The Hague (Den Haag)
Den Haag city centre is very pretty, with government buildings , stately mansions (many owned by ambassadors and or embassies) some famous museums (Mauritshuis, Panorama Mesdag) of Amsterdam and Rotterdam, and the cosy little canals of smaller Dutch towns. On a nice sunny day it is especially worthwhile, because the beach resort of Scheveningen is actually part of the city. With its Pier and Casino it is one of the most swanky beach resorts of the Netherlands.
The heart of The Hague contains much of the historic architecture from the medieval, renaissance, and Baroque periods and is easily accessible on foot. You’ll also find lots of outdoor cafes and shopping near the Plein (Square) on the Lange Poten or just east of there on the Hofweg.
The Plein is one of the most elegant squares in the centre of town. Located right next to the Binnenhof, it is lined with historic government buildings on three of its four sides. The north side is lined with bars and cafés, which spill out onto the square in summer.
The Binnenhof has been the the seat of government in the Netherlands since the 13th century. Enter through one of the gates on either Plein or Buitenhof and you will find yourself in a medieval enclosed courtyard, surrounded by architecture from the 13th -19th century. The Knight’s Hall, the original centrepiece of the castle, is accessible in guided tours. Unfortunately, the other magnificent rooms of the complex are closed to the general public.
Some of the most popular attractions in Den Haag include Mauritshuis, the Royal Picture Gallery, which contains some of the most famous works from the Dutch masters including Johannes Vermeer’s ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’ and ‘View of Delft’, Andy Warhol’s “Queen Beatrix”, Rembrandt’s self-portraits at ages 20 and 63 and others. Then there is the Museum de Gevangenpoort, a historical prison until 1853, this museum features a collection of torture instruments and original medieval cell block. The Bredius Museum contains the private collection of Abraham Bredius featuring Dutch Baroque art, porcelain, silver and drawings. The Gemeentemuseum Den Haag (Municipal Museum), which houses various selections of paintings including that of Mondrians and paintings of the Hague School.
Escher in Het Paleis is a museum dedicated to the famous Dutch graphic artist M.C.Escher; Museon, an interactive science museum which is very popular with kids and school groups; Madurodam, Den Haag’s miniature city which contains a selection of Dutch architecture, airport, seaport, beaches and even little cars that run through the entire town.
The Hague also contains a good many popular areas for shopping and dining including Denneweg, a prime area for finding antique and specialty shops, alongside some great pubs and swanky restaurants to recharge in after a hard days shopping!
The Hague was founded on a former hunting manor, and so there are a variety of parks and green spaces that are ideal for exploration. Perhaps the most beautiful of these is the Park Clingendael, containing one of the oldest Japanese gardens in Europe. In the warmer months, the North Sea coast resorts are worth a visit (although they will be busy). Resort facilities at Scheveningen and at Kijkduin have access to the beach, the dunes, as well as seaside restaurants and cafes. Don’t miss out the Scheveningen Pier, the largest pier in the Netherlands, which has a 60 meter (200 ft) lookout tower, bungee jumping, casino and restaurant.
Travelling to The Hague by Ferry
With less than an 1 hour driving from all three of the ports in Holland, taking the ferry to the Haugue is great way of visiting this great city. Rotterdam, Amsterdam and the Hook of Holland also offer train and bus links to Den Haag (the Hague).