LEIDEN, THE NETHERLANDS: Leiden is a small yet beautifully decorated city, which is not too far from Amsterdam. The city is known for its oldest university in the country, therefore you will see a large population of students and international faces all around the city.
TIME OF TRAVELLING: My parents came to visit us in Belgium in May 2012. This was their first time coming to Europe and we wanted to give them little taste of all the countries that are bordered with Belgium (the Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg, and France). The Netherlands was our first destination. My dad is not so much into big cities, like me. So we took them to Gouda and Rotterdam to show a Dutch village and an ultra-modern city. Leiden was the city where we booked our hotel, which is very close to both Gouda and Rotterdam. Having some extra time after checking-in at our hotel, we didn’t let go of the opportunity to explore Leiden, whatever we could see was ok with us.
OUR HOTEL: We stayed in Holiday Inn in Leiden, a very nice, big, spacious place to accommodate you with free parking and play areas for children. This was not in the walking distance of old town. The location is great because Leiden is less than half an hour drive from small Dutch cities like Rotterdam, Gouda, The Hague, Utrecht, and Delft. All of these places are perfect to experience real Dutch culture and people.
PLACES WE VISITED: Leiden was not on our itinerary when we came to the Netherlands with my parents to visit Gouda and Rotterdam. Our hotel was here, so we figured why not check out the town before the sunset. So we set off our feet to explore Leiden.
1) LEIDEN TOWN HALL (STADHUIS): Although we couldn’t go inside this town hall, it looked pretty nice from outside with its old renaissance façade. It’s an old building that dates back to 1597. The town hall is located in the old part of the town surrounded by few cafes and restaurants.
2) BURCHT: This is a medieval citadel located on an elevated borough. This was once a castle/fortress, and also used as a defense in high water season to rescue people against water of Rhine river. Burcht gives you a magnificent panoramic view of Leiden from above. You will adore looking at Hooglandse Kerk, Peterskerk, City Hall, and other historical buildings from here. There are few information stands which direct to important sites of Leiden and give brief history behind it. This is a pretty nice place to get some history of this city.
Burcht is located right in the heart of Leiden. There is no entrance fee and is open, I think, until the sunset. There are few steps that you have to climb to get on top, but it’s all worth it.
3) Canals: Enjoy the oldest branch of Rhine River running through Leiden here and there. Colorful houses and boats by the canals are the added beauty of the city. Don’t forget to have you meal or a drink in any restaurant by the canals. It absolutely looks gorgeous during the sunset.