The beautiful, scenic city of Leiden Holland, located in the Netherlands, can be found in the historic tulip growing district and contains a wide and diverse variety of attractions, museums, and landmarks. Guests will be wowed not only by the beauty but also the culture, people, and number of things to do there.
Leiden Holland is located just to the south of the city of Amsterdam and a short distance away from the famed Hague. The name Leiden translates to “canal” in the Germanic dialect. It is currently home to over 120,000 residents, not including the thousands of people who visit the city every year. Leiden Holland is also home to the oldest college in the entire country of the Netherlands and, partially due to its influence, the town has been at the head of scientific discoveries for more than 400 years. Many important discoveries have been made in the city, including the invention of cryogenics. Thirteen different Nobel prize winners have been from the city, and Albert Einstein even spent some time on the university campus. The famous painter Rembrandt was also from Leiden.
The permanent attractions at Leiden Holland are divided up into multiple categories. Below are the top rated, visitor favorites in each category.
- Blauwpoorts Harbour - Also known as Blauwpoorts Haven, the harbor is located in the heart of Leiden Holland. It is often considered one of the prettiest and most photographed areas in the city. The harbor is located just a short distance away from Central Station and is easily walkable.
- De Valk Windmill - One of only two windmills remaining in Leiden Holland, the De Valk windmill is close to the train station and has also been converted into a local museum.
- Hartebrug Church - Known as Harteburg Kerk in the native tongue, this Catholic Church is one of the most attended in the area. It is also known for its steeple, which can be best seen from the old Leiden castle (known as De Burcht).
- Hooglandse Church - Another local church (the second of the two most attended in Leiden Holland), Hooglandse is also found near the old castle. It was built during the 15th Century.
- Leiden Castle - Possible the most famous landmark in the city, the old Leiden Castle (also known as “the old castle” or De Burcht) was built during the 12th Century on a “motte” (artificial hill) that had previously overlooked the Rhine (although it no longer does).
- Leiden University - The oldest college in the Netherlands, the university was founded in 1575. The university continues to be one of the top rated in the country, maintaining its reputation for strong academics. The campus itself is scattered throughout the city in different buildings. The university is also home to a medical school.
- Mare Kerk - Although not one of the major churches in the area, Mare Kerk was built in the 16th Century and was the first in Holland to be built after the Reformation. It is well known for its distinct dome.
- Pedestrian Bridge - The bridge for pedestrians only crosses the river in Holland where the New Rhine and the Old Rhine meet. The area was also the commercial trading center of Leiden Holland and is where the Weigh House is currently located.
- Peter’s Church - Also known as Pieterskerk (or the Church of Saint Peter), Peter’s Church was built in 1315 and is one of several of the oldest churches in the city. It continues to be a popular tourist destination.
- Town Hall - Leiden’s Town Hall (also known as Stadhuis Van Leiden in the native tongue) is located where the Old Rhine and the New Rhine meet.
- The Weigh House - The old weigh house, or De Waag, is also located near the meeting of the Old and the New Rhine rivers and was built in 1657 with distinct and memorable architectural features. Make sure to snap a picture of the relief.
- Pesthuis - This building was built between 1657 and 1661 on the outskirts of the city to house and attempt to cure patients diagnosed with the Bubonic plague. However, shortly after it was built, the plague started to wind down, so it was never used for that purpose. It leads to the entrance of Naturalis (the natural history museum).
- Canal Boat Tours - One of the more unique ways to see Leiden Holland is with one of the canal boat tours offered. Leaving from central Leiden where the Old and New Rhines meet, the boats will travel down both rivers and allow for a beautiful, one of a kind view of the city.
- Castle Archway - This architecturally impressive archway entrance into the old Leiden castle (De Burcht) is one of the most sought-after photo opportunities in the city.
- Flower Market - Held every morning near the Nieuwe Rijn (New Rhine) river, the market near town hall also sells fish, vegetables, and other goods in addition to flowers.
- Parks and Gardens - There are many different parks and gardens located in Leiden, including Bos Van Posman, Heemspar, Hortus Botanicus (a botanical garden), Leidse Hout (Leiden’s Woods), Park Kweeklust, Polderpark Cronesteyn, and Van der Werfpark.
- Antiquities Museum - Featuring a collection of historical antiquities from Rome, Egypt, and other culturally significant places.
- Ethnology Museum - Located just a short walk from Central Station, the Ethnology Museum features a variety of different interesting exhibits focusing on world cultures.
- Municipal Museum - One of the most popular museums in Leiden, the Municipal Museum showcases a rotating cast of temporary exhibitions on art and culture. One of the most popular exhibitions is one focusing on the youth and younger life of Rembrandt, who was from Leiden.
- Naturalis Museum - Also known as Leiden’s Museum of Natural History, guests can come and see scientific exhibitions with unique artifacts and specimens.
- Windmill Museum - The museum located in the De Valk Windmill, the museum focuses on the history of windmills in both the city and the rest of the world.
Besides being known for its museums, scenery, and attractions, Leiden Holland is constantly progressing in terms of special events.
There are multiple live music venues that bring in a wide variety of different musical acts, from the internationally known to smaller, local acts. Recent acts to have toured through the area have ranged from Katy Perry and Justin Timberlake to Lara Fabien and the Hollies. The area is also well known for its family friendly special events, which features all types of events like ice skating, musicals, Broadway shows, and children’s musicians like Dirk Scheele. In addition, Leiden offers a variety of other special events like standup comedians, food festivals (King’s Day, whiskey festival, boat cruises, etc).
There are also special events that focus on the winter season in Leiden. Top amongst these events is the popular, Winter Wonder Weeks, which features a series of magical, holiday themed events that can be enjoyed simply by wandering around the city. With an outdoor ice skating rink, held under sparkling Christmas lights, that can be followed up with a cup of hot chocolate and some outdoor Christmas market shopping (which floats, as it is held directly on the river), the winter wonder event is family fun for all ages. After skating and shopping, guests can stop by the Nostalgic Carnival, which is full of rides meant to appeal to the nostalgic in everyone. Many of these events are offered totally free of charge.
One other special event in Leiden is the 3 October Festival, which has been held there since 1886. The festival was created to commemorate the Siege of Leiden, which happened in 1573 - 1574, as well as the anniversary of Leiden University’s founding in 1575 by William the Orange. Many Leiden residents will actually take the day off of work to celebrate, as this festival is also considered an official city holiday. It is celebrated with a traditional Dutch meal of herring and white bread sandwiches and hutspot (boiled/mashed potatoes, onions, and carrots). There is also a market and a funfair.
Dining and Shopping
The dining options are nearly unlimited while visiting Leiden. Many of them line the canals that run through the center of the city. Guests can find something for any appetite in many different cuisines on Botermarkt Street especially. Leiden is also well known for its exquisite seafood choices, so guests should make sure to try some of the fresh catch of the day while dining in the city. They also are home to the internationally renowned, previously Michelin starred Oudt Leyden. There are also a variety of different shopping options and market, all of which are located in the historic district of Leiden. Stop at the De Markt Leiden (Outdoor Market), Haarlemmerstraat (a street filled with shops) and Onder de Boompjes (an auction hall).