discover why you want to go to leiden for a weekend getaway!
When you think of Leiden, you probably see Leiden as a city mostly for students. That it was also a very fun city for a weekend away in your own country wasn’t the first thing that came to my mind either. But my-oh-my, Leiden is such a nice city! You have several cute coffee places there, cafes and good restaurants and it’s great for some shopping at small boutiques and unique concept stores.
What makes Leiden extra special is that you can take a boat ride along the canals. And there are a whopping thirteen museums that have expositions the whole year through, which means you can discover something new every time. You can stroll around through the narrow alleys around the Pieters’ Church and the Castle of Leiden, and on Saturdays you can visit the old-timey market along the New Rhine and the fish market. It’s no coincidence that Leiden is nicknamed “the City of Discoveries”!
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21 hotspots in Leiden for the perfecte city trip
Places you’ll definitely want to visit during your weekend or night in Leiden? I’ll tell you all about it in this new Leiden City Guide!
2 X EXTRAORDINARY HOTELS TO STAY IN
De Barones van Leyden: Spending the nights in small boutique hotels, I love it! Especially when you feel like a princess in your hotel room because of the unique decoration. The Barones van Leyden is one of those hotels! This hotel is the little sister of the hotel “Huis van Leyden” and it has five hotel rooms, each one uniquely decorated. The establishment on the Oude Herengracht is from 1644 and when you step into your room you feel like you’re in those times. This hotel is a perfect stay for a romantisch weekend away in Leiden with your lover!
Oude Herengracht 22, Leiden – debaronesvanleyden.nl
Boutique Hotel D’Oude Morsch: In the ancient Morspoort barracks near the station of Leiden is where the hip hotel D’Oude Morsch is currently situated. This hotel is cool and industrially decorated and only has 18 rooms. Tip: this hotel also affors bike rentals so make sure to reserve your bikes when you make a room reservation, to explore Leiden by bike just like we did!
Park de Put 1, Leiden – boutiquehoteldeoudemorsch.nl
6 X NICE TO DO IN LEIDEN
Museum voor Volkenkunde: Who travels to Leiden by train will ondoubtedly walk past the Museum of Ethnology on your way to the cosy centre. A museum not to be missed by anyone who’s into travelling. You really feel like you’re on the other side of the world for a second. The Museum of Ethnology has an interesting fixed collection, but the reason to keep coming back here has to be the alternating expositions. Currently you can visit “Cool Japan” until September 17th. An exposition on Japanese sculpturing that’ll show you in what way the hip and happening and the traditional, ancient Japan go hand in hand. Very recognizable for anyone who’s ever been in Tokyo, but also recommended when Japan is still on your bucketlist!
Steenstraat 1, Leiden – volkenkunde.nl
Rent a bike: Of course you can check whether you can rent a bike at your hotel when you’re booking a room. Is this not the case? Then go to Easy Fiets, situated on the edge of the centre (near the hotspot the Leidse Lente). You can rent a bike here for a mere € 9,- per 24 hours!
Haagweg 8, Leiden – easyfiets.nl
Streets and districts not to miss: When I’m visiting a new city I always like to have some startingpoints for the nice districts and streets that I shouldn’t miss. If you follow the shopping and restaurant hotspots from this guide, you can be sure to come across all sorts of nice places of the city, but definitely don’t skip these streets: The Pieterskwartier and especially the street Pieterskerk-Choorsteeg, the Burgsteeg, Nieuwstraat, Nieuwe Rijn, Botermarkt and the Doezastraat.
Hortus botanicus: When I’m in a city I always love to go looking for the nature. That can very well be found in Leiden at the Van der Werfpark, but if you’re looking for real extraordinary nature you’d have to go to the Hortus Botanicus. A green oasis in the middle of the city next to the canals. This will never not be special! You can stroll around for hours here, through the gardens and enjoy the sun or peace and quiet one of the benches.
Rapenburg 73, Leiden – hortusleiden.nl
Rent a boat: Whoever thought that it’s only fun on the canals in Amsterdam was certainly wrong. In Leiden you can rent a boat at several companies, where you can go on the water for a day. At Bootjes & Broodjes you can make a tour on the canals with one of their boats, but it’s even more fun to do it with some friends. You can do this from € 75,- per two hours, and for that amount you get a longboat where you can fit up to six people. So much fun to do when the weather’s nice!
Blauwpoortsbrug 1 , Leiden – bootjesenbroodjes.nl
See open air expositions: Museum De Lakenhal is currently renovating and will open up for the public in 2018. That’s why you can already enjoy open air expositions at two different locations in the centre. At the Pieterskerkhof you can watch “100 jaar ná De Stijl” and just around the corner from there, at Het Gerecht, you can visit “Maison d’Artiste”. Definitely worth it when you’re in the neighbourhood of the hip area Pieterskwartier!
Het Gerecht & Pieterskerkhof, Leiden – lakenhal.nl
9 X UNIQUE STORES NOT TO MISS
Mei: WOW, I wish every city had a store like Mei. Maybe it’s because I personally really love the influences of travelling that you can find in my house, but when I stepped into Mei I literally wanted to buy and take home everything. In this extraordinary concept store you can find a great mix of new items with a bohemian twist and the most beautiful finds of (vintage) markets from around the globe.
Pieterskerk-Choorsteeg 18, Leiden – conceptstoremei.nl
Boutique van Gendt: This small boutique in the Burgsteeg is run by mother and daughter and is full of vintage finds that are mixed with new items. Like clothes from ByDanie, but also vintage Ray-Ban sunglasses and unique jewelry from the seventies and eighties. I scored a beautiful necklace with a snakes’ head on it that you can’t find anywhere else!
Burgsteeg 8, Leiden – facebook.com/boutiquevangendt
Kleedvermaak: This pop-up store varies locations in Leiden. So make sure to check their website in order to see where this nice concept store is at the moment. You can find a nice mix of vintage items and new clothing and accessories from small independent brands. Definitely stop by and look around when you’re looking for something unique.
Nieuwstraat 13, Leiden – facebook.com/kleedvermaak
Modejacht: Do you love vintage items that really match the current fashion image? In that case you’ll definitely want to visit Modejacht in Leiden. Expect vintage Levi’s pants, All Stars sneakers and crop top blouses so you’re bound to steal the show at a festival!
Pieterskerk-Choorsteeg 2, Leiden
Trasj & Tea: Situated on a corner of one of the nicest small bridges in Leiden you’ll find this relatively new concept store Trasj & Tea. A tea room and store in one. The concept is so cute: you buy a pot of tea there and you can get the first cup of it there in the store. Furthermore you came to the right place here if you’re looking for colourful living accessories that will definitely give your house that Ibiza bohemian feel.
Hooglandse Kerksteeg 12, Leiden – trasjandtea.nl
WOW Duurzaam Design: For the sustainable and conscious shoppers among us WOW Duurzaam Design in Leiden is unmissable. Here they only sell brands that produce their products in a sustainable and conscious way. Don’t expect old-fashioned designs though! No, at WOW everything is spot on when it comes to the latest fashion trends.
Breestraat 116, Leiden – wowduurzaamdesign.nl
VNTG: What started out as an online shop to make money on the side during college time, now grew up to be a warehouse full of vintage clothing, and the boutique VNTG that’s right next to the cute breakfast and lunch cafe called Roos. A great address to snoop around for vintage finds from the sixties, seventies, eighties and early nineties, and for vintage jewelry and bags in all sorts of colours and sizes.
Botermarkt 11, Leiden – facebook.com/VNTGlabel
Wonderful Nature: When you step into Wonderful Nature you really don’t know where to look for a second. So many special things are being presented in this store. From taxidermy insects and butterflies to other taxidermy animals, but also beautiful pottery, glass, books and other finds from nature like extraordinary feathers. The taxidermy animals that are being sold here died from a natural cause and are mostly bought from zoos. Because of that owner Esther can tell you exactly where everything came from.
Breestraat 114C, Leiden – wonderfulnature.nl
Pluum: If you’re looking for a special gift in Leiden you have to go to Pluum! From funny and cute post cards to accessories you can place in your home. Think of something and they’ll sell it al Pluum. Also nice to buy yourself a souvenir there!
Burgsteeg 2, Leiden – pluumwinkel.nl
7 X THE BEST RESTAURANTS & CAFES
Leidse Lente: Just outside the centre with the old canals you can find hotspot the Leidse Lente. Here they have an amazing coutyard where you can have a drink when the weather’s good, but inside it’s a good stay as well with its vintage furniture, and to have a seat in grandmothers’ lazy chair. A great spot to have a drink (they have lots of craft beers) or to visit one of the cultural evening with a varying evening program.
Haagweg 4, Leiden – galeriecafeleidselente.nl
The Bishop: The Bishop certainly is Leidens’ most hip gastrobar, wiithout a doubt. Make sure to reserve a table here on the first floor, with a view of the kitchen! Here they serve you delicious Burgundy dishes á la carte, or you can choose a 3, 4 or 5 course menu and let yourself be surprised by the Chef. That’s what we did and this is definitely a recommendation in combination with the fitting wines that owner and host Mello enthustiastically picks out for you. The restaurant is situated in a beautiful old establishment in the centre of Leiden and certainly a foodie-proof address you wouldn’t want to miss.
Middelweg 7, Leiden – thebishop.nl
Happy Tosti: Are you just as fond of tostis as I am? In that case you wouldn’t want to miss the best breakfast and lunch place in Leiden, Happy Tosti. Here you came to the right place when it comes to good coffee, home made ice tea and lemonade and lots of extraordinary tostis with combination you might not think of instantly yourself. I for once had a tosti raclette with raclette cheese and leek there. So tasty! I’m sure going to recreate that one at home myself.
Maarsmansteeg 10A, Leiden – happytosti.nl
Bar Lokaal: According to the ladies behind Kleedvermaak hotspot Bar Lokaal, which is a couple doors away, just opened its doors when we were in Leiden. A cosy cafe with vintage furniture that is open from breakfast till late in the evening. During lunch they also serve several tasty dishes there that you can order as a sandwich or as a salad. They also have a great terrace to have drink!
Hartesteeg 13, Leiden – barlokaal.nl
Lot en de Walvis: Close to the lovely hotel De Barones van Leyden where we stayed at during our weekend getaway you can find hotspot Lot and de Walvis. If the weather’s nice it’s a great stay here out on the terrace with a view of the little harbour, but inside it’s also very nice. The cafe-restaurant is open from early till late and you can come here the whole day through for tasty food and drinks with flavours from all over the world. Lot en de Walvis has several different areas that each have their own unique vibe and therefore match with every mood of the day.
Haven 1, Leiden – lotendewalvis.nl
Bistro Bord’o: If you’re feeling like having an elaborate dinner than Bistro Bord’o is a recommendation. On our last evening in Leiden we had an amazing dinner here, with a kitchen view where the Chefs are busy cooking. They serve several dishes á la carte here, but if you’re into surprise then definitely go for the menu Bord’o. The evening will then start with several amuses and you will end it with all kinds of cheeses that you can pick out yourself from the cheese trolley!
Apothekersdijk 2, Leiden – bistrobordo.nl
Roos: One of the nicest places in Leiden for coffee, cake, breakfast and lunch is undoubtedly Roos. After a visit to the market you’ll find on Saturdays along the Nieuwe Rijn and the Botermarkt, we went here for a delicious piece of carrot cake and iced lattes. A small, cozy place situated right next to the store VNTG where you’ll definitely want to take a look inside as well!
Botermarkt 12, Leiden – roosleiden.nl
Have fun if you’re visiting Leiden anytime soon for a weekend away!
Tip: Make sure to check out Visitleiden.nl for many more tips on this lovely city.
In collaboration with Leiden
Anne de Buck