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Never been to The Hague (De Haag) in the Netherlands? It is the third-largest and most important Dutch city where you can find important buildings such as the Peace Palace, the World Court, the Permanent Court of Arbitration, and the Peace Palace Library. Luckily, there are many free things to do in The Hague.
If you think a visit to this amazing European city is expensive, well, you’re right to some extent, but with some tips and a good sense of adventure, you will discover a ton of free things to do in The Hague. If you think about it, it doesn’t take much to experience a truly beautiful place.
The Hague is often visited by diplomats, politicians, academicians, and business travelers. Holidays in the Netherlands are not cheap, especially in The Hague, but this shouldn’t stop you from coming here.
Below are 12 things you can do in the Hague without spending a dime.
Where to Stay in The Hague
Have you booked your hotel in The Hague yet? Check out this map to explore some great places to stay in The Hague.
Go to Scheveningen beach
Not many realize that The Hague has an amazing beach. When visiting, you should definitely head to Scheveningen or Den Haag beach, just 15 minutes away by train from the city center. This is the best way to appreciate nature while spending very little. Freely stroll down the coastline, along the pier and the seaside Scheveningen Resort, all the way to the beach, some lush forests, and a large inland portion of the city.
You’ll never run out of exciting things to see or do here, as the port of Scheveningen is always alive with activities. If the water is great, going for a swim is not a bad idea either.
More than 3.5 million visitors come here every year. The beautiful scenery includes a fine view of the yacht harbor with many bars, restaurants, and cafes. The place is teeming with attractions and activities, including a bungee jump and zipline, and special events such as concerts and festivals.
Visiting the beach is one of the top free things to do in The Hague.
Explore the Old Village of Scheveningen
Scheveningen is also known for its old village, Keizerstraat, which used to be a separate town with its own dialect. A stroll here promises a quiet and lovely time in a traditional village, full of cozy cafes and little shops.
Meet the locals and win new friends. If you come at the right time, you might meet some of the older women who still dress in traditional clothing.
Relax in the Plein
The Plein is one of the coolest streets and hangout places in The Hague. Stroll around to see the line of trees and historic buildings. It’s a truly happening place.
Spend a little, if you wish, as you dine al fresco when the string of cafes and bars comes alive on the weekends and in the evenings. After the sunset, the Plein becomes one of the city’s nightlife hubs, thanks to the trendy clubs.
There are occasional pop-ups or promotional events here as well. There are definitely a lot of unique, fun, and cultural things to see.
Go for a picnic in a lovely city park
On a nice day in The Hague, you should definitely consider having a lovely picnic in one of the city’s lovely parks. The Hague is among the greenest cities in the country, with a number of beautiful parks and gardens where you can walk around, relax, lie down, read a book, or have a picnic for free.
Most neighborhoods in the city are within walking distance from at least one estate, which means you’re never far from a relaxing green space.
One of the most popular parks is Haagse Bos, which is actually one of the oldest surviving forests in the Netherlands. It stretches from the historic center to the border of Wassenaar, offering several scenic walking trails and bike routes.
Zuiderpark, on the other hand, is known to host Parkpop, the largest pop music festival in the Netherlands, as well as other events throughout the year. Expect to have fun here other than a lovely picnic. The park also has a swimming pool, skating areas, and other sports training facilities.
A third option, but definitely not the least, is Westbroekpark. This lovely park is surrounded by water and is accessible via footbridges. Here you can see rose gardens, meadows, and a lovely lake.
Walk along the canals
No, Amsterdam is not the only Dutch city with romantic canals. The Hague constructed many of its canals as far back as the 17th century to help with sanitation concerns. They have been restored through the years, and today, they promise to provide a memorable and picturesque experience to all who bother to visit.
If you decide not to spend money to rent a boat, walking along the canals is as lovely. When here in August, you can take part in the annual Jazz in the Canal festival to listen to musicians playing on waterside stages.
The Binnenhof, or the Dutch Parliament, is the heart of The Hague. It is a magnificent historical complex that houses amazing medieval structures and attractions. Visiting the interior costs money (except on Open Monument Day), but if you wish to maintain a dollar-free tour of the city, then simply stroll or bike through the interior and take a seat by the gorgeous fountain, the perfect place to enjoy a sunny day.
Binnenhof is the oldest functioning house of parliament in the world. Its historical and political significance and its stunning Gothic-style architecture make it one of the Top 100 Dutch Heritage Sites. It houses the top government offices in the Netherlands, particularly the houses of Parliament, the Ministry of General Affairs, and the prime minister’s office.
You can walk inside through the famous entry gate for free, as it is found in the heart of The Hague’s city center. Meetings of the Dutch parliament have been held here since 1446. The most important events in the history of the Netherlands took place in the Binnenhof.
Within the court are monumental old buildings and several ample open spaces that are all freely open to the public. Stroll through the courtyard and admire the majestic halls.
Admire the Peace Palace
The Peace Palace is one of the most iconic buildings of The Hague, and probably equal in importance with Binnenhof. The visitor center is free to the public. If you don’t intend to spend a visit inside the Peace Palace, take the free route to learn about the history and admire the palace from the exterior.
Enter a hofje
The Hague is unique for its hofjes. A hofje is a private courtyard within a historic building, originally constructed in medieval times to help older women. Many hofjes today, however, serve as private houses.
Hofjes were first built in the Middle Ages as a way to provide housing, often for low-income, single adults. The hofjes are generally private property, but the courtyards are sometimes open to the public during select times. You can visit one of them not only for the lovely ambiance but also to have a taste of history.
Just make sure to remain silent and respectful when visiting hofjes as these are generally private residences. Each one has a unique history, and they’re always beautiful to explore!
Explore the Japanese Garden
Visit the Japanese Garden in Clingendael Park to see small bridges, lanterns, pavilions, and several plants that were brought into the country from Japan by the garden’s owner. Admission is 100% free, but the garden is open only for a limited time in spring and autumn due to its fragility.
Clingendael Park is one of the most beautiful estates in the Netherlands. It is located between The Hague and Wassenaar.
Enjoy Noordeinde Palace and the Palace Garden
Located in the city center, Noordeinde Palace is the “working palace” for the King. Considering its significance, it is a modest building from the outside, but people love coming here to see the Palace gardens.
Located near a canal, the garden gives you a good view of the Royal Stables. Spend some time here for a lovely stroll along a lush garden full of trees, hedgerows, flowers, and a pond. This is one of the parks where you can decide to have a lovely picnic with your family or friends.
Walk through Noordeinde
Noordeinde itself is one of the prettiest parts of The Hague. If not for the palace or the garden, visit this section of The Hague to see cute boutique shops and lovely cafes. Stroll down Noordeinde past numerous antique stores, bookshops, and clothing stores.
Wander underneath the picturesque door on Molenstraat to find a narrow alley with a view of Noordeinde Palace. Walk along this alley towards the palace until you reach a door on your left. You’d end up in a skinny alleyway that leads towards the park in front of Noordeinde, another perfect place for a picnic.
Stroll the city and admire the beautiful architecture
One of the reasons why a Dutch holiday is not cheap is that the entire country is beautiful. This is true in The Hague, as it is elsewhere in the Netherlands. The Hague is very pedestrian and bicycle-friendly, making it easy for anyone to see all the important landmarks for free. Otherwise, taking public transportation is quite expensive.
Architecture in The Hague features palaces, churches, and medieval structures, dotted by flower beds and waterways. You would think you’re stepping inside an actual open-air museum, and you can see them all for free. This is one of the best free things to do in The Hague.
From the center all the way to the beach, the entire city can be explored on foot in under an hour. Over one-third of the city is beautifully covered with forests and parks, as well as some 70,000 roadside trees.
Make your way around the other side of the Centraal railway station to a peaceful park where people can simply relax, sit on one of the benches, and feed the ducks. On the other side of the railway station is another park where deer frolic and relax on the grass.
Come to The Hague to discover other free and fun ways to enjoy the city. Getting here is easy as the international airports of Amsterdam and Rotterdam are just short distances away. The Hague has two international and well-equipped train stations that connect to Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Belgium, France, and Germany.
About the Author:
Ask The Dutch Guy is your go-to guide when it comes to The Netherlands. The goal of Ask The Dutch Guy is to showcase the beauty of The Netherlands and to inspire others to explore the country. Read more about Ask The Dutch Guy. Follow him on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.