Top 20 things to do
Whether you're a resident or a tourist, The Hague offers plenty of activities and attractions to fill your time. From the city centre to nearby Delft and beach-side Scheveningen, there are countless things to do: heritage buildings, museums, theme parks, outdoor activities and much more! Here are 20 of the must-see attractions in The Hague for you and your family.
1. The Government Seat at the Binnenhof
The Hague is where the country is run – and it shows. Step into the centre of it all at the Binnenhof (Inner Court), home to both chambers of the Dutch parliament, and where the King delivers his speech on Prince's Day. Some of the buildings date back eight centuries, and are visible from the courtyard or during a guided tour. Look north from here to see the even older Prison Gate (Gevangenpoort), dating back to 1296.
2. The Peace Palace
In The Hague, tens of thousands of people work every day to build a more peaceful and just world. The Peace Palace is where this happens, containing important institutions from the International Justice Court (the official court of the United Nations) to the Permanent Court of Arbitration. If that wasn't enough, the Palace is worth visiting for its beautiful architecture alone, as well as one of the oldest libraries in the country. Stop by the Visitor Centre or take a guided tour during the summer, when the doors of the Palace are open to the public for a limited time.
3. The Royal Palace Noordeinde
The Netherlands has been a monarchy for over two centuries. And nowhere is this more visible than in The Hague. It is home to the Royal Palace, also known as Palace Noordeinde, where the king spends a lot of time working. While the residence is not open to the public, you can view the building from the surrounding Noordeinde Palace Gardens, which also provide a view of the nearby Royal Stables.
4. The Hague Forest
For even more natural wonder, escape to the forest! The Haagse Bos or Hague Forest is a green oasis inside the city, and one of the two oldest forests in the Netherlands. While you're there, check out the Huis ten Bosch Palace, another home to the Dutch royal family.
5. Beachside Scheveningen and SEA LIFE
Or perhaps you prefer a sea breeze? Just 20 minutes from the city centre is Scheveningen, a beach resort that, for many, is The Hague's best-kept secret. Take a stroll along the shore in all seasons, try some water sports, or visit the marine animals at SEA LIFE Scheveningen: an aquarium that’s home to sharks, rays, turtles, otters, penguins and much more.
6. A Miniature World at Madurodam
Madurodam is an interactive miniature park, where you can pretend to be a giant. This is the ultimate place to discover what makes the Netherlands so unique, in a short period of time. The miniature buildings, multimedia and numerous interactive installations are spectacular but also educational, covering some of the most typical aspects of Dutch history and culture. Canal houses, tulip fields, a cheese market, a wooden shoe factory, windmills, the Peace Palace, the Delta Works – you will find them all in Madurodam!
7. Masterpieces at the Mauritshuis
There are many important art museums in The Hague, but perhaps the most prestigious is the Mauritshuis. Here you will find internationally known masterpieces like Rembrandt's Anatomy Lesson, Vermeer's View of Delft or Jacob van Ruisdael's View of Haarlem. Look also for an eccentric collection of valuable objects and curios, dating back to the museum's construction in the 17th century.
The Dutch have a longstanding passion for film, and The Hague is home to many cinemas. Several Pathé theatres offer blockbusters with big screens and state-of-the-art sound systems, whereas you can find more arthouse and independent films at Filmhuis Den Haag, or a mixture at Theater Dakota – which also hosts theatre productions. And don't worry, foreign films are usually shown with subtitles in the Netherlands, not dubbed.
Daytrip to Delft
While there's plenty to do in The Hague, Delft is also just a stone's throw away. Most of the following attractions can be reached quickly from The Hague city centre. Or consider visiting several attractions in one go, for an action-packed day out in Delft.
9. Vermeer Centrum Delft
Delft was the place where the 17th-century painter Johannes Vermeer lived and worked his whole life. The Vermeer Centrum Delft is the only place in the world where you can admire (reproductions of) all the paintings of Vermeer in their original size. Here, you will find out everything you ever wanted to know about Vermeer’s life, family and work.
10. Royal Delft Blue
When most people think of Delft, they think of Delft Blue. And rightly so! Delft ceramics have been world-famous ever since they were first made in the 17th century, and you can still see how Delft Blue is made in the same way today. Pottery fans will love visiting Royal Delft, the town's most famous earthenware factory.
11. City of Orange: New Church
In the Royal Crypt of the New Church, you will find the ornate tomb of William of Orange, ‘the Father of the Nation’. Many other members of the Royal House of Orange-Nassau have also been laid to rest in the Royal Crypt. Prince Claus, Queen Juliana, and Prince Bernhard were buried here in 2002 and 2004.
12. Museum Prinsenhof Delft
Museum Prinsenhof Delft was the scene of one of the most important events in Dutch history: the assassination of King William of Orange. On 10 July 1584, he was gunned down by Balthasar Gerards as he climbed the stairs to his office. You can still see the bullet holes in the wall of the museum today. Nowadays, the building is a museum that allows you to experience the history of the Netherlands. Families can take part in a quiz while walking through the museum or go on a guided tour.
Perfect for Kids and Families
Most of these activities are suitable for the whole family. But if you want to guarantee a fun day out for your kids, there are plenty of exciting options that are sure to please everyone. For a discount, make sure to pick up a Vacation Card (VakantiePas) booklet from your child's school. If you live in Delft, the Delftpas can give you even more discounts on many activities in the city.
13. Kunstmuseum Den Haag
One of The Hague's premier art museums, the Kunstmuseum Den Haag also offers plenty for kids. Under-18s enter for free, and can wander through the Chambers of Wonder, tablet in hand, and lose themselves among art, fashion and their own thoughts. For younger children, there are kids' exhibitions, seasonal activities and, every Sunday, free drawing at the children’s atelier.
14. Planet Jump
Planet Jump used to be a church but is now fully dedicated to bouncing, with wall-to-wall trampolines, an obstacle course and a rotating climbing wall. There’s even a special area where toddlers will feel safe jumping all around.
15. Children’s Book Museum
Kids can learn about children's literature in a playful way at the Children's Book Museum (Kinderboekenmuseum) in The Hague. Learning, experiencing and doing are key elements of a visit here. All exhibitions and workshops at the museum stimulate the imagination and awaken the joy of reading.
16. Museon and One Planet Dome
The Museon in The Hague is a museum for culture and science. Visitors are inspired to discover the world and treat it with respect. In the central exhibition, ‘One Planet’, you learn in a fun way what you can do to keep our earth liveable. Situated inside, the One Planet Dome shows nature films and documentaries. Films are in Dutch, but visitors can use a smartphone app to listen in English.
17. Science Centre TU Delft
The Science Centre is great for kids who like tech. Here, they can discover what students and researchers really do at the Delft University of Technology. Children can follow in their footsteps by doing research themselves at workshops given by students.
18. Petting Zoos
Bring your little explorers up close and personal with furry friends. Kids can see farm animals at many petting zoos in the area. Find one of many in The Hague and Delft, or try Kinderboerderij Het Akkertje in Rijswijk or Kinderboerderij Essesteijn in Leidschendam-Voorburg.
19. Exotic Animals
But there are also more exotic animals to see in the area. From spring until autumn, visit Vlinders aan de Vliet (Butterflies by the Vliet): a small tropical zoo in nearby Leidschendam with hundreds of colourful butterflies, birds, fish, tortoises, reptiles and other unusual insects. Avonturia De Vogelkelder takes you on an expedition, bringing you face to face with unusual animals: snakes, reptiles, exotic birds, tortoises, meerkats and parrots.
20. Theme Parks
For young thrill-seekers, the Hague area also hosts a couple of theme parks. Duinrell offers the full package: an exciting holiday and amusement park and spectacular tropical pool paradise, located in the beautiful dunes of Wassenaar, by the beach. Meanwhile, nearer the city centre, Drievliet is an ideal amusement park for the entire family, with 35 major attractions, a play garden and shows. Both young and old can enjoy themselves on one of its four roller coasters.