Are you planning a visit to The Hague in The Netherlands? You’re probably wondering what is there to do in the Dutch government city. We wrote this extensive guide to help you plan the most fun things to do in The Hague.
The best things to do in The Hague are:
- Visiting Historical Center
- Walk around Lange Voorhout
- Visit Royal Palace Noordeinde and Palace Gardens
- Museum Escher in the Palace (Former Royal Palace)
- Visit Binnenhof; One of the oldest Parliament buildings in the world
- Canal tour The Hague
- Scheveningen Beach
- Kijkduin Beach
- Madurodam Park
- Mauritshuis (Museum)
- The Hague Historical Museum
- GEM Museum of Contemporary Art
- Peace Palace
- Mesdag Collection Museum
- Panorama Mesdag
- Louwman Car Museum
- Museum Voorlinden
- The Hague Tower (Strijkijzer)
- The Hague Market
- Omniversum Circle Theater
- Museon Culture and Science Museum
- The Pier Scheveningen
- Japanese Garden
- Prisoners Port Museum
- Museum Sculptures at Sea
Let’s find out more about these fantastic things to do in The Hague!
Best Things to do in The Hague
The Hague is the third-largest city of The Netherlands. Amsterdam and Rotterdam are the only two cities that are much bigger than The Hague. However, it is one of the most important cities in The Netherlands.
Want to know more about The Hague? You can also read our article about What’s The Hague Famous For?
It is the city where the Dutch Royal Family lives. The Dutch parliament sits in The Hague, making it the most important political capital of the country. The international role of the city is also significant, with many embassies, the international criminal court, and the international court of Justice, all located in The Hague. The city is one of the most multicultural cities in The Netherlands, with over 100 different nationalities living peacefully together in the city.
The multicultural and political environment and the unique location of the city make The Hague an exciting city to visit. So here it is, the complete list with the best things to do in The Hague!
Visiting Historical Center
The origins of the city The Hague lay in the 13th century. Around 1248 they started to built the palace what we know call Binnenhof, the parliament building. A few years before, there was already a small village around this area which was called Die Haghe. People say that the name The Hague refers to this old village. Today you can still visit Binnenhof and the Knights Hall (Ridderzaal in Dutch).
The old historical center is not too big and easy to walk around. You can explore medieval buildings, and learn more about the rich and royal history of the city.
Walk Around Lange Voorhout
Lange Voorhout is one of the main streets in the old center of The Hague. The L shaped street is around 400 meters long and connects the parliament building with the former Royal Palace. Alongside the street, you’ll find many historical buildings dating back to the 17th century. You still can see the importance of economic growth during the Golden Age, when the Dutch economy flourished because they were the world’s biggest country regarding marine trade.
Some of the most notable buildings along this street are:
- Monastery Church
- Theatre Diligentia
- Hotel des Indes
- Former Royal Palace
Museum Escher in the Palace (Former Royal Palace)
The design of the palace dates back to 1760, designed as a private residence for the Dutch politician Patras. The building became a Royal Palace after former Queen Emma bought the palace in 1896. An extensive renovation followed before the Royal Family moved in around 1901.
The Royal Family sold the palace in 1991 to the municipality of The Hague.
Today you can visit the palace as a museum. Some interesting details of the first renovation are still visible. When entering the palace, you might notice a beautiful staircase heading to the first and second floors. However, these stairs only reach the first floor. The other part is an optical illusion. The Queen didn’t have any rooms on the second floor, and she felt like people didn’t need to use the beautiful stairs.
Escher in The Palace
The former Royal Palace is not only interesting if you want to know more about the Dutch Royal Family. You can also visit a permanent exhibition Escher in the palace. MC Escher is a renowned Dutch graphic artist who plays with perspective and reality. It is truly fascinating to see his works.
Binnenhof is one of the oldest Parliament buildings in the world. The building dates back to the 13th century. It is still the building where the Dutch parliament sits. You’ll also find the ministry of General Affairs, and the office of the prime minister in this building. The old part of Binnenhof is open to the public. Until a few years ago, you could even drive around the inner square. Today it is only possible to walk around or ride through the square on your bicycle.
Right in the middle of the square, you’ll find the former castle, which we refer to as Ridderzaal (Knights Hall).
Ridderzaal is the oldest building in The Hague. Today it is still in use for ceremonial events. For example, during the annual start of the new political year. During this event, which we call Prinsjesdag, the King speeches to the people from the throne in the Ridderzaal.
Visiting the Ridderzaal is possible with a guided tour, which you need to book in advance (link to the official site) because you’ll visit an official parliament building.
The heart of peace and Justice. The unique building opened its doors in 1913 and is since then home to the international court of Justice and the permanent court of Arbitration.
The building is interesting to visit with a guided tour, where you can learn more about the different cases the courts working on. You can also visit the peace palace library and the beautiful gardens in front of the building.
Royal Palace Noordeinde and Palace Gardens
The Dutch Royal Family lives in The Hague, and they have several palaces around the city. The two main palaces are Noordeinde and Huis ten Bosch. The King and his family use Huis ten Bosch as their private residence. It is not possible to visit this castle. You can visit the city park next to the castle, but you won’t see much of Huis ten Bosch.
Royal Palace Noordeinde is the King’s working palace. The palace is in the heart of The Hague’s city center on the street Noordeinde (hence the name of the palace). A few days a year, the palace is open for visitors (dates vary every year). The other days it stays close. However, you can walk by the palace and enjoy its beauty from the outside.
Palace Gardens are the backyard of Palace Noordeinde and is actually a popular city park for the locals. The park is open between sunrise and sunset, and it is fun to spend some time here relaxing in the sun, overlooking the palace and Royal Stables.
Canal Tour The Hague
In the old days, the canal belt in The Hague was as extensive as how you find it now in Amsterdam. Connecting the North Sea with the city, and the city with the rivers leading to Amsterdam and other cities. However, many canals are closed and turned into roads, to make the city more accessible in modern times.
Luckily the outside canals are still accessible. A canal tour around the city will take you around 2 hours — a great way to learn more about The Hague. We recommend booking your tour via Boat Tour The Hague, which is a small company run by locals.
The most famous beach in The Netherlands is part of The Hague. Scheveningen is a small village, which you’ll reach in 15 to 20 minutes from The Hague City Center. The beach has the closest density of beach clubs in the country and stretches from Scheveningen Harbor to the Dunes in the direction of Wassenaar.
Scheveningen Beach is divided into different parts with different unique things to do.
- Sports Beach, which is next to Scheveningen harbor and the best place to do several watersports. You also find a huge beach stadium here, where several international beach volleyball tournaments held throughout the year.
- Boulevard Beach located between the two most famous landmarks of Scheveningen; Kurhaus Hotel and The Pier. This part is probably the most popular. The Pier is a unique food market, and a place for daredevils; you can go bungee jumping from the top of the Pier, above the north-sea!
- Black Trail Beach (Zwarte Pad) starts at the end of the boulevard and the more quiet part of Scheveningen. You’ll find many trendy beach clubs here, during the day there’s not much going on, an excellent place for relaxing. But don’t let it fool you. Close to sunset, you’ll notice the volume of the music is turned up, and the parties are starting. Almost every day during the summer months, the quiet Zwarte Pad transforms into a trendy club scene at night.
Not many people know that Scheveningen also has another part. It is on the southern side of Scheveningen harbor. Zuiderstrand is a genuinely local beach. You just go to Zuiderstrand for a unique beach experience. There are a few beach bars on this part of the beach. One of the beach bars is Strandtent Zuid, since a few years rated as one of the top beach bars in The Netherlands.
A bit further down south along the coastline, you’ll find Kijkduin. Another district in The Hague. Kijkduin is known as a local beach, but you’ll also find people outside The Hague visiting the beach. It is easily reachable from other parts in the country, and much more quiet than Scheveningen Beach. Kijkduin has a few beach bars, which are great for having a drink and a bite. However, the beach is best known as the best Kitesurfing spot in The Hague.
A few kilometers from Kijkduin, near the village Ter Heijde, you’ll find a peninsula known as Sand Motor. A science project from the Dutch government to research if we can protect the coastline and country more naturally. The Sand Motor drops large amounts of sand into the sun, avoiding disrupting the seabeds. A plus side from this semi-artificial peninsula it is his form and the new tides, Creating perfect conditions for kitesurfers.
The peninsula is also a unique place for walking along the coastline. Make sure always to pay attention to the local guidelines and changing tides.
We already mentioned it when we wrote about Scheveningen Beach, but this unique place is worth mentioning again. When you think of Scheveningen, you think of The Pier. First built as a wooden promenade in 1900, and a famous landmark ever since. Offering hotels, restaurants, and many other things to do.
A few years ago, there was not much to do on the Pier, and The Hague was talking about demolishing it because it wasn’t safe to enter anymore. However, a group of entrepreneurs invested in The Pier and developed it into the unique place it is today. Luckily this famous landmark was saved!
A unique park in The Hague, close to Scheveningen, is Madurodam. When you don’t have much time to visit The Netherlands, but when you’re keen to visit all the Dutch highlights, Madurodam is the place where you want to go. You won’t see everything in its true form, but this miniature park did some magnificent building! They created an actual miniature landscape of the most famous highlights in The Netherlands.
A unique building located next to the Dutch parliament building of Binnenhof. Mauritshuis is a museum you must visit while in The Hague. They offer an extensive collection of some of the best Dutch artists from the Golden Age.
Unique works from Rembrandt, Rubens, Coorte, Vermeer, and many others are on display. The most significant work at the museum is Vermeers Girl with the Pearl Earring.
The Hague Historical Museum
When you’re interested in the history and development of The Hague city and its surroundings, the historical museum might interest you. The Hague Historical Museum is not your everyday ‘timeline’ museum, where you can find out what happened when. The museum offers some genuinely exceptional art. You’ll get some unique insides of the cities development while visiting the museum.
GEM Museum of Contemporary Art
Also known as Gemeentemuseum and one of the most important contemporary art museums in The Netherlands. The museum has over 160 thousand different artworks in its collection. Not all of them are continuously on display, though. Permanent exhibitions are artworks of the renowned artist Mondriaan and an exhibition about the famous blue Delft porcelain art.
Mesdag Collection Museum
Jan Willem Mesdag was one of the most famous painters ever lived in The Hague. He painted and collected different artworks together with his wife. Today you can visit their old collection in the museum located next to their old house.
Mesdag was not only a collector of art but also a renowned painter. One of his most famous paintings is the 360 painting Panorama Mesdag. A panoramic painting of Scheveningen in 1881.
Louwman Car Museum
When you’re into cars, old or new, big or small. Just cars. Make sure to visit the Louwman Museum. This museum shows the private collection of the Louwman family. It offers a unique view of the development of cars over the years. Great to walk around and enjoy some of the unique cars in the world.
We recommend to take a guided tour, so you learn even more about the different cars that are on display in the museum. Some have a truly remarkable story!
A unique and new museum, officially not located in The Hague. But in the nearby town Wassenaar. About 20 minutes by car from The Hague. Museum Voorlinden has such unique artworks, and we felt it was essential to add to this list of highlights.
The museum connects art, nature, people, and architecture. Some of the unique artworks remind a bit of the work of M.C. Escher; they all play with perspective and reality.
The Hague Tower (Strijkijzer)
The Skyline of The Hague is not as impressive as many other international cities. Or maybe it is. You won’t find many skyscrapers in The Hague. A few tall buildings, but for the rest, it is just flat like the rest of The Netherlands 😉
The Hague Tower is one of the highest buildings in the city. With a height of 132 meters. The restaurant located on the top floor is official, the highest restaurant in The Netherlands. Offering a great view of the city and the region and a unique place to have dinner!
The Hague Market
Learning about the multicultural part of The Hague? Visiting The Hague Market is your best place to go. The biggest open-air market in Europe, offering fresh food, vegetables, clothes, and everything you need or not need. A unique market, where every culture of the city is represented, with their food and fresh products.
Omniversum Circle Theater
A wide-screen film theater with unique and spectacular films on display. The dome sized screen reaches halfway to the dome (180 degrees), and the surround sound system with over 36 speakers offering a unique film experience. A must visit when you love going to the movies! You won’t find the typical blockbusters at this cinema. The films on display are mostly educational movies about the planet, animals, and nature.
Museon Culture and Science Museum
Visiting The Hague with kids? Museon is a great place to go, learn more about the planet, and how to treat this with respect. The permanent exhibition inspired by the climate goals of the united nations learns what we can do to reach these goals. And tell more about the significant climate challenges of this time.
Today visiting the Pier, you can have a great time. A unique food market, bungee jumping, A Ferris wheel, and even a hotel; The Pier Suites, with exceptional views over the North Sea, a great place to spend the night!
Clingendael Park is a unique city park located between The Hague and Wassenaar. The park is excellent for a walk into the forest and leaving the busy sounds of the city behind.
A few weeks per year, the park’s highlight, Japanese Garden, is open for the public. A unique garden with beautiful flowers and trees. Every year the opening times vary, but when you’re visiting The Hague during the spring, we recommend visiting the Japanese Garden. Check the official website of the park for the latest information.
Prisoners Port Museum
As you know, The Hague’s history dates back a long time. The prison gate is an official part of the Binnenhof. However, today, the streets look different than a few hundred years ago. Where you can learn more about how they dealt with prisoners back in the day. Interesting to learn what kind of punishment there were and what the difference was between rich and poor prisoners. The museum is on the opposite side of Binnenhof.
Museum Sculptures at Sea
Walking around Scheveningen, you might stumble up some sculptures located on the boulevard. These are part of the Museum sculptures at Sea. A museum completely devoted to the modern art of sculptures. You can visit the museum building inside and enjoy their collection of more then 5000 different contemporary sculptures.
Best Way To Get Around The Hague
Getting around The Hague is straightforward. When you’re in the city center, it is easy to walk around and enjoy the beautiful city buildings. If you’re planning a visit to Scheveningen or other parts a bit out of the city, you can either use the public transport network of The Hague (which is excellent) or rent a bicycle or scooter. Both options are a relaxed way of transportation and getting around the city. When you’re not eager to drive around yourself, you are probably better of using public transport.
Use the website of HTM (Public Transport Company) for more information about public transport in The Hague.
When you’re planning your trip to The Netherlands, The Hague is probably not the only city you’re visiting. We wrote several articles about the country which you might find helpful;
- 26 Best Cities in The Netherlands
- Best Time to Visit The Netherlands
- How many days do you need in The Netherlands?
- What is Keukenhof Famous For?
You can also check out all our articles about The Netherlands.