Updated in September 2023
What could be better than a short break in these confusing times in Holland? With the ICE train, I am (almost) at sea in a good two hours - comfortable and environmentally friendly. As much as I love Amsterdam, this time it´s The Hague! The "little big city" has an impressive skyline, but at the same time, The Hague has retained its Dutch charm. I highly recommend it for a weekend trip.
The Hague is the seat of government of the Netherlands with many sights. The city is not quite as hip as Amsterdam, but it is quieter and, above all, cleaner. The big trump card is undoubtedly its location by the sea in the Scheveningen district, but more on that later. What does The Hague have to offer?
The Dutch Prime Minister has his office in the small tower building of The Hague's Binnenhof. This historic landmark in the centre of The Hague has been the political centre of the Netherlands for centuries. This is where politics is made. You can explore the magnificent courtyard free of charge; guided tours of the building cost €7.50 per person (as of May 2022).
The Binnenhof with the skyscrapers in the background is one of The Hague's most popular Instagram spots.
You can reach almost all of the city's sights on foot.
This most prominent museum in The Hague is located right next to the Binnenhof. As a "culture vulture when it comes to the old masters", it's not really my taste, but I wanted to visit it. Here you will find over 800 essential works from the 17th and 18th centuries, including the famous work by Jan Vermeer with the "Girl and the Pearl Earring" (the "Mona Lisa of the North"), which is marketed throughout the city. Of course, you can also see a real Rembrandt in the Mauritshuis. A must for lovers of classical art.
The exhibitions in this historic palace at the Lange Voorhout avenue are more to my taste. The extravagant chandeliers by Hans van Bentem (e.g., in the shape of a spider or a skull) particularly appeal to me - what a sharp contrast to the former royal rooms occupied by Queen Mother Emma. Otherwise, the permanent exhibition mainly features prints by Maurits Cornelius Escher (1898-1972). Works by Andy Warhol can also be admired until the end of May 2022. The entrance fee of 11 euros per adult (as of May 2022) is well worth it. The Escher Museum is just a few minutes walk from the Binnenhof and the Mauritshuis. Be sure to take a stroll along the elegant Lange Voorhout, home to many embassies.
The neoclassical building with its imposing tower looks like a memorial in our troubled times. It is located in green surroundings on Carnegieplein between the centre of The Hague and Scheveningen. It is easily accessible by tram (or on foot). The complex also includes, among others, the International Court of Justice and the Hague Academy of International Law. The small exhibition in the visitors' centre (free of charge) deals with war and peace. It is particularly thought-provoking in the current situation. Guided tours of the palace itself must be booked in advance.
The Hague from the top! The 132-metre-high residential and office building has the highest publicly accessible balcony in the Netherlands. The panorama terrace on the 42nd floor offers a fantastic view all the way to the North Sea in good weather. Admission to the outdoor platform (open from Thursday to Sunday) costs 12.50 EUR per person - absolutely worth while!
Holland in miniature has fascinated me since I was a child. In the park between the city centre and Scheveningen you can admire the Dutch highlights in miniature - absolutely worth seeing! Madurodam is open all year round, you can buy tickets here.
This seaside resort - a district of The Hague - has fascinated me with its pier since I was a child. A lot has happened here in recent years. You can overlook some construction sins when you walk (or jog) along the extensive sandy beach. Take a deep breath and watch the often choppy North Sea - pure relaxation. From the centre of The Hague, you can reach the sea in 20 to 30 minutes by tram 1 or 9 or bus 22. The landmark is the pier with the Ferris wheel, restored in 2016. Before you get there, you walk through an amusement mile with numerous food stalls and shops - not necessarily my taste. Still, the view at the end of the pier (or from the Ferris wheel) is always worth it.
The most beautiful building in Scheveningen is undoubtedly the traditional former Kurhaus, which now houses a five-star hotel.
Even more views? Then climb the 30-metre-high lighthouse with its 159 steps - a great workout that is rewarded with a beautiful view.
On the beach, you'll find one beach club after another. I enjoyed a snack at Buena Vista - not very cheap, but with a sea view and a chic atmosphere. There's certainly a lot going on here in summer, but I don't travel in July and August anyway. The atmosphere is much more relaxed in the early and late seasons (the sun was shining at the end of April).
Tip: Walk along the beautifully designed beach promenade towards the south beach; it's quieter there. A few minutes walk away is a chic little marina with numerous restaurants (more to follow). New resorts are being built at the end, next to the new Inntel Hotel. The architecture is impressive, but I was a bit disappointed inside.
A little gem, somewhat hidden in the dunes of Scheveningen. Here you'll find modern art at its best - primarily abstract sculptures, some of which can also be found on the chic beach promenade. Culture and beach fun - what an excellent combination.
Coffee break in The Hague
Cafés with large terraces are a dime a dozen in The Hague. However, I prefer the small cafés frequented more by locals than tourists. I discovered three of them more or less by chance during my explorations:
My absolute favourite in Frederikstraat (see also under "Shopping in The Hague"). A winding café in a former bank building with a lovely interior, deliciously healthy snacks and smoothies, and a relaxed atmosphere. One of those places where I could spend hours.
Discovered by chance - a very casual café near the Peace Palace. Delicious smoothies, snacks, and excellent coffee - what more could you want? A retreat for working on the laptop or chatting comfortably.
Chiqueolatte is chic, right next to the Escher Museum. Exquisite coffee and an excellent ambience for breakfast or a snack in between.
Feasting in The Hague
The Hague has a very international culinary scene, and the many Asian restaurants are particularly striking. You should find one in the marina if you want to eat well. "All the restaurants here are good," says the taxi driver who takes me to Waterproef. I can say the same for the restaurant mentioned above. I can confirm that, at least for the restaurant I mentioned. Great atmosphere with a view of the water, excellent dishes, and attentive service. I ate fish here for the first time in a long time and didn't regret it. The vinotheque with wines from all over the world is worth a visit.
If you like Indonesian food, the reasonably new Garuda Restaurant in the centre is certainly a good recommendation.
Shopping in The Hague
The Hague surprised me with very original shopping areas. A must is the chic Noordeinde right in the centre. In addition to the usual international brands, you can also find Dutch designs here. An eye-catcher is the Indigo Hotel in a former bank building - drop in for a coffee.
I liked Denneweg even better (it runs right next to the Escher Museum) with its charming shops and cafés. If you cross the canal (yes, there are canals in The Hague too!), you come to Frederikstraat, which is also worth visiting with the Barista Café.
The inner courtyard Haagsche Bluf in the centre with a market hall, small shops and cafés are also lovely.
The usual shopping streets in the centre of The Hague are not really my thing. However, "Le Passage" is chic, a small gallery with a glass roof and lovely boutiques and cafés.
Sleeping in The Hague
I stayed at the Leonardo Royal Den Haag Promenade, a modern four-star hotel in a quiet location between the city and the beach - highly recommended! I'll tell you about this hotel in my next article.
You can find more accommodation options on The Hague's official website.
On the road in The Hague
The Hague (about 60 km from Amsterdam) has an excellent and fast public transport network and plenty of parking garages.
As already mentioned, Scheveningen is straightforward to reach by public transport. From Hollands Spoor and The Hague Central stations, you can take trams 1,9,11 and the HTM bus 22, which will take you to the beach within 15 minutes. The trams and buses to Scheveningen run all day from 07:00 to 24:00, approximately every 10 minutes. Holland is a country of cyclists, so you can also cycle around the city. Have a look at Park & Bike.
My conclusion of The Hague
- Great city with lots of culture and greenery
- Interesting architectural mix
- Ideal combination of city and beach experience
- Excellent infrastructure
- Charming shopping areas with local flair
- Interesting gastronomic scene
So, off to The Hague!
If you intend to visit Amsterdam as well, have a look at my hotel tip.