Historical Leiden

In Leiden you can take a walk surrounded by 800 years of visible history. The City of Discoveries is home to the oldest university of the Netherlands. In addition the city is famous for its rich history and old city centre, with its canals, city gates, bridges, windmills, a castle, an observatory, the botanical gardens, weavers’ homes, almshouses, two large late gothic churches and several historical edifices.

Treasure hunt through the centuries

Stroll along the canals and on the narrow streets of the old city centre and allow history to come alive 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 medical history of the Netherlands in the Hortus botanicus, the Academy building, the workplaces of Professor Boerhaave and an anatomic theatre from the 16th century.

Spread across the city centre, 35 almshouses are waiting to be discovered, seemingly frozen in time. Enter these almshouses, a collection of small dwellings built around a communal garden, often walled and accessible only by 1 or 2 access ways. Find these idyllic spots or follow experienced tour guides who can tell you all about the special customs in these courtyard communities.

Discover what Marilyn Monroe and President Obama have in common and get acquainted with the history of the Pilgrims in Leiden. The Pilgrims were refugees from England who were persecuted for their faith around 1600. They chose the city of Leiden, an affluent city famous for its tolerant environment and freedom of religion. But why did they eventually leave Leiden after all, receiving official permission from the British crown to settle in the New World?

On foot or by boat, by bicycle or accompanied by an experienced city guide, you will get a lovely view of this historical city dating back centuries!


Walking around Leiden, the city's glorious history seems to come to life. Get to know the town by way of a walking tour. A wide choice of themes are available with an English instruction. Buy one of the Leiden city walks at the Leiden Tourist Information Centre.
More about Walking

Art and culture

Leiden is a lively city that offers a wide variety of parties and festivals. But it also has plenty to choose from in music, dance and theatre entertainment. 
More about Art and culture

varen internationale journalisten bezoeken de hortus botanicus in leiden 26062015 21

Discover Leiden from the water

Apart form Amsterdam, the city of Leiden has the largest number of city canals in  the Netherlands. The city is also admidst an area of beautiful lakes and pools, with only a short distance from Leiden to the coast. Leiden looks very different travelling by boat.
More about Water tourism

Food and drink

Leiden has hundreds of restaurants, cafés and bars. Every cuisine imaginable can be found here, and there is something available in every price range. 
More about Food and drink

Staying overnight

To get to know Leiden well, you really need to stay longer than just a day. And that’s something you can easily do. Leiden and the surrounding area offers a wide choice of attractive and comfortable hotels in all price classes.
More about Hotels


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.
More about Museums


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!
More about Monuments


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.
More about Shopping


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. 
More about Events


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. 
More about Accessibility