The Hague (“Den Haag” in Dutch) is home to many of the Netherlands’ judicial and administrative buildings as well as the International Criminal Court, an intergovernmental organization and international tribunal. As such, this is a very government-oriented town and many of its residents work for either the Dutch government or the ICC.
While that can make it a “stuffy” place to visit, the city has fascinating architecture, an amazing array of parks and museums, a wide variety of restaurants, and even a beach that is hugely popular in the summer (head there for some tasty seafood restaurants on the boardwalk). The Hague may not be as cool as youthful Amsterdam, but it is no less interesting.
This travel guide to The Hague can help you plan your trip, save money, and make the most of your time in this underappreciated destination.
Table of Contents
Top 5 Things to See and Do in the Hague
1. Walk around the Plein
This square, which was once home to a fruit and vegetable garden, is filled with medieval and historic buildings, like the Binnenhof (meeting place of the States General of the Netherlands), the House of Representatives, and the Mauritshuis art museum. In the evenings, it gets bustling, with people meeting in the restaurants, bars, and shops that line the north side of the square. Later on, those same venues transform into bars and clubs, making the Plein one of the most popular nightlife scenes in the city.
2. Tour Mauritshuis
Located in the center of The Hague, this small museum is home to an impressive collection of works by artists like Vermeer, Rembrandt, and Andy Warhol, among others. It’s not a massive gallery so you can see everything in about an hour. The museum is actually split in two: the Mauritshuis is located in a city palace on the Plein while the nearby Prince William V Gallery is just down the street at the Buitenhof (more on it below). Admission is 17.50 EUR and includes entry to both locations.
3. Visit the Binnenhof
The Binnenhof is where the Dutch government has resided since 1446. It’s also where the Dutch throne is located and where the monarchy delivers its speech to parliament every year (the Netherlands has been an independent monarchy since 1815). Among the ancient buildings, there’s an old Neogothic fountain in the main square, a Dutch equestrian statue of King William II from around 1600, and an artificial pond that dates to the late 13th century. A tour is a good way to learn about the inner workings of the Netherlands government and politics. They’re run by ProDemos and include an overview of the history of the complex and its current renovation as well as an overview of the Dutch political system. Tours cost 5 EUR.
4. Enjoy the beach
The Hague is located right on the North Sea. During the summer, the beach — with its 11 kilometers of coastline — is a cheap and popular thing to do for locals and tourists alike. Scheveningen Beach is the most popular though it’s always crowded so get there early to find a good spot (there are plenty of great restaurants nearby too as well as De Pier, a pleasure pier with a Ferris wheel and bungee jumping, among other things). Zandmotor and Strandslag 12 are also very striking beaches although there aren’t as many restaurant options there.
5. See Madurodam
Open in the 1950s, this interactive miniature park showcases a miniature version of Holland, with exhibitions ranging from Amsterdam’s canals and church spires from Utrecht and Den Bosch to modern architecture from Rotterdam and the enormous Delta works that protect the country (the Delta works are structures that protect the low-lying country from floods). There are tons of activities here, such as an interactive soccer showcase, a place to take 3D selfies, and a cheese themed exhibit. Admission is 17 EUR.
Other Things to See and Do in The Hague
1. Shop along Denneweg
This is one of the oldest streets in The Hague and many of its buildings date back to the 18th century. Because the Denneweg has been a shopping street for centuries, many of the shops sell antiques. In the summer, there is an open-air antique and book market every Thursday and Sunday. Although some of the restaurants in this area are pretty upscale, it’s worth a visit to browse and window shop.
2. Relax in Westbroekpark
If you want to get away from the touristy parts of the city, come to this serene park, which has over 20,000 types of roses that bloom from June through November (there are over 300 different types of roses here). Designed in the 1920s, the park is popular with people of all ages and there are a few cafes nearby where you can grab a drink or snack. For a few euros, you can rent a rowboat and paddle around the small lake.
3. Explore the Art Museum
If you’re an art lover, don’t miss the Kunstmuseum Den Haag. It contains some of the early works of Picasso, Monet, and van Gogh, but it’s best known for its collection of Dutch artists, including van Gogh and Piet Mondriaan. The museum also has one of the largest collections of the iconic Dutch Delftware (pottery objects like plates, figurines, vases, etc.) in a permanent exhibition highlighting the Dutch “Golden Age” (an era that spanned from 1588-1672). Admission is 16 EUR.
4. Tour the Museum de Gevangenpoort
Originally an entrance gate to the castle of the Counts of Holland, from the 15th century to the 19th century, this building operated as a prison. Opened in 1882, you can walk through and learn about medieval torture practices as well as the types of punishment for different crimes committed in Medieval Holland. It’s right next door to the Prince William V Gallery and admission is 15 EUR.
5. Stroll through the Japanese garden
Originally designed and constructed during the 1870s, this Japanese garden includes a tea house, beautiful rocks laid out in manicured areas, Japanese lanterns and statues, and plenty of idyllic pathways lined by flowers. Located in Clingendael Park, there are clear pathways through the garden to keep the exotic and immaculate landscape safe. Admission is free though it’s only open a few weeks per year so check the website in advance before you go.
6. Visit the Peace Palace
Home to the International Court of Justice (the judicial body of the United Nations), this Palace is a working court. Its visitor center provides an important look into the building and its role in history (it investigates genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and other serious international crimes). There is a video and audio tour through the exhibition space, which includes information on the judicial bodies that work in the Peace Palace, as well as the history of the courts and their vital role in international affairs. It’s super informative as this isn’t really a topic most people learn about in school. Admission is free and guided tours cost 15 EUR.
7. Check out the Escher Museum
Born in 1898, M. C. Escher was a Dutch graphic artist who made mathematically inspired woodcuts and lithographs. His work became famous throughout the world and this museum is dedicated to his life and work. It features over 150 prints, highlighting his graphic work, optical illusions, and mathematical tessellations (art made with repeating shapes). It’s an insightful museum about an artist most people aren’t familiar with. Admission is 11 EUR.
7. Visit the Ridderzaal Knights Hall
Originally built between the 13th and 14th centuries, this castle once belonged to the Earls of Holland. Part of the Binnenhof building complex, the Ridderzaal Knights Hall boasts a beautiful interior made of wood carvings reminiscent of Dutch shipbuilding (a staple of the economy for centuries). The hall is used annually for royal events and important parliament speeches by the monarchy. Guided tours are necessary to visit and cost 5 EUR.
9. See contemporary sculptures
Located along the seaside, the Beelden aan Zee museum has a subterranean exhibition space with a large sculpture garden. The sculpture museum exhibits contemporary international and national artists and is one of the only museums in the Netherlands that solely shows sculpture. The exhibition space is really impressive, with works from the likes of Mark Quinn and Atelier van Lieshout, and it’s an easy cultural activity to take advantage of near the beach. It’s 17.50 EUR to visit.
10. Hang out in the Malieveld
A large field and park in the city center of The Hague, Malieveld is the busiest spot in the city — especially in the summer. Because there are many government buildings in The Hague (despite Amsterdam being the official capital), there are often protests and demonstrations taking place in the city center and, specifically, at Malieveld. It’s opposite the main train station, so it’s worth checking out to see if there are any special demonstrations or events you might be interested in. From the field, you can easily walk (or cycle) along several walking paths through the forested section at the northern edge.
11. Visit the Prince William V Gallery
Prince William V of Oranje-Nassau, the last stadtholder (a title similar to a Duke) in the Netherlands, built this room in 1774 to show off his priceless paintings. The walls were entirely covered in artwork, including the likes of The Garden of Eden with the Fall of Man by Peter Paul Rubens. Today, there are more than 150 masterpieces on display, enhanced by the room’s opulent decor of silk wall coverings and crystal chandeliers. It’s 5.50 EUR to visit just this gallery or you can purchase a 17.50 EUR ticket that also provides access to the Mauritshuis.
For more information on other cities in The Netherlands, check out these guides:
The Hague Travel Costs
Hostel prices – Hostel dorms with 6-8 beds cost 30-40 EUR per night in the summer while private rooms cost at least 70 EUR. In the off-season, prices are a little cheaper, with dorms starting from 26 EUR per night.
There aren’t a lot of options for hostels in the city (no matter the season) so it’s best to book in advance, especially during the peak summer months.
For those traveling with a tent, camping is available outside the city. A basic tent plot without electricity for one person costs at least 15 EUR per night.
Budget hotel prices – Budget two-star hotels that are centrally located cost 65-90 EUR per night. Prices start at around 90 EUR in the summer months. Expect basic amenities like free Wi-Fi, private bathrooms, and air conditioning.
On Airbnb, you can find private rooms from 40 EUR per night although they average around 70 EUR. Entire homes/apartments start at around 100 EUR. expect to pay double (or more) if you don’t book in advance.
Food – Dutch cuisine typically involves lots of vegetables, bread, and cheeses (gouda originated here). Meat, while historically not as prominent, is a staple of dinner meals. Breakfast and lunch usually involve open-faced sandwiches, often with cheeses and cold cuts. Dinners are very much a “meat and potatoes” meal, with meat stews and smoked sausage being two popular choices. For those with a sweet tooth, the stroopwafel (a waffle cookie with a syrup filling) is the go-to choice.
Falafel and shawarma shops are your best bet for cheap food. Quick meals here cost around 5-10 EUR. Fast food or places like Maoz cost around 10 EUR. A combo meal at McDonald’s is around 9 EUR.
There are a lot of international food options in The Hague because of the international workers and government buildings in the city so it’s one of the better cities to eat out in if you want to splurge.
A three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant serving traditional cuisine costs at least 35 EUR with a drink. If you really want to splash out, expect to pay at least 30 EUR per entree at some of the city’s finer establishments.
Beer costs around 5 EUR while a latte/cappuccino is 2.90 EUR. Bottled water costs 2.30 EUR.
If you cook your own meals, expect to pay around 55-65 EUR per week for groceries including pasta, rice, vegetables, and some meat.
Backpacking The Hague Suggested Budgets
If you’re backpacking The Hague, expect to spend about 65 EUR per day. This budget covers staying in a hostel dorm, taking public transit, cooking all of your meals, limiting your drinking, and doing free activities like lounging in the parks and hitting the beach. If you plan on drinking, add 10-20 EUR per day to your budget.
On a mid-range budget of about 170 EUR per day, you can stay in a private hostel room or Airbnb, eat out for most meals, enjoy a few drinks, take the occasional taxi to get around, and do paid activities like visiting the museums and galleries.
On a “luxury” budget of 360 EUR or more per day, you can stay in a hotel, eat out as much as you want, drink more, rent a bike or a car to get around, and do whatever tours and activities you want. This is just the ground floor for luxury though. The sky is the limit!
The Hague Travel Guide: Money-Saving Tips
The Hague can be expensive to visit, especially considering the fact it’s a government city with many professional and business visitors from around the world. Fortunately, a visit doesn’t have to break the bank. Here are some ways to save money in The Hague:
- Rent a bicycle – Bikes are a big part of Dutch culture and most people use them to get around. You can rent a bike starting at 8.50 EUR for a full day but you need to shop around (try Ga Den Haag). Another option is Donkey Republic, a bike-share app that has stations all over the city. You can get a bike with them for around 3.30 EUR per hour or 10-13 EUR per day.
- Get the Museumkaart (Museum Card) – Good for one month for non-residents, this card gets you into several museums in the Netherlands for only 64.90 EUR. With the Museum Card, you get access to more than 400 museums throughout the Netherlands, though the temporary card available to tourists can only be used at a maximum of 5 different museums. Depending upon your trip through The Netherlands, though, it can save you money if you choose which museums to use it at wisely.
- Stay with a local – Couchsurfing is a service that lets travelers stay with locals for free. Since a lot of travelers use this service, make your requests for hosts early. It’s a great way to meet locals and get insider tips and advice!
- Cook your own meals – Dutch food isn’t going to win any culinary awards so head to the supermarket and buy groceries instead of eating out. It’s not glamorous but it saves a ton.
- Take a free walking/bicycle tour – If you want an overview of the city, take one of the free walking tours via The Hague Greeters. This is a network of local volunteers who can show you around their city. You can request a walking or bike tour, just be sure to plan one at least two weeks in advance through their site as advanced notice is required. They don’t accept tips but do welcome donations to their head office.
- Save money on rideshares – Uber is way cheaper than taxis and is the best way to get around a city if you don’t want to wait for a bus or pay for a taxi.
- Bring a water bottle – The tap water here is safe to drink so bring a reusable water bottle to save money and reduce your plastic use. LifeStraw is my go-to brand as their bottles have built-in filters to ensure your water is always clean and safe.
Where to Stay in The Hague
The Hague doesn’t have as many hostels as other Dutch cities, but there are still a handful of budget-friendly places to choose from. Here are my suggested places to stay in The Hague:
How to Get Around The Hague
Public transport – The Hague has a reliable public transit system of buses and tram lines that connects the whole city. The buses and trams run on a network called HTM, while the light rail network is part of RandstadRail. You can buy a day pass for 7.10 EUR or a ticket that’s valid for two hours for 4 EUR.
There is also the tourist day ticket, which lets you travel on all trams, buses, metros, and water buses in the province of Zuid-Holland for 14.50 EUR per day.
Cash fares are not accepted on public transit; you need a reloadable or single-use transit card, which are available at stations and kiosks all over the city.
Bicycle – Like other cities in the Netherlands, cycling is one of the most popular ways to get around. You can rent bikes starting at 8.50 EUR per day (though most places also require a deposit). Donkey Republic is a bike-sharing app that has stations all over the city. You can get a bike with them for around 3.30 EUR per hour or 10-13 EUR per day.
Taxi – Taxis cost a minimum of 3.20 EUR and charge 2.40 EUR per kilometer. They add up quickly so skip them if you’re on a budget.
Ridesharing – Uber is available in The Hague but since public transportation goes everywhere, including the beach, you shouldn’t need them.
Car rental – Car rentals start at 25 EUR per day for a multi-day rental, however, you only need a car if you plan on leaving the city to explore the region. For the best car rental prices, use Discover Cars.
When to Go to The Hague
The Hague’s peak season is in the summer, from June to August. This is when the city is liveliest and busiest (though it’s not nearly as busy as Amsterdam). Expect daily highs around 21°C (70°F).
In June, the city comes alive with the annual Holland Festival, an international performing arts festival that takes place across The Hague, Rotterdam, and Utrecht. Expect lots of street art performers and fringe shows during the same period. It’s a fun time to visit if you’re interested in art and culture, just be sure to book your accommodation in advance as the city fills up.
Visiting during the shoulder season (late spring/early fall) offers temperate weather with fewer crowds, making it an ideal time to visit (though you’ll miss out on the beach). You may get a bit of rain though so bring a rain jacket.
The average daily temperature in the winter is 4°C (40°F). I’d avoid visiting during this time unless you’re just planning to go museum hopping as there isn’t nearly as much to do in the winter.
How to Stay Safe in the Hague
The Hague is an incredibly safe place to backpack and travel. Violent crime is rare, however, pickpocketing can occur on public transit and at the beach so keep your belongings close and your valuables out of sight just to be safe.
Solo female travelers should generally feel safe here, however, the standard precautions apply (never leave your drink unattended at the bar, never walk home alone intoxicated, etc.).
There are also a few common scams to be aware of as well, such as people trying to sell you public transit tickets that have already been used. Additionally, be wary of purchasing a really cheap bike from someone off the street as it likely means it’s been stolen. You can read about common travel scams to avoid here.
If you experience an emergency, dial 112 for assistance.
The most important piece of advice I can offer is to purchase good travel insurance. Travel insurance protects you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. You can use the widget below to find the policy right for you:
The Hague Travel Guide: The Best Booking Resources
These are my favorite companies to use when I travel. They consistently have the best deals, offer world-class customer service and great value, and overall, are better than their competitors. They are the companies I use the most and are always the starting point in my search for travel deals.
- Skyscanner – Skyscanner is my favorite flight search engine. They search small websites and budget airlines that larger search sites tend to miss. They are hands down the number one place to start.
- Hostelworld – This is the best hostel accommodation site out there with the largest inventory, best search interface, and widest availability.
- Booking.com – The best all around booking site that constantly provides the cheapest and lowest rates. They have the widest selection of budget accommodation. In all my tests, they’ve always had the cheapest rates out of all the booking websites.
- HostelPass – This new card gives you up to 20% off hostels throughout Europe. It’s a great way to save money. They’re constantly adding new hostels too. I’ve always wanted something like this and glad it finallt exists.
- Get Your Guide – Get Your Guide is a huge online marketplace for tours and excursions. They have tons of tour options available in cities all around the world, including everything from cooking classes, walking tours, street art lessons, and more!
- The Man in Seat 61 – This website is the ultimate guide to train travel anywhere in the world. They have the most comprehensive information on routes, times, prices, and train conditions. If you are planning a long train journey or some epic train trip, consult this site.
- Rome2Rio – This website allows you to see how to get from point A to point B the best and cheapest way possible. It will give you all the bus, train, plane, or boat routes that can get you there as well as how much they cost.
- FlixBus – Flixbus has routes between 20 European countries with prices starting as low 5 EUR! Their buses include WiFi, electrical outlets, a free checked bag.
- SafetyWing – Safety Wing offers convenient and affordable plans tailored to digital nomads and long-term travelers. They have cheap monthly plans, great customer service, and an easy-to-use claims process that makes it perfect for those on the road.
- LifeStraw – My go-to company for reusable water bottles with built-in filters so you can ensure your drinking water is always clean and safe.
- Unbound Merino – They make lightweight, durable, easy-to-clean travel clothing.
- Top Travel Credit Cards – Points are the best way to cut down travel expenses. Here’s my favorite point earning credit cards so you can get free travel!
- BlaBlaCar – BlaBlaCar is a ridesharing website that lets you share rides with vetted local drivers by pitching in for gas. You simply request a seat, they approve, and off you go! It’s a cheaper and more interesting way to travel than by bus or train!
The Hague Travel Guide: Related Articles
Want more info? Check out all the articles I’ve written on backpacking/traveling the Netherlands and continue planning your trip: