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The third largest city in the Netherlands, The Hague is the seat of the Dutch parliament and home to the royal family. But there’s more: the city has a rich history and features countless splendid museums and galleries, elegant buildings and spacious squares… not to mention it has a coastline of 11 kilometres – it’s true, The Hague is also a city by the sea! So if after a day full of arts and culture you feel like doing something completely different, just head out to the beaches in Scheveningen or Kijkduin.
The InterCity trains will take you straight to the city centre. Right opposite your arrival station, Den Haag CS, is The Hague Tower, the city’s skyscraper. Also referred to as “the iron” due to its shape, this building is the ideal starting point for your day out. Take the glass panoramic lift to the balcony and enjoy the magnificent views over The Hague and its beaches and dunes in the distance.
Make your way to the inner city centre on foot, walking along the water (yes, The Hague also has a canal belt!) and the Spui, one of the city’s busiest shopping streets. You’ll pass by the Theatre aan het Spui and City Hall before arriving at The Passage. With its glass ceiling, foot bridges and columns, this arcade takes shopping to the next level. This covered shopping paradise is UNESCO World Heritage.
A few steps from The Passage, you’ll find the Binnenhof (Inner Court) with the Hall of Knights. This is the heart of The Hague, the place where the city originated and where today the Netherlands are governed. The main buildings at the Binnenhof include the Gothic Hall of Knights and the Torentje (“the Little Tower”), the office of the Prime Minister of the Netherlands.
The Binnenhof is also home to the city’s most famous museum, the Mauritshuis. Here you’ll find a large collection of Dutch paintings from the Golden Age, including “Girl with a Pearl Earring” by Johannes Vermeer. Don’t forget to admire the Hofvijver (Court Pond) next to the inner court when you leave the museum.
If you need more art, you can drop by the Escher in the Palace museum before lunch. This museum is dedicated to the engravings by the hand of graphic artist M.C. Escher, who was an absolute master in optical illusions. Afterwards, enjoy a lovely meal at De Resident, a cosy bistro with an extensive menu appealing to both locals and tourists alike.
After a tasty lunch and a cup of coffee, walk to Panorama Mesdag via the Mauritskade. This unique museum has a huge painting of 120 metres long and 14 metres high on display in a specially designed round building. The work, which was painted by Hendrik Willem Mesdag and his wife, pictures the fishing village of Scheveningen as it was in 1880. The 360 degree vista of the sea and dunes makes you feel like you’re standing in the middle of the painting. An absolute must!
Time to recharge your batteries in the lush Palace Garden, one of The Hague’s hidden gems. You’ll find the garden directly behind Noordeinde Palace, King Willem-Alexander’s place of work. While the palace itself is not open to the public, the garden is (enter via the “Prinsessewal”).
The Peace Palace
A 10-minute walk from here stands the most photographed building of The Hague: the Peace Palace. A guided tour of the building, which is where the International Court of Justice is seated, is available only a few weekends every year. However, the palace is impressive on the outside, as well. Stop for a moment at the Eternal Flame of Peace at the entrance or visit the visitors’ centre.
A visit to the coastal city of Scheveningen should be on your to do list when you’re on a city break to The Hague. You can either walk there via the Westbroekpark in around 35 minutes from the city centre or take a tram (line 1), which will take you there in about 15 minutes.
With 9 million visitors each year, Scheveningen is a bustling tourist attraction. Take a walk on the boulevard along the sandy beach and admire the Kurhaus, a magnificent Art Nouveau building dating back to 1885. If you want, you can stop by the Simonis fish shop to try its delicious fresh herring. Then cross the street to walk along the famous Pier above beach level. At the end of the pier there’s a Ferris wheel which offers great views of the city.
Your final stop is the Harbour District (Havenkwartier). Scheveningen’s harbour bursts with activity and it features many nice restaurants, including “de Dagvisser”, where you can taste flavourful fresh fish. Sushi, sea bream, mussels, oysters or the catch of the day: a worthy ending to your day in The Hague!
Convinced? Book your journey!
Can't wait to explore The Hague? Get straight to the city centre with InterCity trains. Tip: the earlier you book, the cheaper your tickets will be!
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* Unless expressly stated otherwise, all fares quoted are per person/per leg (VAT included) based on an online reservation for a 2nd class return from Brussels. Please note, terms and conditions apply. Tip: As the number of seats at the lowest fares on Thalys, Eurostar, TGV® and ICE trains is limited, we recommend that you book your trip as early as possible. Most international trains allow reservations to be made from 3 to 4 months before the date of departure (or from 6 months for Eurostar and ICE).
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