This post is by Spencer Hart.
While Amsterdam and Rotterdam are more popular tourist destinations, The Hague is a fascinating mixture of the traditional and the modern. Situated on the North Sea coast and home to the Dutch parliament and to many museums and shops, it offers a variety of historic and cultural experiences. This is our guide to spending a day in The Hague.
Why Visit The Hague
There are several reasons to spend a day in The Hague (known locally as Den Haag). As well as being the seat of the Dutch government, the city hosts the International Court of Justice and the Permanent Court of Arbitration. These institutions are housed in elegant historical buildings and lend the city an air of gravitas.
The different neighbourhoods of The Hague are worth exploring. They include the artistic and bohemian area of Zeeheldenkwartier and the upmarket shopping district of Noordeinde. The city also has numerous museums and theatres.
One of the main attractions of The Hague is its proximity to the North Sea. The city boasts several sandy beaches over an 11 km coastline, including Scheveningen Beach, a hub for water sports, beachfront dining, and nightlife. A visit to the beach provides a pleasant contrast to the city’s urban atmosphere.
How To Spend A Day In The Hague
If you are planning to spend a day in The Hague, here are some places you should visit.
Binnenhof And The Ridderzaal
The Binnenhof is a historic complex of buildings that houses the Dutch Parliament. The Ridderzaal, or Knight’s Hall, is a central feature and a masterpiece of Gothic architecture. The Binnenhof’s history dates back to the 13th century, and guided tours offer insights into the Dutch political landscape and the functioning of the government.
Art lovers should visit the Mauritshuis Museum, which houses an exceptional collection of Dutch Golden Age paintings. Several works by renowned artists such as Vermeer, Rembrandt and Jan Steen are displayed in an elegant, light-filled, intimate 17th century palace.
Peace Palace And International Organisations
The Peace Palace symbolises The Hague’s international significance as a city of peace and justice. Home to the International Court of Justice and the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the palace’s architecture embodies its purpose. While you can’t enter the courtrooms, you can take guided tours of the grounds and learn about the role of the institutions in promoting global harmony.
For a unique visual experience, make your way to Panorama Mesdag. This massive cylindrical painting, created by Hendrik Willem Mesdag in the late 19th century, offers a panoramic view of the seaside village of Scheveningen as it would have been in 1881. Stand in the centre and it almost feels as if you are there!
At Scheveningen Pier you can enjoy spectacular coastal views, browse in shops, dine at restaurants, and even go bungee jumping! Nearby, the Sea Life Scheveningen aquarium provides a glimpse into marine life.
Eating Out In The Hague
The Hague offers diverse dining options, from traditional Dutch cuisine to international flavours. Try patat (Dutch-style fries) and the famed Dutch poffertjes (mini pancakes) at one of the city’s many cafés, restaurants and eateries.
How To Visit The Hague
The Hague is easily accessible from major cities in the Netherlands, with a well-connected network of road and railway lines. If you’re taking a day trip from Amsterdam, the journey takes around 45 minutes. The time from Rotterdam is about 30 minutes.
Once in The Hague, the city’s efficient tram and bus network makes it easy to navigate and reach the various attractions. Consider purchasing an OV-chipkaart, a reusable smart card that allows you to travel on public transport conveniently.
The city’s compact layout makes it perfect for exploring on foot or by bicycle. Many attractions are within walking distance of each other, and the flat landscape makes biking a pleasant and eco-friendly mode of transportation. Rentals for both bikes and electric scooters are also readily available, enabling you to explore the city at your own pace.
Spencer is a freelance travel writer with over 20 years experience producing written content for tourism-related businesses. An ex-pat Brit who now lives on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, he has visited over 40 countries in the world, but cites Miami Beach in the USA and Palm Cove in Australia as his favourite travel destinations.