The Hague or Den Haag serves as the main seat of government for the Netherlands but is not the countries capital.
It is the third largest city in the country behind Amsterdam and Rotterdam and plays an important role in the politics and economy of the Netherlands.
The main development of Den Haag was during the 1200’s when the Binnenhof was constructed (which still stands today) and served as a royal hunting residence.
In future years the city saw Spanish occupation and has always served as a political base for the country since the 1600’s.
This wonderful and modern city retains much of its historical charm with important buildings like the Peace Palace and the Ridderzaal, but also embraces new technologies and its role in international politics.
The museums, beautiful parks and fascinating architecture make The Hague an extremely popular destination second only to Amsterdam.
Lets explore the best things to do in The Hague:
1. Mauritshuis Museum
The Mauritshuis Museum is an art museum that is located in the centre of Den Haag next to the Binnenhof.
The building was constructed in 1636 in a Dutch Classicist style.
The collection of art inside the museum is extensive and contains some famous works from the likes of Rembrandt, Vermeer and Rubens.
Over 800 objects are included in the collection and the majority of which come from the Dutch Golden age.
The collections are separated into different sections such as “At home in Holland”, “A generous gesture” and “Highlights from the past”. The museum is continually obtaining new works and displays several temporary exhibitions periodically too.
2. Madurodam Model City
The Madurodam Model City is an extensive attraction that contains a huge scale model representation of various parts of the Netherlands.
All of the buildings, vehicles, people and tress etc are recreated to a 1:25 scale and with an unbelievable amount of detail.
The park opened in 1952 and has seen changes and renovations over the years to incorporate new technologies and revamp the models.
Sections of the model city include the Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam), the Binnenhof, Schiphol Airport, the seaport of Rotterdam, Dutch tulip fields and of course windmills.
This is a truly delightful place and perfect for all the family to enjoy.
3. The Binnenhof
This large complex serves as a meeting place for several political groups in the Netherlands including the Ministry of General affairs.
The Binnenhof is the oldest parliament building still in use in the world.
Originally constructed in the 1200’s, not much is known of the complex’s early history however it soon became in an important place for political meetings throughout the 1600’s.
Today you can enter the Binnenhof and its ground, and admire the stunning architecture and history of the buildings including the fabled Hall of Knights where the Ridderzaal stands.
Guided tours are also available of the House of Representatives.
The Ridderzaal is the central focal point of the Binnenhof and stands in the wonderful Hall of Knights courtyard inside the complex.
The building is used as a place where the Dutch parliament is opened by the prime minister, and also hosts royal receptions.
The structure is built in a Gothic style with two large symmetrical towers standing either side of the arched entrance.
The interior of the Ridderzaal is highly decorative with some wonderful stained glass windows, and a central ornate throne.
The courtyard outside the Ridderzaal is also quite beautiful and is surrounded by a three sides of arches and in the centre is a Neogothic fountain that dates back to the 1600’s.
5. Mesdag Museum
The Mesdag museum is contained within the house of the notable painter Hendrik Willem Mesdag.
The museum showcases a fine collection of art that Hendrik and his wife collected over the years, centring mainly on famous Dutch painters from The Hague.
The museum and its counterpart building that holds the Mesdag panorama are located in the centre of The Hague and are in close proximity to the other important museums.
A main centrepiece of the Mesdag museum is a large panoramic painting that is around 120m in circumference – The painting shows the beaches of The Hague from the late 19th Century.
6. The beach and promenade
The Scheveningen seaside resort is one of the most famous in the Netherlands and is a great place to explore.
The beach stretches for miles right from the Hook of Holland right up to the port of Ijmuiden.
On the beach you will find an extensive promenade, golden sands, a fabulous pier complete with Ferris Wheel, and an array of shops, amusements, bars and restaurants.
Laze on the golden sands, splash in the sea, sit and enjoy a drink or an ice cream on the promenade, or even take a ride on the huge Ferris wheel that takes 20 minutes to complete a full rotation!
7. Drievliet Amusement Park
The Drievliet theme park is a fantastic place for the whole family and will provide hours of fun and excitement.
The park features several hair-raising rollercoaster’s including the Formule X and the Twistrix, a log flume, many water games, a haunted castle and so much more! Aside from the fabulous rides, there are also a range of fairground stalls, a restaurant, and small food and drink vendors.
This really is a great place and located to the south eastern part of The Hague, it is an ideal place for a day trip.
8. Peace Palace
The Peace Palace is a building for the administration of law and houses several different bodies including the International Court of Justice.
The building was constructed in 1913 and features a fantastic and detailed neo-renaissance design with a large bell tower and ornate arched front facade.
The interior of the palace is quite lavish and contains many fine statues and busts of notable people like Gandhi and Nelson Mandela.
There is a visitors centre and tours are available of the building and also of the elaborate gardens that surround the palace.
9. The Hague Tower
The Hague Tower is a large Skyscraper that is located near Den Haag HS railway station not far from Chinatown.
The building is mainly office blocks but also contains a restaurant and night club, and a viewing platform.
The building stands at 132m and is the third tallest building in The Hague.
From here you can enjoy fantastic panoramic views of the city and even see as far as the Hook of Holland and watch boast coming in from the North Sea.
The elevator ride takes 40 seconds an there is also a reception with a informative movie, and a cafe where you can enjoy a drink and a snack in the clouds.
10. Grote of Sint Jacobskerk
The Church of St. James is a notable religious building that stands proud on the Torenstraat in the old town centre.
This is one of the oldest buildings in The Hague and it was constructed in the 15th century.
The centrepiece of the exterior is the tall bell tower that features a detailed Carillion and a mechanical clock with 15 bells.
The interior features some fine wooden carving including the pulpit, and a set of detailed and colourful stained glass windows that commemorate various religious figures throughout history.
There is also the grave of Jacob van Wassenaer Obdam who was a notable Dutch navy commander.
11. Gemeentemuseum Den Haag
This is one of the most important museums in Den Haag and contains a large collection of artwork, as well as a fascinating building designed by H.P. Berlage.
The structure lies not far from the main promenade and the building itself is an architectural marvel with a quirky and striking design.
Inside, there are several different collections including art, a print room, fashion and music.
The art collection includes works from Degas, Monet, Picasso and Mondriaan (The Mondriaan collection is the largest in the world).
12. Landgoed Clingendael Park
This wonderful park is only open at certain times in the year owing to its fragile and extremely well maintained Japanese Garden.
The Clingendael is a 17th century manor house and the parkland surrounds it in the district of Wassenaar.
The park and garden is truly sublime and it was been a protected area of The Hague for many years.
Inside you can find the amazing Japanese Gardens that really do transport you into a different culture with Japanese themed pavilions and entrance gates and some beautiful species of plants and trees.
If you happen to visit the Hague when the garden is open then it should not be missed!
13. The Prison Gate Museum
This is an old prison that was used to house people who had committed atrocious crimes from as early as 1420. The museum gives you an insightful and chilling look at crime, punishment and the justice system throughout the years and what an old cell block and prison would have looked like.
A guided tour is included in the ticket price and these are available in both Dutch and English – English tours are only available on Sundays however.
For an interesting and revealing look at the history of crime and punishment throughout history, the Prison Gate Museum is a great place to visit.
14. Palace Noordeinde
The Noordeinde Palace is a palatial building belonging to the Dutch royal family and is one of the three official palaces they own.
In its early years, the palace actually operated as a medieval farmhouse around 1500. After this it was converted into a palace and has seen many different royal owners over the years.
In later years the once residential palace, was turned into an actual working palace where the Dutch Royalty conduct many of their affairs of state.
It is really interesting to see this grand structure with its imposing iron gates and impressive design.
15. Lange Voorhout
This is a beautiful street in the centre of Den Haag located in the old city centre and provides a fantastic place to walk, admire and relax.
The street is quite wide and has two roads and a central section both lined with a fine array of trees.
18th century buildings line the street and there are many important building here including the Escher Museum embassies of the UK and US, a monument to Prince Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, and the Supreme Court of the Netherlands.