Binnenhof from Hofvijver perspective, The Hague, Netherlands

Rotterdam Cruise Port to The Hague: Palaces, Museums & Beaches

Docked in Rotterdam but interested in a taste of royal history and international intrigue? Look no further than The Hague! A day-trip from Rotterdam to The Hague is surprisingly easy and rewarding.

As the seat of the Dutch government, The Hague offers a captivating blend of political power, stunning architecture, world-class art and even a touch of seaside charm! So if you’re ready to swap Rotterdam’s bustling port for The Hague’s elegant streets and cultural treasures, keep reading! I’ll guide you through the journey and show you how to make the most of your time in The Hague.

Want to stay in Rotterdam instead? Then read my DIY Guide in Rotterdam – Your Gateway to Dutch Delights

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Rotterdam Cruise Port To The Hague: Is a DIY Excursion Easy? ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž (Smooth Sailing)

Tempted to do a day trip while your ship is docked at Rotterdam Cruise Port? Then make The Hague a potential choice because doing a DIY excursion there is straightforward ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž! Here’s why:

  • Direct Metro Line: 3-minutes walk from Rotterdam Cruise Port gets you to the closest metro station and a direct metro line takes you to The Hague!
  • Walkable City Centre: Most of the attractions are located within a 5-10 minute walk from Den Haag Centraal (the central station), making it easy to explore and get back to Rotterdam Cruise Port.
  • Optional Tram Trip to the Beach: The long, sandy beach at Scheveningen is just a tram ride away. If you’re visiting during the summer, you can enjoy the seaside resort too!

Rotterdam Cruise Port Essentials: All You Need To Know

Rotterdam skyline showing The Erasmus Bridge and Rotterdam cruise port area
Image by Ravi from Pixabay
  • Rotterdam Cruise Port Address: Wilhelminakade 699, 3072 AP Rotterdam, Netherlands – I’ve marked this on my Rotterdam cruise port map below ๐Ÿ‘‡
  • Currency: Euros
  • Language: Dutch
  • Official Websites: Rotterdam.info and DenHaag.com are the official tourism websites, official Rotterdam cruise port schedule on Cruise Port Rotterdam,
  • Recommended Transport App: I prefer Citymapper to navigate public transit in Rotterdam but Google Maps will work too!
  • eSim for roaming in Netherlands: For a great data connection without the huge roaming fees, use an eSim data pack from Airalo. I always recommend having a smartphone with a valid plan when youโ€™re at port touring independently. Get US$3 off your first eSIM data pack from Airalo when you use ROXANN1666 when you sign up or apply it at checkout

Rotterdam Cruise Port Map

  • On Desktop | Laptop? Use buttons on bottom left to zoom in/out. Click on the upper right hand corner to see a bigger version.
  • On Tablet | Mobile? Pinch your screen to zoom in/out and use two fingers to move map around. If you have Google Maps installed on your tablet/mobile, my map will open in your Google Maps app if you click on the upper right hand corner.
  • If map is not loading correctly, click here to see it directly on Google Maps

Why Visit The Hague?

While Amsterdam might get all the attention, The Hague (Den Haag) definitely holds its own as a city worth spending time in:

  • Seat of Power and Justice: The Hague is not just the administrative capital of the Netherlands, it’s also where international laws are made and upheld. explore the Binnenhof, the stunning complex of government buildings that has been the centre of Dutch politics for centuries. Or visit the Peace Palace, home to the International Court of Justice.
  • Royal Connections: Get a taste of Dutch royalty with a visit to Noordeinde Palace, the working palace of the King. Stroll through the palace gardens or explore the surrounding elegant neighbourhoods.
  • World-Class Art: Art lovers will be in heaven at the Mauritshuis, where you can gaze upon Vermeer’s masterpiece, “Girl with a Pearl Earring,” or explore the Kunstmuseum Den Haag, which houses a vast collection of modern and contemporary art.
  • Architectural Gems: The Hague boasts a unique blend of architectural styles, from the stately buildings around the Binnenhof to the art deco Peace Palace. Take a leisurely walk through the city center and admire the beautiful facades and charming squares.
  • Beach Escape: If time allows, hop on a tram to Scheveningen, a lively beach resort with a long pier, promenade, and plenty of opportunities for seaside fun. I had a particularly fun time here seeing the whimsical “Fairytale Sculptures by the Sea”

How to Get to The Hague from Rotterdam Cruise Port: Your Options

Inside Den Haag Centraal Station, The Hague
Photo by Jan van der Wolf

Reaching The Hague from Rotterdam Cruise Port is a breeze, with two convenient options to choose from:

1. Rotterdam to The Hague by Train – Quicker but Non-Direct

(a) Cruise Port to Rotterdam Centraal Station

  • 3-minute walk to Metro: The Rotterdam Cruise Terminal is a 3-minute walk to the closest metro station. Just turn left on exiting the cruise terminal building and walk along Wilhelminakade street. You’ll see Wilhelminplein metro station on your right, with escalators leading underground.
  • Direct Metro to Rotterdam Centraal Station: From Wilhelminplein station, take Lines D/E to Rotterdam Centraal. It’s a direct train and it’s 4 stops. Lines D/E is the only line running through Wilhelminplein but you need to be on the platform heading towards Rotterdam Centraal.
  • Tickets: Pay via contactless card (easiest – new since June 2023) – Make sure you tap in and tap out, at your destination’s ticket gates to be charged the correct fare.
    • Any Mastercard or Visa (including foreign credit & debit cards) with a contactless chip will work, as well as Apple/Google Pay on your phones or smartwatches. Note Amex cards don’t work.
    • One-way fare is โ‚ฌ1.54.
  • Frequency: Train leaves every few minutes. Journey time is about 10 minutes.

(b) Train from Rotterdam Centraal Station to The Hague

  • Timetables: Use NS.nl’s English website – enter The Hague as “Den Haag Centraal” when you do searches
    • Journey Time: Services are direct but not non-stop. All services take about 25 minutes, plus or minus a few minutes, depending on whether it’s a regional sprinter or intercity services
  • Tickets: Pay via contactless card (easiest – new since June 2023). Make sure you tap in and tap out, at your destination’s ticket gates to be charged the correct fare. Again, Amex doesn’t work.
    • Adults: One way fares are โ‚ฌ5.70. There’s no supplement for intercity services, as these are stopping services.
    • Kids: For kids aged 4-11, get them a Railrunner ticket for โ‚ฌ2.50 – valid for the entire day! (This is valid on the train network only, not on local buses, metro and trams in either Rotterdam or Amsterdam). You can buy online on NS.nl or download the NS app and purchase on your phone on the day.

Top Tip: See Live Departures Boards at Rotterdam Centraal Station here – you’ll see all the trains leaving Rotterdam Centraal Station as if you’re looking at a departure board at the station! This is really helpful when you’re in transit and want to know whether your train is running on time!

2. Rotterdam to The Hague by Metro – Slower but Direct (Recommended)

  • Walk to Metro: As above, walk to Wilhelminplein metro station
  • Metro to The Hague: Rotterdam Metro (RET)’s Line E from Wilhelminplein metro station runs all the way to Den Haag Centraal – The Hague’s Central Station! While it’s a bit slower than the train, you don’t have to worry about changing trains.
  • Frequency: Line D metro trains typically run every 10 minutes – you can access timetables here.
  • Journey Time: Takes about 40 minutes.
  • Tickets: Pay with contactless card as above. One-way fares is โ‚ฌ5.75
  • Catch the right Metro Train: Note that Line D also passes through Wilhelminplein, so make sure you get on a Line E metro train, with the last stop shown as Den Haag Centraal.

Even though it’s a bit slower, I would recommend using the Metro to get to The Hague. It’s a direct service and saves hassle in not having to navigate through a big train station like Rotterdam Centraal and finding the right platform. Once onboard the metro, you can enjoy free WiFi, too!

Getting Around The Hague

Trams at The Hague, Netherlands
Photo by Zhi Zhou on Unsplash

Once you arrive in The Hague, you’ll find that it’s very easy to get around to see all the major attractions:

  • Walking: The city centre of The Hague is compact and pedestrian-friendly, making it perfect for exploring on foot.
  • Trams & Buses: The tram & bus network in The Hague is excellent. You can also purchase tickets via contactless card, making it easier to jump on and jump off public transit as you need. I’ll talk about how to get the major attractions below.

The Hague DIY Shore Excursion Map

  • On Desktop | Laptop? Use buttons on bottom left to zoom in/out. Click on the upper right hand corner to see a bigger version.
  • On Tablet | Mobile? Pinch your screen to zoom in/out and use two fingers to move map around. If you have Google Maps installed on your tablet/mobile, my map will open in your Google Maps app if you click on the upper right hand corner.
  • If map is not loading correctly, click here to see it directly on Google Maps

Things to Do in The Hague (Top Attractions)

I’ve listed more attractions than you can possibly see on a day trip to The Hague. As many I’ve noted below are museums, I’m sure that some of you may not be interested at all. So rather than listing in any order of popularity, I’ve listed attractions close to each other, roughly in order. This way, you can decide whether you decide it interests you, or move on to the next one.

1. Binnenhof (Parliament Buildings)

Binnenhof illuminiated at night time, The Hague, Netherlands
Image by Rudy and Peter Skitterians from Pixabay

The Binnenhof, meaning “Inner Court” in Dutch, is a complex of Gothic buildings surrounding a picturesque courtyard. The construction of the Binnenhof began in the 13th century. Count William II of Holland initiated the building of a castle around 1230. It was originally intended as a hunting residence but quickly grew into a more significant political centre. The Ridderzaal (Knights’ Hall), the most iconic building within the complex, was built later in the 13th century and served as a ballroom for grand events – this is currently closed for renovations.

Over the centuries, the Binnenhof underwent several expansions and renovations, with buildings added and modified. Today, it houses the meeting place of both houses of the Dutch parliament, the Ministry of General Affairs, and the office of the Prime Minister.

How to Get There: Binnenhof is about 5 minutes walk from Den Haag Centraal Station.

Note: As of June 2024, when I’m writing this, the Binnenhof is undergoing substantial renovations. This means that you’ll see quite a bit of scaffolding around. The Knights’ Hall is closed. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy the awesome views and IMHO, the prettiest place in The Hague. Here’s what you can still see and do:

Het Torentje at Binnenhof, The Hague
Photo by Michael Fousert on Unsplash
  • Marvel at the Courtyard: The Binnenhof complex is still free to enter. Go for a wander in the courtyard.
  • Photo stop around Het Torentje: The Torentje houses the Prime Minister’s Office. This octagonal building is first mentioned in 1354. It’s originally intended as a summer gazebo for the Counts of Holland and is connected to the count’s garden by a drawbridge. The view from the Hofvijver – the “pond” behind the Binnenhof is spectacular at any time of day.
  • Visit Binnenhof Renovation Information Centre: Located at Plaats 22 – see my map above – it’s in a 16th century cellar with an exhibition about the history of Binnenhof and the archaeological finds. It’s free to visit.
  • Guided Tour to Lower House: If you’re interested to see inside the buildings, you can take a guided tour to the Lower House, home of the Home of Representatives – this needs online pre-booking (โ‚ฌ6).

2. Het Plein – “The Square”

Statue of William the Silent (aka William of Orange) at Het Plein at The Hague, Netherlands
Photo by Isaac Mehegan on Unsplash

Just outside Binnenhof is Het Plein, the historic square. Originally the kitchen garden for the Binnenhof, it was transformed into a square inspired by the Place des Vosges in Paris. This is a particularly great place to see how the classic architecture of The Hague has blended with the new. Look out for the statue of William the Silent, aka William of Orange, who led the Dutch revolt against Spanish rule and ultimately led to the independence of the Netherlands.

3. The Mauritshuis

Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring being exhibited at the Mauritshuis, The Hague, Netherlands
Photo by Emre Acar

Next to Het Torentje is the Mauritshuis, a world-renowned art museum known for its exceptional collection of Dutch Golden Age paintings. The Mauritshuis was built in the 1630s as a private residence of Johan Maurits, the Prince of Nassau-Siegen, who was the governor of Dutch Brazil at the time. The building exemplifies Dutch classicist architecture with its symmetrical design and elegant proportions.

While there’s only about 800 paintings in its collection, the Mauritishuis showcases works by the most celebrated artists from the Dutch Golden Age (circa 17th century):

  • Johannes Vermeer: Famous for his meticulously detailed and light-filled paintings, Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring” is the undisputed star of the Mauritshuis.
  • Rembrandt van Rijn: The museum holds several masterpieces by Rembrandt, including “The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp” and “The Laughing Man.”
  • Frans Hals: Known for his lively portraits, Hals’s works at the Mauritshuis include “The Merry Drinker” and “Two Laughing Boys with a Mug of Beer.”
  • Other Notable Artists: The collection also features works by Jan Steen, Paulus Potter, Carel Fabritius, and Jacob van Ruisdael.

  • How to Get There: It’s 2 minutes walk from Binnenhof, right next to the Het Torentje
  • Opening Hours: Monday 1pm – 6pm, Tuesday – Sunday 10am to 6pm.
    • Note: The Prince William V Gallery (different building) is closed on Mondays and open 12 noon -5pm from Tuesday to Sunday.
  • Tickets: โ‚ฌ19.50 adults, free for kids under 19. โ‚ฌ12.50 for students. Tickets include free entry to the Prince William V Gallery – it’s next to the Prison Gate (see below).

4. Rijksmuseum de Gevangenpoort (Prison Gate)

The Gevangenpoort or “Prison Gate”, is a former medieval prison and torture chamber – think of it as a (much) smaller version of Tower of London! Built in the 13th century, the Gevangenpoort initially served as one of the city gates. It was later repurposed as a prison from 15th to 19th century and was notorious for its harsh conditions and the brutal punishments inflicted on prisons.

You can see the cramped and dimly lit cells where prisoners were held, including the graffiti carves into the walls by the inmates. There’s also a chilling recreation of a torture chamber, showcasing the various instruments and methods used to extra confessions.

  • How to Get There: It’s a few minutes walk from Binnenhof
  • Opening Hours: Monday 11am – 5pm, Tuesday to Friday 10am to 5pm, Saturday – Sunday 11am to 5pm.
  • Tickets: โ‚ฌ15 adults, students & kids are โ‚ฌ7.50

5. Escher in the Palace

Exterior of Escher in the Palace Museum, in The Hague, Netherlands

Even if you don’t know M.C. Escher, you’ve probably seen one of his mind-boggling prints or drawings. M.C. Escher is a Dutch artist whose work explores concepts of infinity, symmetry, perspective and impossible structures, creating optical illusions that challenge our perception of reality.

I’ve always been fascinated by his works. In fact, this was the reason why I wanted to visit The Hague! Escher in the Palace (Escher in Het Paleis) is dedicated to his works and housed in the former winter palace of Queen Emma of the Netherlands.

The museum’s permanent exhibition features 120 prints, including some of Escher’s most famous works like “Relativity”, “Waterfall” and “Ascending and Descending”. (I can’t post the photos I took for copyright reasons but all the famous Escher prints are there. I particularly liked the detailed explanations about how he designed the “perpetual” prints which created the illusions that they can carry on indefinitely.)

  • How to Get There: About 5 minutes walk from Binnenhof and the Mauritshuis
  • Opening Hours: Closed Mondays except during July and August when it’s open. Tuesday to Sunday, 11am to 5pm.
  • Tickets: โ‚ฌ12.50 adults, โ‚ฌ6.50 kids aged 7-12, โ‚ฌ9.50 for young adults aged 13-17, โ‚ฌ11.50 students

6. Peace Palace

Peace Palace at The Hague, Netherlands

The idea for the Peace Palace originated from The Hague Peace Conferences of 1899 and 1907, aimed at promoting peaceful resolution of international disputes. Funded by Scottish-American steel magnate Andrew Carnegie, the palace was built in the 1910s in the Neo-renaissance style. The original cheque for $1.5 million from Carnegie (now worth about US$54M) is on display! ๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿ’ธ

How to Get There: About 10 minutes walk from Binnenhof, or take Tram #24 or #28 outside De Haag Train / Metro Station. Pay tickets with your contactless card.

Cheque from Andrew Carnegie which founded the Peace Palace at The Hague, Netherlands.

The Peace Palace now houses the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, and the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA). There’s 3 parts that you can see:

  • Visitors centre: Free to enter and no need to pre-book. There’s a self-guided audio tour for about 30 minutes – you can use your own phone or be given an audio guide.
  • Guided Palace Tour: Lasting about an hour, you’ll see the Great Hall of Justice (ie. the court rooms), the Small Hall of Justice and the Japanese Room. Booking is required and tickets are โ‚ฌ16.50. Be sure to pick the English tour, otherwise, it’s in Dutch.
  • Guided “Outside the Palace Tour”: This tour will take you through the historic garden. Booking is required and tickets are โ‚ฌ12.50.

7. Noordeinde Palace

Noordeinde Palace is one of the three official palaces of the Dutch royal family. The palace dates back to the 16th century when it started as a humble medieval farmhouse. Renovations and expansions throughout the centuries since evolved it into the elegant palace it is today. It’s been a royal residence since 1591 and serves as the official workplace of King Willem-Alexander – the current King.

It’s only open to the public on special occasions but you can get very close for photos! The statue facing Noordeinde Palace is another of William the Silent (aka William the Orange).

Things to Do & See in Scheveningen: Seaside Escape

If you’ve still got extra time left during your day trip, consider hopping on a tram to Scheveningen, a lively beach resort located just a short ride from The Hague’s city centre. This is a very child friendly stop!

  • How to Get There: From Den Haag Centraal station, take tram lines #1, #9 or #11. Click here to download The Hague’s tram map on your phone or Google Maps can provide transit directions. All these routes will get you there, but some stops are closer depending on where you’d like to go.
  • Frequency: Trams depart frequently.
  • Tickets: Pay with a contactless card onboard and don’t forget you need to tap in and tap out (when you alight) to be charged the correct fare.
  • Journey Time: around 20-30 minutes.
  • Where to Get Off: See these stops marked on my map above ๐Ÿ“Œ๐Ÿ—บ๏ธ๐Ÿ‘†
    • The Pier: Take tram #1 or #9 and get off at Kurhaus stop. The Pier is then straight ahead of you.
    • Museum Beelden aan Zee: Take tram #1 and get off at Beelden aan Zee stop. The museum is then 2 minutes’ walk away

1. The Pier

The Pier at Scheveningen with Ferris Wheel, Scheveningen, Netherlands
Image by Olga Kropman from Pixabay

The Pier at Scheveningen (De Pier) is a prominent landmark. This current Pier is built in 1960s, after the first one was destroyed during WWII.

One of the main draws is the Ferris Wheel, the first in the Netherlands to be built over the sea. It provides 360 degree views of the beach, the sea and the Hague’s skylines. The Pier houses a variety of restaurants and bars, from casual beachside bites to more upscale dining experiences. For thrill-seekers, the Pier offers bungee jumping and zip lining experiences.

It’s free to enter. Ferris Wheel rides are โ‚ฌ15 adults, โ‚ฌ7.50 for kids aged up to 12. If you’re a group of 5 or less, you can buy your own VIP gondola for โ‚ฌ59. If you’re looking for other kids friendly activities, there’s also a small aquarium called “Sea Life Scheveningen” and a Legoland Discovery Centre at Scheveningen.

2. Museum Beelden aan Zee: Sculptures by the Sea

Fairytale sculptures by the sea at Museum Beelden aan Zee Scheveningen, inspired by Gulliver's Travel

Museum Beelden aan Zee (Sculptures by the Sea) is the only museum in the Netherlands dedicated to modern and contemporary sculpture. The star attraction – Fairytale Sculptures by the Sea – is in fact near the entrance of the museum, so is free to enjoy. I had a lot of fun working out which fairy tale inspired which sculpture!

The majority of the museum’s exhibition spaces are underground, built into the dunes along the Scheveningen coastline. There’s also an outdoor terrace and sculpture garden. Even if you’re not interested in sculptures normally, you’ll find the Fairytale Sculptures whimsical and quite funny!

3. The Promenade & Beach

The Promenade is lined with cafes, restaurants and souvenir shops and is perfect for a leisurely stroll while enjoying the sea breeze. This is where the locals come for a lovely day by the sea. Scheveningen is renowned for its long, sandy beach. So on a nice summer’s day, it’s great for sunbathing, swimming and playing beach volleyball. All the usual beach facilities are available.

Featured Photo by Joshua Kettle on Unsplash

I hope this guide helps you plan a memorable day trip to The Hague from your Rotterdam cruise stop! If you found this post helpful, I would really appreciate it if you’d share it with your fellow cruisers. And drop me a line below if you have any questions. Have a fantastic time exploring this charming city!

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