The Hague is the world-famous city of peace and justice and the seat of international politics. The city has a very international feel to it and is also home to numerous international organisations and thus, plenty of expats. English is widely spoken and can be heard on trams, trains and busses, as are a range of other languages in addition to Dutch.
Besides its evidently international orientation, there are many really beautiful and interesting attractions in this important city.
Here are the top 10 things I love about The Hague:
1. The Beach
Believe it or not but The Hague has a stunning beach with some amazing beach bars and clubs! I never expected this at all. There is even a shopping centre on the water’s edge, plenty of restaurants and an aquarium to keep children entertained. A must-see is the Kurhaus Hotel – a magnificent seaside building dating back two hundred years ago.
2. Café Culture
As with numerous European cities, The Hague has many lovely cafes waiting to be discovered – both in the city centre and beyond! A love for cafes is no doubt evident and you’ll find many locals and foreigners relaxing and enjoying a cup of coffee as people walk by. It’s great to hang out in cafes when the weather is rainy and there is nothing better than keeping cozy indoors but at the same time enjoying the hubbub of the city.
3. The Royals
If you’re lucky you may just catch a glimpse of King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of The Netherlands. I managed to snap this close-up pic of the couple in a vintage open top car during recent festivities in The Hague. It was great to see them up close and to also watch the crowd in awe. A photo of the happy couple was also unveiled against a tall building.
Because the Dutch are fluent in English you’ll find plenty of bookstores with English titles. In fact, I’ve been really impressed with the extensive collection of English books on offer. Some bookshops (such as Paagman on the Frederik Hendriklaan) even have a small coffee shop inside – just another great reason to spend your wages on some new titles.
Canals are abundant throughout the Netherlands and today they are mainly used for recreational purposes including boat trips in the summer and ice-skating in the icy months. There is nothing more beautiful than taking a late afternoon stroll on the banks of a canal in the spring and summer months.
6. Green Routes
I love to walk and explore. It’s one of my favourite pastimes. The Hague is the perfect place to explore and there are some really magnificent green areas where you can wonder about when it’s not rainy.
7. The Peace Palace
The Hague is a city well-known for peace and justice and the Peace Palace is an embodiment of this. One can enter the Peace Palace for a small fee. Alternatively, take advantage of the free audio guide and small exhibition at the Visitor’s Centre – this is an exhibition that explains the history of the Peace Palace and its worldwide importance.
8. Stately Homes
Many parts of The Hague have a very exclusive, stately appeal to them that is tangible in the intricate facades of large 19th century houses. The overall architecture of the city is fascinating and ranges from smallish modern blocks of flats, to skyscrapers in the city centre and large homes with huge gardens in the suburbs. It is worth walking around the Statenkwartier area to observe some of these exquisite mansions.
9. Grote Markt
Grote Markt is one of the main meeting points in the city. It’s a place where locals gather to have a good time after work and on weekends. There are a variety of eclectic cafes situated at Grote Markt. Outdoor performances are frequently held there at night and it looks really festive with the tiny lights on the trees and the throngs of people that gather. Go on a Thursday for the best vibe.
10. Outdoor Art Displays
The Netherlands itself is known for many famous artists and art is an important part of Dutch culture. If you walk around The Hague you’ll notice numerous outdoor exhibitions from artists the world over. There is a great sense of pride when it comes to outdoor art and sculptures and this can be seen in the manner in which locals stop to observe and absorb each piece. Many of the exhibitions have signposts in English and Dutch so you can read a little bit about the artist and the nature of his or her work on display.
What do you love about The Hague, Netherlands? What makes this city so special? I’d love to hear your thoughts below.