Hi, can anyone advise which city would be best for a 3 night hotel stay in June? I'll be coming from 4 nights in Amsterdam and have 3 nights before I head to Belgium. We are a family of 4 with 2 kids who will be 8 and 10. We plan on day tripping to one or the other or even to Leiden and Rotterdam but need to decide on which is best for a base at night. We like dinners outside, strolling and stopping for ice cream, etc... Delft seems like a charming spot but are 3 nights too much? Thanks!
Delft is absolutely charming, and with the day trips you're planning, 3 nights is far from too much.
Your kids would probably enjoy Rotterdam, and you will find it fascinating, as it is very different architecturally from anywhere else in the Netherlands. It was destroyed in WWII and almost completely rebuilt since then in modern style. The young ones will enjoy a visit to the Cube Houses.
I didn't spend a lot of time in The Hague; I went mainly to visit the Mauritshuis, which has a small but extraordinary collection.
Of those two, stay in The Hague and visit Delft. Yes three nights is too much for Delft. Better yet, stay in charming Leiden and day trip to The Hague and Delft, all very easy by frequent train service. From Rotterdam, take a river boat to Kinderdijk, home to 19 vintage windmills built along a canal, all in their original locations.
Agree with Suki. Delft is cute but after a day there, most feel it’s time to move on. The Hague ( pop 700K) has a lot more attractions to base yourself there ( The Hague is less than 12 minutes by train from Delft) making it a great city to base your family, Leiden is a vibrant University town known as “The Oxford of the Netherlands.” ( just more fun!) With canals, historic architecture, and farmers markets, Leiden also makes a great base for three days. Leiden is 21 minutes by train from Delft.
Have a great trip!
Like Madurodam in The Hague the kids wil enjoy Miniworld Rotterdam too, it's close to Rotterdam Centraal railway station. Never visited it but the ss Rotterdam, a former ocean liner is worth checking out. It's actually a flooting hotel and restaurant but for the rest open to public, there are guided tours however no idea how interesting they are.
The Hague is close to the beach of Scheveningen, along the same tram line as Madurodam. Finally the Louwman Museum there has a top notch car collection.
Delft is only a tram ride from the Hague. Delft is a little too small and "frozen" to have the "Bruges, I must wake up there, before the daytrippers come" applied to it. Your travel-style description suggests that you should stay in the Hague or Leiden. Rotterdam has a big city feel, but much to do. We did sleep multiple nights in the Hague (to which I would apply the word "pretty"), but we like art museums. I am more inclined to apply a word like "strolling" to Leiden.
“ Delft is only a tram ride from the Hague.”
There is indeed a tram running between Delft and The Hague, but it takes 40 minutes. The train from The Hague to Delft only takes 14 minutes and is therefore much quicker.
Thanks everyone for your input. I've decided to base from The Hague for 3 nights and have looked at Rotterdam a little further. I must admit I was not drawn to it initially but my engineer husband is!
I was planning on visiting the pilgrim museum in Leiden but it's closed all 3 days that I will be down that way, so I'm a little disappointed. Am I missing much if I can't see it? Being from Massachusetts I have an interest in their story.
Leiden is anyway worth a visit. There are walking tours following the footsteps of the Pilgrim Fathers (if of interest Rembrandt too), for info the local TI “Leiden VVV” is close to the railway station, you will pass it on the way to the city centre. https://www.visitleiden.nl/en/what-to-do/cycling-walking
Delfshaven in Rotterdam was the harbour the Pilgrim Fathers had set sail to England for boarding the Mayflower. The Pilgrimfathers’ Church is open for public, to reach from Rotterdam Centraal with the tram or metro. https://www.oudeofpelgrimvaderskerk.nl/en/
The Maeslantkering, a huge storm surge barrier west of Rotterdam is a nice feat of engineering, for getting there with public transport you have to take the train to Hoek van Holland, rent a bike (4 km) there or take a taxi. https://www.keringhuis.nl/english
I would chime in with a different opinion. We will be staying Delft for three nights this June, coming from Amsterdam. I chose Delft because I like the smaller atmosphere as a place to stay overnight. And since it is halfway, between The Hague and Rotterdam, it makes day trips to both places (which we plan on doing) shorter. We also plan to stop in Leiden on our way between Amsterdam and Delft. So we will have one afternoon and evening to explore Delft, plus evenings/mornings in which to relax on the days of our two day trips.
Thanks for the correction on the tram ride to Delft. My visit was quite a while ago - the travel time seems less than it really was in retrospect :-)
We just returned from The Hague. You can't go wrong there. Easy and convenient trains to everywhere and the city itself has lots of interesting sites as described above. One odd one that we all really enjoyed was the Panorama Mesdag. It is a big circular painting from the 19th century. You go up on a platform in the center to view the painting of the seashore. There is a sort of 3D effect because there is sand from the platform leading to the actual painting. I'm not doing a good job of describing it, but you'll see what I mean. In Rick's book, he describes it as overpriced (I think it's 10 Euros), and that may be right, but we had the Museumkaart and it was included so we didn't think about the price.
Also a side note: Some stores in The Hague accept American credit cards, but most such as grocery stores (even a big chain) do not. So be sure to have significant Euros on hand if you plan on buying picnic supplies, etc. Almost all the Dutch use Dutch debit cards (we found our American debit cards did not work at those places). A Dutch shopkeeper I talked to said they cannot stand the idea of paying three percent or more to banks for taking credit cards plus they are worried about chargebacks. I told him I agreed and did not like the idea of making American banks rich at his expense. He was so pleased he then gave a 10 percent discount on my wine purchase. Go figure!
We were excited to visit the Pilgrim Museum and were very disappointed with it, quite small. Go and enjoy Leiden knowing that that the pilgrims walked where you are walking. We stayed there a week and loved the city.
Some stores in The Hague accept American credit cards, but most such as grocery stores (even a big chain) do not. So be sure to have significant Euros on hand if you plan on buying picnic supplies, etc. Almost all the Dutch use Dutch debit cards (we found our American debit cards did not work at those places).
Thank you for this info.
Living in The Hague, we're a tad biased... but do see it as the best base for three days. Some thoughts...
The #1 tram from central Den Haag to Delft will take about 25 - 28 minutes. Or, you can ride a train from Den Haag Centraal or Den Haag HS train stations in about 7-10 minutes, depending on which train station you start from ( I live in between these two stations which are roughly a kilometer apart). Living here, we often bike to Delft, especially on Saturday mornings when the Flea Market is set up with stalls all throughout the town. Thursday is their version of farmer's market day. The Hague has a huge farmers' market (Haagse Markt: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from 9.00 to 17.00 hrs.).
For Museums, The Hague is hard to beat with the Mauritshuis, Escher in Het Paleis, Vredespaleis (Peace Palace), Panorama Mesdag, Kunstmuseum den Haag (if you're a Mondrian fan, you have to go here), Museum Gevangepoort (Prison Gate Museum across from the Binnehof), Madurodam, the Lowman Museum... and about 40 additional, smaller museums!
Although the city has perhaps 500,00 inhabitants, most visitors will stay near the center of town. I live IN THE OLD TOWN, about two blocks from the Binnehof and maybe 100 meters from City Hall. Despite its sprawl, the city has plenty of greenery with multiple parks - like The Hague Woods (V2 site in WWII), Zuiderpark (where the Invictus Games were just held), and of course, the nearby beach - a short ride by multiple trams... or hop on a bike! Close to the train station, in the center of town, you'll find a large deer enclosure.
The Hague has numerous trains stations - again, the largest being Den Haag Central and Den Haag HS. They are close to the center and easily reached by trams - use an OV-chipkaart for all. Depending on your departing station, you can easily get to Leiden (12 minutes) the AMS Airport (29 minutes), Rotterdam (23 minutes), Utrecht (37 minutes), and Amsterdam (51 minutes). It's also an easy town to bike from. We often head to the nearby towns of Wassenaar, Leidschendam, Zoetermeer, or along the beach routes to Hoek van Holland, Katwijk aan Zee, or Noordwijk. You also have a short car or bus ride to the flower fields and flower industry of South and North Holland.
There are multiple hotels scattered throughout The Hague. For those wanting to stay in luxury, and in the center of town, hard to beat The Hotel Des Indes. (There's also Hilton, Marriott, Crown Plaza, Holiday Inn Express, etc). As an international city, home to the ICC and foreign embassies, it's used to a mixing of cultures. I live in Chinatown, for example.
Of the cities mentioned, if I didn't stay in The Hague, I'd opt for Rotterdam. It's a bigger, busier city, with far more skyscrapers than we have. I often bike to Rotterdam and nearby Kinderdijk... but also ride the train when we go for dinner or shopping (far easier than driving & parking!). We've stayed overnight a few times and enjoyed the city vibe. Plenty of great choices in this part of the country!
I've visited all the places you mention each of the past two summer with children.
Listen to RnR. I will say the downside of Den Haag is that it's just not that great of a tourist city itself. It doesn't have the same feeling of a core historic district but rather is more dispersed feeling.
Delft is a lovely magical little city that is connected to/surrounded by the Den Haag/Rotterdam industrial zone. Delft has a great feel and IMO is the best looking little town in the Netherlands, but it doesn't stand among fields (not primarily), but rather fades in suburbs and industry.
Leiden is like a little clean Amsterdam without the drugged out stag parties etc etc etc. But you already went to Amsterdam. However, there is a really fun amusement park just southwest of Leiden called Duinrell. It's not far from Den Haag, next to a tony suburban town called Wassenaar were people with a bit of cash seem to be living the good life. Duinrell is charmingly themed in a Dutch way and has rides and attractions for kids of all ages.
Rotterdam is a neat city. Emphasis on city. It's not too big, but as a little city it feels like a big city. It's a good visit if you've been to the Netherlands and want something different and more modern/cosmopolitan.
Many positives about the places listed above, but my recommendation is different. With three days on your routing I would choose 's-Hertogenbosch, aka Den Bosch. It's a small city with a big beautiful intact historic core that is pedestrian friendly. It's a relatively affluent town, and has a deserved reputation among the Dutch as being a city with a cafe culture. People are sitting outside everywhere enjoying life. Den Bosch is south of the Rhine, and so was/is majority Catholic, and so has more of a festival culture than most neighbors to the north. It's known for its "Burgundian lifestyle," strolling, relaxing, eating and drinking outside, etc.
Den Bosch LOADED with low key tourist activities and sites for a city of its size, and most of what it offers works for children (for instance, the treasure hunt at the Hieronymus Bosch art museum is a delight, and the canal boat tour of Den Bosch's unique subterranean canal system). There's a moat around the whole town and then mostly countryside as far as the eye can see, and huge state/national parks. It's also a short bus ride from Efteling, the Dutch Disneyland that Walt Disney supposedly visited before Disneyland. Efteling is not as intense a visit as Disneyland and would be a slam dunk hit with your kids for a day. And Den Bosch itself would make a worthwhile and relaxing couple of days.
Short video from funny travel blogger Travel Gretl (and her mom I think?)
Wow, what awesome feedback.
I booked a hotel in The Hague right by the Passage since it felt so close to the train and Mauritshuis museum. Also, Atelier Frites!
I was planning on doing the Vermeer Centrum museum in Delft but abandoned that after reading some bad reviews. And shockingly my family is not interested in the Royal Delft factory tour where you see how it's made.
I'm looking at a half-day in Rotterdam at the windmills and then the rest of the day and dinner in Delft. Plus one full day in Leiden and one full day in The Hague.
In Rick Steves book, he recommends using Delft as a base. Hague is considered more of a daytrip.
Not sure why Delft would be considered as an ideal base and not The Hague. Although a very lovely historical city, Delft can easily be explored in just 1 day. Due to its size, The Hague has much more to offer in terms of public transport connections, restaurants, things to do in the evening etc etc. It even has easy access to the beach. You really can’t go wrong with staying in The Hague.
This is his recommended itinerary. I think he chose Delft as a base, because it sits in the middle of cities like The Hague and Rotterdam. If you read here: https://www.ricksteves.com/europe/netherlands/itinerary you only sightsee Delft for 1 day, but for the others, he simply uses Delt as a base for the other daytrips he mentions (Hague,Rotterdam, Arnhem, Utrecht) which are all cities you pass before or after entering Delft.
Mind you, there's nothing stopping anyone from using the Hague as a base either. I think one or the other makes a good base for visiting those other cities nearby.
“ he simply uses Delt as a base for the other daytrips he mentions (Hague,Rotterdam, Arnhem, Utrecht) which are all cities you pass before or after entering Delft.”
Nowhere in the link you provided, does he say to use Delft as a base for day trips to The Hague, Rotterdam, Arnhem and Utrecht. He doesn’t say that, because it wouldn’t make sense at all to use Delft as a base for trips to Utrecht and Arnhem. He does say to consider using Delft as a base for day trips to The Hague and Rotterdam.
I, and several other posters in this thread, have given various good reasons why The Hague is a very suitable base. On top of that, the OP has stated that, based on the advice, they booked a hotel in The Hague. A hotel in a lovely area of The Hague, ideally located for day trips as well as enjoying The Hague.
That's why I said at the end that there's nothing wrong with using Delft or The Hague as a base.
There is indeed nothing wrong with using either Delft or The Hague as a base for day trips to Rotterdam, The Hague and Delft. But contrary to what you stated, Rick Steves doesn’t recommend to use Delft as a base for Utrecht and Arnhem. He recommends to stay in the area of Arnhem, in Otterlo, for a visit to Arnhem or to visit Arnhem from Amsterdam. Utrecht is recommended as a day trip from Amsterdam.
The reason why he doesn’t recommend to use Delft as a base for a day trip to Arnhem is probably because it’s quite a long train journey with multiple train changes along the way.
He mentions :
Day 4: Head to Delft, and sightsee (sleep in Delft)
Day 5: Day-trip to Rotterdam and/or The Hague — or add another day for more time in both (sleep in Delft)
That's where I got that info
Yes, I know that in his itinerary he uses Delft as a base for Rotterdam and The Hague. I’m not debating that that is his recommendation. However you wrote the following in your 2nd post in this topic;
“ he simply uses Delt as a base for the other daytrips he mentions (Hague,Rotterdam, Arnhem, Utrecht) which are all cities you pass before or after entering Delft.”
This statement simply isn’t correct. Nowhere does he mention to do Arnhem and Utrecht as day trips from Delft. He says to visit Arnhem from either Otterlo or Amsterdam, and Utrecht from Amsterdam. And Arnhem or Utrecht aren’t cities you pass before or after entering Delft. Arnhem is located in the eastern part of the country and is at least a 1 hour and 40 minutes train ride away from Delft.
So yes, I agree that Delft can be a base for Rotterdam and The Hague. But I don’t agree with you when you say that Delft is a good base for Utrecht and Arnhem. Nor do I agree that Rick says that.
But this is all besides the point of this thread and not very helpful to the OP who has already booked a hotel in The Hague over a week ago.
In an attempt to get this thread back on topic, let me end with a nice and relatively new thing to see in Delft that may not have made it into the guidebooks yet; a city map made of ceramic, mosaic and Delft blue; https://www.delft.com/ceramic-map-of-delft
Well what I meant was it's on it's way in or out of the city...daytrip was the wrong I used as it's more of a stopover.
I’m sorry, but I don’t understand. Perhaps you should look at a map and then you’ll see that neither Utrecht nor Arnhem are anywhere near Delft. You don’t pass Utrecht nor Arnhem on your way out of the city. Nor does Rick recommend to visit these cities from Delft.
But maybe we should leave it here. None of this is helpful to the OP who has already booked to stay in lovely The Hague.
Just spent a week in Delft and loved the charm and pace. When we go back in 16 months we're going to use it as a home base for trips further afield to Rotterdam, Leiden, Den Haag, and Belgium. We just found it easy to navigate. It all depends on your interests and tastes. Next time we will use trams and buses in addition to the trains.
I am not deterred by taking slower aboveground forms of transportation. I enjoy seeing neighborhoods and towns at a slower pace. I'm not in a hurry. And people watching is part of the experience.
I love it when people argue from Rick Steve's books as if they are scripture: "But in Book Netherlands Chapter Where to Stay Verse Delft ...." And therefore person who actually lives there, as a person who has never actually been there, I know you are wrong! It's absurd.
Rick Steve's and his team are great. They know a ton about travel in Europe. And they are also spread thin. They travel on itineraries to write and produce tv and create convenient itineraries that overlap with a lucrative tour business.
But the guy who lives there and is giving detailed local advice is flat out wrong. 🤣
I would chime in with a different opinion. We will be staying Delft for three nights this June, coming from Amsterdam. I chose Delft because I like the smaller atmosphere as a place to stay overnight. And since it is halfway, between The Hague and Rotterdam, it makes day trips to both places (which we plan on doing) shorter. We also plan to stop in Leiden on our way between Amsterdam and Delft.
davidfox, please consider writing a trip report when you get back. I'm going to these locations in September. :) Which hotel are you staying at in Delft?