The Hague (known in Dutch as ‘Den Haag’) is not just politics, embassies, and ambassadors, although it obviously has that as well! Instead, the city is a thriving metropolis home to countless cultural destinations and even its own seaside resort. Cheaper to stay in than Amsterdam, The Hague also makes for a great base for exploring the rest of the Netherlands. Here’s your ultimate guide to the best day trips from The Hague!
The beautiful university city of Leiden is easily one of the most underrated cities in Holland… But it definitely shouldn’t be! Home to the oldest university in the country, the oldest botanical gardens, and even where the Heineken Star logo came from, Leiden can be found just a fifteen-minute train ride away from The Hague.
Or, if you’re feeling brave enough, turn your visit into a day adventure and cycle the 15 km or so each way! A cycle ride day trip to Leiden can easily be combined with a day trip to Kasteel Duivenvoorde. Other highlights of Leiden include Rembrandt’s birthplace, a church with strong ties to the Mayflower, and the chance to spy some of The Miniaturist filming locations.
Read more: Here’s why you must visit Leiden
Delftware pottery and several of the most impressive church towers in Southern Holland can be found in Delft, a city on the train line between The Hague and Rotterdam. Once there, be sure to visit the De Delftse Pauw (The Delft Peacock), one of the last authentic Delft blue factories.
You can enjoy a free guided tour of the porcelain manufacturer, as well as get the opportunity to purchase some authentic Delftware for yourself (though bear in mind that it can be a little on the pricey side!). Elsewhere in the city, the Nieuwe Kerk offers one of the best views of the main city square, while the oldest bar in the city dates back some three hundred and fifty years.
Read more: Visiting the oldest bar in Delft
Modern, quirky, and vibrant, there’s no other European city quite like that of Rotterdam. During the Blitzkrieg of WWII, the city was near flattened, leaving behind a blank canvas on which some of the most innovative and unusual structures in Europe have since been built.
One of the best things to do in Rotterdam is simply to wander around the city (or cycle, Rotterdam is pretty vast and is most definitely best seen by bike) and admire the architecture. From the Markthal (which is the largest archway in Europe and home to the ‘Horn of Plenty’, the largest artwork in the Netherlands) to the Cube Houses by Piet Blom, there’s no shortage of fantastical architecture to spy.
Synonymous with the cheese of the same name which originates in this Dutch city, Gouda is a beautiful city home to a traditional cheese weighing station, city hall, and countless canals. Should you opt to visit this beautiful Dutch settlement between April and August on a Thursday, then you’ll also be able to enjoy the city’s world-famous cheese market.
The capital of the Netherlands is as beautiful as everything you’ve read. With that being said, there’s no denying that in the past decade, Amsterdam has become something of a victim of its own popularity. As such, I recommend visiting the city in the shoulder seasons and mid-week (Tuesday or Wednesday) if possible so as to make the most of the city without the crowds.
Read more: The ultimate Amsterdam bucket list
Located around 10 km from The Hague city centre, Kasteel Duivenvoorde is easy to visit by public transport (the nearest village of Voorschoten is a couple of kilometres away) or via bicycle (there’s ample bike parking in the castle grounds).
First founded as a fortified structure as early as the 13th-century, much of what you see today was actually built in the 17th. Though tours of the house are solely in Dutch, the grounds can be visited for just €1 and the adjacent café serves wonderful coffee.
Molendriegang & Voorburg
For those who are looking to experience Dutch windmills up close, Molendriegang is a set of three quintessentially Dutch landmarks, in the very heart of the flat landscape. Easy to reach via bicycle, a visit to the windmills (which can sadly not be visited and can instead only be admired from the exterior) can easily be combined with a trip to the nearby beautiful and historic villages of Leidschendam and Voorburg.
Read more: The beautiful windmills of Molendriegang
Though technically a district of The Hague, Scheveningen has its own seaside vibe and is far enough away from the city centre to merit a spot on this list about the best day trips from The Hague. Flocked to by tourists since the 19th-century as a go-to beach destination, the beach can be reached in just fifteen minutes by bus or bicycle from the city centre.
Highlights of Scheveningen include its long sandy beach, as well as an impossibly high Ferris Wheel, offering views onto the crashing waves below. While in Scheveningen, be sure to also check out one of the many beach-front cafés serving all manner of beverages and food. I personally recommend the fries at the Fat Mermaid!
The oldest city in the Netherlands can be found on a direct train line from The Hague, around a forty minute train ride from the city centre. Often dubbed the ‘Venice of Holland’ thanks to its many waterways, this island has only been connected to the rest of the Netherlands via roads for the shortest period. And once there, you’ll soon see why!
Other than plenty of place names which are difficult to pronounce (try saying Scheveningen five times in a row!) and clogs, there is perhaps nothing more emblematic of the Netherlands than its tulips. After all, during the Dutch Golden Age, tulips fetched impossibly high prices. In some cases, a single tulip bulb could be valued at the same price as a small canalside house in Amsterdam!
As such, if you’re visiting the Netherlands during tulip season, then one of the best day trips from The Hague is to the Southern Holland tulip belt and right into the tulip city of Lisse. Once in Lisse, the city is home to attractions such as a tulip museum and the Keukenhof Gardens, which is where you’ll find some seven million flowers!