50km (31 miles) SW of Amsterdam; 22km (14 miles) NW of Rotterdam; 54km (33 miles) W of Utrecht

The Hague is an easy day trip from Amsterdam, but some travelers prefer it as a more relaxed sightseeing base. 's-Gravenhage, to give the city its full name, or more commonly Den Haag, is a cosmopolitan town bursting with style and culture, full of parks and elegant homes. Its 18th-century French look suits its role as a diplomatic center and the site of the International Court of Justice, housed in the famous Peace Palace.

Amsterdam might be the national capital, but the Hague (pop. 480,000) has always been the seat of national government and the official residence of the Dutch monarchs, whether or not they chose to live there. Three royal palaces grace the city. In the beginning, the counts of Holland chose a small village named Haag (from the Dutch for "hedge") as the setting for their hunting lodge, which was why the town was later called 's-Gravenhage (the Count's Hedge). Lush greenery from the original hunting grounds remains in the city's parks, gardens, and forests.