Expats favor various cities in the Netherlands for various reasons. Some of us enjoy Amsterdam, the city that never sleeps and is always crowded with tourists. Other expats prefer Leiden; we don’t understand why other individuals like Amsterdam.
Although some believe that visiting Amsterdam is always a good idea, I believe that visiting Leiden is much better.
Leiden’s castle (Burcht van Leiden) is best accessible through an antique gate exhibiting a lion with the city’s coat of arms. This 11th-century stronghold, also called Leiden Fort, was fortified by 35-inch-diameter walls.
Two canals defend it; one can be seen in the slopes. Self-guided tours include a walk around the sentry walls. As the city grew, it became a public park in the 1600s.
In the 17th century, masons who were also castle rulers erected a tower. From the castle, magnificent vistas spread.
Hortus Botanicus Leiden
The Hortus Botanicus is part of Leiden University’s Botanical Garden and was founded in 1590. More than 10,000 plant species and dozens of bird species are found here.
The Clusiustuin, a replica of the first systematic botanical garden, is the centrepiece of this historic garden. Clusius introduced the tulip to Europe from Turkey.
The Winter Garden, with its cinnabar and carnivorous plants, the 1744 Orangery, the Rosarium, and the Japanese Garden are well worth seeing. With advance notice, English-language excursions are provided, and a cafe is on site. Request guided tours.
If time permits, visit the “Room de Sitter” to wash your hands in the Einstein Sink; Ask at the front desk to view this modern-day shrine to the divinity who once preached here.
Windmill Museum Molen de Valk
Leiden’s Windmill Museum (Molen de Valk) is a 29-meter-tall, seven-story stone-powder mill from 1743. The Falcon, an example This renowned Dutch windmill originally served as a fortification (in the early 17th century, 19 windmills were within the town walls).
The Molen de Valk and the final miller’s home were established as a museum in 1964. This still-working factory features exhibitions on the building’s history, the milling process, realistic period living quarters, and many tools and antiques. On-site cafe and shop; guided tours offered.
Molen De Put, constructed in 1619 near the Rembrandt Bridge, is another old windmill.
Lake Valkenburg steamboat
Lake Valkenburg on the Steam Train (Stoomtrein Katwijk Leiden) is about a 10-minute drive from Leiden. This living museum features a remarkable collection of ancient narrow-gauge steam engines (almost 100 years old), motorbikes, and trams. Walk around.
While the static exhibits include original railway-related buildings with model railway displays – including some interactive displays – most people want to see the engines in operation and sightseeing. Admission includes a 45-minute trip.
Visit Corpus Museum
The Corpus Museum, built in 2008 in Oegstgeest, 10 minutes north of Leiden, offers a unique look at human anatomy. Corpus is advertised as the world’s only interactive museum dedicated to human biology.
This entertaining and educational overview of the human body begins at the knees and goes up the escalator to the head, with many learning opportunities along the way. There’s an English audio guide. On-site restaurants and a shop.
Duivenvoorde Castle (Kasteel Duivenvoorde) has been privately owned from the early 13th century. It’s 15 minutes from Leiden’s center. It’s fun to explore this 500-year-old property, named after its founders.
Ancient Roman stones with Latin inscriptions cover the entrance; 18th-century decor and furniture; an extensive art collection; and displays on castle life through the centuries.
As part of a guided tour or on your own (interior tours offered), explore the grounds, popular with birdwatchers and hikers.