Try To Visit The Sweat Room
The Sweat Room is a pretty peculiar place. This room, part of Leiden Universitys campus, is where students would often wait nervously for their exam results. Officially, this room is only open a few times a year, but its now a ritual for Leiden University students to sign the walls whenever they graduate!
Learn More About The Artists Origins At Young Rembrandt Studio
If youre interested in learning all about Rembrandts path, the Young Rembrandt Studio at Langebrug 89 is a good starting point. In this house young Rembrandt spent his time learning painting from his master Jacob van Swanenburgh. Here you can learn about the artist through a free 7-minute video mapping experience.
If youd like to trace Rembrandts life throughout Leiden, there is a guidebook called Rembrandt Route made by the Leiden Discovery. It uses augmented reality to guide you through the city and highlights the key spots you shouldnt miss. It only costs 2.95 EUR and can be purchased at the tourist information center at Stationsweg 26.
Website: | Price: free | Address: Langebrug 89
See The Night Sky At The Old Observatory
Leiden University’s Old Observatory is an extremely pleasant diversion, not least of all for its beautiful park-like setting on a bend of a tributary of the Rhine. Founded in 1633 and the world’s oldest still-operating observatory, the facility can best be visited as part of a 30-minute tour that takes in the nearby Hortus Botanicus.
Highlights include a visitor’s center with displays relating to the building’s history, as well as educational materials relating to astronomy, plus a chance to see the facility’s equipment up close. While the Old Observatory is open to the public only on weekends and Wednesdays , it is possible to see its telescope in action during regular monthly nighttime sessions.
Address: Sterrenwachtlaan 11, 2311 GP Leiden, Netherlands
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Have A Beer At A Brown Bar
One of the small pleasures of traveling in the Netherlands are the brown bars. These cozy cafes are filled with gorgeous brown wood and atmosphere. I love relaxing with a beer at De Gevulde Kruik or Lemmys. De Gevulde Kruik is one of the oldest cafes in Leiden and well worth wandering in. Even if you dont drink, you can enjoy a tea or coffee.
Private Flowerfield Tour In Tesla From Leiden
It is a pleasure to sit in our quiet Tesla and pass by the beautiful flower fields with your own company. We will take some d tours through the colorful flower fields. After the nice smell of flowers we are going to breathe the salty healthy air of the sea. And finally we will taste the typical Dutch delicatessen: de zoute haring .I know youre not sure if you should buy one. So I will. When there are no blooming flowerfields we will visit the rural area near Zoeterwoude where we will see several meadow birds and we will visit a farmstore.
Inclusions: Air-conditioned vehicle
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Take A Ride On Steam Train Valkenburg Lake
Just a 10-minute drive from Leiden, Steam Train Valkenburg Lake is undoubtedly one of the top things to do for families in this part of the Netherlands. Boasting an impressive collection of historic narrow-gauge steam engines , rolling stock, and trams, the fun of this living museum is seeing its collections in action… and going for a ride.
While static exhibits include a number of original railway-related buildings with displays of model railways including some interactive displays most visitors head for the engines themselves, which can be seen in action and toured. The ride itself lasts 45 minutes and is included with the price of admission.
Address: J. Pellenbargweg 1, 2235 SP Valkenburg, Netherlands
Stay In A Historic Property At Castle Oud
I explored Leiden on three different occasions, the first of which was during the winter season. That time I got to stay on the premises of a small castle property in Leiden, Kasteel Oud-Poelgeest. This castle dates back to 1640 and currently hosts guests in the revamped stable wing.
It combines the best of both worlds: a tranquil historical setting locaated just outside of the city center. Its only 7 minutes by bike from the Leiden Centraal train station to the gates and 20 minutes away by public transport. Rooms start from 90 EUR per night.
If you choose this option, I also recommend biking around the area all the way to Kasteel Endegeest which is now housing a psychiatry ward. This will bring you close to the Corpus Leiden museum and through the Zeeheldenwijk neighborhood. Youll pass through rich Leiden suburbs with ornate houses, little chalets, and cozy boutiques.
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Ibis Leiden Centre Hotel
Located near the train station and a short walk into Leiden city centre, Leiden ibis Hotel offers 3-star accommodation with contemporary design rooms, flat-screen cable TV, free WiFi, desk, private bathroom with free toiletries. There is an in-house bar which serves an extensive breakfast every morning.
Address: Stationsplein 240-242, 2312 AR Leiden, Netherlands
Inspect Precious Artifacts At Japan Museum Sieboldhuis
The Japanese collection of the SieboldHuis is very humble but also fascinating. It dates back to a time when Japan was just starting to open up to trade with foreign countries and The Netherlands were its sole trading partner. Even with that in mind, the Japanese still restricted Dutch visitors and denied them free movement across the country.
They also forbade sharing any maps or route knowledge with foreigners, which made information all the more valuable. The Japanese museum in Leiden was compiled from artifacts that Philipp Franz von Siebold sneaked out of Japan between 1823 and 1829 during his stay at Dejima.
The museum is supported by the Japanese Ministry of International Trade, and this is not the only place in Leiden where you can spot Japanese influences. You will also find a Japanese garden in the Hortus Botanicus as well. The plants that ended up in those gardens were also brought through trading, and the garden is now kept in memory of Siebold. The entry price is 8,50 EUR for adults.
Website: | Price: 8,50 EUR | Address: Rapenburg 19
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Leiden Tourist Attractions & Activities
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Molen De Valk Windmill Museum
Molen de Valk
Step inside Molen De Valk Windmill Museum and imagine what it would be like to live inside a windmill. Explore the living quarters complete with original period furnishings.
Molen De Valk is still operated by amateur millners but serves mainly as a museum. In this unique museum, youll have the chance to learn how windmills work, their important role in the economical growth of Leiden as well as have the chance to climb to the very top floor.
The mills name De Put comes from the owner of the original mill that stood here in the 17th century before it was rebuilt in the 1980s.
Sitting on the north bank of the Rhine, Molen De Valk can be seen from all over the city making it a prominent landmark in Leiden. Dont miss the wonderful panoramic views over the Leiden city center from the upper floor.
Panorama from Molen de Valk Museum
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Explore The Leiden Canal System
Like many Dutch cities, Leiden has an extensive canal network that has stood for hundreds of years.
There is something beautiful and wondrous about the canals in the Netherlands and Leidens canals are no exception.
A single canal winds around the outside of the city centre and many waterways interlink with this to form a dazzling network to explore.
Particular picturesque parts of the canals can be found near the Van der Werfpark, the Botanical gardens, Ankerpark and the De Rijn waterway.
When visiting Leiden, it is advisable to take some time to simply explore the canals to gain a greater understanding of this historical city.
Walk Like An Egyptian
Leiden is famous for its university as well as its museums. Youll find a number of smaller museums dedicated to history and science although one of the most famous museums in Leiden is Rijksmuseum van Oudheden. This is the national museum for archaeology in the Netherlands and one of the premier places to see an intact Egyptian temple.
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Old Harbour And Beestenmarkt
Walking from the Central Station to the city center, you will find yourself at one of the most picturesque places in town, the old harbour and Beestenmarkt square. Just across the bridge near Mill De Put you will find the charming Weddesteeg, where world-famous painter Rembrandt was born in the early 17th century. The house where he was born was demolished in 1927, but a placquette indicates its approximate location today.
Explore The Oldest Botanical Garden In The Netherlands
Hortus Botanicus is a must-visit for your Leiden trip. This beautiful botanical garden was founded in 1590 as a part of the Leiden University. Regardless of the season, its the perfect breath of summer. I visited the gardens during the winter season and walking through the various greenhouses was a tropical experience.
Entrance tickets cost 8 EUR for adults. If you end up going on Wednesdays or the weekends, you can take a combined tour of Hortus Botanicus with a visit to the Old Observatory and experience the world of astronomy. Guided tours are running at 11:30 AM, 1:30 PM and 3:30 PM. The tours cost 4 EUR for adults, but there is plenty to do for regular visitors.
Website: | Price: 8 EUR | Address: Rapenburg 73
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Sit Out On A Boat With A Tea Or Coffee
One of the big perks of having so many canals is that there are numerous cafes where you can sit out on a boat . Vlot Grand Café is where an acquaintance of mine prefers to sit out reading on a nice day while Im partial to Einstein and Annies. You cant really go wrong although the service can be a bit slow.
Where To Stay During A Weekend In Leiden
I stayed two nights at the Golden Tulip Leiden Center Hotel. Its location was perfect just outside the city center near De Valk, a tower mill and museum. My room was spacious enough and I slept like a baby. But I had some hygiene issues. They did not clean my used glasses and the bath mat I received on the second day was dirty with shoeprints on it. At arrival I received a bottle of water, but on the second day I did not get a refill. Which also was a bit of a disappointment, since I think this should be a basic in a 4 star hotel. Breakfast was extensive and served between 7.30 and 11.30.
One of my fellow travelers recommended Boutique Hotel DOude Morsch which offers a more authentic and intimate vibe and is situated right across windmill De Put. So next time I will definitely try that hotel!
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If You Have More Time
Horticus Botanicus Leiden& the Old ObservatoryThe botanical garden in Leiden is the largest botanical garden in the Netherlands and has over 10,000 plants and birds from all over the world including Asia, Southern Europe, and South Africa.
Though the observatory is owned by the university, you can easily combine your visit and see both at the same time. The observatory is usually open to the public on Wednesdays and weekends and they even provide free walk-in tours.
Naturalis Biodiversity CenterUnfortunately this was closed when I visited, but Jimmy has been before and he said it was a great museum. It has one of the largest collections of dinosaur fossils in the country. Parts of the museum are now open to the public though the main exhibition areas still remain closed for renovations.
Leiden American Pilgrim MuseumThis is a mom and pop relaxed museum. Id only recommend going if youre REALLY interested in pilgrims and the history of the Netherlands as a whole. Its more like a couple of rooms in an old house that you can look at rather than an official museum. You can explore the home pilgrims once lived in, though renovations have been made over the years. You can also touch and hold some of their pieces from the 16th and 17th century if youre careful. And you can sit in a 15th century chair if youd like!
National Museum Of Antiquities
Also known as the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, this museum has developed from a simple university collection into a vast display of ancient history.
This museum can be found next to Pieterskerk and is easily accessible when visiting the city centre.
Concentrating mainly on ancient Egypt history, the museum has a great display of Sarcophagus, artefacts, weaponry and household objects.
Other categories include the ancient near east, the Etruscan civilization, ancient Greece, ancient Rome and the Prehistoric Netherlands.
For those interested in history, this is a fantastic place to visit.
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Katwijk Aan Zee Resort
A charming coastal resort located only 20 minutes to the west of Leiden, Katwijk Ann Zee is a great place to take the family and enjoy the scenery of the Dutch west coast.
Split by the Binnenwatering estuary, on the right side you can find some brilliant secluded sand dunes and many public footpaths perfect for exploring, while on the left is the actual town and resort of Katwijk.
A main boulevard stretches for the whole length of the town and runs parallel to the wonderful golden beach.
Here you will find a variety of hotels, restaurants, beach bars and huts and ample amounts of sand to sunbathe on or build a castle.
The water may not be the warmest, but you can still enjoy a dip if you wish!
European Museum Of The Year 2021
See, do and experience: in the new Naturalis, young and old will immerse themselves in the wonderful world called nature. Take the whole family on a voyage of discovery in nine brand-new exhibition rooms, full of nature’s most beautiful things. Also meet our T. rex Trix!
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Where To Eat And Drink During A Weekend In Leiden
Freddys Gastrobar is the new hotspot in town. Making a reservation in advance is essential here! It is situated right beside the main office of the Heineken brewery and named after Freddy Heineken. It has its own microbrewery, so you can taste their own beers. The restaurant is quite big with an industrial modern look, but it still has a cozy and nice atmosphere thanks to the plants and warm colors they used in the decor and furniture. The food was good, the drinks even better !Location: Stationsweg 41, 2312 AT Leiden
Pipa Streetfood Bar
Pipa Streetfood Bar is decorated as if you are eating on the street. It has a pedestrian crossing and mural art inside, which makes you feel as if you are somewhere eating in South America. The menu consists of various streetfood dishes from around the world. Streetfood is ready-to-eat food served in the street, but over here it is served in a little more comfortable way. I went here for lunch and tried the bao bun with the fried chicken. I swear this chicken was to die for! The crusty chicken and the sauce on it was absolutely delicious! Location: Morsstraat 60, 2312 BN Leiden
Lot & de Walvis
Lot & de Walvis is a cozy restaurant situated in the old head office of the steamboat company of Leiden calledDe Volharding. The interior screams bohemian vibes and the restaurants menu lets you travel around the world via its wide range of international food.Location: Haven 1, 2312 MG Leiden
Free Things To Do In Leiden: Experience The Saturday Market
Leiden is usually a quaint and quiet place, but if you like a little bustle why not check out the Saturday market? Try some free samples of cheese, olives and dips.
Did we miss one of your favourite things to do in Leiden for free? Tell us in the comments!
Editors Note: This article was originally published in October 2018, and was fully updated in May 2022 for your reading pleasure.
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