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Day trip to Leiden

Amsterdam is just 35 minutes from Leiden by train. From the hotel, head to Central Station and take the train from there. Here are some activities you can do in Leiden; keep in mind all these are impossible to cover in just one day, so feel free to choose the ones which peak your interest.

  1. Saturday is farmer’s market day in Leiden, which is the perfect place to have breakfast. You will find plenty of fresh food while going for a stroll along the canals. Or you can look for a cute cosy cafe for breakfast/brunch before starting to browse the market. Go early if you want a table, it fills up really quick during weekends! The market is heaven for cheese lovers. Do not get your cheese fix at the airport duty free. If you want real Dutch specialties, go, and try any of the cheese mongers of the market. They know their fare and will even invite you to sample before buying.And it’s way cheaper!The same rule goes for syrup waffles! Run from the boxed waffles at the supermarket, they are much tastier fresh. Eat them on the go or wait till you’re home and dip them in a hot drink before they melt.
  2. After the market, you can chase the second Dutch cliché: tulips. You can find tulips everywhere in Leiden, however, the best place to see flowers is in Keukenhof, aka paradise for flower lovers. Go to the central bus station in Leiden and in less than 20 minutes you get to Keukenhof. Best time to visit is in April or May.
  3. Then you can go chase the third Dutch cliché: windmills. This will make your trip unforgettable. In Leiden there are still a few windmills that you can visit. De Valk Windmill is at merely 5 minutes from the Leiden train station. You can even climb its tower and admire Leiden from above. You can also grab a car or public transport and head to the windmill park of Kinderdijk (a UNESCO World Heritage site close to Rotterdam). It’s a great photography location.
  4. Leiden is infused with history and the best way to experience it is to wander around and get lost in its streets. In the city centre there are over 30 almshouses that are well preserved and still inhabited today. You can go to the Leiden tourist information office to grab a self-guided walking tour map to ensure not to miss any of the courtyards. They will transport you back in time, back when rich and respectable people used to fund these charity houses in the hope that the prayers of their inhabitants would be enough to secure them a spot in heaven. Advised to check the closing time of almshouses. You should allow some 3 hours to visit all houses in the walking tour map if you want to really enjoy it.
  5. You cannot go to Leiden and skip the Burcht (Castle), the only hill that you will see for kilometres (even if it’s a very modest 9-meter man-made one) that holds the 11th century Castle of Leiden. It is the perfect spot for panoramic views in all directions over the rooftops and church towers of the town centre.
  6. You could also book a boat tour around the main canals in town or a museum crawl on a rainy day. Furthermore, you can use Leiden as your base to explore neighbouring cities and towns on the efficient Dutch public transport system. The Hague (the most populous city in the Netherlands, home of the Dutch government) and Delft (renowned worldwide for the blue and white pottery produced here) lay both some 20 minutes by train away. Edam, Gouda and Alkmaar with their traditional cheese markets are just around the corner too. In the mood for some beach time? Head to Noordwijk, Katwijk or Scheveningen.