We started our 2022 European travels in The Hague where our son and his family had moved to earlier in the year. We spent about four weeks at the end of our three-month trip back in The Hague, sometimes with family, sometimes on our own while family went on their own holiday, and sometimes with only our son while our daughter-in-law and grandson visited family back in Canada.
We took advantage of the long stay to slow our travels down and get caught up on some planning. But we also got out and about on our rented bicycles to explore the city, and used the excellent transportation system to visit a little further afield. This post covers the in-town explorations while the next post is all about the day trips outside of The Hague.
Playtime with Alex
Though we only had a few days before Alex and his parents left on vacation, and Alex was still in school, we made the most of the time that we had. Alex played tour guide and showed us where to find the free bike parking lots in the city and how to use them, and then took us for a refreshment in his favourite square. It’s so cool how quickly this amazing 9-year-old has adapted to his new culture and environment.
International Criminal Court and Peace Palace
The Hague is filled with buildings of importance on the international stage. We were only able to see the International Criminal Court from the outside, and it is very difficult to get into the Peace Palace (apparently the best way is to buy a ticket to one of the events that are held there occassionally), but the visitor center at the Peace Palace does a very good job of providing the history, roles, and connections among the various bodies and buildings.
We rode out to the beach when we were in The Hague two months earlier, but we were farther up the coast and were only able to see the Scheveningen pier from a distance. This time, Ken and I rode out to Scheveningen’s touristy area (think Brighton in the UK without the history).
Haagse Bos (Hague Forest) is a huge rectangular park and one of the oldest forests in the Netherlands. Ponds, playgrounds, pathways and plenty of grassy areas make it a perfect place to rest and hang out. The park envelops Huis Ten Bosch, a royal palace and one of three official residences of the Dutch monarch. You can get a glimpse of the palace through the gates, but the trees and gardens keep it very private. The park makes for a pleasant route into downtown, and abuts the Malieveld, a large grassy field frequently occupied by big musical events (and political and other protests). Going in the direction away from town, the park seems to join up with other parks and green spaces that encompass the oldest indoor tennis courts, the Louwman Museum, cafes, ponds, canals, and historic buildings.
Sometimes considered a suburb of Den Haag, Voorburg is the oldest city in the Netherlands, first inhabited more than 2,000 years ago. It has a pretty historic center and there is a small market in the park on Saturdays.
Downtown and Around the Binnenhof
There is so much to see and do in the downtown area of Den Haag from ogling old buildings to museums to shopping, cafes, and bars.
Escher in Het Paleis (Escher in The Palace)
Though there are several great museums in The Hague, we chose to visit the Escher in Het Paleis museum, housed in Lange Voorhout Palace, a former royal residence. M.C. Escher’s work exercises the mind and it was interesting to see the progression of his artistic endeavours.
While riding in the Haagse Bos forest one day we came across an impressive brick building with a glass alcove looking out over a park and little canals. This turned out to be the Louwman Museum, built to house an extensive car collection but to honour the estate that the museum building replaced. This was on Kyle’s list of things to do with his dad, so we waited until his return and visited (Mom tagged along, too). We had allowed about three hours, but could have easily spent one or two more. The collections are beautifully displayed and annotated. Smaller collections of car-related accessories (headlamps, matchbox cars, sculptures) provide delightful surprises at every turn.
- Bicycles: Because we would be there a full month and wanted to have the freedom of our own bicycles, we chose Swapfiets, a monthly bike subscription service (you can identify the many Swapfiets bikes around by their blue front tires). If you want the bikes for at least six months, it’s cheaper (they wave the one-off fee), but even for a month it seemed reasonable. We paid about €43 per bike (7-speed city bike) for the month (monthly fee plus one-off fee) and the bikes were delivered to our location.
- Escher Museum: €11 per person.
- Louwman Museum: €17.50 per person.