I live in the Hague. Although I’m always telling people about how fantastic the Hague is, I’m hoping that this guide to the Hague will inspire people to take the day trip from Amsterdam to the Hague to experience a bit of what makes it so unique. It’s a beautiful and a bit of a strange city. Keep reading for tips on what to do in the Hague with 30+ unique things to do in the Hague to inspire you to explore the Hague.
Disclaimer: I live in the Hague and I’ve tried to give a decent overview of what to do in the Hague as it’s a lovely city! Most of these activities I’ve visited and researched independently, but This is the Hague (who I collaborated with) helped set up a tour of the Peace Palace and provided complimentary entrance to the Madurodam.
Although most people go crazy for Amsterdam or Rotterdam, the Hague is a beautiful and slightly quirky city. Often overlooked in favor of other Dutch cities and considered “boring” according to my Dutch friends, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how many things to do in the Hague there truly are. It’s a beautiful and quirky city where ideas become reality without pause.
Although most people stick to the standard things to do in the Hague, this city has a lot more activities to offer, so I really hope this guide to the Hague with a local’s insight on what to do in the Hague inspires you to get a bit off the beaten path in the Hague. I really think that one day in the Hague isn’t enough and I’d consider two days to be the sweet spot.
I think the Hague is a great (and affordable) base for exploring the Netherlands as Delft is only fifteen minutes away, Amsterdam is forty minutes away, and Schiphol is thirty minutes away. Most of my friends who experience this other side of the Hague beyond the “boring” government side quickly understand why I’ve made this city my home after living in Amsterdam. I wrote this guide as I was tired of seeing guides that covered the main attractions glossing over the bits that make this city special.
I’ve grouped what to do in the Hague by area of the city. The Hague is pretty walkable within the city center, however it might be easier to take public transit between the center and Scheveningen, the beach resort by the Hague.
The Hague is the only major city in the Netherlands with a beach, so be sure to take a bus twenty minutes to enjoy the water (and the wind) in Scheveningen. I’ve not included Scheveningen as the city center of the Hague (and surrounding areas). Click for my guide to Scheveningen!
Things to do in the Hague:
- Go shopping and browse books/art in Noordeinde
- Admire the King’s working palace
- Sample drinks at Van Kleef Distillery
- Climb the Grote Kerk
- Get a drink in Grote Markt
- Buy beer from the Kloosterbrouwerij Haagsche Broeder
- Sip cocktails at the secret bar Syndicaat (closed for summer)
- Explore the hofjes of the Hague
- See the girl with the pearl earring at the Mauritshuis
- Admire Escher’s art at Escher in Het Palais
- See the gorgeous Binnenhof
- Explore the Passage
- Sip coffee at one of the Hague’s many cafes
- Walk along the Lange Voorhout street
- Antique shops on canal street
- Have a beer along Bierkade
- Eat Indonesian food
- Drink bubble tea or eat dim sum/Chinese pastries in Chinatown
- Go jumping at the Trampoline church
- Admire the embassies in the Statenkwartier
- Tour the Peace Palace
- Buy food and have lunch at the Haagse Markt
- Museum Voorlinden
- Museum Meermanno
- Take street-level photos or pretend to be a giant at Madurodam
- Enjoy the Panorama Mesdag
- Explore the second hand shops of the modern Zeeheldenkwartier
- Pet the cats at Ditjes and Katjes (The Hague’s cat cafe)
- Go skiing indoors year-round.
- Go ice climbing year-round
- Admire the windmills in Voorburg/Leidschendam or the historic cute village of Leidschendam
What to do in the historic city center of the Hague
Only a fifteen minute walk from the main train stations, the Hague has a beautiful pedestrian-friendly historic center. Although most people power through the city center of the Hague without enjoying the things that truly make this city special, namely its diversity and its history, the Hague has a lot of things to do!
Go shopping in Noordeinde
Often considered the most beautiful street in the Hague, Noordeinde houses many historic buildings with stunning Art Deco touches and some of the best independent shopping in the Hague. I especially recommend browsing the Noordeinde area for beautiful Dutch clothing, books (at the Bookstore), and a nice bottle of wine. Be sure to step into the Bookstore for a vegan-friendly drink and for a new (or used) book.
Wine lovers need to stop in at de Filosoof. This wine store filled with exotic wines from around the world has one of the cutest and fluffiest cats that I’ve ever seen. Its name is Socrates and it even has its own gin named after it. Be sure to give Socrates a pet while buying a wine from Georgia or Armenia!
Admire the King’s working Palace (Noordeinde Paleis)
Although it shocks many people, the King of the Netherlands goes to work most days in the city center of the Hague within the Noordeinde Palace. Anyone walking down the street can admire the palace although you’ll know if the King is in if the flag is raised.
The palace has two sides, including a lush garden where you can have a picnic. I particularly love the semi-secret passage connecting garden with the rest of Noordeinde. (More about this secret passage soon!)
Sample drinks at Van Kleef Distillery
Van Kleef is a jenever distillery that has been in the same location since 1842 and it’s the last remaining jenever producer in the Hague. Specializing in jenever as well as bitters, Van Kleef is
I really recommend trying out the Kruìde Baggâh, a traditional Dutch herbal. It’s typical for a Beerenberg-style drink,
Admire and climb the Grote Kerk
The large cathedral of the Hague is one of the main landmarks of the city and anyone seeking out a unique view of the Hague will want to climb for epic views of the city (although keep reading for an alternative). At minimum, enjoy the beautiful square surrounding the church.
Get a drink in Grote Markt or Plein
Grote Markt and Plein are the two main squares of the Hague. One of the things that I love about the Hague is that the city center really belongs to the people of the Hague, unlike Amsterdam. Although it gets quite crowded in both areas on Saturday nights, be sure to step into the various bars for local beer, live music, and some great cocktails.
Plein is the other major square with lots of chic bars and restaurants, perfect for a nice drink outside on a nice day. I particularly love the Ministry of Justice building around the corner and on a nice day, I love walking through Plein. There’s quite a few cute shops down the street as well.
Buy beer from the Kloosterbrouwerij Haagsche Broeder
Most people associate Cloister beer with the Trappist orders in Belgium,
The selection varies, but there’s something really magical about stepping into the cloister shop to browse the various food/drinks from different cloisters around Europe. I particularly enjoyed their slightly sour Prior while my husband loved their darker Postulant, closer to a triple. You can also sample their beers at some of the bars close by if you don’t get to the shop on Friday or Saturday afternoon. Maestro pin or cash only.
Sip cocktails at the secret bar Syndicaat
The owner of this “secret bar” allows you to step back in time in style. After walking through the unmarked second door, you’ll enter a beautiful 1920s-inspired space with thoughtful touches. If you don’t make it to Van Kleef, you can have a cocktail made with one of their gins here while enjoying live music on the weekends.
I recently attended one of their jazz nights with some talented musicians! Their special events are vintage-themed if you’re looking for a different thing to do in the Hague at night. Check their hours prior to going as they’re closed for the summer.
Explore the hofjes of the Hague
Like many cities in the Netherlands, the Hague has hofjes. Hofjes are historic buildings used for housing the poor that were financed typically by private financiers. There were typically stipulations about who could live there, often the elderly and/or single women of a certain faith. The hofjes in the Hague tend to be smaller and harder to access compared to other cities in the Netherlands. However, there are some stunning hofjes and it always amazes friends to enter these courtyards. Most are on private property, so you really must be careful about being respectful of the residents of the hofje. My favorite is ‘t Hooftshofje if you’re lucky enough to get inside.
Admire the Dutch masters & see “The Girl with the Pearl Earring at the Mauritshuis”
Art lovers often are surprised to learn that the Girl with the Pearl Earring and the Goldfinch are housed in the Hague rather than Amsterdam. The Mauritshuis is a stunning museum full of Dutch masters with many Rembrandt and Vermeer paintings. Be prepared to spend at least a few hours here.
Both famous paintings sometimes go on tour around the world, so check to see if both paintings will be in the Hague before you’re disappointed (like my mother-in-law was) if you really want see the Goldfinch or the Girl with the Pearl Earring.
Admire Escher’s art at Escher in Het Paleis
Even if you’re not into traditional art, the Escher museum has a lot to offer. With some of Escher’s most famous works and some fun interactive displays, Escher in
Even if you’re not an Escher superfan, the museum is housed in the stunning former palace of Queen Wilhelmina with some unique modern chandeliers that make each room a surprise. Escher in Het Palais is one of my husband’s
See the gorgeous Binnenhof
Dutch parliament is housed in the Binnenhof. This iconic building in the Hague is the oldest continuously used parliament building in the world and it is a stunning feature, especially from across the pond. The Hague was historically the capital of the Netherlands, however after the capital of the Netherlands was moved to Amsterdam, the government buildings mostly remain in the Hague.
The building itself dates back to the 13th century although various parts of it have been built at various points in history. I particularly enjoy walking (or biking) through the middle of the Binnenhof although the best views are from across the pond on the exterior. The island in the middle of the pond was used for executions to ensure that people could watch.
Explore the UNESCO-recognized Passage
The Passage is the UNESCO-recognized monument in the Hague. Although people usually think first of the covered passages of Paris or Milan, the Hague’s Passage [there’s just one remaining at this point] has some distinct architectural features, specifically a domed roof. It’s just lovely to walk through the Passage although I love to stop off at Hop&Stork for a coffee and a chocolate.
Sip coffee at one of the Hague’s many cafes
The Dutch are responsible for our coffee addiction and the first ever coffee shop in the Netherlands was actually in the Hague in the early 1700s. Since then, coffee has become an integral part of Dutch culture and you’ll find numerous cozy (and beautiful) cafes in the Hague.
Click for my insider’s guide to coffee shops in the Hague.
Walk along the Lange Voorhout street
The Lange Voorhout was historically the street where noble families built their town castles in the middle ages,
The L-shaped street was a
In December, you’ll find the Royal Christmas Fair here. Although the Netherlands doesn’t have famous Christmas market like the Christmas markets in Germany, the Royal Christmas market, which runs for about a week in December, is
Last year, I found most of my Christmas gifts here, including a handmade pilot’s cap made of reindeer leather
Antique shops along Denneweg
One of the cutest areas of the Hague is Denneweg, one of the oldest streets in the Hague. Although it was historically known for antique shops (you’ll still find plenty here), it’s turned into an oasis for chic restaurants and shops. To experience the more upscale side of the Hague, fitting with its royal roots, step into any of the cozy Bouzy, Wine & Food or wander along the houses along Hooikade. Look for the cat knocker. 😉
Have a beer along Bierkade
The name might tip you off to the face that beer in the Hague was historically made along this
This brown bar has an amazing atmosphere and a great selection of local beers. The canal itself is lovely to walk along and it’s possible to sit on a boat in the canal enjoying your beer in summer.
This brown bar has an amazing atmosphere and a great selection of local beers. The canal itself is lovely to walk along and it’s possible to sit on a boat in the canal enjoying your beer in summer.
Eat Indonesian food
Due to the historical role of the Hague as the capital of the Netherlands, the Dutch East Indies Company often made trips to the Hague from Indonesia, a former Dutch colony. As a result, you’ll find one of the largest Indonesian populations outside of Indonesia here in the Netherlands. The Hague has many great Indonesian restaurants although I personally prefer the more informal Warung Bude Kati.
I recently brought an Indonesian friend to this casual yet chill restaurant run by a mother and son. There are certainly “fancier” Indonesian restaurants in the Hague, but Warung Bude Kadi is one of the most authentic Indonesian restaurants in the Hague with great prices, good (but slow) service, and massive portions. Don’t get too ambitious as one main is a day’s worth of food. (The rijsttafel is a bonafide feast.)
Drink bubble tea or eat dim sum/Chinese pastries in Chinatown
The Hague has the largest Chinatown in the Netherlands and you can find some delicious Chinese pastries here. Although most people are often surprised to learn that we have a large Chinatown, it’s hard to miss it as you walk from Den Haag HS towards the city center.
Things to do in the Hague and surrounding areas
I realize that it’s a bit weird not not to include Scheveningen as part of this post, but I’ll have more about Scheveningen soon. I do include a few things to do around the Hague in the nearby villages that you might not know about otherwise.
Jump at the Trampoline Church (Planet Jump)
In the Statenkwartier, you’ll find Planet Jump, a former church filled with trampolines. Although the Netherlands used to be quite religious, a lot of churches have been repurposed as they’ve gone out of business. This one now is a trampoline gym because….why not?
I cycled past this church almost a million times,
Cycle past the embassies in the Hague
It’s funny: It took me nearly six months of living in the Hague to finally experience this unique urban farm. The founders created this sustainable rooftop farm to reduce the distance that food travels before it reaches your plate. Here, you’ll find organic fish (tilapia) farmed with no pesticides as well as organic vegetables grown to perfection. There’s also a cozy bar with events with a fantastic view of the city, so be sure to check to see when the next urban farmers market in the Hague.
View or Tour the Peace Palace
Seeing the Peace Palace is one of the best things to do in the Hague although most normal visitors won’t be able to take a tour as the building is typically closed when the court is in session. However, clever visitors can go observe the hearings (in French or English) as observers if you get there early on a court day.
It’s not a guarantee that you’ll get in, but it’s a great way to see the Peace Palace in action. Keep in mind that the sessions here are arbitrating country-level court cases, rather than criminal cases. (Criminal cases are held elsewhere in the Hague.)
The Peace Palace can be at least admired from a distance for free although getting a tour of the Peace Palace isn’t easy to get. The tours sell out quickly and they’re only posted about 2-3 weeks in advance, so check shortly before your visit to the Hague to see if it’s possible to get a tour. At minimum, you can take a selfie outside. Bring your passport just in case and keep in mind there’s a free visitor’s center in case you’re not allowed to enter. Click for my complete guide on how to tour the Peace Palace.
Buy food and have lunch at the Haagse Markt
I absolutely LOVE the Haagse Market and it’s where I get my groceries weekly. The amazing thing about this place that you’re instantly transported as soon as you enter from the Netherlands. Where? I’m not exactly sure, but between the prices being shouted (4 avocados for one euro!?), the empanadas from the Dominican Republic, the random household wares, and the fresh stroopwafel, you’re bound to find something in this almost daily market (not open on Sundays).
Be sure bring cash, so you don’t need to wait in line at the ATM at the entrance with everyone else who forgot, and a large bag. I usually pick up a week’s worth of groceries here and it’s always a joy to browse the market as I’ve never really experienced anything like it in the Netherlands.
This private modern art museum located outside of the Hague (accessible by car or bus) has some fantastic innovative art. I realize that art museums aren’t always everyone’s cup of tea, but I absolutely love how this museum focused on creating the best visitor experience.
The pieces here go beyond standard modern art and often challenge/surprise you. I won’t ruin the surprises, but the swimming pool exhibition is absolutely amazing and I was delighted by many of the small touches that make this museum far from a generic art museum.
Museum Meermanno is the oldest book museum in the world with some fascinating exhibits on modern literature. If you’re interested in seeing the stunning interior of a 18th century building in the Hague, be sure to visit this museum for its interior and courtyard. Here you’ll find many manuscripts as well as historically significant literature. Their exhibits are surprisingly non-dry. 😉
Madurodam: The world’s most cheerful war memorial
Although many people have seen photos of the miniature version of the Netherlands in the Hague, most people don’t realize that the Madurodam is actually a war memorial. The profits from the admission go to children’s charities in honor of a brave soldier from Curaçao who died during World War II. His parents built Madurodam at the time that the Netherlands was rebuilding itself after the war with the hope that it would inspire people.
Although I thought the Madurodam was only for children, I had a blast here (as did my husband). My favorite thing: trying to take photos as if I was on the street level. The Madurodam is probably one of the most touristy things to do in the Hague, but I was pleasantly surprised by how entertaining and charming the Madurodam is. If you’ve visited a lot of cities in the Netherlands, you’ll especially love this unique war memorial.
For a taste of 19th century Scheveningen, you can visit the 360 degree painting of Scheveningen for a sense of art history as well as history in the Hague. It gives you the sensation of being on a dune and it’s a nice stop-off if you’re heading towards the Peace Palace from the historic center of the Hague.
Explore the second hand shops of the modern Zeeheldenkwartier
You might think that there’s no one under thirty in the Hague, however most of us are hanging out in the Zeeheldenkwartier, another part of the Hague, full of modern cafes, interesting restaurants (including Georgian food), second-hand stores. I can easily spend an afternoon here between Ditjes & Katjes and stocking up on American/British novelty foods at Kelly’s Expat Store.
Go skiing or snowboarding year-round
Outside of the Hague, you’ll find one of the largest indoor ski resorts in the Netherlands, De Uithof. So, if you’re looking to learn how to ski or snowboard, it’s possible here. They even have ice carts. If you’re missing winter, be sure to stop off at the Uithof, which also has rock climbing.
Go ice climbing year-round
Next to Den Haag HS, you’ll find Klimmuur. This really nice Dutch climbing gym has a surprise: an ice climbing room. For a small fee, you can take ice climbing lessons with an expert climber. It’s a bit surprising how quickly ice climbing wears you out, however I had a blast climbing here with friends.
Be sure to suit up in winter clothes although they’ll give you climbing shoes as well as an ice pick. You just need to dress warmly and come ready to climb. If you just want to climb normally or boulder, the Klimmuur gym is well-equipped for that too.
Admire the windmills in Voorburg & Leidschendam
I love that you can cycle only twenty minutes outside of the Hague and experience the typically Dutch countryside that
En route to Voorburg, a cute suburb of the Hague, you’ll pass a children’s farm (Essenstijn) complete with cows and a beautiful windmill. Although
For a more iconic image, cycle to Molendriegang in Leidschendam, another nearby village near the Hague for the iconic three windmill shot that you might see on postcards in the Hague. Voorburg and Leidschendam have super charming historic centers, so if you want to experience small town Holland without going too far, take tram 2 towards Leidschendam’s historic center, Sluisplein. (The journey will take about 25 minutes.) Click for my cycling route!
How to get around the Hague
The Hague is a pretty walkable city although it has a robust public transportation system. On some trams, you can buy a day pass for the Hague public transportation although you’ll need to have coins on you to buy it on the tram. There’s now an app for the HTM in the apple and android app store if you want to buy a ticket on your phone.
If you’re in the Netherlands for a bit, I recommend getting an OVchipkaart, a reloadable card that you can top up as needed. It’s cheaper as you pay per distance on buses and trams in the Hague. Otherwise, you’ll pay a set fare per ride.
Have you been to the Hague? What’s your favorite thing to do in the Hague? Please let me know!
More tips for the Netherlands:
- Best cities in the Netherlands to visit besides Amsterdam
- One day in Delft (15 minutes from the Hague)
- Three days in Amsterdam: your perfect guide
- Secret Amsterdam guide
Map of the Hague
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