Earlier I wrote about our shenanigans in and around Schiedam. We spent a long weekend there in April 2023, taking the Eurostar to Rotterdam and catching up with family. Whilst around there, we also spent a wonderful day in Den Haag. So much so, that it became my favourite place in The Netherlands, beating Amsterdam. (Read about our Amsterdam trip here.)
We chose a Sunday for the visit and the weather was sunny, 15 Celsius, and not much wind – which is unusual for Den Haag.
A very multicultural and open city
Whilst still built around canals – Den Haag is very different from Amsterdam and Rotterdam.
Firstly, it really should be the capital city, based on how many national (and international) institutions and organisations reside in Den Haag. The Hague (a different name for Den Haag) is packed with world famous and unusual museums, interesting buildings, canals of course, lots of important places like the famous Peace Palace and the International Court of Justice. And it even has a beach! A huge one, in fact, stretching for 11 kilometres.
Naturally, because we only had one day and the kids, we couldn’t do a lot, but we still squeezed a lot in!
A Day in Den Haag, The Netherlands
We arrived by train from Schiedam and immediately hopped on a tram outside Den Haag train station. Only a few stops to the centre of Den Haag where the Mauritshuis is located.
First, we stopped at a little Sunday market, where we had street food, played pétanque and looked at lots of beautiful and hand made arts and crafts.
Den Haag has many outdoor markets. In addition to the well known Haagse Markt there are neighbourhood markets and other specialised markets, like the ones we have visited during our Sunday trip. The markets all have different products and vendors selling antiques, organic products and like I said, handmade arts and crafts too as well as street food. They also have some sort of a music stall playing music – so it’s a lovely ambient!
Next, we went to visit the Girl with Pearl Earring.
More than one hundred paintings from the permanent collection, showcasing the art pieces from the most famous Dutch artists. The collection contains works by Johannes Vermeer, Rembrandt van Rijn, Jan Steen, Paulus Potter, Frans Hals, Jacob van Ruisdael, Hans Holbein the Younger, and others. The museum’s most prominent painting, the Girl with Pearl Earring has its own room and is surrounded by other girls with pearl earrings – many artists has their own take on this famous painting, ranging from the creators of The Simpsons to a plethora of modern artists. Some of them are exhibited in the same room – I found this the ne plus ultra of what a museum should be about today. Great idea!
After this, we stopped for coffee and cake at a nearby square full of cafes and restaurants then walked on for another 10 minutes to reach the Escher Museum. On the way, we again bumped into yet another Sunday market, very similar to the first one. Plus some stalls selling vintage clothing and home decor.
Escher in Het Paleis
We had some moaning here, given this was the second museum that day. At this point we had to tell the kids, that this is our holiday too and if they want all what they are normally used on holidays – they just have to tag along and pretend to enjoy museums and galleries, we adults want to go to. But then they really enjoyed Escher in Het Paleis!
Museum Escher in The Palace is a permanent exhibition in The Hague dedicated to the world-famous artist M.C. Escher. He’s famous about his illustrations that are mathematical masterpieces of optical illusion. The highlight of the exhibition must be the seven meters long Metamorphosis III. The building that hosts Escher’s work permanently is actually the summer palace of Queen Emma. So in every room, we also have a little plaque on the wall, like a walk through what the room was used for and details about the life in the palace. Including where the Queen was lying in state. Which really adds to the weirdness of the place, but when I say that, I mean it positively.
Super interesting exhibition, even the chandeliers are different and quite striking in every room, ranging from umbrella shape to skull and bones shaped chandelier. Definitely worth a visit when in Den Haag!
Den Haag Beach: Scheveningen
Den Haag has a couple of lovely beaches nearby: Scheveningen, Zuiderstrand and Kijkduin. We went to Scheveningen on our day in Den Haag. Again, this was pretty simple by public transport (I never get bored of praising the fantastic network of public transport around here, I know!): only a 10 minutes long tram ride from the centre of town to reach Scheveningen.
It was super busy as it was Sunday and sunny. We walked through the majestic Kurhotel from the tram (naughty-naughty, I know! But wanted to peek inside.) and found ourselves at the bustling beach with restaurants, cafes, shops, there’s even a McDonalds! So it’s huge and busy.
The Pier in Scheveningen extending 400 metres into the sea with its islands was built around 1900 as a wooden promenade above the sea. It burned down in 1943 and in 1961 it was rebuilt.
We went straight to the pier, which is a covered pier. It was quite warm inside, as a result of the glass panels and the trapped heat, but we didn’t mind, just strolled around without coats. It was well ventilated anyways. I imagine it’s nice to visit the pier in winter as well, and the weather can get pretty windy too. All in all, I thought its a fantastic idea to cover the pier. I wonder why it’s not a thing in the UK too?
Inside, there were plenty of indy restaurants and bars, little shops and even a soft play! So we dropped the kids for an hour at the soft play and went to the next bar which had a terrace outside (so kept one eye on the little rascals) to have a glass of wine and enjoy the views, the sunshine and the salty air. Bliss! Then picked them up and had dinner. Another beauty of the place, that it’s practically a big and fancy food court, so we all had food from different little restaurants: pizza, seafood and veggie burrito.
The pier also has a ferris wheel, a zip line and apparently, even hotel suites. It’s open daily and all year round from 10am and is free of charge to enter. You have to pay for the facilities (yes, even the toilets. No issue, at least they were clean!) and of course the attractions.
Wrapping up the day
After dinner we had a little walk on the beach and made our way back to the train station by tram.
It was such a beautiful day, we couldn’t have asked for more! Great art, fantastic atmosphere with lovely and friendly folks. Den Haag will stay in our hearts.