Visit The Hague

Sail to the Hook of Holland with Stena Line

Nighttime view of the old district in The Hague, Holland
judicial capital of the world

Did you know that Internationally, The Hague is known as the "judicial capital of the world" due to the numerous international courts located in the city, including the International Court of Justice. In addition, there are over 150 international organizations, EU institutions, embassies and global companies!

Due to the wealth of its early royal residents and its cosmopolitan nature, the city has wider streets and avenues than most other Dutch cities with 18th-century baroque mansions complementing the more typical 17th-century Dutch gabled merchant houses and three royal palaces.

Founded 1230

The Hague's dates back to 1230, when Count Floris IV of Holland purchased land on the shores of a pond (today's Hofvijver) to build a country retreat and a hunting residence.

This simple hunting lodge was expanded over the years into a palace by his successors, with the Binnenhof (Inner Court) and Ridderzaal (Knights' Hall) becoming integral parts of the city that developed into the seat of government of the Dutch Republic and residence of the House of Orange.

Take a visit to the Mauritshuis Museum in the Hague, Holland
The museums

Despite its rather compact size, The Hague boasts some 30 museums, including the world class Mauritshuis and Gemeentemuseum to historic windmills and a dedicated children's book museum.

5 Interesting things about The Hague

1. The Hague has been the seat Dutch Republic's government & the official residence of the Dutch Royal Family of Orange since 1588 yet is has never received an official city status, making it Europe's biggest town.

2. Several Hollywood Blockbusters have been partially shot in The Hague, including Ocean's Twelve (2004) and Coldplay's Viva la Vida was also shot here.

3. Locals from The Hague (Haagers) are said to exude an air of superiority, which other Dutch folks think to be unjustified. This is encapsulated in the Haagse Bluff, a tantalising pudding made from whipped egg whites & sugar blended with berry juice: it appears to be grand but is actually mostly hot air.

4. When the British diarist Samuel Peyps visited The Hague in 1660, he praised the city as being: "The most neat place in all respects. The houses so neat in all places and things as is possible".

5. The name Den Haag originates from the 15th century name, des Graven hage, which means "the count's wood", a reflection of the Binnenhof’s original use as a hunting lodge in the midst of woods.

Five best cafés & restaurants

1. There are a number of excellent Indonesian restaurants, which reflect the culinary heritage of the Dutch East India Company. The best being Garoeda, an elegant restaurant which has been serving the city's best rijsttafel since 1949. Literally rice table, rijsttafel is a selection of classic dishes served with rice & sauces.

2. Café Bloem, an attractive eetcafé (an eating café, serving light meals, tea, coffee & cakes) is located across the Plein from the Binnenhof. It serves wholesome, homemade staples such as open sandwiches, soups, salads & cakes.

3. Through the ivy-covered doorway of Café de Oude Mol & discover a classic bruin café (a brown café), named after the dark wood panelling & caramel patina of the tobacco-stained walls & ceilings. These cosy cafés were the social hubs of Dutch society for centuries, they serve locally-brewed beers & gins as well as light bites. 

4. Brasserie Dudok could be in the heart of New York with its high ceilings & modern warehouse-style décor. A hotspot for local politicians & media types, this is modern urban dining at its best.

5. Strandclub Doen is easy to pick out from the rest of the beach bars lining the sands of Scheveningen. Palm trees stand over warming charcoal fires while live music, oversize sofas & lounge chairs make it the perfect spot to watch the sunset over the North Sea.

Chairs arranged at a beach bar in the Hague, Holland
Scheveningen Beach

You could say that The Hague has a split personality: the stately town centre and the lively, Ko Pang Ngan-esque beach district of Scheveningen.

The long windswept beaches are lined with beach cafés, popular for afternoon teas and informal dinners as they are for boisterous nights out.