The Hague

Located in the west of the Netherlands and the third-largest city in the country, The Hague is more renowned as a nucleus of national and international politics than tourism. However, you’ll be surprised by what’s available for the visitor.

Founded in 1248 by William II, Count of Holland, the site was quickly adopted by future counts as their administrative centre ('Des Graven Hage' literally meaning 'the count’s private enclosure'). The settlement’s jurisdiction was widened soon after thanks to a decision by the main cities of the Netherlands to delegate administration to The Hague. Focusing their efforts in that direction, the region was subsequently vulnerable to invasion and fell at the hands of the Spanish during the Eighty Years War and the French two centuries later. Indeed, it was the latter’s occupation force that actually named The Hague a city in 1806. Liberation sparked the city’s first major expansion, only broken up by the two World Wars which ravaged the landscape.

Since reconstructed, The Hague is now known as the seat of the Dutch government and the monarchy, but don’t let the official atmosphere put you off. The Hague remains one of the best spots in the Netherlands for a city break.


The Hague is very much a modern city and the architecture reflects this fact. All pre-20th century edifices are connected to the Dutch government, particularly those of the Binnenhof (inner court) like the het Torentje (small tower), used by the Prime Minister as an office. One exception to this is the outstanding medieval Knight’s Hall.

Outside of the inner court, the Lange Voorhut is a remarkable tree-lined square containing fine 18th century townhouses and the marvellous baroque Huis Huguetan Building, home to the Dutch Supreme Court.

The most prestigious modern building is unquestionably The Peace Palace. Given to the city by Andrew Carnegie, it’s main claim to fame is housing the International Court of Justice but the building is attractive in its own right, designed by the French architect Cordonnier after an international competition.

One other quasi-architectural point of interest is the Madurodam miniature city. Built in 1952 by George Maduro, the Madurodam depicts a Dutch town with typical landmarks and, charmingly, counts Queen Beatrix as its mayor.

The Hague has a huge array of museums and galleries by any standard, including some of the finest in the country. Located in a former count’s residence, the Mauritshuis contains a huge collection of Dutch art, encompassing works by Johannes Vermeer and Rembrandt. Elsewhere, the Gemeentemuseum den Haag specialises in 20th century art, with pieces by Van Gogh, Monet and Kandinsky as well as a large permanent collection of Mondrian. If you’re looking for a more specific insight into the history of The Hague though, search out the Haags Historich Museum as well as the Museum de Gevangenpoort, set in the former 15th century prison. Also remarkable are the Museum Beelden aan Zee (displaying 20th century sculpture) and the Museon science museum, but there are many more across the city.

For a stroll, look out for the Park Clingendael and its fabulous Japanese garden, or the gardens of the Paleis Noordeinde, workplace of Queen Beatrix.

If relaxation is what you want instead, the tourist-friendly Scheveningen beach resort in the northwest or the more local Kijkduin resort in the southwest are the places to visit.

A number of festivals and events are hosted in The Hague, the most important of which being the Koninginnedag (Queen’s Day) on the 30th April, with a funfair and street markets galore, and the Parkpop free open-air concert in June, with former artists performing including Kelis.

Football and rugby dominate sport in The Hague. The local football team, ADO Den Haag, play their games in the Eredivisie at the Zuiderpark Stadion, while the local rugby team, Haagsche Rugby Club are the most successful club in the country. There is also an American Football team, the Den Hague Raiders 99.


The Hague is a major shopping central in the Netherlands. This is largely due to the number of shopping malls like The Passage (containing luxurious stores and with a history dating back to the 19th century), Leidsenhage and the Palace Promenade.

There are also a number of shopping areas such as Haagsche Bluf, Segbroek and Frederik Hendriklaan, all filled with outlets.

For high-street fashion in particular, check out Hoogstraat, Molenstraat and De Plaats.

Nightlife and Eating Out

The City Mondial is packed with restaurants offering a wide range of different cuisines. Reflecting The Hague’s historic links to the Dutch East India Company, Indonesian food figures prominently. Restaurants like Djawa in Mallemolen and Tampat Senang in Laan van Meerdervoort are some of the best in the city. However, you can find alternatives like Japanese at Shirasagi on Spui 170.

Lacking a university, The Hague is not reputed for its nightlife but the main areas for bars are the Het Plein (The Square), the Grote Markt and the Buitenhof (Outer Court) as well as the Scheveningen resort. You can also find clubs like Asta in Spui 27 and Danzig in Lange Houtstaat.

The Scheveningen resort also houses the Holland Casino Scheveningen.

Tourist Information

The Hague Tourist Information OfficeHofweg, 1The HagueTel: +31 (0)900 340 35


The nearest airport to The Hague is Rotterdam Airport, but Amsterdam Schipol Airport is still preferable due to the superior transportation links to The Hague. Buses and trains can be regularly used from Amsterdam, although there are plans to build a light rail system (Randstadrail) to expedite travel from Rotterdam.

International and domestic connecting flights are available regularly from Amsterdam.

British Airways (London-Heathrow, London-Gatwick), bmi (London-Heathrow) and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (London-Heathrow, Manchester, Edinburgh) are among the airlines that use Amsterdam Schipol to and from British destinations.