The Hague (Den Haag or ‘s-Gravenhage in Dutch) is the parliamentary capital of the Netherlands. It’s also our home town. It’s not as famous as Amsterdam but we think there’s plenty here to keep you entertained for a day or two.
Below we’ve listed some of our favourite “tourist sights”. They’re also a lot of fun for locals too, so don’t ignore them if you’re living here!
Our first recommendation is to grab your museum card and head to the Panorama Mesdag – the most unique museum in The Hague, if not in all of Holland. We like to think of it as the IMAX cinema of the 19th century. It’s truly a must-see in The Hague.
Just 5-minutes away by foot is the Peace Palace (Vredespaleis). It’s home to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Most people just snap a picture of this historic building but it’s also possible to learn more at the visitors’ centre.
From the Peace Palace, you can either take Tram 1 to the beach and the seaside town of Scheveningen or to the centre of The Hague.
If you’re going downtown, get off at the “centrum” stop and take a stroll through the nearby courtyard of the Binnenhof – the historic seat of Dutch government for centuries. You can also get lunch nearby. There are a few options, depending on what you feel like.
- Something special? Try South of Houston, on Het Plein (the large, open square next to the Mauritshuis). The truffel risotto is amazing!
- Light lunch? Dudok café and brasserie serves a variety of light lunches and is famous for its apple cake (appeltaart). Another option (and one of our favourites) is ‘t Achterommetje. It’s tiny but they serve delicious soups and sandwiches.
- Fish ‘n’ Chips? For a takeaway meal, try the fish stand by the entrance to the Binnenhof. They have a few benches where you can eat your kibbeling or broodje haring.
While you’re in the area, you may also want to visit the tourist office. It’s located in the public library – a huge white building, just a 2 minute walk from the Binnenhof. They are open every day and can help you with hotel reservations and sightseeing recommendations.
In the afternoon, we recommend a visit to one or two of the following sights:
- M.C. Escher Museum– The works of Dutch graphic artist M.C. Escher are famous worldwide. Even if you don’t immediately recognize his name, you’ll certainly recognize his art once you’re inside. A visit to this museum is like a 2-for-1 deal, because it’s also a former palace. The Queen lived here until the 1990s. Each room reveals Escher’s art and also the history of the palace.
- Madurodam – A favourite of kids and adults alike. This fun park shows the Netherlands in miniature, from historic towns to canals with moving drawbridges and even a scaled model of Schiphol airport. It was totally renovated in 2012 and now has lots of interactive exhibits plus a playground. Madurodam is fun for the whole family but is especially suited to toddlers and kids up to about the age of 10.
- Mauritshuis Museum – An elaborate 17th century palace that’s filled with works by the masters of Dutch art, including Rembrandt and Vermeer. Get here around opening time to avoid the crowds, and plan to spend 1-2 hours taking in the paintings. NOTE: this museum is closed until mid 2014.
- Museum of Photography (Fotomuseum) – Photography fans will enjoy the modern art on show at the Photomuseum. Exhibitions change regularly. Tram 17 will take you there. Get on board at the Central train station or outside the Binnenhof.
- Ooievaart Canal Tour – The canals of The Hague aren’t as famous as those of other cities, but they are worth seeing. Boat trips in English are held every Saturday afternoon and during the rest of the week there is a booklet with English, Spanish, German and Spanish translations of the Dutch commentary.