Leiden, with a population of 121,000 (including 20,000 students), is the fourth-largest city in the province of South Holland and is located 50 kilometers from Amsterdam and 23 kilometers from The Hague. Its attractions and assets make it one of the most fascinating cities in the nation. Rembrandt, the Dutch Golden Age master painter, was born in Leiden in 1606. And in Leiden, the first tulips opened their blossoms. Two words sum up the tone of this bustling city that was a cultural rival to Amsterdam for a long time: history and culture. It is the second city of canals after Amsterdam.
Leiden is a university city in the Netherlands since it is home to the Netherlands’ oldest university. The town is considered one of the country’s oldest and most picturesque urban areas. Leiden is also a large tulip-growing area. Every Wednesday and Saturday, there is a bazaar in Leiden Street Markt where you can find local foods, flowers, clothes, and crafts. The city lies between the Old and New Rhine rivers, so you can ride a riverboat for a relaxing tour. You can visit some of the city’s marvels while on a boat. You can only find this adventure in a few places.
A city is a bold place, with its marvels and painters. Leiden is also one of the country’s most famous cultural centers. The city is the birthplace of several great painters of the 16th and 17th centuries. Besides the eminent Rembrandt, Lucas van Leyden, Jan Steen, Jan van Goyen, and Frans van Mieris are also from Leiden. Leiden must be on the list of where to visit list.
Places to Visit in Leiden
Leiden is smaller and much less known than Amsterdam, but it has charm. After the capital city, Leiden is the city with the most canals and bridges in the Netherlands. If you can’t decide where should I go in Leiden, this list gives you a bunch of hints.
Burcht van Leiden Castle
Perched atop a 12-meter high, this 11th-century fort is also known as Fort Leiden. A 35-meter circuit of walls and canals once protected it. Since the city continued to grow rapidly, the fort was abandoned in the 1600s and became a public park. The castle itself became a symbol after the Siege of Leiden. This is one of the oldest buildings in the city, and with its fascinating architecture, it is worth seeing. The fortress is located at the beginning of Niewstraat. You’ll notice its 17th-century portal showing a lion with the city’s coat of arms and two keys. The Burcht of Leyden is a fortress raised on a small artificial hill. It is one of the oldest examples of a fort in the Netherlands. Since the castle is a municipal garden, you can have a pleasant walkway with a view of the whole city.
Leiden Museum of Natural History
Leiden Museum of Natural History has many archaeological exhibits from Egypt, the Near East, Greece, and Rome. This tourist attraction, founded in 1818, features sculptures, ancient vases, and artifacts from prehistoric to Roman times. In the museum’s rich collection, there are more than 10,000 animals, stones, fossils, and minerals. In the courtyard of the museum, there is the Nubian Temple of Taffah. The temple was presented to the country by President Sadat in 1979. Thanks to the Dutch’s help, the Aswan Dam’s construction did not damage the monuments that were in danger. The Leiden Museum of Natural History will impress both children and adults. If you’re lucky, you can attend a temporary exhibition or kids’ events.
Leiden Botanical Gardens
Leiden Botanical Gardens is the oldest in the Netherlands. There are four parts of the garden. These are the meadow garden, the winter garden, the garden of Clusius, and the Japanese garden. There are also orangery and tropical greenhouses in the complex. If you have a limited time, you should see Clusius garden, located in Binnenvestgracht 7. Charles Clusius was a Flemish doctor and botanist born in Arras in 1525. He traveled and worked throughout Europe and founded the Hortus Botanicus in Leiden. At the same time, he was a professor of botany at the same university around 1593. Leiden Botanical Gardens are the best place to go in Leiden for couples.
Molenmuseum De Valk
Modenmuseum De Valk is a windmill museum with a spectacular seven-story structure that stands 29 meters tall. The mill itself was built in 1742. This beautiful Dutch windmill, whose name literally means “the falcon,” stands on high ground that was once part of the city’s defenses in the early 1700s. At that time, there were 19 windmills inside the city walls. The windmill’s restoration was completed in 1964, and Molen de Valk was opened to the public as a museum with the dwelling house of the last miller. The best part about visiting this still-operational mill are the exhibits related to the building’s and mill’s histories. Another historic windmill worth visiting is Molen de Put, built around 1619 next to Rembrandt’s Bridge.
See also: Best 10 things to do in Leiden
Pieterskerk is one of Leiden’s oldest churches. The site began to be built in 1390, and it was completed 150 years later. The church was built on top of Holland’s chapel and cemetery. The chapel was rebuilt in 1121 and consecrated to the apostle Peter. It was endowed with a massive tower called Queen of the Queen, measuring more than 100 meters high and visible from the coastal town of Katwijk. The tower collapsed in 1512 and was never rebuilt again. Pieterskerk was built as a basilica, then turned into a Protestant church, and finally became a multipurpose hall in 1975. The church organs are famous, and the works of Bach are majestically performed there. Rembrandt’s parents and painter Jan Steen were both buried here.
Where to Stay in Leiden
The city might be small, but there are too many things to visit. In addition to the main tourist attraction, you can see the Corpus Museum, taste Leidse Kass, and walk through Plantsoen Park. If you want to experience the city entirely, you should visit for a few days. You will not have any trouble deciding where to stay in Leiden because the city offers a wide variety of high-quality accommodations suited to the needs of every visitor.
High-Level Hotels To Stay in Leiden
If you have an extra budget to spend on a hotel, there are plenty of options to stay in the city. The city center is considered the best area to stay in Leiden, and high-level hotels flocked at the heart of the town.
Fletcher Wellness-Hotel Leiden: As you may expect from its name, it is more than a hotel. Located in the city’s center, you can easily visit wherever you want. With a 20-minute drive, you can arrive at Schiphol Airport or take a train for 10 minutes and see The Hague. There is also a spa and wellness center where you can relax and unwind on your vacation. It is amongst the best place to stay in Leiden.
Van Der Valk Hotel Liden: Van Der Valk Hotel Liden is a little bit away from the city center. You can reach the hotel within a 10-minute drive and enjoy being away from the crowdedness of the city. While tasting Dutch cuisine at the hotel’s terrace restaurant, you can enjoy the view of the Oude Rijn river.
City Hotel Nieuw Minerva Leiden: City Hotel Nieuw Minerva Leiden is located just between the city’s two most famous shopping streets. The hotel is briefly decorated in Old Dutch style. It is one of the best places to stay in Leiden. The famous University of Leiden and the Leiden Museum of Natural History are two steps away from the hotel.
Mid-Section Hotels in Leiden
If your budget is on a thin ice balance between museums, art exhibitions, and hotels, mid-section places to stay in Leiden are just for you.
City Hotel Rembrandt: Leiden is proud of Rembrandt, and the more important thing is they have the right to be proud of their astonishing fellow townsman. City Hotel Rembrandt is just a few minutes from the university and Rapenburg canal; it has an excellent location.
Best Western City Hotel Leiden: Best Western City Hotel Leiden offers fine accommodation at a budget-friendly price. The hotel has a reputation for an excellent breakfast and bar. If you want to take a look and mold Leiden’s ordinary life, this is the right place for you. If you think about where to stay in Leiden, Best Western City Hotel is one of the good options.
Boutique Hotel d’Oude Morsch: The hotel isn’t located in the heart of the city, but this is not a minus for Boutique Hotel d’Oude Morsch. You can cycle around the city and visit iconic locations with bike hire services. You can enjoy the quiet side of the town. The hotel is very close to local restaurants and bars. Local restaurants are the perfect spot to enjoy and explore Dutch cuisine.
Low-Budget Hotels in Leiden for Explorers
Being a stranger is an inspiration for explorers in different cities. If a hotel is just a place to rest and spend the night, these are the best hotels in Leiden for you.
Huys van Leyden: By the Oude Singel river, Huys van Leyden offers a good hotel experience at a reasonable price. Huys van Leyden may be a low-priced hotel, but if you look at the amenities, this is just the opposite. The hotel even offers a private boat trip over the river. This is a service from the best hotels in Leiden.
ExLibris Boutique Hotel: Think of a place very close to everywhere that offers service beyond expectations yet is one of the budget-friendly hotels. You can smell the tulips of the Leiden Botanical Garden from your window because it is very close to the hotel. Congratulations, it’s ExLibris Boutique Hotel.
Where to Visit Close to Leiden
Leiden is one of the most beautiful cities in the Netherlands. The city is small but crammed with iconic tourist spots. Even though two days’ vacation may be more than enough to visit Leiden, if you consider the explore close cities’ to Leiden, there are must-see places within a 20- to 30-minute drive.
Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands, but The Hague is the country’s royal capital. The Hague is one of the most critical diplomatic centers in Europe. It is like a diplomatic base for the region. Even though Amsterdam is the constitutional capital, The Hague is home to the Cabinet, the Supreme Court, the royal family’s Noordeinde Palace, the International Court of Justice, Europol, and the United Nations. This means there are significant places worth seeing in the city. The Hague is the Netherlands’ third-most populous city, after Amsterdam and Rotterdam. You can visit the Hague after a 20-minute drive from Leiden.
Haarlem is the capital of the North Holland province. The city was founded in 1245, and the walls started to be built after 1270. Dutch architecture dominates the town. There are countless iconic buildings, museums, cafes, and restaurants. The annual flower parade of the city is like a Rio Carnaval of tulips. Haarlem will be a paradise for you if you have a passion for architecture and buildings. You can visit Haarlem by train, bus, or car from Leiden. Haarlem is about a 35-minute drive from Leiden.
The city’s long history offers plenty of places to visit. Rotterdam is the second-biggest city in the Netherlands after Amsterdam. It was about half an hour away from Liden. You can even take a train ride to visit Rotterdam. The city is also an architectural marvel in the country. Rotterdam is also regarded as the hub of the country’s transportation network. Thanks to this, the city is known as the “Gateway to Europe” or “Gateway to the World.” Some of the country’s icons are also located in Rotterdam. Euromast tower and the biggest port in Europe.