Leiden or Leyden is a town in the Netherlands. The city is known for its oldest university in the country, the birthplace of Rembrandt and its beautiful, old city centre (the second biggest after Amsterdam). It is a friendly, small city which has a large population of students.
A population of just over 100,000, and just under 20,000 students makes Leiden one of the Netherlands few true student towns (to go along with Groningen and Delft). Leiden University is the Netherlands oldest university, founded in the 16th Century to commemorate the resistance of its townsfolk to the Spanish siege, its buildings are dotted around town in and out of the city centre. This gives Leiden a relatively young and internationally diverse population, especially with the university having a particularly strong law and medical faculty. The LUMC is located right behind central station. Its vibrant student population means Leiden is never short of a great place for a drink. However Leiden's Dutch students are notorious for being dominated by its 'Studenten verenigingen' (fraternities) which means many international students choose to go to nearby Amsterdam, or the Hague for late night partying.
Leiden is best reached by train. The journey takes 10-15 minutes from The Hague, and 20 minutes from Schiphol Airport, the principal airport in the Netherlands. The journey from Amsterdam takes between 30 and 40 minutes.
Most trains arrive at Leiden Centraal, which is 500m North-West of the City Center, and 1km from the City Hall. Leiden Lammenschans station (relatively small station on the line to Alphen and Utrecht) is on the opposite side of the city center, just over 1km from the City Hall. If you do not feel like walking from the station to the centre you can take a bus (ask which ones go to the Breestraat bus stop); this costs €1 during off hours.
In spite of the two highways around Leiden (A4 and A44), the centre of Leiden isn't easy to reach by car. It is best to try and park your car at the transferium (FREE parking) and continue your journey by bus. For this transferium you have to follow the A44 and then take exit 8 (Katwijk, Leiden Transferium). There are also parking lots on the Morsweg (south-west of the town centre) and on the Langegracht (north of town centre, near the station). These parking lots are crowded though, and there's no guarantee there will be space here, especially during the summer. Otherwise there are parking lots at the Groenoordhallen and Haagweg from where free shuttle buses run to the city centre. In the city center the parking fares are expensive. Also outside the old city center (inside the 'Singel' canal) parking is not free in most cases. Only far away from the centre will free parking be found. A normal charge is €4,60 per hour. Leiden is perpetually rebuilding main roads and areas around the centre, making it very difficult to drive by car. The never ending rebuilding of main roads also guarantees major daily traffic jams at the rush hours.
Leiden train station is a central hub for the local bus network, so if you want to go anywhere local your best bet is to go here and ask around. It is worth buying an 'OV' card at the station, which is a sort of chip card that can pay buses and trains everywhere in the Netherlands.
Leiden is one of the most important museum cities in the Netherlands. Three national museums are located in Leiden, among others, that worth to visit. All major museums are within 10-15 minutes of walking distance from the central station.
Rijksmuseum van Oudheden (National Museum of Antiquities), Rapenburg 28, +31-71–5163163, . Tu-F, 10AM-5PM & Sa/Su/holidays, 12AM-5PM. Includes an outstanding collection of ancient Egyptian antiquities, and a small temple that was given to the Netherlands by the Egyptians for their help with the Aswan monuments transfer project. It also features an exhibition on the archeological history of the Netherlands including dug-up burial treasures and the like. Adult €7.50, Child (4-17) €6.50.
Rijksmuseum voor Volkenkunde (National Museum of Ethnology), Steenstraat 1, +31-71-5168800, . Tu-Su/holidays, 10AM-5PM. The museum shows the culture of native peoples around the world in a refreshingly open-minded way. Permanent exhibitions are grouped based on geographical regions. A good, well thought-out museum with lots of background information in its bookshop, extensive library, and computer screens that are strewn about the museum. Of special interest are the temporary exhibits. Adult €7.50, Child (4-12) & Over 65 €4. Permanent exhibition is free of charge on Wednesday.
Naturalis (National museum of natural history), Darwinweg 2, +31-71-5687600, . Tu-F, 10AM-5PM, Sa/Su/holidays, 10AM-6PM. The main part of the museum tells the story of life on earth through bones, fossils, etc. The museum also features a collection of specimens from extinct animals, including bones from a Dodo. Do not miss the treasure chamber (schatkamer) where exceptional and valuable collections, such as extinct animal bones, gemstones, etc., are on display. The treasure chamber is sometime closed for security reason. The museum is meant to be accessible for all ages; the temporary exhibitions are often (partially) aimed at children. Child (0-3) free, (4-12) €5, (13-17) €6, adult (> 18) €11.
Molen de Valk, windmill museum.
Stedelijk Museum De Lakenhal, Oude Singel 28-32, +31-71-5165360, . Tu-Su, 10AM-5PM. Municipal museum in the magnificent 17th century former clothmaker's hall. Permanent collection shows artifacts and art objects throughout the history of Leiden from 16th century, including those of some very famous Dutch painters. Adult (18-65) €4, otherwise free of charge.
Museum Boerhaave, Lange St. Agnietenstraat 10, +31-71-5214224, . Tu-Sa, 10AM-5PM, Su/holidays, 12AM-5PM. The Boerhaave Museum, named after the 16th century physician and biologist Herman Boerhaave, is the Dutch National Museum of the History of Science and Medicine. It features an extensive exhibition of scientific equipment from 1600 onwards. Highlights include the Theatrum Anatomicum (a mock-up of a lecture theatre where anatomical lessons were held), Gravesande demonstration experiments (first demonstration experiments to show Newtonian physics), the first microscope, the first helium liquefier and the first Fahrenheit thermometer. Adults €6, child (<9) and over 65 €3.
Hortus Botanicus, Rapenburg 73, +31-71-5277249. . Apr. 1st-Oct. 31st, everyday open 10AM-6PM, Nov. 1st-Mar. 31st, Tu-Su, 10AM-4PM. It is a botanical garden that hosts different species of flowers and trees around the world. It is part of the University of Leiden. Here you can also find the entrance to the visitors centre of the Astronomical Observatory, which is the oldest academical observatory in the world. Adult €6, child (4-12) €2.5, over 65 €3.
Molen de Valk.  It was a flour windmill and now is a windmill museum. Located in just less than 5 minutes walk from Leiden central station. You can climb through all the mill's levels. On the top, you can admire the view of Leiden.
The Leiden American Pilgrim Museum It's actually a small house (built between 1365 and 1370) opposite the bell tower of the Hooglandse kerk, furnished in the style common to the Pilgrim era. Beschuitsteeg 9, +31 (0) 71 5122413. Open Wednesday through Saturday, 1 to 5 p.m. Entrance costs €4,-
Corpus is a 6 story high statue of a human body. Inside the statue, you will experience a spectacular Journey through the Human Body, unique to the Netherlands and even the whole world. There is also an interactive part. Willem Einthovenstraat 1, Oegstgeest (next to Leiden University, besides the A44). You can reach this by taking busy 57 direction Nieuw Vennep from the station, busstop Corpus. Open Tuesday - Sunday, 9 AM to 7 PM. Entrance costs €17,50. Not suitable for children below 8 years.
if you intend to stay for longer period of time in the Netherlands and your affection is on visiting museums, then it is advised to apply for the 1-year museum card (museumjaarkaart). The museum card is only for €45 for first time cardholders and you gain free access to more than 400 museums at anytime. You can buy this card at any major museum.
Academiegebouw.- Old university building still used for ceremonies and a few studies. The building borders on the Rapenburg. On the other side the academiegebouw borders on the Hortus Botanicus.
Pieterskerk - The Church of St. Peter (the patron saint of the city) is a 16th century church, in late-Gothic style. An feature which Americans will find interesting is that this church is associated with the Pilgrim Fathers, whose leader John Robinson, lived in the nearby Pieterskerkchoorsteeg (house is marked with a plaque). The church itself features a small exhibition on the Pilgrims in Leiden. People buried here include the physician Boerhave, the painter Jan Steen (of Rijksmuseum fame) and the aforementioned Pilgrim leader Robinson.
Hooglandse Kerk Dedicated to St Pancras and located at the site of an earlier wooden chapel dating from 1314. Construction started in 1377 but parts the building were left lower than originally planned when construction was halted in the sixteenth century. Houses were built against its walls during the seventeenth century. Inside you can find a lying tombstone belonging to the tomb of Justinus van Nassau, illegitimate child of William of Orange.
Stadhuis with an old renaissance facade dating from 1597. The newer building lying behind this facade was built to replace the older one, destroyed in a fire in 1929.
Burcht Dated back to at least the middle ages. This elevated borough is freely accessible and right in the heart of Leiden. After climbing the stairways you can walk around and enjoy the magnificent views of Leiden from above..
Canals - Oude Rijn - The oldest branch of the Rhine river is little more than a city canal here. Historically, this waterway is what gave the area its importance, first as a Roman border, then during the Golden Age as a trade route. Nowadays, river traffic doesn't use this branch and the river just serves to fill the city's canals with water. The area between the Oude Rijn and Nieuwe Rijn is one of the most undisturbed bits of Leiden - go here if you like walking along canals without getting run over by shoppers. On the other side of the city centre (Weddesteeg, Galgewater) is the place where the canals recombine - this is one of the most beautiful spots in Leiden, with a windmill, the old city gate, a small park, and a wooden bridge over the river (see also the image at the head of this article).
The Van der Werff Park is named after the mayor Pieter Adriaanszoon van der Werff, who defended the town against the Spaniards in 1574, 6 years into the Eighty Years War of Independence (1568-1648) against the Spaniards. The town was beleaguered for months and many died from hunger. According to legend van der Werff was accused by a frantic crowd of secretly hiding food reserves. He denied it vehemently and to prove his sincerity offered to cut off his arm to serve as food. This made people back off, ashamed of their mistrust. The Van der Werff Park is one of the small parks in Leiden's centre and is probably the most interesting one due to its history. There used to be blocks of houses here but during the cold afternoon of January 12, 1807, a disaster occurred. A ship filled with 18 tons of gunpowder blew up, leveling the surrounding blocks of houses on both sides of the canal and killing hundreds in the process. It's claimed the explosion was heard all the way in Groningen (250 kilometers away). Years later, the area was turned into a park on one side and a laboratory was built on the other; the Kamerlingh Onnes laboratory: famed for at one time being the coldest place on earth, where helium was liquefied for the first time, and superconductivity discovered, which earned Kamerlingh Onnes a Nobel Prize.
There are two wonderful ways to stroll the old centre of Leiden. One way is to print out a paper guide that will guide you along the poems on the wall, the Muurgedichten. In 1992, the painting project was started and it was recently finished. More than 80 poems from all over the world are painted on the walls of houses. The tour will show you about 25 poems, the whole tour taking about two hours. The guide is downloadable at .
The other way is to take a tour along the courtyards that are often hidden behind the facades of houses. The Hofjeswandeling will start at the Burcht in the city centre all year round on Sundays at two, and from March until October on Tuesdays and Thursdays at two. The costs of the tour are €2.25 for adults and children (-12 years) for free. No need to buy tickets, just be present at the starting time. The tour will take about two hours.
A boat trip through the canals is also a wonderful thing to do. There are many canals, and they lead you by the most beautiful streets of the city centre. You can buy tickets for the canal cruises at the Beestenmarkt, just two minutes from the Central Station. There you can also go aboard.
Leiden International Film Festival A small yearly film festival in October encompassing mainstream and smaller art-house films shown at a variety of museums and cinemas throughout town. It gets some Dutch premieres.
Leidsche bluesweek A yearly festival with performances by mainly (but not exclusively) Dutch performers. The Wednesday night pub-crawl is a blast with many bars hosting live music (for other venues you do have to buy tickets though they're not expensive).
Werfpop (in Dutch) A small scale music festival with performances ranging from metal to dance. (in 2009 Infadels, Voicst, Napalm Death, Dio and the Dead letters played). July.
Leidsche lakenfeesten (in Dutch) A week of different activities in the city center and on the canals. There's a culinary festival, and the museum night. June.
3rd of October celebrations (site of the 3 Oktober Vereniging; in Dutch). Celebrations commemorating the end of the Spanish siege of Leiden (in 1547). Part of the festivities is a huge fun fair. The festival is overwhelming, noisy and heavily beer drinking. The town hall has strongly increased policing and crowd management of the event to make it reasonably safe to visit. Beware that in evening hours, it still remains more like a mega pub crawl than a family event.
A comprehensive program of all of the festivals and activities can be found on city council website. 
Lido/ Studio (Dutch) Offers mostly regular Hollywood fare. The 70s interior is in serious need of an upgrade.
Trianon (Dutch) Grand old dame and with a brilliantly restored art deco/ art nouveau main theatre. Offers Hollywood fare but also a smaller/ independent pictures.
Kijkhuis (Dutch) Opposite olive garden's kitchen is a bit of a hole-in-the-wall type of place but still sports two small (ragged) theatres which show mostly arthouse films. It does the job but looks like a metal band performed there.
De Snookerij Utrechtse Veer 34,  This is a very nice snooker center in Leiden, with 10 snooker tables. The owner is very friendly, and if you ask behind the counter, there are various events held for fun for regular customers, such as pub quizzes or barbecues. During snooker season, expect to see a lot of snooker tournaments and great quality snooker.
Stedelijk concertgebouw Leiden (Dutch) is scheduled to be opened in September/ October 2009.
Leidsche schouwburg (Dutch) A beautiful theatre located on the Oude Vest. The oldest in the Netherlands. Tickets can be purchased on their website however you need a username.
De X (Dutch) Multicultural stage for performers of jazz-, world, crossover and pop music as well as poetry and boogy nights.
Scheltema complex. Offers musicians, contemporary artists and scientists a place to get in touch with one another, leading to performances and expositions and such. There's also a restaurant.
Leiden is home to the Netherlands' oldest university, Leiden University, which was founded in 1575. Internationally recognised, Leiden University houses more than 40 national and international research institutes. The university is particularly well known for its law programs, and has a very strong medical faculty, attracting students from all over Europe. The international community is very strong, organising great parties throughout the year. For more information about studying as an international student at Leiden read the leidener , a blog run by some international students.
Haarlemmerstraat and Breestraat are the main shopping streets at the heart of the city center. They are both reachable within 10-15 min. walking from the central station. Shops include bookstores, fashion shops and other ordinary shopping items. In the areas around the Pieterskerk and Hooglandsekerk, small boutiques and antique shops are worth a visit. On Monday, shops open late from 12 noon until 5 or 6PM. All the shops are open on every Sunday (Only a few smaller shops remain closed). On Thursday, shops are open late, till around 9PM (koopavond).
On Saturdays from 07:00 and on Wednesdays from 12:00, there is an open market along the canal between the Nieuwe Rijn and Vismarkt streets. They sell vegetables, fruits, fish, flowers, bread, meat, you name it.
Souvenirs of Leiden can be found at the VVV tourist office, Stationsweg 2D. Some major museums also sell their own souvenirs.
Maps, routes and other travel accessories are mostly found at the ANWB shop, Stationsweg 2, but they are not always complete. A special shop that sells almost complete map of cycling routes, walking routes, and any other maps is the Reisboekhandel Zandvliet at Stille Rijn 13.
Travel accessories including maps, travel guides, backpacks, and airplane tickets can be bought at the joho company a few doors from Reisboekenhandel Zandvliet at Stille Rijn 8-9.
Treinreiswinkel is a travel agency specializing in rail travel. Treinreiswinkel is the official agent of Deutsche Bahn in The Netherlands, they are also travel agent for NS Hispeed, SNCF, Thalys, Eurostar, CNL and Interrail. They are well informed and can arrange international train tickets and even a complete package tour if you wish. It's at Breestraat 57, 2311 CJ +31 (0) 71 5137008. They also have an Amsterdam office.
De Slegte A 3 floor bookstore found on the Breestraat with a large selection of second hand books at great value. Many English options available.
Galerie Zone, Nieuwstraat 17b (opposite the Hooglandskerk), ☎ +32(0)715126307, . Contemporary Crafts Gallery collectively run by 12 people, whose work is permanently on display and for sale. It has been going since 1991, and one of the original members is still part of the collective. The work represents ceramics, furniture, glass, jewellery, and textiles.edit
Uitjes Leiden, (everywhere in the city), ☎ 071 - 76 000 45, . Best outings in Leiden and other things to do for groups.edit
Leiden has a lot of restaurants and bars. Especially in the Pieterswijk (the east side of the Breestraat) are a lot of cosy restaurants.
Some of the restaurants in Leiden:
Asia2Go, Morsstraat 26, 0715148880. This restaurant is very good value for money and has a great fusion of Asian food. The owner is Vietnamese, so you can expect most of the Asian dishes to be a Vietnamese interpretation. Don't be fooled by its name, Asia2Go cooks their food from scratch and offers delivery.
Delphi, Nieuwe rijn 52, 0715141778. This restaurant serves the best Greek food in Leiden and can get quite busy because of it's great value for money.
Donattelo's, Haarlemmerstraat 20, 071 5147938. Good pizza, if you enjoy a student atmosphere!
La Piccola Italia Boommarkt 2, A small restaurant that makes good pizzas and pasta dishes. Good value.
Olive Garden, , Vrouwenkerkhof 1, 071 51.22.529, Italian. Not pizza, but true Italian food. Not cheap, reservations a must on Thursday, Friday and Weekends. (This is not the same restaurant as the popular chain in the United States.)
De Oude Harmonie, Breestraat, 071 5122153. Student fare, the dailies are good value for money.
Porto Pino, Haven 40, 071 5219505. Serves the same type of delicious Italian foods as 'Olive garden' so no Pizza! It's a bit to the east of the centre at the recreational harbour, near the Zijlpoort.
Sabai Sabai, Noordeinde, 071 51.31.914, Thai. Best Thai in town, visited even by Thai embassy officials.
De Branderij, Nieuwstraat 32, +31 (0) 71 5142158. Great food in a somewhat higher price range.
Het prentenkabinet. Just about the best culinary experience (in French oriented cuisine) Leiden has to offer (bring your wallet though) and situated in a monumental building opposite the Pieterskerk. Kloksteeg 25, 2311 SK Leiden +31 (0) 71 5126666.
Tandoori way Indian restaurant next to the Praethuis bar (see under drinking section) opposite the remains of the 'onze lieve vrouwe kerk' and Olive garden
For fast(er) food lovers there are several options:
Smulshop Spare ribs, Gyros and other fare. It seems to get mixed reviews though. Morsweg 40, 2312 AE, +31 (0) 71 5130819
AK-AL At the corner of the Haarlemmerstraat and the Pelikaanstraat (opposite the English pub called Bad Habits) serves delicious Turkish Pizza's on the go and the infamous 'Kapsalon' (French Fries, topped with doner kebak, lettuce, onions, cheese, spicy sauce and garlick sauce) which will fill you up for the rest of the week. It's also a bakery offering tasty Turkish and loaf-type breads and great croissants!
Verswinkel Great breadrolls made right in front of you. Botermarkt 3, 2311 EM +31 (0) 71 5141214.
The city is full of students, and cafes and bars are clearly by far the most frequented 'faculty'. There is a healthy and lively cafe and night life. You cannot help wondering if the students actually get time to study from time to time between the many festivities and drink parties all over town. If you are out for a drink, you will not be disappointed.
Einstein Great for lounging on summertime evenings. Popular on Wednesday evenings (International Student Night).
De Burcht Grand cafe, a mix of 30's grandeur and 50's and 60's furniture. Hosts a quiz night every Tuesday for 2 euros per person (maximum 6 to a team, with usually with wine as the prize).
Haar gangetje Small but cosy cafe.
De Kroeg Fun staff, fun atmosphere, fun times.
The Duke of OZ Great place to follow Football, Cricket and other sports.
Roebels Tiny but usually packed student bar. Famous for it's 'Zwevertjes' (shots)
Cafe Storm Tiny and not so packed student bar.
Keizert'jes A nice bar on the kaiserstraat opposite the student plexus building
Babbels A cosy place on the corner of the Witte Singel, Boisotkade 1.
Olo Rosso A bar for most of the week but in the weekends it turns into a club.
In den Oude Maren Poort Larger, and usually packed student bar.
Lemmy's Belgian beer bar. Free peanuts and digital fireplace!
Olivier Another Belgian beer bar on the Hooigracht. Ladies night on thursdays means free cava for ladies. A nice atmosphere and outside drinking space.
De Twee Spieghels Cozy, friendly, fabulous location (near the Burcht and Hooglandsekerk).
Dranklokaal de WW Hidden in a small back alley opposing the Breestraat entrance of the Stadhuis, this place is hugely popular in the weekends. The place has been cut into 2 equal sections since the smoking ban came into effect and the smoking section is the biggest in Leiden
Praethuis A local haunt with a dark interior coupled with dark brown furnishings and finishings and mainly 60's and 70s music. It has a great terrace around the remains of the 'onze lieve vrouwenkerk' (of pilgrim fame).
Odessa Small bar with artistic crowd and great atmosphere. Very popular on Monday (International Students' night - with 2 for 1 pitchers during happy hour) and in the weekend. Attracts a lot of students and other young people.
Vi-kings Bar Located at Noordeinde 28 in Leiden. A Great bar for sports fans, with multiple TV screens, board games and a pool table. Upon request, Karaoke evenings, can be organized.
LVC (in Dutch). Leiden's take on the music club. It's cramped, it's small and doesn't get too many of the big names but you can have a great time all the same. There are several parties organized there throughout the week, intersperced with live bands.
Qbus (Dutch) Different types of live music and ranging from local heroes to international names.
Bar en Boos (Dutch) All sorts of music and performances ranging from acoustic jam sessions to full on punk and metal performances. It's part of the 'vrijplaats koppenhinksteeg', which is a social initiative with a as of yet, uncertain future.
CityHall (Dutch) (located at the back of the Stadhuis). Billed as a cafe/ restaurant it's really a bit of everyting and gets crowded on Friday and Saturday evenings. There is a DJ on these days.
InCasa. Leiden's only real club. It attracts a very young crowd and mainly plays popular music.
Mas Y Mas. Bar dancing with enthusiastic crowd, especially on Saturdays.
Club Next. Three floors. Upstairs smoking area, middle floor is just a bar, and the ground floor has a decent dancing area. Allegedly the club where world number one DJ Armin Van Buuren learnt to ply his trade. Usually no cover.
Stochemhoeve Camping This is a family managed small camping located near a park and recreational area just outside of Leiden. Location: Cronesteyn 3, 2322 LH Leiden. Telephone +31 (0) 71 5721141.
Nieuw Minerva, Boommarkt 23. Located in six prestigious 16th-century canal houses. Located in the centre, it is close to museums and faculties of Leiden University.
De Doelen, Rapenburg 2. The hotel is situated in an ancient Patrician mansion, built in 1638.
Golden Tulip, Schipholweg 3. Located in a bland modern building just north of the railway station.
Flying Pig Beach Hostel Parallel Boulevard 208, 2202 HT, Noordwijk. The telephone number is + 31 (0) 713622533 and the email address is: email@example.com. Belongs to the same chain of hostels as the ones in Amsterdam. It's about 15 kilometres from Leiden and you have to take a bus to get there (Take bus no 232 or 44 from Leiden central station to Noordwijk Picketplein, from there it's a five minute walk).
Some cafes and fast food places have free wifi. Ask the cafe staff for advice. Leiden is a student town, free wifi is highly appreciated there. There are also 'hot spots' e.g. at the station, however, these are run by the previous state monopoly 'KPN'. It is complicated and expensive to get access at these KPN wifi hot spots.
In addition to cafes, a reliable and free wifi can be found at the La Place restaurant inside the Vroom and Dressmann (V&D) store next to the town hall.
Leiden is a city in the Green Heart (Groene Hart) between the largest cities in Holland. It is surrounded by green meadows, little villages, and, in spring time, the world famous flower fields. From Leiden Central Station a bus (number 54) goes directly to the Keukenhof, an enormous park open from the end of March until the end of May, in which more than 7 million flower bulbs bloom. But you can also take your car or rent a bike and find the fields yourself. The route will lead you through lovely villages.
Leiden is also very close to the beach. Katwijk aan Zee and Noordwijk aan Zee are the closest seaside villages, at just 20 minutes by car. Be aware that on beautiful summer days, the car will probably be stuck in traffic. You can also take a bicycle, which will take you approximately 45 minutes.
This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!