Tourist’s guide to Leiden – a city on the canals in Holland

Leiden is located on the Old Rhine River in the province of South Holland. 120 thousand people live in it. The density of museums, guarded buildings, and ancient monuments here is amazing: there are about 3,000 such objects per 26 km of the city territory. Leiden is one of the best places for those who like to learn new things and are interested in antiquity.

Leiden in Holland

The first mention of this city dates back to the X century. It was a small village on the lands of the Utrecht bishop. Two centuries later, a castle was built here. During the centennial war, Leiden grew at the expense of refugees and for a long time developed through trade and weaving. In the XVI century, it became known as a center of printing. For the brave defense of Leiden during the Dutch war with Spain in 1574, the Prince of Orange gave the city permission to open a university. This university, one of the oldest in Europe, is perhaps the main value and attraction of the city.

By the number of channels Leiden in the Netherlands is second only to Amsterdam. There are 28 km of waterways. A boat trip is a must for tourists, because many of the canals are similar to full-flowing rivers. The largest canal of the city is Rapenburg. If you are more interested in visiting attractions, then know: on Sundays, admission to everywhere is free.

Related entries:

The main attractions

Poems on the walls (Wall Poems of Leiden)

Walking along the streets of the Dutch city of Leiden, you will find poems by famous poets on the walls. Leiden is the only city in the world where poems are written in murals. This “fashion” was instituted in 1992 at the initiative of the Tegen Beeld Cultural Foundation.

Poems on the walls

Russian poetry is presented with dignity: the works of Tsvetaeva, Khlebnikov, Blok. If you set out to see the street, street lamp, pharmacy on the Night mural, then you are at the corner of Roodenburgerstraat and Thorbeckestraat. If you want to read the famous “Leningrad” of Mandelstam, then go to Haagweg street, 29.

The very first poem posted on the wall was “My Poems” by M. Tsvetaeva. It is located on Nieuwsteeg 1.

Sokolinaya Mill Museum (Molen museum de Valk)

The Falcon Mill (Molen museum de Valk) is such a landmark that it is impossible not to notice it. It rises above the canal at Tweede Binnenvestgracht 1. Of the 19 windmills that have ever been in Leiden, Sokolinaya is better preserved than others.

Museum-mill "Falcon"

Inside the conical structure there are five floors, of which three were once the miller’s house. Climbing a steep wooden staircase to the very top, you can see stunning views of the city. And most importantly, you will learn about the mill craft and the old flour-grinding “technologies”.

Miller House Interior

The family name of the family holding the Molenmuseum de Valk was Van Rijn. This famous surname, which also belonged to Rembrandt, is very common in the city of Leiden and in Holland as a whole. But the millers were not relatives of the painter. In 1911, the next heir to the family left his father’s craft and began to organize the museum. The mill is still operational: if you happen to have a bag of grain with you, you can grind it.

Entrance to the mill all week, except for “free” Sunday, costs 4 €.

See also: Zaanse Schans – an ethnographic village near Amsterdam .

Museum of Ethnology (Museum Volkenkunde)

The Museum of Ethnology has a very valuable and rich collection. An important landmark in itself of Leiden and the Netherlands, it was opened at the direction of King Willem I of Holland in 1837. This is one of the oldest ethnological collections in the world and part of the National Museum of World Culture. Museum Volkenkunde is ten collections (according to places of origin) from Africa, Greenland, the Americas, China, Oceania, Korea and Japan, and other regions.

Ethnological Museum of Leiden
Exhibits at the Ethnological Museum

In each of the collection – thousands of exhibits, from artifacts of a thousand years ago to household items. In total, the collection contains 240 thousand various material objects and 500 thousand audiovisual exhibits.

  • The address of the museum is Steenstraat 1.
  • It works on all days except Monday, from 10.00 to 17.00. Open during the holidays and on Mondays.
  • Entrance costs 14 € for people over 18 years old, 6 € – for children.

Botanical Gardens
Interesting plant in the Leiden Botanical Garden

The Botanical Garden appeared as part of the university 430 years ago. He was the brainchild of the famous botanist Karl Klisius, a native of Holland and Leiden. The importance of this botanical garden for the natural sciences and for the Netherlands is confirmed by the fact that it was here that tulips were first grown in the country. Now Leiden Botanical Garden is a hectare of greenhouses, summer and winter gardens, which support a variety of climatic conditions and grow plants from different climatic zones of the world.

Babassu in the Leiden Botanical Garden
  • See all this beauty at Rapenburg 73.
  • The cost of visiting is 7.5 €.
  • The botanical garden is open from 10.00 to 18.00 in summer, and from 10.00 to 16.00 in winter, except Sunday.
City Gate (De Zijlpoort) and Kornburg Bridge (Koornbrug)
Leiden City Gate

In the old part of the city of Leiden in the Netherlands there are picturesque gates left over from those times when the city was surrounded by a fortified wall. The oldest of them is the gateway Zijl, located north of the Leyden fortress. The lock gates were erected in 1667. This building is in the classical style, decorated with sculptures by the famous Barbantian craftsman R. Verhljust. In the opposite part of the old town there is a Morspoort or “gangway” gate. In the past, the fortress walls had 8 entrances, but only Zijlpoort and Morspoort survived to this day. Zijlpoort is one of the symbols of the city, an important attraction of Leiden and Holland.

Kornburg Bridge

The most beautiful and remarkable bridge over the Rhine is located near the Burcht fortress. It is called Kornburg. This bridge has long been a busy trading place. Locals compare it with the Venetian Rialto, and tourists often visit it on the way to the fortress.

Church on High Ground (Hooglandse Kerk)
Church on High Ground - Hooglandse Kerk

Hooglandse Kerk is an impressive late Gothic church dedicated to St. Pankratia. According to the time of construction, it belongs to the XV century, but it was rebuilt and increased many times. At one time, by the order of the Utrecht archbishop, she was a cathedral. And later, during the war with the Spaniards, it was used as a grain warehouse. The cathedral is located at Nieuwstraat 20.

Church interior

You can freely go to the attraction:

  • on Mondays from three to five in the afternoon, on Tuesdays from 12 to 15
  • Wednesdays from 1 a.m. to 12 a.m.
  • Sundays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Don’t be discouraged if you fail to get inside Hooglandse Kerk. The charm of this cathedral in its impressive appearance. This can be estimated even from a photo from the city of Leiden (Netherlands).

Herman Burgava Museum
Anatomical theater

Herman Burgave was a brilliant physician, chemist and botanist who lived at the turn of the XVII and XVIII centuries. He is perhaps the second most famous after Rembrandt native of Leiden. Therefore, the Leiden Museum of the History of Science and Medicine (official name) bears his name. In the building at Lange St. Agnietenstraat 10 was once a monastery, and later an anatomical theater, where Burgave himself worked. At his lectures in the building of the anatomical theater were Linnaeus, Voltaire and, according to some sources, Peter I.

Museum exhibit

The exhibition has such wonders as the famous Leyden jar (one of the copies) and the well-known Leyden flea. The Herman Burgave Museum in Leiden in the Netherlands is famous for its creepy anatomical preparations and medical instruments. Here are the installations with which famous physicists and chemists worked.

You can see this attraction from 10.00 to 17.00 on any day except Monday.

Note: Which museums to visit in Amsterdam – a selection of 12 of the most interesting .

City Market (De Markt)

Local markets are a separate reason for the Dutch pride. The Leiden City Market is open every Saturday right along the Oude and Rhine Canal, on the Kornburg Bridge and adjacent streets. It looks as if the residents of the city, like an old man, left their homes on Saturday to buy food and chat.

Leiden City Market

Here you can buy literally any products and other goods of excellent quality: seafood, fish, cheeses, flowers, seasonal fruits and vegetables, street goodies. According to tourists, it is worthwhile to “stock up” on the Leiden Market with a delicious herring and try waffles. Find out what else tourists can try in Holland on this page .

What else to see in Leiden?

The listed attractions are far from all worthy of attention in the Dutch Leiden. With children, it is advisable to visit the modern natural science museum complex Naturalis, where live rhinos walk through the glazed gallery. Fans of painting should definitely go to the Museum of the History of Art (in the cloth rows). And tourists of any age will be interested in Corpus. It is built in the form of a human body, through which you can travel from knee to head, learning about yourself in great detail.

Corpus, Leiden

If you like to watch old buildings and churches, you will not be able to get around Burcht van Leiden – the free to visit Leiden fortress towering above the city, one of the oldest in Holland. Also admire the old town hall and go to the ancient church of St. Petra (Pieterskerk).

Where to settle

Room at the Best Western City Hotel
Best western city

The cost of hotels and apartments in Leiden is much lower than in Amsterdam and other major cities in the Netherlands. In the historical part of the city, the price for accommodation in an inexpensive hotel, for example in Best Western City, will be 140 € for three. Apartment Boutique Rembrandt in the old town, directly overlooking the canal and the city De Markt, will cost 120 € per night. Spacious and unpretentious rooms for 90 euros can be cheaply rented at the Old Leiden Easy BNB, half a kilometer from the historic center.

Room at Holiday Inn Leiden
Holiday Inn Leiden

If you value comfort and first-class hotel service, recommends staying at the Holiday Inn Leiden, a four-star hotel in the new eastern part of the city. The price of a double room here starts from 164 €. The huge modern Golden Tulip Leiden in the northern Houtwartier district, one kilometer from the old town, offers rooms at 125 euros per day. The choice of accommodation options is great, and most of them are close to the attractions of Leiden.

Find out RATES or book any accommodation using this form

Where to eat

In the restaurant Van der Werff
Van der werff

As you know, the main meal in the Netherlands is dinner. The best restaurant in our usual lunch time may be empty. But in the evening there will be nowhere to fall an apple. In the middle of the day, the inhabitants of Holland eat lunch brought from home or buy hamburgers, croquettes, sandwiches with goat cheese and salmon. You will also follow suit.

Between sightseeing in Leyden, head to Van der Werff’s Steenstraat 2 restaurant at Just Meet on Breestraat 18 or Oudt Leyden on the shores of the eponymous canal. Here you will find European-style hamburgers, quality steaks and well-prepared fish at reasonable prices.

Gourmet restaurant Het Prentenkabinet
Het prentenkabinet

Gourmet food enthusiasts are advised to visit the Het Prentenkabinet restaurant at Kloksteeg 25 or In den Doofpot at Turfmarkt 9. It serves creative gastronomic delights with Dutch and French roots, and the prices are appropriate.

If you do not want to change your culinary preferences during the trip, you will find a lot of restaurants of national cuisines along the banks of the Leyden canals: Greek, Spanish, Mediterranean, Chinese, Indonesian and others. From pizzerias we recommend Fratelli, and from Chinese restaurants – Woo Ping on Diefsteeg 13. In the restaurant Rhodos, you can eat Greek food at a delicious and inexpensive price.

And finally, here is Leiden’s main gastronomic life hack. If you were in the city on Saturday, then to satisfy your hunger, go to the city market, which was mentioned above. Trays with stunning fried fish and the smell of freshly baked waffles always collect lines from tourists and locals.

How to get to Leiden

Arrival at Schiphol Airport
Schiphol Airport

The road to Leiden from Russia runs through one of the airports. You can fly to Schiphol, which is located between Amsterdam and Leiden, or arrive in Eindhoven. From both airports, the city can be reached by train or bus.

Transfer from the airport by taxi will cost 100 or 120 €. At the same time you will be met with a sign, taken to your destination. But just enough to get to Leiden on your own.

If you are in Schiphol, then moving by train will take you 20 minutes and will cost 6 €. If you are leaving from Amsterdam, then the travel time is 40 minutes, and the cost is from 9 to 12 €. The interval between trains in the daytime is from 3 to 12 minutes. Some tourists traveling around the Netherlands come from the administrative center of Masstricht (train takes 3 hours and travel costs 26 €) or from the political capital of the Netherlands The Hague (12 minutes and 3.5 €).

Low-cost airlines from post-Soviet countries regularly fly to Eindhoven. To get from Eindhoven to Leiden you will need to make a transfer in Amsterdam. The total travel time will be 1 hour 40 minutes and it will cost 20 €.

If you travel around the Netherlands by car, then when you travel from Amsterdam to Leiden you have to overcome 41 km. You need to move along the A4 highway and follow the signs. If you are lucky and there will be no traffic jams on the outskirts of the city, you will get in 30 minutes. If you’re not lucky – in an hour.

Prices on the page are for May 2018.

Compare Housing Prices Using This Form

How to buy a train ticket and optimize costs

OV card
Ov card

Yellow and blue ticket vending machines are located at all railway stations in the Netherlands and accept payment cards. If you plan to continue traveling around the country by bus or train, it is better to buy a universal travel card. They are called OV card and are sold at stations in the windows of the “live” service ticket sales. This card is valid for 5 years. She will save you from having to buy transport tickets during your stay in the Netherlands. Just put a sufficient amount on the card and “withdraw” the ticket price from it, passing to the platform through the turnstile.

What the city of Leiden looks like, this video conveys well.

Leave a Comment