Sometimes you want it all from a destination, I know I do! I love a beach break with culture, history, a good shopping fix and foodie feast thrown in. The Hague in The Netherlands is the perfect holiday destination to do all this and more. Read my top tips for visiting and the best things to do in The Hague.
Perhaps your love for visiting Holland came from numerous visits to Amsterdam, a place you have come to know and love, but you want to explore new cities too? Or, you are visiting for the first time and want to explore as much as you can? Whatever your reasons for reading, I’ve shared the best things to see in The Hague in this post.
Where is The Hague
If you’ve only ever visited Amsterdam, you may well be thinking what is The Hague and more importantly, where is The Hague?! The Hague is the capital of the province of South Holland, located on the Western Coast and, is best known for being the seat of the Dutch parliament and second city of The United Nations.
It is known as ‘the city of peace and justice’, but I soon discovered there is more to The Hague than meets the eye!
Why you should visit & What things to do in The Hague
Dutch Royal Family
If The Hague (or Den Haag as it’s known in Dutch) is good enough for the Dutch Royal Family it is good enough for you. Despite being the third largest city in The Netherlands (after Amsterdam and Rotterdam) The Hague is where the Dutch Royal Family calls home.
When you visit London you have afternoon tea with the Queen, so why not spend some time eating stroopwafels with the Dutch Royal Family at The Palace Noordeinde (‘Paleis Noordeinde’)?
Tip – For a regal stay of your own stay at the five star Hotel des Indes. I was lucky enough to explore the luxurious Palace Suite and enjoy afternoon tea at Hotel des Indes on my first visit to The Hague. I’m still holding out for my invitation to come and stay…
For a central scenic stay, The Park Hotel Den Haag (where I stayed) backs the Palace gardens and is perfectly located to enjoy bike rides and picnics around the gardens.
The Hague – City by the Sea
The Hague is Holland’s city by the sea, need I say more? Or should I say, Royal City by the Sea! I love a city break combined beach break, talk about two trips for the price of one!
Read more city by the sea breaks in:
As far as tourist attractions in The Hague go, The Hague’s seaside resort Schevenigen was the allure and intrigue for me to visit, after I learned all about it at my first Visit Holland Event.
Us Brits love talking about the weather and given the unpredictable British weather, we just can’t pass up an opportunity to enjoy a beach break. The fact you can do a two-in-one beach-city-break visiting The Hague is an added bonus.
A stopover in The Hague is also great for those flying long haul to The Netherlands, as a day or two on the beach helps you unwind after exploring the bustling cities.
With 11 kilometres of sandy beaches to enjoy, you won’t feel the need to race other tourists for a coveted beach spot!
Holland’s most famous beach area Scheveningen has a host of fun activities and hidden gems. Enjoying the
During WWII, the Dutch discovered the identity of German Nazi spies by asking them to pronounce ‘Scheveningen’ and, if you try and pronounce it yourself after hearing it said in Dutch tongue I’m sure you’ll see why this became a full proof way to suss out the undercover Nazis! It’s little facts like this that I find really interesting and, if you hire bikes in Scheveningen you can even bike over to see a former WWII bunker.
Interested in The Netherlands during the war? – Check out my post: Rotterdam Old Town Values in a City of Skyscrapers to find out how Rotterdam became a city reborn after destruction in WWII.
History and Culture in The Hague
There’s more to the city by the sea! History buffs and art enthusiasts rejoice!
Move over Mona Lisa, it’s all about Vermeer’s Girl with the Pearl Earring in The Hague. This beautiful painting is located in The Mauritshuis Museum, home to some wonderful Renaissance art collections.
If the thought of nudging your way through the queues and selfie stick armed tourists has put you off seeing world-renowned art such a The Louvre’s Mona Lisa, you can rest assure you won’t have this problem at The Mauritshuis. If anything, I had ample space to admire Vermeer’s intricate detail and use of light in this painting.
Admiring this painting, I couldn’t help but think how ahead of his time Vermeer was on the highlight makeup trend!
The Mauritshuis is officially known as the Royal Picture Gallery and, 2019 is a fantastic year to visit The Mauritshuis as an entire Rembrandt collection is on display to mark the 350th anniversary of the artist’s death, bringing the Dutch Golden Age to life once more.
See if you can spot classics such as Rembrandt’s ‘Self Portrait’, ‘The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Nicolaes Tulp’ and The Hague’s other famous painting ‘The Goldfinch.’
If like me, you like to immerse yourself in contemporary art, keep reading..!
The Coolest Contemporary Art
The headline speaks for itself, but you will be sure to find the coolest contemporary art museums in The Hague.
Head to Beelden aan Zee Museum (Sculptures by the Sea) to find hidden gems in The Hague’s Scheveningen sand dunes. Run by volunteers, there are also fairytale sculptures to be found in the Museum’s free sculpture garden.
One of the absolute highlights of my trip to The Hague was visiting Museum Voorlinden, located a short bus ride away from The Hague Central Station.
I’ve always loved contemporary art as I find it so immersive and open to personal perception. When I visit London, a highlight is always visiting The Saatchi Gallery in Chelsea, but I think Museum Voorlinden is my new favourite.
I adored every mind
Of course, I had to grab a picture of Yayoi Kasuma’s famous pumpkin sculpture too. The Yayoi Kasuma exhibition will be at Museum Voorlinden until the 1st September. Don’t miss it!
Korean artist Do Ho Suh’s ‘Almost Home’ exhibition in Museum Voorlinden is also a very interesting collection. Reimagining the meaning of ‘home’, Do Ho Suh uniquely demonstrates the concept of life journeys represented by different rooms in a home as passages through life. Intricately designed fabrics depict lightweight portable homes, portraying the complexities and delicate nature of life. I was mesmerised by the characteristics of this exhibition, observing every tiny stitch woven to create beautiful windows, as well as, little details like plug sockets and door handles; day-to-day details far removed from our conscious everyday lives.
The Less is More exhibition takes our subconscious to a whole new level.
Exploring zero waste and minimalist movements, the exhibition opens eyes to simplistic pleasures and engages meaning to often overlooked everyday life.
As I walked into the exhibition, my eyes glanced over what I thought to be different coloured flowers on twigs stuck to the wall. I was drawn to the colours and I admired the pretty display from a distance. As I drew closer, I realised they were not pretty flowers at all, but different coloured plastic bags attached to the trees, which to me carried a whole new meaning. Knotted individually to the twigs and seen close up, the plastic bags now resembled dog waste bags, not a pretty image at all, giving me a stark reminder of today’s world as we know it. Flowers replaced by plastic and nature destroyed by consumerism is the stuff of nightmares and, this pretty image was destroyed in an instance.
Demonstrating that things cannot be judged on face value, the Less is More Exhibition and, Voorlinden Museum overall encourages us to open our minds to new possibilities. Easily one of the best things to do in The Hague, I loved visiting Museum Voorlinden.
Make sure you head to the Voorlinden restaurant for a hot drink and apple pie, you won’t regret it!
Shopping in The Hague
Minimalism, overconsumption and care for the environment are also considering factors evident in The Hague’s retailers.
Store BIJ Priester has a kledingbibliotheek, a fashion library where customers can subscribe to rent out clothes in a similar way to borrowing books. The idea behind the fashion library is to prevent the over-consumption of fashion and to give consumers the opportunity to ‘try before they buy’ the items rented.
Collectiv is a concept store I really couldn’t get enough of during my first trip to The Hague. Quite honestly, I could have spent all day exploring the random items and touching everything! Brought together by local artists and retailers from Holland’s outdoor markets, the store has a whole host of artisan goods, unique handmade and nostalgic quirky products to enthrall both locals and tourists.
There’s even an eco section where you can pick up environmentally friendly travel essentials, such as metal straws and bottles to prevent plastic waste.
Collectiv provides retail space for around 20 local designers, giving local entrepreneurs the opportunity to sell their products in an otherwise big corporate commercial environment.
Whilst big high street brands such as Topshop, Primark and H&M are present in The Hague, the city also has a number of independents and vintage stores, giving shoppers more variety. In fact, on my shopping trips to Holland I’ve discovered a few Dutch high street chains I love, such as Sissyboy in Eindhoven and Haarlem and my newest favourite, Cotton Club in The Hague.
Whether you want to explore the cute boutique stores in Noordeinde or the Court District, the designer stores in the Neo-Renaissance Nieuwe Haagse Passage (De Passage) or the many high-street department stores in Grote Marktstraat, there is plenty of variety available to suit all fashionistas. You can read more about Shopping in The Hague here.
Political Hub The Hague
Something of a political hub, The Hague is more widely known for being the second city of The United Nations and home of the International Criminal Court.
Whether you are into politics or not, these iconic Dutch buildings are something to be marvelled at and make for some great snaps for your holiday album.
The politics side of The Hague can make the city sound very serious indeed, but on visiting you will soon discover the city has a young trendy vibe, which for me is the real draw.
If you’re looking for some peace away from politics (I don’t blame you), head to the Peace Palace. In the 19th century, The Hague became a place where people concerned about war found solace as The Netherlands is a small diplomatic country. The Peace Palace became a place of
Near the entrance, there is a Peace Tree with little notes written and tied to the tree from visitors from all over the world. The Peace Palace Gardens are particularly beautiful in the spring and summer months.
| Why not combine a visit The Hague with a trip to the tulip gardens of Keukenhof – Read more|
Diverse Food Scene & Asian Influences in The Hague
Scenic rooftop bars, cute brunch spots and an infusion of Asian cuisine makes The Hague a wonderfully diverse place to dine.
During my recent visit to The Hague, I was pleased to discover Lange Voorhout (Europe’s first Avenue) had been transformed into Sushi Joy Festival. The event brought a variety of Asian infused dishes, street performers and games, enjoyed by all ages. The weather was glorious and I enjoyed a few refillable Disaronno Sours before trying Takoyaki (Japanese profiteroles filled with octopus, spring onion, ginger and mayonnaise.) I love trying new cuisines and, I thoroughly enjoyed my first Japanese takoyaki profiteroles. I have been craving them ever since!
| Read about my night discovering Japan with the Hokkaido Tourist Board |
The Hague celebrates a mix of cultures including Japanese, Chinese and Indonesian. It’s little wonder the city has its own Chinatown.
Other than enjoying the takoyaki profiteroles, the real highlight of dining in The Hague is a meal at Encore by Simonis Restaurant in Scheveningen. It’s a meal that I haven’t stopped thinking about since I returned and, whilst I was only visiting for a short break, I can see Encore by Simonis easily being one of the best restaurants in The Hague. This Asian inspired restaurant has an assortment of fish and meat dishes, from sushi to tacos, all with small plate servings to encourage social dining. I want to share more in a separate post, but what I will say, dining at Encore by Simonis is not to be missed!
For all the rooftop vibes head to Bleyenberg, which has incredible views over the Grote Mark (large market square.) Bleyenberg’s pink restaurant, complete with staple Dutch plant-aesthetic interiors is a great place to dine on Mediterranean cuisine, before hitting the cocktails in the basement club.
We also enjoyed a very nice brunch in Jamey Bennett. You will not find a shortage of cafes and brunch venues when visiting The Hague.
Food events and festivals are a regular occurrence in The Hague and you can browse all The Hague’s upcoming events on This is The Hague website.
How to get to The Hague
There are three ferry routes from England to Holland, with approximately 30 trips per week, meaning you can sit back, relax and await your arrival in Holland. Docking at Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Hook of Holland, it couldn’t be easier to reach The Hague. You can find out more about ferry travel to Holland on the Ferry Easy Website (click here.)
Situated the perfect distance from the two largest cities, Amsterdam and Rotterdam, The Hague is reachable from under an hour from both; making it the ideal city to visit during a trip to The Netherlands. Travelling by train between the Dutch cities is the easiest way to get around and, the Dutch rail network is seamless to navigate. The flag options on the ticket machines make it easy to adjust the language to buy tickets on the go, or alternatively, tickets can be bought ahead on Eurail or, on the Holland Interrail site.
Other transport options in The Hague itself include buses and trams around the city, including Scheveningen.
Alternatively, make like the Dutch and bike around the city using the many bike hire facilities. Biking was never going to be one of the most unusual things to do in The Hague, but it sure is one of the most satisfying, especially, when you get to experience nature and finish the day with a picnic in the park.
Visiting The Hague, Netherlands’ City by the Sea
To top off a wonderful weekend in The Hague, The Netherlands only went and won Eurovision during my stay! As a Brit, it’s not often I watch Eurovision (the UK always do terribly and no surprise came last for 2019) so I was so pleased The Netherlands had a cracking result with the Duncan Laurence track. The Hague was a very happy place indeed! See below:
The Hague has so much to offer all types of tourists, from history buffs, fashionistas and brunching bloggers like me!
A city and beach break combined in Holland’s Royal City by The Sea – This is The Hague!
The Hague is one of the best cities in The Netherlands, one of my favourites anyway. But, If you’re seeking travel inspiration for other cities in The Netherlands to visit or you are just looking for things to do in The Netherlands in general, check out my Netherlands Travel blog archives.