Historical Leiden

In Leiden, you can stroll through 800 years of visible history. The City of Discoveries is home to the oldest university in the Netherlands. The city is also well-known for its rich history and old city centre, with its canals, city gates, bridges, windmills, a castle, an observatory, the Hortus botanical gardens, weaver houses, the courtyard homes, two large Late Gothic churches and various historical buildings.

Stroll along the canals and the narrow streets of the old city centre and have history come to life through the stories told by a guide or actor. Tread in the footsteps of Rembrandt and get to know his Leiden or discover the pillars of the medical history of the Netherlands in the Hortus botanicus, the Academy Building, Professor Boerhaave’s workplaces and a 16th century anatomical theatre. On foot or by boat, by bicycle or accompanied by an experienced city guide, you’ll get a lovely view of this ancient historic city. 

Theme years


Wall poems

Leiden has several wall poems. A beautiful walk takes you along the loveliest spots in Leiden. The walk leads you past the wall poems in the city centre and more or less remains within the canal area. You'll see about 25 of the 101 poems during this walk. 


Hospitality & Catering

To really get to know Leiden, you should stay for more than one day. Leiden has a good selection of cosy and comfortable hotels and hundreds of restaurants, cafes and pubs. All conceivable cuisines are represented and there’s something for everyone in every price range.  




One of Leiden’s features immediately stands out wherever you are - the water. Leiden is second only to Amsterdam in the amount of water flowing inside its gates. A boat trip on Leiden’s canals gives you a different perspective of the city.  


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Hortus botanicus
On a rainy day, no better place to meditate melancholy among the oaks and Japanese lettuce leaf.
Abdelkader Benali (writer)


With as many as four National National Museums and many other museums, Leiden is the capital city of museums. Paintings by Rembrandt, dinosaur bones, an Egypt temple and treasures from Japan. Leiden has something for everyone.
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The city itself is one large open-air museum. Leiden is the home of as many as 2800 monuments. From almshouses to windmills and churches to city gates. Located within such a short distance from one another, a walk along the canals to view the most conspicuous monuments hardly takes any effort and is well worth the time!
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Leiden is also a city for some wonderful shopping. All major retail chains are represented with an outlet in the city centre, of course. But what Leiden really makes a city for shopping with a difference are the many little boutiques and specialist shops, which are hidden in the narrow backstreets and alleyways.


There is plenty to do in Leiden throughout the whole year. There are various annual events. For example, every year on 2 and 3 October the city shakes on its foundations. This is when Leiden commemorates the seige of the city during the Eighty Years War and its relief on 3 October 1574. 



Leiden is ideally located within a short travelling distance of major centres such as The Hague and Amsterdam. The city can also be reached easily by international visitors, with Schiphol just 20 minutes away and Rotterdam’s smaller airport at 25 minutes distance. 

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