It isn’t often that a European city can boast of beaches, a historical city centre, the hippest cafés and restaurants, and countryside charm all at once. But somehow The Hague manages to do all that, and more!
One of Netherlands’ biggest cities, The Hague makes for the ideal city break. It is also the perfect alternative to the obvious option – Amsterdam, which continues to get more crowded by the day! Here’s everything you need to know about planning a city break in The Hague.
Getting into The Hague
Chances are you will fly into Netherlands at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. If you intend to stick around in The Hague, then you needn’t rent a car at all. Netherlands is well connected by public transport and a short 30 minute train ride will bring you to The Hague. You can even opt for a cheaper, but slightly longer, bus ride.
Getting around in The Hague
Public transport is excellent in The Hague, so you needn’t rent a car. However if you intend to combine a visit to the tulip fields of Netherlands with your visit to The Hague or you are keen to stay by the beachside in The Hague, then consider renting a car from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport.
A word of caution – even if you do rent a car, don’t take your car to busy areas like Scheveningen beach or the city centre. Parking is very expensive and hard to come by. You can park your car in one of the garages available around the city. Expectedly, parking in the city’s garages is very expensive but buying a 24 hour parking ticket online can save you quite a bit of money. Expect to spend €22 per day if you buy your tickets online for parking in the city.
Accommodation in The Hague
If you have 3 days in The Hague, then we would suggest staying in the city centre, so all the sights and sounds are at close quarters. Hotel Indigo, is an upscale boutique hotel in a former bank building and ideal for your city break in The Hague. It is at the heart of Parliament centre, so most restaurants, cafés, and historical sites are at an easy walking distance. Rooms are spacious and ultra-modern with lots of quirky touches. We loved that lots of little details of the bank building seep into the contemporary interiors. It’s the perfect way to pay homage to the history of the building.The mini-bar is stocked with gourmet snacks and there is an Illy coffee machine in each room. Wifi is fast and there’s a gym onsite as well.
If you have more than 3 days in The Hague, we’d suggest splitting your time between the city centre and the beach. Book a cosy beach hut and wake up to the sound of waves each day. We discovered the cutest beach houses in The Hague, equipped with cosy bedrooms, a kitchen, and nautical furnishings and accessories. The beach houses make for an ideal glamping holiday, irrespective of whether you’re with family or friends. The best part? Parking is free which is a rarity in The Hague! Take a look at the beach houses:
Best time to visit The Hague
The Hague makes for a great all-round city break. But if you have the liberty of choosing the month, we’d suggest visiting during summer months (May-August). European weather is tremendously unpredictable but you can expect some warm days during that time of year. You could also combine a city break in The Hague with a visit to the tulip fields during the months of April & May as we did!
What To See In The Hague
There is so much to see and do in The Hague. Personalise your itinerary depending on whether you like exploring museums, witnessing natural wonders, shopping, or just wining and dining in modern eateries. Here are a few of our favourite things to see and do in The Hague.
Start by taking a walk around the historical centre
Start your city break in The Hague by acquainting yourself with its layout and history. Take a guided tour or spend a morning walking around The City Palace, Parliament, Palace gardens, and other historical monuments. This serves as a great introduction to the city. Once you have your bearings right, you can start exploring The Hague properly. You can get more information on The Hague’s official website.
If you enjoy exploring museums, then you’re in for a treat in The Hague. But we’d suggest visiting Panorama Mesdag even if you don’t ordinarily enjoy museums. That’s because this is the most unique museum ever. It relies on optical illusion to show visitors a 360 degree view of sand dunes, sea, and a fishermen’s village of Scheveningen. The installation is incredible and definitely worth a visit.
Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis
The Mauritshuis is home to Vermeer’s iconic girl Girl with a Pearl Earring. The painting is very popular – think of it as Netherlands’ Mona Lisa. No wonder crowds throng to see it each day. But that’s not all. Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, housed in 17 century palace boasts of several other Dutch and Flemish paintings from 1400 to 1800. It’s a treat for any art enthusiast.
If you rent a car, then we’d also recommend a visit to the Louwman Museum where you can peruse historical coaches, cars, and motorbikes. If you’re with kids, then consider a visit to the Madurodam, which is more a theme park than a museum and can prove to be a lot of fun for the entire family.
An easy hike over dunes
Bet you didn’t expect to see dunes on a city break. If you enjoy all things outdoorsy, then The Hague Dunes Road offers a number of walking and hiking routes. It boasts of woodlands, lakes, and long stretches of sandy beach. There are lots of photo-opps, so make sure you take your camera along. More information here.
Visit the tulip fields of Netherlands
The beachfront of The Hague provides an ideal base to explore the tulip fields of Netherlands when they are in full bloom during the months of April and May. Drive or bike down to Lisse, Noordwijkerhout, and Hillegom to see gorgeous tulip, hyacinth, and lavender fields in full bloom. You could also visit the famous Keukenhof tulip fields but make sure you go either super early or right before closing or else you’ll be met with thousands of visitors 🙂
The Pier and Scheveningen Boulevard
If you’re lucky enough to get a clear day on your city break in The Hague, then head straight to The Pier at Scheveningen beach. It provides an ideal opportunity to spend some time with friends or family by the sea, munch on fish and chips at a seaside eatery, and have one ice-cream too many. If you’re up for a wee adventure the Skyview ferris wheel at The Pier has luxurious glass-bottomed gondolas that offer a great overview of The Hague and surrounding areas. Wrap it all up with a stunning sunset at the beach.We spent 2 evenings at Scheveningen beach and got really lucky with the weather – cue dramatic sunsets each day. Love it!
Shopping In The Hague
There are plenty of shopping opportunities in The Hague. You will find all major high-street stores – Zara, H&M, Primark etc. You will also find plenty of little boutiques and independent stores. We would highly recommend a walk down Hofkwartier (Court Quarter). It’s a luxury shopping street but you needn’t purchase anything if you don’t want to. Just walking down the cobbled streets and stopping at a café for a quick coffee or refreshing drink is an experience in itself.
Where To Eat In The Hague
The Hague is home to dozens of hep eateries, brunch bars, and cafés. Here are some of our favourites
This modern eatery is ideal for a hearty brunch. Do try their eggs benedict, homemade granola, and Asian salads. Nom!!
Speciality Coffee Bars
What’s a city break without speciality coffee? Luckily there is no dearth of it in The Hague. There are several third wave cafés that sell some really good coffee. Try Kaafi Speciality Coffee Bar, Boon Coffee, or Filtro – you will end up with a really good cuppa irrespective of which one you choose. This is how Vid fell in love with The Hague on our first day there.
A hip restaurant with an industrial vibe, Walter Benedict is a great place to nurse drinks in the evening and watch passersby go about their day. Stick around for dinner – expect hearty portions and delicious continental food.
Bleyenberg Restaurant and Rooftop Bar
If you’re in the mood for a tipple, head straight to Bleyenberg Restaurant and Rooftop Bar. It’s the perfect place to sip on a beer as the sun sets over The Hague. There’s an extensive variety of drinks, including some great cocktails on the menu. The food is nothing to write home about, so we’d suggest dropping by just for drinks. Bleyenberg is very popular with locals, so it can get very busy, especially on summer evenings and weekends.
Beach Restaurant De Waterreus
If you’re spending time at the Scheveningen Beach, then drop by the acclaimed De Waterreus for a meal. It’s a nice place to munch on fish and chips on a sea-facing table.
One of the best meals we had in The Hague was at Habana Beach. Make sure you visit this cheerful eatery if you spend any time at the beachfront in The Hague. You guys know I love places that offer all-day-breakfasts, so I was tickled pink the second I saw the menu here. But that’s not all. Everything we had here including the goat’s cheese salad, burger, and omelette were cooked and seasoned to perfection. Ideal meal for a lazy day out at the beach.
That’s it. A guide to all our favourite things to do and see in The Hague. It makes for an amazing city break. If you’re visiting during Tulip Season, then don’t forget to read our Guide to visiting and photographing tulip season In Netherlands 🙂