The seat of the Dutch government, the city of peace and justice, La Haye in French, Den Haag in Dutch… this city has many names and even more faces. So it’s time we walk past the Binnenhof and Palace ‘Noordeinde’ and show you some of the other best spots of The Hague.
Situated very close to its big, popular brothers, Amsterdam and Rotterdam, just a stone-throw away from the booming student city of Leiden, The Hague can and often is very different from them all, despite the proximity. Louis Couperus, one of the greatest writers of the Dutch literature once said: “Zoo ik íéts ben, ben ik een Hagenaar” (”As much as I am something, I am a Hagenaar”), a pretty inspiring quote, also written on his monument. Surely, this great city sits deep in his heart. In fact, The Hague stays in everyone’s heart, once they have the eyes to see the best spots of The Hague, and here’s why:
Best Spots of The Hague: The Bosjes
If even you are not a nature enthusiast, lover, admirer and so, you will not remain indifferent to the plethora of small forest, parks, and green settlements in The Hague.
They are everywhere, full of wildlife and plain beauty. It is not often that you walk through a big, busy city and in just a few steps, you suddenly find yourself in a quiet, secluded area, where your way is crossed by ducklings or swans.
Step outside of the central train station and there you will find the Malieveld park, surrounded by business buildings, hotels, ringing trams and cars. On its front side is a real fragment of the wildlife – a herd of deer and bucks calmly enjoying the green grass around and the curiosity of the bystanders.
And Malieveld doesn’t even start to describe the harmony of city and nature in The Hague. Herds of deer and city farms are also kept in the Zuiderpark, along with a good population of rabbits running in the wild. The park is also home to a charming rosarium, build by Napoleon for his Josephine.
A little further from Malieveld is the beginning of the Haagse Bos which by now is a fantastic, untouched real forest in the very heart of the city and one of the best spots of The Hague. On its north side is Clingendael, an impressive mansion with even more impressive forest area and a true pearl – the Japanese garden. Created by Baroness Marguerite Mary van Brienen, a.k.a. Lady Daisy, the garden hosts some of the brightest species of the Japanese flora and when it blossoms (in late April) it is simply breathtaking!
To list all green areas in The Hague would be an impossible task and also a bit unnecessary since a lot of work and attention has been put into making and preserving these places, that’s why they are best to be experienced in person, and with all human senses.
Best Spots of The Hague: A pretty city behind the dunes
… or in Dutch “mooie stad achter de duinen” is part of the refrain of a song by Harrie Jekkers from 1982, and ever since, it is considered the unofficial anthem of this city. Among other typical Hagenaar things (like the much-loved football team ADO), it also touches upon an integrative part of the life in this city – THE SEA COAST!
If you are looking for the obvious beach town pleasures – a wide promenade, collection of restaurants, countless beach bars and clubs, a true tourist center point, the place for you to be is around the hotel complex Kurhaus. Nothing is small here, not even the nearby apartment buildings. For a first timer at Scheveningen, the view is truly grand and there is nothing you would miss – food or entertainment. In the winter months, it even hosts a small ice rink!
Just opposite Kurhaus is the Pier that stretches into the sea and functions like a covered wide boulevard, full of shops and food places. The newest pride of The Hague is also to be found there – a Ferris wheel above the sea.
But the coast around The Hague is so much more than that. Its fine sand stretches in length and width so much that it has a place for every soul and beach loving body. Only a 10 minutes bike ride south of the tourist area will take you to Kijkduin, and the preservation park of the dunes. You will be surrounded by hills and valleys of golden sand, driving through the little wild but calming bike line. Its side roads will offer you some much-wanted shadow in the sun with their small, thick trees. If you are lucky (and quiet enough) you may even meet a fox!
The area is remarkably clean although it has a beach part and a few bars, it is really a place to enjoy some of the true pleasures of life.
Of course, other than spectacular nature, The Hague has many true city life pleasures as well.
One of them certainly is De Haagse Markt, the largest open market in the Netherlands and among the largest ones in Europe.
First and foremost, De Haagse Markt is a cultural experience.
It is a shaker of cultures and customs, foods and beverages, moods and sounds. Its many faces and stands take you to a quick tour around most of the world, its abundance of goods makes your visit an experience beyond the banal shopping, but rather discovering new mixtures.
It won’t be too much to say that everything you can think of or may need, you can find here – food, home decoration, and appliances, musical instruments, repair materials, everyday clothes next to traditional costumes of various cultures.
De Haagse Markt is rich in colors and reflections, and one of the very few places to offer really fresh food sold by people who have every interest that you choose their stand and will make the effort. A visit in the morning guarantees you greater variety and fewer crowds, although the fullness of this place is part of the experience.
So what are your favorite spots of The Hague? Feel free to pitch in!