Things to Do in The Hague
With 7 million flower bulbs planted every year across 79 acres (32 hectares), Keukenhof Gardens is a colorful sea of 800 varieties of tulips and other spring flowers, attracting visitors from around the globe who want to see the Netherlands' iconic tulip fields. More than 9 miles (15 kilometers) of footpaths provide space to stroll around the park, take photos of flowers in bloom, and enjoy this Holland tradition.
Mauritshuis is home to one of the best collections of Dutch and Flemish paintings in the world. Often referred to as "the jewel box," the ornately elegant 17th-century mansion is a textbook example of Dutch classical architecture, built as the private residence of John Maurice, Prince of Nassau-Siegen.
Built using funds donated by American philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, Peace Palace (Vredespaleis) is one of The Hague’s best-known landmarks. The grand neo-Renaissance building is home to the UN’s International Court of Justice, which hears legal disputes between states.
Transformed from a farmhouse into a stately home in 1533, Noordeinde Palace (Paleis Noordeinde) in The Hague was presented to William of Orange’s widow in recognition of her husband’s service to the Netherlands. Noordeinde Palace is one of four palaces across the country owned by the Dutch royal family and serves as the office of King Willem-Alexander.
Behind the 17th-century façade of this palace—formerly the winter home of Queen Emma of the Netherlands—lies a series of lavishly appointed rooms plus an ornate Art Nouveau staircase and stained-glass skylights. It’s also home to a startlingly eccentric collection of works of Dutch graphic artist M. C. Escher.
Dating back to 1653, Royal Delft (Koninklijke Porceleyne Fles) is the world’s best-known manufacturer of the Netherlands’ iconic blue-and-white porcelain goods. The factory—the only such manufactory that remains from the 17th century—is open to travelers looking to learn about this one-of-a-kind hand-painted stoneware.
The Hague’s 13th-century Binnenhof (Inner Court) complex encompasses several landmarks, including the Gothic Ridderzaal (Hall of Knights)—a state building characterized by medieval-style turrets. Now home to the Dutch Parliament, the heritage site attracts visitors with a blend of courtly features and political significance.
Madurodam, a mini-Holland on a 1:25 scale, lets you tour the entirety of the Netherlands in an hour. One of Holland’s most popular attractions since its development in the Hague in 1952, it highlights the epitomes of Dutch culture in scale-model replicas of perfectly ornamented bridges, canals, windmills, and major national landmarks.
Famous for its Delft Blue pottery and as the birthplace of Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer, the quaint town of Delft is ringed by scenic canals and located in the western Netherlands between Rotterdam and The Hague. Delft is also notable for its striking medieval buildings, lively market, and connections with the Dutch Royal Family.
Dating back to the 17th century, Delft Pottery de Delftse Pauw is a factory and showroom dedicated to creating and selling Delft's internationally celebrated blue-and-white pottery. Come here to learn about the history of the iconic products and see how they are produced through free educational tours; it’s also a great place to pick up some Delftware of your own.
More Things to Do in The Hague
With a history dating back to the 13th century, the Great Church of St. James is one of the oldest buildings in The Hague. Dutch Royals such as King Willem-Alexander and Princess Catharina-Amalia were baptized here, but the Gothic-style church is best known for its imposing bell tower, one of the highest in the Netherlands.
The Prison Gate Museum (Gevangenpoort) is the former prison of the Court of Holland. Beginning in 1428, and continuing throughout its 400 year history, it housed famous and not so famous criminals. It had a reputation as a place of misery, where prisoners were regularly punished in the torture chamber and locked up in dreary dark and frigid cells, awaiting questioning and trial.
Visitors to the medieval building can see the Museum’s collection of punishment and torture devices. Some rooms can be visited independently when visiting the Prison Gate Museum, but others, such as the cell complex, can only be seen when on a guided tour. During the tour, visitors learn about life in prison, escapes, more famous residents and the brutal punishments. Because of the gruesome nature of the history, the Prison Gate Museum is not recommended for children under the age of 9.
SEA LIFE® Scheveningen is an indoor/outdoor aquarium with a wide variety of underwater creatures, from fish, sharks, and sea turtles to otters and penguins. Here, visitors of all ages can learn about life under the sea, watch feedings, or even interact with sea life through a variety of educational experiences.
It may sound funny, but Square 1813 (Plein 1813) is actually a circle or what some might call a roundabout. In the center is a large monument to independence – the largest 19th-century statue in the Netherlands. It was erected to commemorate the victory over Napoleon and the end of French occupation in The Netherlands, which took place, of course, in 1813.
Founded in 1866, Kunstmuseum Den Haag houses a large collection of modern art along with collections dedicated to pottery and glass, prints, fashion, and music. Here you'll find extensive works by the likes of Picasso and Degas, the world's largest collection of Piet Mondrian art, and musical instruments from around the world.
Sculptures by the Sea (Museum Beelden aan Zee) Every trip to The Hague should include time for a trip to the beach. There’s the obvious reasons, the surf, sand and boardwalk, but a trip to the beach also means you’ll get to see the Sculptures by the Sea.
Located on Scheveningen Boulevard, with an enviable view of the beach, the bronze Sculptures were put in place by the nearby Beelden aan Zee Museum. Designed by American sculptor Tom Otterness, legends of the sea served as their inspiration.
You can’t miss them as you walk or bike along the boulevard. You’ll stop without hesitation to snap a picture. It’s next to impossible not to smile when you lay eyes on the Herring eater, the largest of the collection. The sculptures are on display out in the open, along the beach, not behind doors or gates, which means you can see them any time of day.
If you can drag yourself from the beach, the Beelden aan Zee Museum is a good place to take a break from the sand and sun. The museum is home to nearly 1,000 sculptures, most from the second half of the 20th century.
The Hague’s seaside suburb of Scheveningen is a 2.5-mile (4-kilometer promenade backing a sandy beach and the waters of the North Sea. This popular resort community had its heyday in the 19th century but recent injections of cash have spruced the town up to its former gentility.
Den Haag’s hypermodern science museum, one of the Dutch city’s top family-friendly attractions, succeeds at its mission of being both educational and fun. A very hands-on affair, Museon has plenty of buttons to press, smells to sniff, and movies to watch in the permanent exhibition, which deals with the development of life on Earth.
Secreted away in a quiet Den Haag side street, Panorama Mesdag is the largest painting in the Netherlands, at more than 45 feet by 400 feet (14 meters by 120 meters). The sea, sand dunes, buildings, churches, lighthouses, and fishing boats of 19th-century Scheveningen are all represented in minute, accurate detail.
The Hague City Hall (Stadhuis) is a white building with a large glass atrium. Due to its white appearance, locals nicknamed it the Ice Palace. In comparison to the numerous historical buildings in The Hague, finished in the mid-90s, it’s a fairly new addition to the landscape. It was designed by American Richard Meier.
The large Atrium (4,500 square meters or more than 48,000 square feet) hosts events and exhibitions throughout the year. It’s also where you’ll find some basic services for local residents including municipal counters and public service desks. The Town Hall is also home to the public library and the municipal archives. All in all, approximately 8,000 people visit the Ice Palace every day.
This museum holds the private car collection of the Louwmans, a Dutch family with strong ties to the automobile industry. View more than 230 vehicles—including rare antiques and groundbreaking designs—such as an 1886 three-wheeler widely regarded as the first modern automobile; and a 2004 Toyota Prius, the first mass-produced hybrid car.
The Hague Museum of Photography is part of the Kunstmuseum Den Haag and since it is located right next door, a trip to both is especially easy for visitors.
Half a dozen exhibitions are organized every year at The Hague Museum of Photography, so what you’ll see depends on when you go. Exhibitions vary from well-known to unknown photographers and cover a wide range of time, categories and history.
The Hague Museum of Photography is located in what was originally an annex to the Kunstmuseum. (The museum for contemporary art, GEM, is also located in the building.)