A Saturday Afternoon in Leiden

What to See in Leiden, Holland

Leiden is one of our favourite Dutch cities. Just south of Amsterdam, it dates from the mid-1300s. Leiden is known as a university town. Indeed, often it appears that students make up most of the population. Its university was founded in 1575.

Each time we visit Leiden we are struck by the number of bicycles on the streets. It’s an easy way to get around, swerving around pedestrians and cars. It’s not unusual to see bicycle parking “garages”. How someone can find their own bike is beyond us.

If you find yourself in Leiden on a Saturday afternoon, take in the downtown market for starters. It’s one of the largest markets in Holland, with dozens of booths selling everything imaginable. We even found one selling horse meat sausages.

And if you want to take a break, enjoy a coffee, local beer or lunch next to one of the popular canals.

I can’t recall how many times we’ve been to Leiden and not visited the Burcht van Leiden (translation: Fort of Leiden). The fort was built at the end of the ninth century.

A wall surrounds the fort, which at one time also housed a tower. A short flight of stone steps allows you to walk around the fort.

It’s the perfect spot for a view of the city, including the imposing Pieterskerk, a gothic-style church built in the 12th century. The church was decommissioned and is now used for conventions and various events.



Also within walking distance is the Rembrandt drawbridge, which is a replica of one that stood in his time. And next to it is a windmill, similar to one that the Rembrandt family would have owned.

The famous painter, Rembrandt Van Rijn was born there on July 15, 1606. In his day it was the second largest city in Holland (after Amsterdam) with some 44,000 residents. Today, the population is about 120,000.

Read more about a day we spent discovering Rembrandt in this blog article. And read more about Rembrandt in this book on Amazon.

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If You Go To Leiden

To help you on your way, we’ve partnered with several top travel and resource companies, listed below and along the right side of the page. And be sure to check out our cheap flights page for advice on finding the best flight for your trip.


We’ve occasionally used VRBO when we travel. You can take a look at that option here. Another non-hotel option is Home Away.

For flights, we have used Expedia to book trips, and OneTravel is another great option to find the best flights.

To help guide you around, Lonely Planet likely has a book for you. Go to Indigo’s Lonely Planet pages and search for the one that works for you.

We’re also big fans of Uber, so if you’re new to Uber, check out the discount code on the right side of the page under the Uber logo. You’ll get a discount on your trip for signing up. To enter the code, tap the “Payment” menu item within the Uber app, and then “Add Promo/Gift Code.” After submitting, the free credit will appear on your account, and we’ll also get a discount for helping you out.

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