The Hague (Den Haag in Dutch), the capital city of the Dutch province of South Holland, is the country’s third largest city, with a current population of 550,000 people. Although Amsterdam is the formal capital city of the Netherlands, many people regard Den Haag as having the same importance because it is the seat of government. It houses the Cabinet, the States General, the Supreme Court, and the Council of State.

The Hague is also often known as “the royal city” because it is the residence of the Dutch royal family. King Willem-Alexander lives in the Huis ten Bosch and works at Den Haag’s Noordeinde Palace.

Den Haag is also where most foreign embassies are situated, so if you ever need your embassy’s assistance, be sure to take at least the rest of the day off to explore the city! Please read below for our top tips on which attractions to visit.

What You Can See and Do in Den Haag

Why should you go to Den Haag? Where else can you go to see a powerful city (government matters are handled here), rich in history (established in the 13th century), rich in art (nearly 50 museums!), and has the sun, beach, and sea just at its doorstep? It’s tough to beat what Den Haag has to offer. Let’s get started exploring them!

Visit Het Binnenhof (The Inner Court)

The Binnenhof, a group of buildings from the 1300s, is where most political and state affairs of the country are handled. Even though the Dutch government runs its business here, many areas are open to the public. You can admire the centuries-old outdoor structures and monuments for free. You can also book a guided tour to visit the Ridderzaal (Knight’s Hall) or enter the Senate or House of Representatives chambers when no sessions exist.

Go Museum-Hopping

Den Haag is a must-visit if you’re into art, as it’s home to many world-renowned museums. For starters, there’s the Mauritshuis Royal Picture Gallery, which is housed in a 17th-century townhouse. One of its permanent collections is called The Royal Cabinet of Paintings, a massive 854-piece collection of artworks by Dutch and Flemish masters from the 17th century. This period is considered by many as the Golden Age of Dutch art. Also, if the Louvre Museum in Paris has the Mona Lisa, then the Mauritshuis has the world-famous Girl with a Pearl Earring by Dutch master Johannes Vermeer. Many people actually visit this museum for this painting alone.

Escher in Het Paleis (Escher in the Palace), a museum dedicated to Dutch graphic designer Maurits Cornelis Escher, is another prominent museum in Den Haag. Visiting this museum, which used to be the Winter Palace of Queen Mother Emma of the Netherlands, will provide a different experience because most of Escher’s work relies on optical illusions.

If you like automobiles, then you must go to the Louwman Museum. It houses the world’s oldest private collection of motor vehicles (by two generations of the Louwman family). Over 250 antique and classic cars are on display here.

Other notable museums in Den Haag are the Panorama Mesdag, Kuntsmuseum Den Haag, The Hague Public Transport Museum, Museum Bredius, Youseum Westfield Mall of the Netherlands, Vredespaleis (The Peace Palace), and more!

Go to the Beach – Visit Scheveningen!

Scheveningen is probably the Netherlands’ most famous beach town. It provides a long, sandy beach perfect for just about any water-related sport, or you can just lie down all day, sunbathe and order food and drinks from any of the beach bars, cafes, and restaurants that dot the shore. The Scheveningen Pier also features the SkyView de Pier. This huge and luxurious Ferris wheel provides excellent panoramic views of the North Sea.

Read more about this popular Dutch beach destination in our tips for a day in Scheveningen.

See Holland in One Day – Visit Madurodam

Pressed for time? No worries. See most (if not all) of the top tourist attractions in the Netherlands—in miniature—in one day at Madurodam. Read more about this top Dutch destination in our tips for a day trip to Madurodam.

Shopping in Den Haag

Being a top tourist destination in the country, you can imagine that Den Haag also doesn’t disappoint when it comes to shopping! If you prefer to shop indoors, big malls such as the De Passage (the oldest indoor shopping center in the Netherlands), De Bijenkorf, and Westfield Mall of the Netherlands offer a whole day of shopping and eating without you having to step outside for a minute.

For more shopping areas, there’s the Grote Marktstraat (high street shopping), the Noordeinde (luxury shopping), the Denneweg (lifestyle and design stores), and the Lange Voorhout (antique market).

The Haagse Mart (The Hague Market), located on Herman Coster street, is the biggest outdoor market in the EU! Over 500 stalls offering anything from food items to furniture open up on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays here.

How to Get to Den Haag

By Public Transport

Since it’s a significant destination, Den Haag boasts an excellent public transport system. From Amsterdam, just take the train going in the direction of Den Haag Centraal. From elsewhere in the country, you can check the Nederlandse Spoorwegen (Netherlands Railways) website to plan your journey.

By Car

The best way to drive to Den Haag is to use Google Maps or any GPS system. Please note that parking in The Hague can be expensive, so we don’t recommend it. Still, if you prefer to drive, then consider parking at one of the city’s P+R (Parken en Reizen or Park and Travel) locations. You can park your car at these parking garages for free, but you MUST continue your journey into the city center using (paid) public transportation.

How to Get Around Den Haag

Walking

Den Haag is not a very big city, so it lends itself perfectly for exploration on foot. There are beach walking routes, shopping routes, city walking routes, and more you can explore.

Biking/Cycling

The Hague, like many other Dutch cities, is particularly bike-friendly. Also, because it is densely populated, individuals are urged to bike or cycle instead of driving. As a result, many bike routes in Den Haag are relatively spacious, with more than ample biking parking facilities.

Our tip: Want to explore without getting lost? Book a guided The Hague Bike Tour!

Bus or Tram

If you don’t have much time and want to go quickly from one attraction to another, then travel by bus or tram. HTM and HTMbuzz are the main bus and tram operators, and you can plan your journey on their website here.

Accommodations in Den Haag

There’s an accommodation to suit every budget in Den Haag. If you want to stay at a place steep in history, then perhaps the 140-year old Hotel des Indes or the 14th-century ‘t Goude Hooft is for you. The Grand Hotel Amrâth Kurhaus and The Pier Suites do not disappoint if you want to stay by the beach. If you want more budget-friendly options, plenty of B&Bs, boutique hotels, and even “camping hotels” are available.

In the Area

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