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Visit The Hague

Take the ferry to Hook of Holland from Harwich

The Hague
judicial capital of the world

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 to over 150 international organizations, EU institutions, embassies and global companies.

Thanks 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 and classicist mansions complementing the more typical 17th-century Dutch gabled merchant houses and three royal palaces.

Founded 1230

The Hague's origins date back to 1230, when Count Floris IV of Holland purchased land on the shores of a pond - today's Hofvijver - to build a hunting residence.

His 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.

Five things you might not know about the Hague

1. The Hague might have been the seat of government of the Dutch Republic and official residence of the royal family of Orange since 1588 yet is has never received official city status, making it Europe's biggest village.

2. Several films have been partially shot in The Hague, including Ocean's Twelve (2004). An alternative music video of Coldplay's Viva la Vida was also shot here.

3. The Hague locals, Haageners, are said to exude an air of superiority, which other Netherlanders feel to be unjustified. This is encapsulated in the Haagse Bluff, an impressive looking pudding made from whipped egg whites and sugar blended with berry juice: it appears to be grand but is actually mostly hot air.

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

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

The museums

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


One could say that The Hague is a city of two halves: the stately town centre and the lively, Brighton-esque beach district of Scheveningen.

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

Five best cafés and restaurants

1. The Hague has a number of superb Indonesian restaurants, reflecting the culinary heritage of the Dutch East India Company. Pick of the bunch is 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 and multiple sauces.

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

3. Pass through the ivy-covered door of Café de Oude Mol to discover a classic bruin café - a brown café, named after the dark wood panelling and caramel patina of the tobacco-stained walls and ceilings. Social hubs of Dutch society for centuries, these cosy cafés serve locally-brewed beers and gins as well as light bites.

4. With its high ceilings and modern warehouse-style décor, Brasserie Dudok could be in the heart of New York. Long favoured by local politicians and media types, this is modern urban dining at its best.

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