The Hague is an interesting city with a wide variety of things to see and do. The contrast between historical and modern buildings is one of the things that I liked the most in the city. In addition, it is one of the most important cities in Europe for being the headquarters of many international organizations. Although Amsterdam is par excellence the most touristic city, The Hague offers many beautiful places and it is worth spending a couple of days.
In this post I will tell you about the 10 essential things to see and do in The Hague , I will add tips to save money in the city and interesting accommodation options .
1. Start getting to know the city with a Free tour of The Hague. Free!
This interesting free tour of The Hague offers you the chance to visit the most essential places in the city with a guide in Spanish. You will learn the secrets of the Orange-Nassau family, the dynasty that played a very important role in the history of the Netherlands.
2. Stroll through the courtyards of the Binnenhof
Binnenhof is a group of buildings that surround the lake and are used as a meeting place for the General Courts of the Netherlands. This place is the typical postcard photo of the city. You will also find the office of the Prime Minister and the headquarters of the Ministry of General Affairs.
The Gothic castle is the central element and dates back to the 13th century as the residence of the Counts of Holland. Although you cannot visit the interior of all the buildings, it is very worthwhile to walk around and get to know the area.
3. Enter the Ridderzaall, the hall of the Knights
This knights’ hall was built between the 13th and 14th centuries as a party hall, but was also used as a market or courtroom.
You will find some curious wooden faces with huge ears representing a courtroom. They are the so-called listeners who forced people to tell the truth in trials.
The decoration of the stained glass windows represents the coats of arms of various cities in the country and of various noble families. If you don’t know what this building is about, it might look like a church.
4. Visit the Peace Palace
This building was built in 1907 with a mixture of Gothic and Neoclassical styles. It has an international decoration with contributions from different countries around the world.
This building houses the International Court of Justice, the Permanent Court of Arbitration and the Academy of International Law.
If you want to know a little more about the history of this place, go to the visitor center where you can see a documentary about the buildings and their functions.
5. Climb the Grote of Sint-Jacobskerk tower for a nice view of the city
Grote of Sint-Jacobskerk is a beautiful church that you must visit in The Hague. It is one of the oldest buildings preserved in the city. It was built in the 14th century, although elements were added, including its tower of more than 100 meters. The tower has unique characteristics, it is the only one with a hexagonal shape in the Netherlands.
Look at the carillon. It has 51 bells that were installed in 1959. Apart from the church, which is beautiful, you cannot miss climbing its tower to have beautiful views of the city. You can visit the tower from Thursday to Sunday.
6. Get lost in the Haagse Bos park
This beautiful park is the lung of the city. It looks more like a forest because it has been forbidden to deforest it for centuries and they have allowed it to grow naturally. It is incredible to have a place near the center where you can get lost in a lush forest, stroll along the riverbank and even discover the Huis Ten Bosch Palace, a beautiful building that is located inside the park. The Palace is one of the official residences of the Dutch royal family.
7. Do not miss the Japanese garden in Clingendael Park
In the middle of Clingendael Park you will find a beautiful little Japanese garden. It is the only Japanese garden in the Netherlands and is one of the most beautiful places to see in the city. You can only visit it from April 30 to October 15. Admission is free.
8. See the cylindrical painting at Panorama Mesdag
In The Hague you can see the oldest cylindrical painting in the world. It is 14 meters high and more than 120 meters long, and you will find it exposed on a kind of dome, in the attic of the house where the artist lived and worked.
It is the work of the painter Hendrik Willem Mesdag, specialized in marine themes. It shows the view of the beach of the seaside district of Scheveningen, which in ancient times was a separate town from The Hague. There are also several paintings by Mesdag himself on display on the lower floor. The entrance to the museum house costs 10 euros and is well worth a visit.
9. Visit the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag
The building where the museum is located was designed by the Dutch architect Hendrik Berlage. Inside you will find objects related to the history of the city, as well as a contemporary art exhibition where the works of Mondriaan stand out.
There is also a collection of musical instruments. Admission costs 14.50 euros.
10. See where the Dutch royal family works
Noordeinde Palace started out as a medieval farmhouse, later became a residential palace for the kings, and today the palace is used for working on state affairs. And although the Palace cannot be visited inside, its gardens can be visited. They are open to the public.
11. Go up to the viewpoint of Het Strijkijzer
Near the train station you will find the third tallest building in The Hague, the Het Strijkijzer. It measures 132 meters and is an office and residential building. It has a viewpoint with fantastic views of the city and you can see even the sea. The entrance to the viewpoint costs 9 euros and includes a drink at the bar.
12. Enjoy a day at the beach in The Hague
The Hague has more than 11 km of coastline. It is the only city in the country that has a beach.
If you visit the city in summer you can take the opportunity to take a bath. The other times of the year, although the temperature is not good, it is a great plan to enjoy a walk along its long beaches. There is also a large covered pier that juts out about 300 meters into the sea with shops and restaurants inside. There’s even a Ferris wheel!