Visit The Hague – The Best Things To Do And See
Whoever thinks to come to The Netherlands for a city break, they always think about Amsterdam, and if they have already seen it, then maybe Rotterdam, or Maastricht. But there are so many more sights to visits, for example – The Hague! Combine history with sea and beautiful architecture with culture, and you are in for a great time.
I used to live for 3 years in The Hague (or how Dutchies actually named the city Den Haag), and it’s seriously one of the most beautiful cities in The Netherlands. It is very different from Amsterdam or Rotterdam, and, therefore, an incredible relief for those looking for something different from recent highlights among a lot of tourists. I decided to share with you the ten absolute must do’s and must-sees in the city.
The center of The Hague is relatively compact, but not all sights are actually located here. To view everything at your leisure and to be able to go to the beach, I recommend that you stay at least one night in the city. Don’t worry, there are enough hotels and there is something for every budget.
What Is There To See
The center of The Hague is a typical example of a city where you can stroll easily. You will automatically pass all kinds of beautiful places, nice hotspots, and some of the highlights. You should not miss these spots in the city center:
Noordeinde Palace is located right in the center of The Hague on – how appropriate – Noordeinde street. It is a street with (expensive) shops, coffee shops, restaurants, hotels, and royal touch. Built-in 1533 as a residence, Noordeinde Palace is now the working palace of King Willem-Alexander. In the past, the palace was also used for weddings.
When the king is in the palace, the flag flies, in summer, the palace is open to the public for a few days but for the rest of the year, it is closed. What is open all year round and is also free? The Palace Garden, which is somewhat hidden between the palace, the Royal Stables, and the Royal Archives. Accessible from the Prinsessewal between sunrise and sunset.
Address: Noordeinde 86
2. Peace Palace
It is the most photographed building in The Hague and attracts many visitors every year. It is not something unexpected because the Peace Palace is one of the most beautiful and most famous buildings in The Netherlands. The Peace Palace is why The Hague is internationally known as the city of ‘Peace and Justice City.’ Here you will find, among others, the International Court of Justice, the Permanent Court of Arbitration and The Hague Academy of International Law. In the visitor center, you will learn more about the palace and the organizations that reside here. Make sure to use the free audio tour! Would you also like to go inside? Then you should plan your visit well: the Peace Palace is only open to the public a few weekends a year. Click here to view the current data.
Address: Carnegieplein 2
3. Binnenhof and the Hofvijver
The Hague is not only the city of Peace and Justice but also the political capital of the country. Your visit to the city is not complete without a look at Binnenhof and Hofvijver. Once you walk into the Binnenhof, you immediately recognize where the media question many Dutch politicians. Important (political) events have been taking place at the Binnenhof for centuries. Now you will find the Upper and Lower House here. You will also have seen the Knight’s Hall (built in the 13th century) on TV: here, the annual Speech from the Throne is read, and royal decorations are given.
But there is, even more, to see here: next to it, it’s the great museum – Mauritshuis, where you can find the famous painting “The girl with the pearl earrings” by painter Johannes Vermeer. Right next to the museum, you can see the Torentje, behind the Hofvijver. Today it is the office of Mark Rutte, but the place used to function as a summer arbor for graves. Do not forget to continue to the Hofvijver. On the other side of the water, you get a perfect view of the Binnenhof, ideal for beautiful photos, especially during sunset.
Would you like a tour of the Binnenhof or see where precisely the House of Representatives is located? Podemos regularly takes groups inside. You can register here.
Address: Binnenhof 1
4. The Lange Voorhout
Anyone who has ever been to Berlin has undoubtedly walked under the lime trees of Unter der Linden. Did you know that the design of this street is based on the Lange Voorhout in The Hague? I think it is the most beautiful street in the city, especially in the spring, when the trees are blooming. The promenade street dates back to the 14th century when all kinds of ugly, crooked houses lined the road. In the 16th century, Emperor Charles V had had enough. He ensured that Lange Voorhout was given a significant upgrade: expect the most beautiful buildings, dozens of lime trees, and a wide walking path between the traffic.
Address: Lange Voorhout
De Passage dates back to 1882 and is located right in the center of The Hague, next to the Grote Marktstraat. It is the only remaining shopping arcade in The Netherlands and can be compared to the chic passages in Milan and Brussels. Ideal for walking around here when the weather is not so good. In addition to specialty shops (tip: get coffee and chocolate at Hop & Stork) and catering, you should especially be here for the beautiful architecture. Think of arcades, glass domes, and beautifully decorated facades.
The Passage opens directly onto the Nieuwe Haagse Passage, which was only built in this century. This part is much more modern and houses well-known stores such as Mango, the Apple Store, and Leonidas.
Address: Passage 72
Not in the center, but an attraction that you want to see in The Hague. Zeeheldenkwartier is one of the most beautiful areas of the city, where you will find lovely squares, exclusive shops, and great hotspots. And not unimportantly: the Art Nouveau buildings are significant to capture on your camera. The district is built around two squares: Prins Hendrikplein and Anna Paulownaplein. In the summer, the Zeeheldenkwartier is full of terraces.
For great (vintage) shops, you have to be on the Piet Hein Street. Specialty stores and design shops (tip: YurtStore and Bij Priester) abound on Zoutmanstraat and Prins Hendrikstraat. And you’re also in the right place for tasty hotspots: drink a cup of coffee at Clarence (Piet Heinstraat 60-A) and eat one of the most delicious pizzas you’ve ever had at Vincenzo’s. Don’t miss the limoncello here!
Also read: What to do in the Netherlands: 120 ultimate tips!
What To Do
One of the most famous sights in The Hague: Madurodam. Fun for young people, but adults don’t waste their time here either. In Madurodam, you discover the whole map of The Netherlands in miniature. In addition to spotting hundreds of miniatures and more than 5,500 miniature trees, you will also learn how the country was built. There are various attractions and activities that you can do.
You can buy tickets online via their website, among other things: this way, you are immediately assured of a fixed time slot, and you do not have to queue unnecessarily.
Address: George Maduroplein 1
2. High tea at Hotel des Indes
It is anything but cheap, but believe me: you want to have done this while visiting the city. Hotel des Indes is a super-luxurious and historic five-star hotel on the Lange Voorhout. The building dates back to 1858 and has hosted many celebrities—Audrey Hepburn, for example, and Mata Hari. If you want to spend the night here, you have to pay a lot of attention. Fortunately, there are also other ways to experience the hotel!
The high tea at Hotel des Indes is one of the best in The Netherlands and is a genuinely local tradition. From the lounge, you have a perfect view of the stairs and the first floor. The place itself is enough to have a wonderful time, but also the tea and the many treats are undoubtedly worthwhile. Bring on those scones, bonbons, and appetizers!
You can enjoy the high tea seven days a week at 2 p.m. Price from € 39.50 per person. Reservations are recommended!
3. Museums: Mauritshuis, Escher in the Palace, Panorama Mesdag
If you are a culture lover, you can indulge yourself in The Hague. The city has around 36 museums! Viewing them all might be a bit too ambitious, but you must see these three gems when you are in The Hague for the first time.
The Mauritshuis is located right next to the Binnenhof and always offers top collections of Dutch (and Flemish) painters from the 17th century. For example, Johannes Vermeer’s’ Girl with a Pearl Earring ‘hangs here permanently, as is Fabritius” Het Puttertje. ‘Besides, the temporary collection is regularly alternated with works by Rubens, Jan Steen, and Rembrandt, among others.
Address: Square 29
Escher in the Palace
Those who prefer modern art should visit Escher in Het Paleis. Formerly a working palace, now a museum with a permanent exhibition by MC Escher. If you don’t know him: this graphic artist knows how to achieve a real mind-fuck with each of his works. For example, it lets birds turn into fish, and water flows upwards. Nice to see you!
Address: Lange Voorhout 74
Why do I mention Panorama Mesdag? They have a super cool work of art here: a gigantic 360 ° panorama that shows Scheveningen in 1881. You can literally watch this for hours because each part shows something completely different. The building was built, especially for the artwork. This makes it seem like you are standing at a vantage point at the artwork, where you get a view over the dunes (with real sand) and the old Scheveningen.
Besides, dozens of other works of art by Mesdag can be found, and you can learn more about his life.
Address: Zeestraat 65
What else makes The Hague unique? The beach! It has three on offer: Scheveningen, Kijkduin, and Zuiderstrand. Although Scheveningen (and Kijkduin) is often seen as a separate town, it officially belongs to The Hague. You can get there from the city in no time, by bus or tram, or even by bike.
Scheveningen was in disrepair for a long time, but thanks to the renovated Pier, the image of the beach destination has been boosted. The beach is long, the number of beach bars is almost impossible to count, and those who want something other than sand between their toes can go to the boulevard, the indoor shopping center (honest: not very much), on the Pier.
The latter is especially worthwhile: go in the Ferris wheel anyway for a magnificent view over Scheveningen and The Hague. It’s smart to book this in advance, especially on busy days. Here you book your ticket, including coffee or tea and a fresh piece of apple pie or muffin.
You will also find a covered food boulevard on the Pier, with outdoor cafes, shops, street food tents, and restaurants. Real daredevils can even zipline (read about my experience) or bungee jump.
Kijkduin and Zuiderstrand
Kijkduin and Zuiderstrand are the quieter alternatives to Scheveningen. You will find some beach bars and restaurants, but otherwise, you have to enjoy yourself. A significant advantage: it is much quieter here, even on really sunny days. Something different than the beach? Go for a walk through the dunes! Chances are you will encounter Scottish highlanders here.
Also read: 20x the most beautiful beaches in the Netherlands for a holiday in your own country.