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Leiden or Den Haag

I am heading to the Netherlands in April/May with 2 cousins (all of us 30something men). We will be in the countryside for 5 nights and then have another 4 mid-week nights to go somewhere else. We have an earlyish flight out of Schiphol on Saturday morning. We've all been to Amsterdam a few times, and stayed in Rotterdam a couple years ago. We want to see some other cities. Our plan is to pick a home base and daytrip out from there on the trains. Den Haag and Utrecht are the top two picks for day trips. At the end of the day, we want to head back to base and post up at a bar/cafe or two for the night.

From what I have read, Leiden seems like a solid option, and that is where I am leaning. However, a couple people I have talked to think that Den Haag has more to offer. My impression has always been that Den Haag closes up a little early but I wonder if that impression is out-of-date. What advice can you give me?

Posted by
4860 posts

Except for Art Museums, I vote for Leiden. Den Haag is a fine visit, with two magnificent Art Museums and some lesser ones to boot. But Leiden has more to do and is smaller-scaled (not “small”, like Delft for example.)

Posted by
2487 posts

Leiden is a so much more welcoming city for visitors than The Hague! Compact and varied living historical centre with dozens of places for eating and drinking at less than walking distance from each other, while that of The Hague, when not occupied by government offices, is dedicated to shopping.
Leiden is maybe not as strategically situated as Utrecht, but still has excellent train connections to all parts of the country.

Posted by
6494 posts

We loved staying in Leiden for a week and found it so convenient, buses to the train station, trains wherever we wanted to go. It is a beautiful city with history of the Pilgrims who lived there for ten years before sailing to North America. We also enjoyed Den Haag but would choose to stay in Leiden again.

Posted by
11259 posts

I found den Haag only of interest for its museums. A day trip there to see the museums that interest you should be sufficient.

Leiden, on the other hand, was interesting to just walk around. While other cities in the Netherlands have universities, Leiden's is the oldest, and it was the only one that looked like a "college town" with a visible student presence. It's also got some interesting museums. Did you know that kidney dialysis and EKG's come from the Netherlands? I didn't either, until I saw Leiden's science museum.

Posted by
101 posts

My vote is for Leiden but I haven't been to Den Haag YET so it's a biased vote. We went in 2016 just to go to the the Molenmuseum De Valk (windmill museum) and Lieden did not disappoint. There are plenty of restaurant options to choose from, convenient train connections, picturesque canals, and plenty of sites to keep you busy. I would recommend the Hortus Botanicus, the oldest botanical garden in The Netherlands, and the aforementioned windmill. There's also quite a few museums including a natural history and science museum. You can even tour an old fortification the Burcht van Leiden and old shell keep that is today a city park. It's also on a hill so unusual for the surrounding topography. So I'm saying depsite my ignorance of Den Haag, Lieden is a solid choice.
I hope you have a great trip and let us know what you decide!