Like a local: things to do in The Hague
From the beach to the museums, shops and nightclubs, local expert and The Social Hub confidant Zoë is sharing her coveted list of insider tips for exploring The Hague.
When you think of the Netherlands, you obviously think of Amsterdam. But when it comes to city trips, The Hague offers travellers a surprisingly cool cultural scene, exciting art, a thumping music crowd and gorgeous nature all in one place.
Because it’s home to the United Nations’ International Court of Justice, as well as Dutch parliament buildings, The Hague is usually host to many international conferences. But, don’t let all that regality and seriousness fool you — there’s plenty of fun to be had here.
In fact, if The Hague isn’t on your bucket list already, we bet it’s about to be.
Guided by a local: Zoë Kisoen
Who better to ask about the best things to do in The Hague than a true local? So we reached out to our beloved former The Social Hub Connector Zoë Kisoen, who’s pretty much lived here her entire life, to give us the low-down on her favourite spots.
“I love the outdoor vibe of The Hague, especially the beach,” Zoë told us. “But I also love the friendly and laidback people here — it’s a small enough city that you can run into people you know, which I love. But at the same, it’s totally cosmopolitan with things like world-class art and this thriving cultural scene.”
As our trusted Connector for years, Zoë has been engrained in The Hague’s community, working through The Social Hub to join and facilitate events all year long.
“What I loved most about working as a Connector was getting to work on city events like Poprondel — but I also love focusing on events that make a positive impact on our local neighbourhood,” Zoë explained.
But for this guide, Zoë told us she wanted to highlight a balance of totally local things to do in The Hague with insider secrets that travellers shouldn’t miss — from where to kick back and enjoy a drink with a true Scheveninger to dancing at the best beach clubs and trying Dutch delicacies. Plus, those truly local shops to support, art to relish and parks to relax in.
What to do in The Hague according to Zoë
Your search for things to do in The Hague stops here with Zoë’s list! Highlighting everything from the best spots to eat Dutch delicacies to where to grab a drink, shop and enjoy the great outdoors.
A local with a keen focus on events and all the cultural happenings, she thinks The Hague has shops, concepts and events that you just can’t find elsewhere in the Netherlands.
“I haven’t heard much about fashion clothing swap and repair cafés in other cities than The Hague,” Zoë explained. “There are movements happening here that are very much up-and-coming, but have many people interested and supporting them in the city. I think this list is a great representation of our passion for culture, art and the beauty of our city.”
1. Grote Markt
Location: Grote Markt, 2512 EW
Activity: Shops & Markets
The Vibe: Local’s hangout
Translating to ‘Main Market,’ the Grote Markt is a former market square that’s turned into a true cultural hub surrounded by some of the city’s most popular bars and clubs. “This is the real local hotspot to drink a beer and experience the vibrant atmosphere of The Hague,” Zoë told us. “Many live music nights and comedy evenings are organised here as well. This is a great spot to head for an evening drink or to kick off the night.”
Location: Boekhorststraat 161
Activity: Shops & Markets
The vibe: Sustainable fun
A café meets sustainable fashion house meets tailor, at Naaierji, founders Isabel and Rosemary teach customers how to reduce overconsumption, reuse pieces and repair their clothing all while sipping coffee. “The repair cafe by these lady bosses is designed to spread the philosophy of sustainable clothing and create more awareness in our community. They organise super cool events like clothing swaps, and repair workshops, too,” Zoë explained.
Top tip: The founders of Naaierji are even launching a book called the Sewing Repair book which teaches you how to sew and repair your clothes! You can learn more and donate to the project here.
3. Beach Club Indigo
Location: Strandweg 65
Activity: Restaurants & Cafes
The Vibe: Chill & stylish
Located right on the water, The Hague is known for its beach clubs. But, Zoë tells us Beach Club Indigo is far from your typical local beach club establishment. “When you enter, you immediately feel like you are abroad. You get the real beach vibe here with the lantern-lit square, the fire poles, wooden outdoor bar and the colourful terrace. There are also some of the best beach parties here, too.”
Location: Vissershavenweg 66
Activity: Restaurants & Cafes
The Vibe: Authentic local hangout
“A true Scheveninger (what we call The Hague residents in a certain area of the city) eats a herring a day!” Zoë tells us. “So for a real local and Dutch experience, one of the best things to do in The Hague is stop at ‘t Haringhuisje in Scheveningen, which is right on the way to the beach.” If you’re wary to try this delicacy, just know that there’s no better place to try it than Haringhuisje — a real local institution with award-winning haring. Plus, they’ve got the best views of The Pier and have a real authentic local vibe.
5. Hartbeach Surf
Location: Vissershavenweg 55B
The Vibe: Laidback
With the beach, parks and dunes located right in the heart of the city, locals love to take advantage of the great outdoors, including surfing. “Near the harbour of Scheveningen you will find Hart Beach, which, is right on the beach,” Zoë laughed. “A surf school, surf shop and hangout in one, the laidback atmosphere of Hartbeach Surf makes it the ideal place to relax after a walk on the beach or surf lesson.”
The Vibe: Iconic
“The Hofvijver is a lake right in the middle of the city that’s surrounded by The Hague’s government buildings. It’s really part of the political DNA of the city — but also the cultural DNA, because locals love to hang out here. Also if you’re lucky, you’ll get to see our prime minister arriving or leaving by bike!” Visiting the Hofvijver any time of day is cool, but at sunset, or in the evening when the parliament building’s lights shine on the lake, it is truly special.
And while you’re here, Zoë says you also have to try the fries from 't Kleinste Winkeltje. “The name literally translates to the smallest shop, and it definitely lives up to the name,” Zoë laughs. “There’s only room for one person at the time to step up to the counter, but it’s worth the wait, because they’re the best fries in town. Be sure to grab a cone before enjoying your view of the Hofvijver.”
7. Museum Voorlinden
Location: Buurtweg 90, 2244AG Wassenaar
The Vibe: Thought-provoking
Located just a stone’s throw from The Hague, this modern and contemporary art museum is well worth the visit outside the city limits. “Located in the beautiful dunes of Wassenaar, Voorlinden is a unique museum where you can enjoy art, nature and architecture together,” Zoë explains. “Leandro Erlich’s ‘Swimming Pool’ is the perfect Instagram backdrop and ‘Open Ended’ by Richard Serra — which is also part of the permanent collection — will blow your mind. I love the interactive aspect of this museum.”
Top tip: Surrounding the museum is beautiful nature. After your visit, walk the sandy paths to the dunes or have a picnic in the nearby park.
Location: Prinsessewal, 2531EE
The Vibe: Relaxed
The Paleistuinen, formerly known as the Princessetuin, is a famous local park located between the Noordeinde Palace and the Prinsessewal in The Hague. “This park is beautiful,” Zoë told us. “Filled with flowers, fountains and ponds — it’s a romantic spot for a date and a picturesque place to have a picnic with friends and chill on a sunny Dutch day.”
Location: Binckhorstlaan 36
The Vibe: Hip & underground
“This is my favourite place in The Hague to go out!” Zoë excitedly told us. “Pip is a club and stage for underground music, art and culture. But the coolest part is that it’s located in an old fire station on the industrial fringe of the city centre.” But, Pip is still totally easy to access at just a 10-minute walk from the central train station. Head here to listen and dance to emerging and veteran electronic musicians. This is one of those things to do in The Hague that you just shouldn’t miss!
10. The Crave Festival
Location: Zuiderpark, Paard van Troje, Pip
Activity: City Events
The Vibe: Fun!
Zoë tells us that Crave Festival is one of the best events to hit the city all year. “From June 3rd until the 5th, The Hague will be covered in pink for The Crave Festival 2022. The weekend consists of the main festival in Zuiderpark on Saturday, but on Friday we kick off the weekend with a concert at Paard van Troje in the city centre. Saturday dancing continues into the early morning hours at Pip and Paard van Troje. Then, the party wraps up with a beach concert at The Hague Beach. It’s really an epic weekend!”
Top tip: This is the first festival ever where HÖR Berlin has its own stage. Plus, the local favourite YUZU will also be there with its very own pop-up restaurant at the festival!
So where are you staying?
Whether you’re just starting to plan your trip or are in the middle of mapping out all the best things to do in The Hague, be sure to check out our The Hague city hotel for cool, contemporary and comfortable digs. Just a few minutes on the tram from central station and 30 minutes from Schiphol, getting here and easing into your trip is a total breeze.
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