Leiden, whose name not many people know today, is actually one of the ancient world metropolises. Leiden, which was one of the biggest cities of the international textile industry in the 15th century, is now a university city. Founded in 1575, Leiden University is among the most important universities in Europe. Leiden University is also the oldest university in the Netherlands. The city has a long and glorious history, a university with 13 Nobel prize winner, and a rich culture. Located between The Hague and the country’s capital, Amsterdam, Leiden is one of the places worth visiting on a Dutch trip. Leiden may be a small city but it has many places to visit. You’ll be amazed when you start to explore the city.
Explore the Leiden Old Town
If you are visiting Leiden for the first time, the old town is the best place to start getting to know the city. The old town is one of the many places that reveal Leiden’s rich past. Pieterskerk, located here, is one of the first structures that will attract your attention. Built-in the 15th century, the Pieterserk is one of the oldest buildings in the region. Another must-see place in the old town is Stadhuis. Stadhuis, the old town hall of Leiden, continues its life today as a museum that sheds light on the city’s past. If you are in Leiden at the weekend, you should definitely stop by the old town on Saturday. You can visit beautiful exhibitions or taste delicious examples of Dutch cuisine at the Saturday market in the old town. You can explore the old town on foot or on a bike tour, which is nearer to Dutch culture. One of the most significant advantages of Leiden being a Dutch city is that you can visit the old town by boat, thanks to the canals surrounding the city. The old town is one of the best places to visit in Leiden.
Take a Boat Ride
The Netherlands is a geographically low-altitude country, and this is also reflected in the structure of cities. A place in Leiden, like many Dutch cities, divided by canals. This is actually great news for tourists visiting the city. Thanks to the canals surrounding the town, you can explore the city on a boat tour. The construction history of some bridges in the town dates back to the 17th century. Leiden is a city that can compete with Amsterdam with the number of canals and bridges on it. When this is the case, you can see many boats that take tourists around on the canals. Especially in the spring and autumn months, the boat tour becomes quite romantic thanks to the view of the trees. You can see many couples touring the city on boats. If you have come to Leiden for a romantic holiday, exploring the city with a boat tour is among the things to do in Leiden, Netherlands.
Visit Molenmuseum De Valk
Suppose you want to get away from the crowds of Leiden and discover something different. In that case, you can visit De Valk, Leiden’s only windmill. De Valk, which is the only one of the 19 windmills in the city to survive, is now a museum. The building, which was built in 1743, is also a house where two families live. Today, it is a museum with exhibits about the region’s past. You can learn about windmills by visiting the Molenmuseum De Valk. The second floor of De Valk is also open to visitors, but the stairs are pretty narrow. Especially when there are many visitors, it can be challenging to go up and down to the second floor. De Valk is one of the exciting things to see in Leiden.
See also: Where to stay in Leiden?
Explore the Botanical Gardens
The Netherlands is famous for its tulips, and Leiden is where the country’s first tulip harvest was taken. Founded in 1590, the Leiden Botanical Garden is the oldest botanical garden in Europe. Located next to Leiden University are six different gardens, each about 4 hectares in size. There are essential plants from all over the world in these gardens, especially in Asia and Europe. You should definitely stop by the botanical garden to take a nice walk in the afternoon, refresh, have an unforgettable experience, and have a lovely holiday. The cafe in the garden is an ideal place to relax. You can sip your coffee while relaxing here or try some delicious snacks. Botanical Gardens is among the most important in Leiden, Netherlands, points of interest.
Shopping in Rapenburg
Rapenburg is one of the most expensive and glamorous places in Leiden. There are stores of world-famous brands in Rapenburg. In this region, you will experience the concept of luxury to the top. Restaurants and cafes in the area have eye-catching menus. There’s actually a reason why Rapenburg is so glamorous. Rapenburg is one of the favorite places of the Dutch Royal Family. Considering that most of the Royal Family are educated at Leiden University, this is normal. King Willem-Alexander, Princess Beatrix, and many other royal family members lived in Rapenburg during his years at Leiden University. If you want to find an extraordinary things to do in Leiden, you should visit Rapenburg.
Admire the Pieterskerk
Pieterskerk, also known as Saint Peter’s Church, is one of the buildings with magnificent architecture in Leiden. Another essential feature of Pieterkserk is that it is also the oldest church in the city. Inside the Pieterskerk, there are also various pieces of furnitures from the 16th century. The Churchyard Museum, located within the church, has more than 30000 pieces in total. Pieterskerk is an excellent building in Leiden places to visit.
Read the Wall Poems
In 1992, as part of the “Poems and Walls” project initiated by the Tegen-Beeld Foundation in the city. According to this project, selected poems were written on the walls of the buildings in the city. William Shakespeare, Sapho, W. B. Poems written by Yeats, Langston Hughes, and many other essential names were engraved on the walls of buildings in the city. The poems, written both in the original language and Dutch, attracted significant attention quickly. Today, there are poems on the city walls, bridges, and many more. Although the “Poems and Walls” project ended in 2005 with the processing of Francisco Garcia Lorca’s poem, the locals continue this tradition. Today, there are 114 poems in the buildings in Leiden, and the number of these poems is increasing. There is even a map showing which poem is located in which building of the city. Finding these poems is one of the popular Leiden tourist attractions. While exploring the city, you may see many tourists looking for or reading poems.
Mesmerize by the Hooglandse Kerk
If getting to know a city you are visiting, learning about its past, and having an idea about its culture is part of an excellent holiday for you, you should definitely stop by Hooglandse Kerk during your visit to Leiden. Construction of the building, which began in 1314 as Hooge Land, was completed in the early 16th century. Meanwhile, the building started as wood and was constructed as a brick. Hooglandse Kerk, an example of Gothic architecture, is one of the most visited places in the city today. Today, it also hosts various events and concerts. Visiting Hooglandse Kerk is one of the best things to do in Leiden.
Drink Beer Under Original Heineken Star
Heineken is a world-renowned Dutch-based brewer. If you like to drink Heineken or spend time in old pubs, Leiden is the city for you. You can have a beer under the famous star of Heineken. De Vergulde Kruik is one of the oldest bars in the city. In the bar, which has been in service since 1881, it is still possible to see beer barrels from that period. While Heineken was not yet such a famous producer, the company bought the star symbol standing on the door of the bar from the bar. They started using it as their own symbol. Spending some time in the bar where the star, which Heineken continues to use today, is a must-do thing in Leiden. Moreover, besides beer, the bar offers high-quality gin, whiskey, and local Dutch liquors.
Conquer the Burcht van Leiden
Burcht van Liden, also known as the castle of Leiden, is a medieval castle. The castle, built in the 11th century, is one of the city’s oldest structures. Located on a hill overlooking the city, the castle has a beautiful view of the city. It is possible to watch the Oude Rijn river from the bastions of the castle. By visiting the castle, you can also learn about the past and history of the region. You can be sure that you will be stunned when you learn how life in the city was during the Middle Ages. Climbing to Burcht van Liden is one of the most incredible things to do in Leiden.