It’s almost springtime! (kind of). If you’re heading to The Netherlands this April to check out the tulip fields, I’m sure Amsterdam is on your agenda. It might even be where you decide to stay for your trip. While Amsterdam is amazing (see my guide here), I want to introduce you to it’s smaller, academic little brother: Leiden. I stayed 3 nights in Leiden when I visited The Netherlands I’m going to tell you 5 reasons why you should visit Leiden.
1: The Location
Leiden is located only 30 minutes from Amsterdam by train and only 20 minutes by bus to the famous Keukenhof Garden in Lisse. This makes it the perfect spot for you to set up camp if you want to check out the tulips. It’s also only 15 minutes from The Hague by train which is also worth checking out.
It’s proximity to Keukenhof makes for an easy day trip. During tulip season there are busses that leave regularly from the Leiden Central Train Station. You can buy a bus ticket + garden entrance combo online here for €27.50. If it’s peak tulip season, there will be a line but they run things pretty efficiently. Also be prepared for traffic approaching Lisse.
2: The Size
Leiden’s population is 120,000, making it about 1/8th of the size of Amsterdam. This means that you get the beautiful canals, boats, architecture and charm of a Dutch city, but in a much more manageable size. Once you’re in the center, the city is very walkable. It’s easy to get happily lost amongst it’s cobblestone streets.
Trust me: if you visit The Netherlands in April it will be crowded! After a day at busy Keukenhof, it was nice to come back to a smaller and less crowded city like Leiden vs. Amsterdam.
3: The Market
Leiden has a large market every Saturday and Wednesday that brings a large number of vendors selling traditional Dutch food and other goodies. Cheese, stroopwafels, herring? It’s all there! Even if you’re skeptical, trying Dutch herring is a right of passage you should not miss. Order it with onions and hold the whole fish (don’t worry, it’s small) by the tail as you strip the meat from the bone with your mouth. This is the Dutch way, I was told. Or, you can play it safe and just eat it with a little fork like I did!
4: The Vibe
20,000 of Leiden’s residents are students, thanks to the large university in the city. This gives the city a vibrant and youthful energy that you feel when you’re walking around. I happened to visit on a bank holiday and I loved watching all the boats come through the canals with students and young professionals celebrating their day off.
Perhaps because of it’s student population, Leiden has no shortage of bars, pubs, cafes & restaurants to choose from. Also, Indonesia was once a Dutch colony, so make sure to try Indonesian cuisine while you are there.
5: The Wall Poems
Another unique feature of Leiden is it’s collection of wall poetry! Thanks to a project initiated by the Tegen-Beeld Foundation, over 100 poems in several different languages decorate Leiden’s walls & buildings. There is a map on the foundation website where you can find specific routes to view the poems, or you can explore and stumble upon them on your own if you prefer.
Ready to Go?
Well, there you have it: 5 Reasons to Visit Leiden in The Netherlands! I hope this makes you consider making Leiden part of your Netherlands trip this spring!
Looking for a place to stay in Leiden?
If Amsterdam is on your agenda as well, don’t forget to check out my Solo Girly Guide to Amsterdam.
Don’t forget to PIN this for your trip: