Have you ever heard of The Hague? No? Neither had I until I was planning a trip between Amsterdam and Brussels and needed a place to stay between the two cities. I love when one discovers new and unexpected travel gems (hey Riga) and The Hague was a great surprise. The Hague is the administrative capital of The Netherlands, meaning it is home to the Dutch government. It is the third largest city in the Netherlands and perfect as a weekend destination for busy full-time workers. I also found it a great solo travel destination. Let’s get on to the good stuff though, you’re here because you want to know what to do for 24 hours in The Hague!
Travel to and from The Hague
The Hague is well-serviced by trains and you can easily travel from Amsterdam and onwards to Belgium from the city. Trains from Amsterdam to Den Haag Centraal take roughly 50 minutes, so if you’re stretched for time you could make this a day trip. You can see online timetables on NS’ website but you can only book tickets online with a Dutch bank account. Don’t fret though, tickets are really easy to buy from the machines at Amsterdam station.
After your amazing 24 hours, you might consider tagging on a Belgian adventure (perhaps you negotiated a whopping 5 days off work!). Travel from Den Haag HS (different train station to the one you arrived to from Amsterdam) to Brussels. The journey to Brussels Centraal takes 2,5 hours and unlike domestic travel, you can book your tickets online from the NS website. Tickets are about 36 euro, which I think is really good value.
My favourite part about the train stations in The Hague though is the lockers where you can store your bag. These electronic lockers are sooooo convenient, especially if you arrive early with your train or just want to dump your bag whilst you explore. Put your bag in the locker, close the door and pay the fee by card at the card machine. That generates a ticket which you then scan to open the locker door when you collect your bag.
If you are not interested in Amsterdam, it is possible to fly into Rotterdam The Hague airport. The airport can be reached from major European cities such as London, Berlin and Barcelona.
Where to Stay
During my stay I was definitely on the hunt for budget accommodation. The cheapest option I could find was Hotel Room11 which was very no-frills. However, I managed to get a private room with shared bathroom for 35 euro a night. Note that reception is inside the cafe next door. I enjoyed the location of this small hotel, located next to a canal and within 15 minutes walking distance from the likes of Mauritshuis. It’s clean, has a comfy bed, a sink in the room and wasn’t noisy so fulfilled everything a solo traveller might need for one night.
24 Hours in The Hague
For a budget start to your The Hague itinerary, get your breakfast from St. Anny Tea House in Chinatown. This cafe has a great selection of morning pastries and for 1 euro I bought a pineapple bread with custard filling. Very tasty. Make your next stop the Binnenhof area. I came very unprepared to the city and stumbled upon this sightseeing gem. The Binnenhof is a cluster of buildings which include the Prime Minister’s office. I must admit I’m a bit jealous of the Prime Minister’s swanky office environment, just look at the picture! Spend some time walking by the nearby lake, Hofvijver, and also explore the inner courtyard of the building cluster. In the middle you have The Ridderzaal, a gothic hall where the Dutch monarch delivers the Parliament opening speech on Prinsjesdag.
In hindsight I had a quite Asian food-themed 24 hours in The Hague. No surprises there. I found a great lunch deal at the chain Sumo on Herengracht, where you can eat all the sushi you want handmade to order for 19.50 euro. Yes, ALL you want. A very exciting proposition to say the least. I spent 1,5 hour in this restaurant, no judgement allowed. The service is a bit slow but the sushi is decent quality, especially for the price. For a tasty lunch with good value for money, I’d definitely recommend it.
After your very filling lunch, head over to Mauritshuis. This former private residence is a beautiful, albeit quite small, building that houses a really impressive art collection. The most famous is probably Girl with a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer but the museum houses the works of several classic painters. Famous names include Brueghel, Rubens and Rembrandt. You could easily spend a couple of hours admiring the art as well as the extravagant building. Beware of the museum’s unusual opening hours on Mondays, where they are open 1pm – 6pm. All other days are 10am – 6pm. Entrance is 14 euros, which admittedly is pricey. However, this is a must visit destination if you are interested in classic art.
For a more unusual museum experience, head over to the Escher in het Paleis museum. If you haven’t heard of Escher (I hadn’t!) you have most likely seen his work circulate the internet (I had!). His signature style evolved into optical illusions of various descriptions and he produced some really interesting pieces. This is a really enjoyable museum, especially if you like graphic art. Opening hours are 11am – 5pm Tuesday to Sunday (Monday is basically a bad day for museums). Entrance is 9.50 euro.
If you’ve spent all your money on museums, head to Febo for a budget alternative to dinner. This is a fast food takeaway with a rather novel concept. Whilst you can order some items at the counter, the most interesting part is the automatic compartments with ready made snacks. Insert coins next to the snack you want and then open the tiny door and grab your chosen item. I really loved the kaassuffle, which is a deep fried snack with melted cheese in the middle.
Stroll around the city in the evening to admire the mix of small town cosiness with a more metropolitan vibe. If you’re visiting on a Thursday, you can also do a spot of evening shopping as the central stores are open until 9pm. The city offers several household names, such as Primark, Zara and COS. For branded shopping, head to The Sting which is located in a really cool building on Dagelijkse Groenmarkt.
I hope you enjoyed this city guide and feel inspired to visit this great city! It’s perfect for culture buffs with its really high class museums and if you have an extra day, you could also head out to the famous Scheveningen beach.