As a self-professed political geek who did Model United Nations in high school, the Hague holds a lot of gems for political geeks in terms of international institutions (including the International Criminal Court) and Dutch political institutions. Similarly, for movie geeks, this will show you some of the highlights of the filming locations used for the Hitman’s Bodyguard (2017) in the Hague.
Many of the international institutions of the Hague are a bit spread throughout the city, so I’ve chosen to set this guide up as a self-guided biking tour of the Hague showing off political highlights of the Hague.
This biking route of the Hague’s most famous institutions is about 16 kilometres, including biking to/from Den Haag Central. I estimate that it should take about 2 hours to complete with stopping off. I don’t account for time entering the institutions, just stopping to see them from a distance.
You’ll find rough biking directions in black although I recommend using Google Maps to navigate by bike (you’ll need data). Please observe all applicable traffic laws, pull over to let others pass if you’re pulling over, and stay in the bike lane.
It is not fully possible to get close to many of these buildings as they’re active government buildings that are generally not open to the public. You can typically visit most of these institutions (not including the prison) during specific holidays. You have the best likelihood of visiting the ICC as well as the Binnenhof. You’ll find more information in the applicable sections.
Beginning Route: Den Haag Centraal
If you’re visiting the Hague just for a day, you can take the train to Den Haag Centraal. If you have an OVFiets subscription, you can rent a bike for a few euros.
If you’re a tourist, I recommend heading towards the Babylon
Turn right onto Turfmarkt prior to turning left onto Bezuidhoutweg (which turns into Herengracht then Korte Poten). You might need to walk your bike down Korte Poten, which is full of cute shops and cafes. Turn right onto Hofweg then make a right to enter the Binnenhof courtyard.
The Binnenhof is one of the gems of the Hague and the oldest House of Parliament still in use. Within this gorgeous building that dates back to the 13th century,
Even if you don’t book a tour in advance, you can still admire the Binnenhof from its beautiful courtyard, which is open to bikers and pedestrians. From within the courtyard, you can see the differences in architecture depending on the period of Dutch history (including the Spanish and French occupations).
Once you pass through the other gate of the Binnenhof, make a right. You’ll make a left on Heulstraat before the street curves prior to making a right onto Noordeinde.
Paleis Noordeinde is the Dutch King’s working palace located in the heart of the city
The best way to see the palace without much effort to look through the fence with the rest of commoners from Noordeinde. This beautiful street in the Hague is home to the Hague’s poshest shops where you might spot your
Continue going towards the right direction away from
The Peace Palace (Vredespaleis) is the gem of the Hague. This beautiful building in the Hague often included in films focusing on the Hague is where countries often debate problematic regions that both countries claim to in an attempt to avoid war.
The interior (dating back to 1913) is absolutely beautiful. You can read my guide on how to get into the Peace Palace although I warn that it’s not easy. At a minimum, see the peace flame in front of the grounds and admire the Peace Palace from the gates.
Make a right on Carnegieplein and make a right onto Laan van Meerdervoort. Make a right onto Carnegielaan and make a left onto Tobias Asserlaan, which turns into Johan de Wittlaan. The road comes to a T and you’ll make a right. OPCW is on the other side of the street and they’re not overly fond of photos.
The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is an intergovernmental institution that intends to oversee the elimination of chemical weapons. They verify adherence to the convention through declarations and inspirations.
This organisation is not open to the public (beyond select days), but it won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2013. Avoid getting too close to the building as security is quite tight.
You’ll need to cross the street to be able to view the Europol building, which is visible from the OPCW building.
Europol is the European Union
Although the agency doesn’t have the ability to arrest, member states can do so based on the information. Similarly, you can’t get overly close to the building, which is generally closed to the public. It’s viewable from the sidewalk. Security is tight here, so stay cool.
Walk your bike along the sidewalk in order to reach the International Criminal Tribune for the former Yugoslavia.
International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia
One of the most famous buildings in the Hague is the International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, which a lot of people assume is the ICC incorrectly. This is just a branch of the ICC that focuses on Yugoslavia, but the building is beautiful and quite distinct. Those sentenced from the court were tried for violation of the laws of war, genocide, and crimes against humanity.
The court was in session between 1993 and 2017, but today, it’s formally closed. The building still is off limits to the public for now, but it’s nice to admire from the bike path.
Eurojust is visible from here.
Eurojust is an international agency focused on ensuring the organized crime is prosecuted and locked up. Similarly, this college of 28 members addresses cross-border crimes. This building is not open to the public, however it’s visible from the bike path!
Then cross the street to bike towards the Scheveningen Bos along Johan de Wittlaan. You’ll turn right onto Doctor Aletta Jacobweg after 1.4 kilometres. At the roundabout, take a right onto Plesmanweg. Make a slight right towards Waalsdorperweg and continue onto Oude Waalsdorperweg. It will be about a kilometre.
International Criminal Court
The most infamous (and talked about) of the buildings is the International Criminal Court. Films, including the Hitman’s Bodyguard, often show the Peace Palace when discussing international crimes, however international disputes (between countries) are actually the ones solved in the Peace palace.
The International Criminal Court will investigate, charge, and try individuals suspected of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. It is the first treaty-based criminal court in the world (started in 1998) and it is possible to visit this famous Hague institution on most business days as long as you have your passport.
You can visit the ICC Monday through Friday between
Head southwest on Oude Waaldorperweg towards Van der Aastraat. Make a right onto Van Alkemadelaan and stay on this road for about 1.2
ICC detention centre in Scheveningen
Bear with me here, but this prison is where those charged by the ICC are held during their trials. (After a conviction, they held elsewhere.) This historic Dutch prison out near Scheveningen has a very distinct look and although you can’t enter the prison (without committing a crime), you can pass the exterior on bike.
If you’re in this area, I’d recommend sticking around to explore Scheveningen, a village within the Hague and its lovely beach! You can follow Zwolsestraat onto Gevers Deynootweg prior to following the signs along Badhuisweg back to Den Haag Centraal.