Walking Tour: The Palace Precinct
Start Paleis Noordeinde
Length 2km; three hours
Begin your palace-precinct perambulation outside the Paleis Noordeinde, a home of members of the family of Orange Nassau since 1595. Extensively rebuilt in the early 19th century, it now functions as King Willem-Alexander's workplace and state office. Admire the building's classical facade through the crested gate and then turn your attention to the 19th-century equestrian statue out front, which depicts William of Orange. This important figure in Dutch history led the Dutch revolt against the Spanish Habsburgs that set off the Eighty Years' War (1568–1648) and resulted in the formal independence of the United Provinces in 1581. From the statue, walk north up Noordeinde, one of the city's most interesting shopping and cafe strips. Pop into Bookstor to browse its shelves and then continue to Lola Bikes & Coffee, where you should stop for a well-made espresso and perhaps for some advice about what bike routes to follow around South Holland – these guys are the experts. Continue up the street, investigating shops that catch your eye before crossing the canal and visiting the Panorama Mesdag, a small museum housing a 19th-century panoramic painting by Hendrik Willem Mesdag depicting the sea, sand dunes and fishing village of Scheveningen.
From here, backtrack to Hogewal, veer right (west) and follow the canal as far as Prinsessewal, where you should turn left (south) and walk to the Paleistuin Park at the rear of the Paleis Noordeinde, known to locals as the 'Secret Garden'. Wander past its flowerbeds, fountains, hedgerows and ponds and then continue to Molenstraat, another popular shopping and eating strip. At the junction of Noordeinde, veer right (south) and then left at Plaats, which will bring you to the Hofvijver, a large ornamental pond which has the Binnenhof and Mauritshuis as a backdrop. Taking a few photographs from this ultra-Instagrammable location will mark the end of your walk and give you time to plan your next move.