Hague Hollands Spoor. North-south trains stop at Hollands Spoor and east-west trains start/end at The Hague Central. The Hague Central Station is the busiest station in the city.
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