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7 of the best free things to do in Leiden

Visiting Leiden? Wonderful idea! Is your bank account eating away at your overdraft?

No problemo, we’ve got you covered with 7 of the best free things to do on your trip to Leiden.

1. Visit De Burcht


The first unmissable free attraction is De Burcht, the public park with the circular fort. A shell keeps back in the day, the De Burcht is now a romantic patriotic symbol of Leiden.

It’s basically a miniature castle right in the heart of the city, with a panoramic view from the top. To get the most out of this experience, climb up at sunrise or sunset.

2. Go on a poetic scavenger hunt

From poetry decorating the facades of townhouses to giant scientific formulas marking the walls — Leiden is full of street art to discover entirely for free.

The city is overflowing with poetry written in different languages, inspired by a single-wall poem in 1992. If you’re feeling wild, you could try finding as many as possible, though it should be mentioned that there are over 120 wall poems in total.

There’s even a cute and funky website featuring tailored routes walking you past the wall poetry, and also offering translations where necessary.

You can choose different themes too! If you have an emotional affinity toward the natural world, for instance, they’ll give you a digital map featuring 10 wall poems on nature. Pretty handy, eh?

3. Parks, parks, parks

parks leiden
parks leiden

Leiden offers several beautiful parks, but the two you should definitely check out are Het Plantsoen and Van der Werfpark.

Take a picnic blanket to Het Plantsoen and relax by the waterfront. If you have some cash to spare, drop by your favourite supermarket and get some snacks to enjoy.

The park is designed according to English gardening practices — so you might wanna bring some tea, darling!

For all those history nerds amongst you, Van der Werfpark is built on the site of a gunpowder explosion in 1807. This was called the ‘Great Ruin’ but is now where the statue of Van der Werff stands proudly on his pedestal.

4. Climb the De Put windmill

De Put windmill
De Put windmill

De Put windmill has been destroyed twice, but it is such a lovely historical landmark that they keep rebuilding it! The view, framed by a small circular window, is well worth the climb.

Plus, its neighbouring bridge leads to Rembrandtplaats on the opposite side, and the mill and the bridge together make for a charming Dutch scene.

Another charming detail: you can buy different kinds of flours at the windmill. From wholewheat to spelt or bread flour, De Put sells it all.

5. Explore the courtyards

Looking for a tranquil place for a time-out? Stroll around some of Leiden’s 35 courtyards (hofjes). Every single courtyard has its own story to tell and some even date as far back as the 13th century.

Regardless, all courtyards are extremely well-maintained and are hidden right in the city centre. In such an urban landscape built above the water, you wouldn’t imagine all those secret gardens lie between the buildings.

6. Attend an event at Vrijplaats

Vrijplaats is a cultural centre run by volunteers that hosts a range of live music events and DJ nights. Whether you’re a punk, disco, sci-trance or folk fan, there is something for everyone. Organisations use this space for parties, theatre performances, film screenings and debates.

They also have the wonderful Weggeefwinkel, a give-away shop where customers can find crockery, clothing, toys, books and electrical appliances that need a new home.

7. Experience the Saturday market

Leiden is usually a quaint and quiet place, but if you like a little bustle, why not check out the Saturday market? Try some free samples of (delicious) cheese, olives and dips.

Maris Lopez
Maris Lopezhttp:////
Hey there! I'm Maris, an American girl who is passionate about adventure, the outdoors and all things travel!


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