Is The Hague in Netherlands worth visiting?
The Hague is the international city of peace and justice which is famous for being the permanent home of the United Nations’ International Court of Justice and the Permanent Court of Arbitration. It might sound too serious and even boring but the city is an opposite of it. Bursting with museums, nice cafés, parks and beautiful beach side, Scheveningen, it has a lot to offer. Moreover being one of the Netherlands’ most important cities it remains away from crowds of noisy tourists.
How many days do you need in The Hague?
The Hague, also called Den Haag in Dutch, has a lot to offer: from various museums where you can see works of famous artists like Vermeer or Mesdag, mix of beautiful modern and historical Dutch architecture to pretty and exciting beach side. Many people plan just one day in The Hague but then it turns into very busy and packed holiday. That’s why I would recommend to spend at least 2 days in The Hague to see all the highlights of the city and still have time to enjoy the sun and the drink in one of the beach bars. Here is by the way a list of great places to have a breakfast, brunch or dinner in The Hague.
When visit The Hague?
Doubtlessly you can visit The Hague all year around but since it’s a coastal city up in the north it starts to get warmer between April and October. April and May seem to be pretty popular months since the tulip season starts in Netherlands. Nevertheless it doesn’t get very crowded. The proper high season starts in the summer period when mainly German tourists and also Dutch people itself come to the beach side and book a room in the resorts.
Where to stay in The Hague?
Hague’s City Centre is where the most of the attractions of the city are located. Staying in the centre of The Hague gives you more choices and options to explore the best of the city and enjoy wide variety of dining options, ranging from restaurants and cafes. Moreover, the public transport is great since several tram lines cross the center and connect it with all the main highlights of the city. Many tourists and even locals like to stay at the over-priced beach side but in my opinion it’s enough to spend there half of the day or 1 day.
There are various hotels and B&Bs in The Hague but we’ve chosen to stay at the The Penthouse Sky Apartments at The Hague Tower and we were very happy with our choice. The location of The Hague Tower is fantastic: Only stone throw away from the main train station and just few steps to the city centre. The tram line which goes to the city centre and the beach side is also right at the doorstep.
There were many great aspects that made our holiday even better: The spacious XL apartment on the 38th floor offered not only cozy and chic interior but also breathtaking views over the whole city! In the morning we could observe the beautiful sunrise with the cup of coffee (the coffee machine, coffee tabs and other kitchen utilities were provided too) and in the evening we saw how the whole city lit up with the lights.
Since we were travelling as a family with our 4 year old, we were provided with the separate comfortable bed for our little one. A lovely extra! The spacious bathroom is also worth of mentioning: Separate shower and bath so perfect to warm up after the whole day of walking if you don’t travel during the summer period. All in one it felt like being at the fancy home away from home.
For those who don’t want to do groceries during the holiday there is also a possibility to use services of private dining or breakfast or even romantic surprise package. Amazing idea for the birthday or anniversary surprise with champagne. The movie addicts can also ask for the private cinema experience. Unfortunately we couldn’t book it because when we arrived someone else booked it already. So don’t be like us and plan it in advance.
The Hague – Day One
The Hague Centrum – The Passage
Start your first day in Den Haag wandering through the beautiful streets and exploring museums and Dutch architecture. The historical center of The Hague is not too big and is easy to explore on foot. However, there’s a lot to explore! It’s the best to start with the main shopping street until you reach The Passage, a UNESCO recognized building in the Hague. The Passage is the only remaining exemplar in the Netherlands of the covered shopping street where you can find numerous interesting shops. Plus take plenty of pretty pictures for your Instagram.
View The Binnenhof
The Binnenhof is a marvellous building and it’s free to admire. It also has an important role since this is where Dutch parliament located. Although as we all know Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands, many of the government buildings remain here, in the Hague. Starting in 1446, this building is used for Dutch Parliament and is under the occupations of the Netherlands by other countries.
Next to the Binnenhof you will find Museum Mauritshuis. It is a famous art museum in The Hague and presents works from the famous Dutch Master Painters like Potter, Rembrandt Vermeer, and many more of the Golden Age. It is a small museum but the artworks in Mauritshuis are unique. The most famous painting that you can observe here is Vermeer’s well-known painting Girl with the Pearl Earring.
Admire & Take Pictures At Hofvijver
The Hofvijver is a famous lake in the centre of The Hague. It was created from a natural lake in 1248 by William II. Now it It’s also one of the most picturesque sites of the city located next to the centre of government, the Binnenhof, and the small tower which is by the way the small office of the prime minister.
Royal Palace Noordeinde
The Passage is the luxury shopping mall of The Hague, but Noordeinde is the most luxury street. The best designer shops and art galleries are located here. The Royal Palace Noordeinde, the working palace of the Dutch King and Queen, is also an essential highlight of this street. On the other side of the palace are famous Royal Palace Gardens. It’s open for the public, and used by locals as a city park to enjoy the good weather in the summer.
Museum Panorama Mesdag
Hendrik Willem Mesdag is an important painter, who is known as one of the main painters of its time and the School of The Hague. His 360-degree painting of Scheveningen Beach and village in 1881 is definitely one of the most unique paintings and a must-see in The Hague. It’s like immersing into the past and enjoying the view of how life was like at the end of the 19th century.
The Peace Palace
You can easily reach the Peace Palace from Panorama Mesdag in 10 minutes. Moreover you will be able to enjoy part of the City Center known as the Embassy District. Various international embassies are located in this neighbourhood.
The International Peace Palace is a unique building surrounded by the beautiful gardens. It officially opened it’s doors in 1913, after the first international peace conference was organised in 1899. At this conference, 26 countries came together to talk about international peace and disarmament. Both the International Court of Justice and The Permanent Court of Arbitration are located at the Peace Palace.
Boat Tour The Hague
After a long walking day I would recommend to explore the city from the frog perspective: by boat. There are several tour companies that offer this kind of attraction. Often the boat tour through the city takes between 75-90 minutes. One of the most popular ones is The Hague Boat.
The Hague – Day Two
On the next in The Hague after having your breakfast I would recommend to visit another museum. There are two options:
Escher in The Palace
M.C. Escher was a Dutch graphic artist who was a master of playing with perspective. If you are travelling with kids then it’s an amazing opportunity for them to explore the world of illusion. The Escher Museum is located at the most beautiful street of The Hague: Lange Voorhout. it’s also shows some of the history of the Dutch Royal Family since it’s in the former royal palace.
Kunstmuseum The Hague
Kunstmuseum The Hague is a paradise for those who are interested in modern and extraordinary art. Here you will find over 160 thousand works of art including masterpieces of Mondriaan, Monet, Kadinsky, and many other famous painters. FYI the museum is closed on Monday. It’s open from Tuesday until Sunday between 10:00 AM and 5:00 PM.
Join the bike tour
Holland is famous for it’s biking culture and what’s the other great way to immerse into the authentic atmosphere of The Hague if not with exploring the best parts of it while riding a bike. I would recommend to join the biking tour with “Enter The Hague“.
The roads of The Hague are perfectly made for riding a bike so even the beginner can easily join the tour. During the tour you will learn more about the history of the city and afterwards you will go beyond that. You will bike through the city, green natural parks, beautiful sandy dunes and even visit an amazing lookout point where you will see the city on the one side and majestic sea on the other. The whole tour takes between 3-4h which pass by so quickly! There are few breaks included to catch your breath and tase some local delicacies.
Our tour guide was a friendly and jolly Jurijn who has spent over 4h with us to show the best of The Hague. We’ve tried the local fish & chips, got some insiders about the city and have seen unique places. I think it’s always nice to get to know a new place through the eyes of the local. Moreover the tours can be up to 20 people so it’s an amazing opportunity to get to know new interesting people.
During the tour we also visited the iconic Pier Scheveningen of The Hague. It was built around 1900. Since 2014 it has been transformed into a lovely place with lots of shopping opportunities, beach bars and restaurants. Here you will also find a famous 5-star Grand Hotel Kurhaus. Not sure if it’s worth of money to stay there since I read plenty of negative reviews but the building itself is definitely stunning!
I would suggest to spend the rest of the day at the beach side and enjoy the sunset from the Ferris wheel or in one of the beach bars. You can also take a walk through the beach and inhale some fresh sea air. It’s a nice way to end the day and prepare yourself for the next journey.
By the way while visiting The Hague don’t miss the opportunity to visit charming Delft, the small town with canals which is famous for it’s blue and white pottery. You can take a train or even tram 1 from the city and be there already in 10-20 minutes. You are welcome!