Discovering the Hidden Gems of Leiden: A Complete Guide for Tourists

Leiden City

Discovering the Hidden Gems of Leiden: A Complete Guide for Tourists

Nestled in the province of South Holland, Leiden is a charming city with a rich cultural heritage and vibrant atmosphere. Its cobbled streets, beautiful canals, and historic architecture make it a must-see destination for travelers looking for a unique Dutch experience. In this guide, we’ll explore the hidden gems of Leiden and provide useful tips for making the most of your trip, as well as suggest five top-notch accommodations to help you plan your stay.

Top Things to Do in Leiden

Leiden offers a plethora of activities for tourists, from visiting world-class museums to exploring the city’s many parks and gardens. Here are some of the top things to do in Leiden:

Visit the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden

The Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, or the National Museum of Antiquities, is home to an impressive collection of artifacts from ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome, as well as exhibits on Dutch archaeology and history.

Walk the Hortus Botanicus

The Hortus Botanicus is one of the oldestbotanical gardens in the world, with over 10,000 species of plants from all over the globe. It’s a beautiful place to take a stroll and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere.

Explore the Leiden Market

The Leiden Market is a bustling hub of activity, with vendors selling everything from fresh produce to handmade crafts. It’s a great place to people-watch and experience the local culture.

Climb the Belfry of Leiden

The Belfry of Leiden is a historic bell tower that offers stunning views of the city. It’s a bit of a climb to the top, but the view is well worth it.

Take a Canal Cruise

Leiden’s canals are one of its most charming features, and a canal cruise is a great way to see the city from a different perspective. Many companies offer guided tours of the canals, with options for both day and night cruises.

Useful Tips for Tourists

Leiden is a relatively small city, which makes it easy to navigate on foot or by bike. Here are some useful tips for tourists visiting Leiden.

Get a Leiden City Pass 

The Leiden City Pass offers free or discounted entry to many of the city’s museums and attractions, as well as discounts on food and drink at select restaurants.

Rent a Bike

Biking is a popular mode of transportation in Leiden, and there are many rental companies that offer affordable rates. It’s a great way to explore the city and its surrounding areas.

Visit During a Festival

Leiden is known for its many festivals and events, from the Leiden International Film Festival to the Leiden Marathon. Visiting during a festival is a great way to experience the city’s lively atmosphere and cultural diversity.

Try Local Specialties 

Leiden has a rich culinary scene, with many local specialties to try, such as the famous Leidse Hutspot (a mashed potato and vegetable dish) and herring from one of the city’s many fish stalls.

Take a Day Trip

Leiden is conveniently located near several other charming Dutch cities, such as The Hague and Rotterdam. Taking a day trip to one of these cities is a great way to experience more of the Dutch culture and history.

Accommodation Suggestions

Here are five top-notch accommodations to consider when planning your trip to Leiden:

Golden Tulip Leiden Centre 

This four-star hotel is located in the heart of Leiden, just a short walk from the city’s main attractions. It offers modern, comfortable rooms, a fitness center, and a restaurant with a terrace overlooking the city.

Boutique Hotel Rembrandt

This stylish boutique hotel is situated in a historic building in the center of Leiden. Each room is uniquely decorated with a modern twist, and the hotel offers a cozy lounge area and a complimentary breakfast.

Huys van Leyden

This charming bed and breakfast is located in a restored 17th-century building in the heart of Leiden. It offers spacious rooms with antique furnishings and a shared living room and garden.

City Resort Hotel Leiden 

This contemporary hotel is located just outside the city center, but is easily accessible by bike or public transportation. It offers a fitness center, sauna, and swimming pool, as well as spacious rooms with modern amenities.

Hotel de Doelen – This historic hotel is located in a 17th-century building overlooking one of Leiden’s picturesque canals. It offers cozy rooms with traditional furnishings and a restaurant serving Dutch cuisine.


Leiden may not be as well-known as Amsterdam or Rotterdam, but it’s a hidden gem that offers a unique Dutch experience. With its beautiful canals, historic architecture, and vibrant atmosphere, Leiden is a must-visit destination for any traveler. By following our tips and staying at one of our recommended accommodations, you’re sure to have an unforgettable trip to this charming city.