Since I don’t live that far from The Netherlands, a small getaway with a friend at the neighbors sounded like a great idea.
But we wanted to do something different than another big city, everybody has already seen. We thought it would be a great idea to see a few cities in one single weekend. Not so far from the border of Belgium (the country where I live) there are three interesting cities: The Hague, Leiden and Delft. All three have picturesque canals (which makes the cities even more adorable). Here are the must-sees per city.
You can easily spend a whole day in The Hague. But to give you a handy overview I’ll sum up the highlights for you.
We started our weekend in Scheveningen, this is the seaside village near The Hague. The beach is mostly known for the lovely pier. Which contains many restaurant and bars here. These are perfect if you are spending a day at the beach. We were there in January, it was cold but sunny. The perfect weather for a walk on the beach. We didn’t spend a lot of time in Scheveningen, since we only had a weekend and still had 3 more cities to visit.
- Peace Palace
The Hague is a city mostly known for its international courts, so you might have heard about it before. You can visit the peace palace, this is the where the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the United Nations International Court of Justice, the Hague Academy of International Law, the Peace Palace Library and the Carnegie Foundation are seated.
It’s a really important and quite beautiful building.
It certainly is worth a visit if you are in the neighborhood.
- Mauritshuis museum
You can find the Mauritshuis museum right in the center of the city. This art museum is next to a canal and you can find the works from Rembrandt, Vermeer and Rubens inside.
- The Courtyard
The Courtyard is a parliament meeting place from The Netherlands. And I must say, there are worse places to meet.
It is the oldest parliament building in the world that is still in use, and it’s right in the center of city. If you walk around the building you can admire the great architecture. If you go through the gates you’ll discover the “Hall Of Knights”.
- Palace Noordeind
This palace is one of the three palaces owned by the royal family of the Netherlands. And it has a great design.
It is the palace where king Willem-Alexander still work and it also has a lovely garden, which you can visit. It’s near the major shopping street, so not too hard to find. Across the palace is a majestic statue of Willem Van Oranje
- Haagse Passage
This Passage is the oldest shopping mall in The Netherlands that is still open.
It was built in 1885.
There are still all kind of amiable small shops. It’s certainly worth a visit.
Just like most big cities The Hague also has a Chinatown with all kinds of Asian restaurants. This was a really nice neighborhood.
Where to eat in The Hague
As a vegetarian it’s not always easy to find places to eat. We had a breakfast-buffet in our hotel, so enough options there.
For lunch we choose Mugs & Mermaids, not only do they have an amazing mermaid themed interior they also have a wide range of vegan, gluten free and sugar free meals. Their breakfasts and lunches look very colorful. They also sell some “mermazing” product.
For diner we went to Chinatown, and found Little V a Vietnamese restaurant. They have a great vegetarian option “Bun Chay”. I thought it was a pity that almost everything else on the menu had meat or fish (even the salads and soups). Little V had a lovely interior as well, with a jungle-themed inside. Guess we went for restaurants with a theme this day.
The second day we went to Leiden. The Hague and Leiden are only 21km apart. Leiden is a much smaller city, and the weather gods where not so merciful that day. Here are some attractions to filled our day.
- De Valk Windmill museum
The Netherlands is mostly known for windmills, tulips, cheese and clogs. So if you’re in The Netherlands you ‘ll try to see all these things.
In Leiden there are two big windmills and the one in this picture is also a museum. The museum offers a great insight on their history (entrance is € 5).
- Botanical gardens
Leiden has a great botanical garden. Off course if you visit the city in January like we did, the garden isn’t that spectacular as it is in spring.
- Castle of Leiden
If you climb to the top of the castle of Leiden, you’ll have a great panoramic view of the city (the entrance is free).
It was built in the 11the century and has a spectacular gate, where you can spot the symbol of Leiden (Sint-Pieter’s Key).
You’ll notice this symbol everywhere in the city.
The Pieterskerk is the oldest church in Leiden and took more than 150 years to build.
You can also visit the Hooglandse kerk, this one has a Gothic style and is more impressive.
Near the mean shopping street there is also a church, the Harteburgkerk.
My personal favorite of the three, it’s more impressive because of the ionic pillars.
- The canals of Leiden
Just like many Dutch cities, Leiden has many canals. You can take a boot tour. Leiden has many small streets with little bridges, not so easy if you visit by car.
The city is just picturesque and pleasant to walk around.
- Windmill De Put
As I said before Leiden has two windmills that are worth a visit, and this is the second one. Windmill De Put is smaller than windmill De Valk. But it’ has a much nicer scenery.
Where to eat in Leiden?
Because it was a rainy day, we first decided to have a tea by Lot & the Walvis. At this place you can also have breakfast and lunch. It’s really cozy and near a small harbor.
For lunch we went to the Yoghurt Barn, for a true yogurt and granola lover like me it was the perfect place.
If you’re not really a yogurt fan, they also have a hummus or avocado toast.
I really liked their concept.
We had our dinner at an old warehouse that they turned into a restaurant, called De Waag. It sure was worth a visit, I can personally recommend the veggie burger (the best I had so far!).
Before heading home we decided to visit Noordwijk first and Delft. The beach at Noordwijk is perfect if you like to walk through the dunes. A great way to start a Monday morning.
By making this little detour to the beach, we had less time to visit Delft. Because we wanted to leave in time to avoid the traffic jams on our way back home.
What did we do in Delft?
- The Canals
If you haven’t had enough of the canals. Delft has some more and even more delightful canals.
In the other cities, there are cars parked near the canals. In Delft the streets in the center where even smaller with less cars in them. So, they looked much nicer.
- City Hall
City Hall is right in the center of Delft and is definitely worth a visit. You can’t miss it if you are here. The market is really big and has all these old houses around. In this area you’ll finds shops with cheese and blue Delftsware that are painted in Delft (the city is quite famous for it).
And in one of the little streets that start here you’ll find this graffiti of blue Delftsware.
- The old church
What makes this church especially special is that it is almost completely surrounded by canals. The church was built in 1246, so they are quite right to call it an old church.
- Museum Prinsenhof
If you are up to visit a museum about Vermeersch, blue Delftsware and some other painters from Delft this is the place to be. But also, the of the building itself is stunning and worth a visit.
In the same street as the museum you can find this house. It has a very worthwhile facade with all kinds of shields. The building was built in 1505 and is now used for meetings of province council.
Where to eat in Delft
We had lunch at Kek, a small lunchbar right in the center. Here you find some great vegetarian and vegan options on the menu.
Hope you liked my blog about my little road trip in South-Holland.