While the Netherlands in general tends to be a somewhat overlooked travel destination when it comes to countries, its capital Amsterdam consistently ranks among Europe’s most popular cities, attracting just under nine million travelers. visitors per year. This should come as no surprise because Amsterdam is awesome. But all those crowds can be overwhelming, especially if you’re trying to find a restaurant with an empty table at dinner time without a reservation. And take the perfect shot of its famously beautiful canals without a bunch of tourists in the way? Forget that.
Located an hour south of Amsterdam (or 30 minutes south of the airport) via one of the very convenient trains in the Netherlands, there is, however, a much more laid-back alternative: The Hague. Famous for being home to the Peace Palace and the International Criminal Court from where the United Nations International Court of Justice does its best to keep civilization on track, The Hague is a beautifully developed city with a lively atmosphere. but cold. If you’re looking to travel to the Netherlands and enjoy its renowned Dutch charm, The Hague is the city where you can experience it without battling a crowd – and if you’re taking a multi-city European trip, we We have the details on how you can make the most of a weekend in The Hague.
Why visit The Hague?
The Hague has long been a popular destination for those interested in history and human rights issues, but it offers something for everyone. Stunning landscapes, incredible artwork, tasty food, thriving nightlife – if you’re looking for it, The Hague has it. But – and I can’t stress this enough – it serves it all up with a side full of relaxing vibes.
Part of this laid-back atmosphere no doubt stems from the fact that the car-to-bike ratio has been reversed, and so the streets are filled with the pleasing sound of bicycle bells rather than the hum of engines and exhaust fumes. Beyond that, the laid back feeling has something to do with the lack of rush. No one ever seems in a rush to be somewhere. Amsterdam is also relatively quiet, but as a big city it still has the bustle that tends to come with such a place. The Hague just doesn’t have that kind of attitude.
When you go to enjoy its peaceful charms, here are some suggestions for places to stay, eat and enjoy your time.
Where to stay in The Hague
If you’re looking for luxury with a bit of quirkiness, voco offers an upscale experience in a beautifully quirky setting. Housed in a historic bank building directly in the center of town, its modernist aesthetic has plenty of creative touches while its convenient location is only a few minutes walk from almost everywhere. Most of the rooms offer beautiful views of the surrounding rooftops and the service is exceptional.
For longer stays — if you’re in town on business, say, or on trial for war crimes (hopefully not) — Staybridge Suites offers an equally stylish temporary home that includes conveniences like kitchens in the bedroom. It is on the edge of the canal directly opposite the Parliament building and has easy access to everything.
Where to eat in The Hague
The Hague offers a wealth of international dining options, but if you’re looking to go Dutch, so to speak, head to Loetje Den Haag Centrum, which was recommended to me by a Dutch Member of Parliament. Its taste turned out good, because the food was really delicious. Everything is covered in gravy and other delicious sauces, so you can’t go wrong.
If you are looking for a koffiebranderij (coffee roaster) where you can have a phenomenal cup of coffee, it’s BOON. Not only will this unassuming little place blow your mind with the quality of its coffee, but its outdoor terrace offers an exceptional place to sit and watch the local life go by.
Get weird with Escher
There are a number of fine museums in The Hague, but the most notable is undoubtedly Escher in Het Paleis, aka the MC Escher Museum. Escher is best known for his impossible staircase designs, but this collection goes much deeper into his weird and surreal work. Located in the heart of the city, just down the street from the two hotels suggested above, it is particularly pleasant to visit on weekends when the antique market is set up in the park leading to the museum. And if you like to smoke the famous Dutch Kush, I highly recommend it (emphasis on high) hit up one of the local “cafes” for a Dutch joint before your visit.
Where to get weed in The Hague
Speaking of which, “coffee shops” – so called because cannabis was sold illegally in cafes – are everywhere in The Hague, but Coffeeshop Greenhouse Secret Farmers is my favourite. Besides its half-word salad name, it stands out for its wide variety of varieties, its helpful staff and its relaxed atmosphere. Relaxing vibes are, after all, what we’re here for, aren’t they?