A 3 day city trip in Leiden, the Netherlands

citytrip leiden

Are you planning a city trip in Leiden? Be sure to read this blog packed with tips and hotspots to make your city trip to Leiden in the Netherlands an unforgettable experience.

Weekend getaways are my favorite breaks. Nothing more enjoyable than a short trip to escape the daily grind. That’ s why a city trip to Leiden was more than welcome during this very busy period.

** disclaimer: This is a sponsored post but this does not alter the fact that I share my own honest experiences about this service**

Facts about Leiden

Before we went to Leiden, we knew very little about the city. We particularly liked the cozy and historic character. We studied the history of Leiden a bit and we learned this.

city trip in Leiden

Leiden is a historic city that played an important role during the golden age in the Netherlands. The centre is surrounded by canals, no less than 28 km long. That’s why this city is sometimes called small Amsterdam. This isn’t the only nickname for Leiden. Its also called the city of keys. This name refers to the cities coats of arms and the patron saint of Leiden. The city of discoveries is also a nickname that is often used when it comes to Leiden. This because the oldest university in the Netherlands is located in Leiden and many scientific discoveries have been made here.

city trip in Leiden

Citytrip in Leiden

Must do activities in Leiden

Go for a stroll

city trip in Leiden

First things first, when we arrived in Leiden we were lucky with the weather. That’s why we decided to explore the city on foot during our first hours in Leiden. It’s a wonderful city to explore on foot. The only thing you have to take into account are the many cyclists.

city trip in Leiden

Apart from that it’s a very safe and above all very pleasant city. The canals, picturesque bridges, narrow streets and alleys, authentic lanterns and cozy terraces mainly contribute to a romantic atmosphere. As icing on the cake we enjoyed a beautiful sunset from the old castle.

city trip in Leiden

city trip in Leiden

Go for a boat trip

To explore Leiden from a different perspective, you definitely have to go on the canals. This is possible via organized boat trips. Despite the rainy weather we went on the water with ‘bootjes en broodjes’. They could convince us with their retractable roof. This protected us against the rain and the cold weather. Sometimes we had to bend over, because the roof shifts according to the height of the many bridges.

city trip in Leiden

city trip in Leiden

The visibility wasn’t always optimal with the rain, certainly not for taking pictures. But I enjoyed exploring the canals with a guide. That’s how I learned more of interesting facts about Leiden. Did you know that tulips originally came from Turkey? A Turkish professor gifted a tulip to the University of Leiden. Leiden is therefore the Dutch city where the true tulip mania began during the Golden Age. At that time, tulips themselves were worth more than canal houses.

city trip in Leiden

Go for a museum

In rainy weather, visiting a museum is the best activity to stay dry. Leiden has so many interesting museums that it was difficult for us to choose. Eventually we decided, under slight pressure from Jan, to visit Naturalis, the museum of biodiversity. And I’m so happy that I gave Jan his way this time.

city trip in Leiden

Not only the design of the building, but also the various exhibitions about the animals, dinosaurs, life & death … are breathtaking. The cool thing is that various senses are stimulated within these exhibitions. In this way not only the images but also projections, sound, interactive assignments and games contributed to the whole experience. In short, the perfect activity for a successful family trip.

city trip in Leiden

city trip in Leiden

Other activities

Of course there are many other activities in Leiden that we couldn’t experience during this city trip. Some must-do’s for which we would certainly come back to Leiden are: Young Rembrandt Studio, Hortus Botanicus Leiden, Museum de Lakenhal, Museum Volkenkunde and the Japan Museum Sieboldhuis. Apart from these activities I would just like to come back to experience Leiden during the summer.

city trip in Leiden

Dining in style

With a choice of 200 restaurants in Leiden you can’t help but eat a lot of great food. But sometimes a large selection of choices can be overwhelming. That is why I like to share my culinary experiences as extra inspiration when choosing a place to dine.

De Waag

city trip in Leiden

This original old weighing house renovated with authentic and industrial elements is one of the most trendy restaurants in Leiden. In De Waag you can taste classic dishes in a very refined and original way.

city trip in Leiden

Grand Café Van Buren

city trip in Leiden

For a typical Dutch croquette you definitely have to go to Van Buren. Enjoy the classic Dutch cuisine in a modern but homely atmosphere by the open fire.

city trip in Leiden

Lot en de walvis

city trip in Leiden

Lot en de walvis is located in the old steamboat company ‘de volharding’. The warm vintage interior with an industrial touch is not only inviting, but also very cozy. Here you can travel to different continents and taste world cuisine in a culinary way.

city trip in Leiden

Barista café Leiden

city trip in Leiden

A Delicious and traditional lunch in the centre of Leiden?  That’s perfectly possible at Barista Café Leiden. Try something new and go for one of their specialties such as the flatbread with a topping of your choice. Super tasty!

city trip in Leiden

Brasserie Buitenhuis

city trip in Leiden

Brasserie Buitenhuis is located near Lake Valkenburg just outside of Leiden. This is about a good 10-minute drive from the historic centre. It takes a little effort to get there, but I highly recommend this place. The name Buitenhuis literally translated as outside house, reveals a bit more about the setting. You literally dine in a conservatory with a dazzling botanical interior. On the menu: delicious classic dishes with a modern touch.

city trip in Leiden

Trendy shopping

You can do a lot of shopping in Leiden. As in most cities you have a large shopping street with the most famous stores. However, I prefer the small, hip and original boutiques. In the narrow cobbled streets in the area around the old castle and the Nieuwe Rijn you can find the most gorgeous shops. These were my favorites:

Antraciet

city trip in Leiden

Antraciet is certainly the place to be for minimalistic, stylish and sustainable clothing.

city trip in Leiden

Pluum

city trip in Leiden

Looking for a nice gift, then Pluum is the perfect place. Here you’ll find piece by piece beautiful gadgets.

city trip in Leiden

Boutique Van Gendt

city trip in Leiden

If you want something unique, you must go to Boutique Van Gendt. This boutique has the best vintage fashion and accessories.

city trip in Leiden

Next door By Sil

city trip in Leiden

In the Pieterskerk Choorsteeg you can find Next Door By Sil up to 3 times. Sil has 3 stores where you can find clothing, but also beautiful interior decoration.

city trip in Leiden

An authentic overnight stay

city trip in Leiden

Authenticity at its best at boutique hotels in Leyden. We stayed 2 nights at Huys Van Leyden. With 7 rooms, this is one of the smallest hotels in the Netherlands. The hotel is a renovated authentic canal house along the Oude Singel, the old defensive canal of the city centre.

city trip in Leiden

What I liked is that the hotel is fully decorated according to the character of the house and this reflects the historical past of Leiden and the Netherlands during the Golden Age. It also gives an extra dimension to the stay and contributes to a unique experience in Leiden.

City trip Leiden

An additional day in Noordwijk

As much as I love a city trip, I always love to soak up a little bit of  nature during a weekend getaway. And this is perfectly possible in Noordwijk, a coastal city on the North Sea. Here you can catch a breath of fresh air on the beach or enjoy a long walk through the extensive dunes during all seasons.  Noordwijk is barely 15 km from Leiden, so combining the two destinations is perfectly possible.  To extend your trip with an additional day to end your weekend getaway in peace and all relaxed, I can only recommend.

city trip in Leiden

Lunch with a sea view

If you choose to follow my advice and spend an extra day in Noordwijk, then definitely have to go for breakfast, lunch or dinner in Winterlodge. This beach restaurant is literally on the beach and has a beautiful view over the coastline of the North Sea.

city trip in Leiden

The restaurant consists of a conservatory so wherever you sit, you will have a beautiful view of the sea.

city trip in Leiden

All this together with the botanical interior creates a unique vibe. You can choose for everyday meals or for less known juices and dishes. This is the ideal moment to leave your comfort zone and experiment. I can definitely recommend the pink pancakes and the cakes were also delicious. See I left my comfort zone and went for sweet, sweet and even more sweet.

city trip in Leiden

Spend the night in luxury

The last night during a weekend away, you can go for that little extra. We did that with an overnight stay at Grand Hotel Huis Ter Duin. And I have to say we enjoyed it every second.

city trip in Leiden

This famous and prestigious hotel on the North Sea was originally built around 1885. It was a luxury spa that was particularly popular with the Beau Monde. In the meantime, the hotel has other owners and has been completely renovated. Grand Hotel Huis Ter Duin still exudes a lot of luxury with its post-modern, elegant style.

city trip in Leiden

We stayed in a suite with a view over the sea. I found this absolutely fantastic. It isn’t an everyday thing for me to wake up with a beautiful view of the vast coastline of the North Sea. Moreover, it was also the perfect remedy to get up without a  grumpy morning mood. Even more, it motivated me to get up early for a fresh morning walk along the beach and the dunes. Fortunately we got the company of some shy sun beams, so our day kept getting better and better.

city trip in Leiden

Before returning home, we decided to relax in the wellness area of ​​Grand Hotel Huis Ter Duin. To have a sweat session in the sauna and steam room, a quick swim in the indoor pool to then return home completely in zen modus. In short, the perfect ending for our weekend getaway.

city trip in Leiden

A city trip in Leiden in combination with an additional day in Noordwijk is the ideal destination for a cultural, gastronomic but also relaxing weekend getaway.

Video

Check out our video with atmospheric images about our city trip to Leiden and our visit to Noordwijk.

Do you want to discover more of the Netherlands? Read my two-part series about not to miss touristic hotspots in the Netherlands: Giethoorn and Zaanse Schans.

If you have any questions or suggestions regarding this blog post, please leave a message below.

Yours truly,

Sarah

city trip in Leiden

Stay tuned for new blog posts and subscribe below!

 

Pin voor later

citytrip Leiden
citytrip Leiden
city trip leiden

Spread the love
Advertisements

26 thoughts on “A 3 day city trip in Leiden, the Netherlands

    • Sarah De Gheselle says:

      Hi there,
      Yes of course the Netherlands have so much to offer! It’s one of my favorite countries to travel through.
      Leiden and Noordwijk were such a bliss. I had a great city/ocean trip 😉
      And thank you for the lovely compliment 🙂

  1. Albi says:

    I have never heard about Leiden, so I’m pretty happy that you are also paying attention to the places in the Netherlands that are not that famous. The town looks fabulous. I will definitely add it to my list.

    • Sarah De Gheselle says:

      Thank you. I just love to travel to more unknown places. And certainly when the destination is amazing as Leiden and Noordwijk.

  2. Yamini says:

    Noordwijk looks so amazing! Thanks for this wonderful coverage, Sarah. I live so close to NL but never travelled there. Now I really want to book my tickets. 😀

  3. Lydia says:

    I hadn’t even heard of this place before so thanks for bringing it to my attention! It looks stunning, would especially love to visit the museum

    • Sarah De Gheselle says:

      Leiden and Noordwijk are super stunning destinations. Museum Naturalis is definitely worth a visit. They have excellent exhibitions.

    • Sarah De Gheselle says:

      Hi Kathryn,

      Yes you could take a train from Schiphol airport (Amsterdam). Hotel Huys van Leyden also has a paying shuttle service from schiphol or the station in Leiden if you would consider staying there.

  4. Meghan Emcee says:

    Thanks for sharing I love exploring smaller cities when I go on vacation and Leiden looks like the perfect place to visit! Would I need a car to get there is does it have a train station in the city?

  5. Michelle says:

    Leiden looks like such a charming town. Seeing your photos and reading your tips make me want to book a trip immediately! When I do visit, I am definitely going to add De Waag to my list. YUM!

  6. Emma says:

    I’ve never been to the Netherlands but have always wanted to go. Nice to see some different places to visit, and Leiden looks like a charming place.

  7. Andrea Peacock says:

    Leiden was one of the cities we were considering going to while in the Netherlands but didn’t end up making it there. It looks like such a cute city, as are all the ones I’ve seen in the Netherlands! Such a beautiful country with so much to offer. Love all your photos!

  8. Mai says:

    I’ve never been to the Netherlands, hopefully someday I’ll make it there. I love learning about different places to visit. This city looks so cute and charming 🙂

    • Sarah De Gheselle says:

      It’s such a stunning country and I hope you get to visit it someday too! I am also all about learing about different places. That’s why I like to read as much travel blogs as I can. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *