Fun things to do in Leiden

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    Museum exterior
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    Carved coffin interior
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    Temple of Taffeh
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Most Viewed Things to Do in Leiden

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    Leiden boat tours

    by rsilva Written Jul 12, 2005

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    Just as in any other Dutch city, Leiden also has its own boat tours and this company offers the service with departures from the Beestenmarkt, the main square just a few minutes walk from the station.

    There are 5 daily tours from April to October, from 11.00 until 16.00 and cost 5 Eur/person (discounts for over 65 and children applicable).

    If you take the tour on a Wednesday or a Saturday (specially), you will be able to see the market from a whole new perspective! The tour will take you through the main (largest) canals.

    The tour boat

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    Poetry on the walls

    by rsilva Written Jul 11, 2005

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    In a private initiative (by the 'Tegen-Beeld' foundation), sponsored by several companies and individuals, poetry started to be painted on the walls of Leiden. The project started in 1992, with a poem by Russian Marina Tsvetajeva.

    In all there are 101 poems from 39 countries in 32 different languages. Check out the website for the listing of the poems and its locations.

    So when you walk around Leiden, remember to look up on the walls of the buildings and you might be able to find a poem by your favourite author, in its original language.

    A very popular gift for people leaving Leiden, there are two book that collect all poems and have a (Dutch) translation of each of them. You can get them at any bookstore (http://www.muurgedichten.nl/boekjes/index.html).

    Unfortunately, the project came to an end this year. The last one was De Profundis by Garcia Lorca.

    Hans Lodeizen
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    Rent a boat

    by rsilva Written Jul 11, 2005

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    A very interesting sigthseeing activity in Leiden is a boattour around the canals.

    This place rents several kinds of boats (row- paddle- motorsloops) and canoes.

    With the rental you get a map of the canals you can "sail" and it is quite easy to get around. I recommend the "Witte Singel" and the "Rapenburg".

    It is possible to make reservations (except on Sunday afternoons) and it is recommended to do so as it is quite popular when the weather is nice. Reservations are for a minimum of 2 hours if I am not mistaken.

    I recommend the paddleboat, but it is all a matter of taste :)

    Prices are on the website, some rentals require a deposit.

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    Know where you are going!

    by rsilva Updated Aug 10, 2005

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    On the 1st July this year, the city of Leiden decided to put up some street signs with directions to the main Tourist attractions.
    They are called the "Leidse Loper" (Leiden Loop). If you see the green sign with the Leiden keys on top (see picture) you can decide to follow the loop and see all attractions on the way. The sign will also tell you how long it would take to complete the loop and go back to the same spot. There is also other information such as the direction to the train stations, which can be useful if you don't know the way around the city.
    In any case, it is the "lazy" approach :) to tourist sightseeing.

    If you are interested, there is also a book that will give you a more detailed description of the attractions along the Leidse Loper. You can get it at any bookstoore or online:
    Kooyker

    The signs...

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    Stompwijk windmills

    by rsilva Updated Feb 2, 2005

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    Although it is technically not Leiden, I guess there is no other "major" city that is closer, so I put it on this page. It is only about 10 minutes away from the center by car.

    It is just an field with 3 nice windmills you can look at, it is quite scenic although not spectacular. Since it is so close to Leiden, I think it is worth visiting, even if only for half an hour for a few pictures (they are quite photogenic these mills).

    I personally think winter is the best time to see them when the canals are frozen (or starting to freeze).

    The three windmills
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    Morsstraat

    by ATLC Written Jul 27, 2003

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    This is a quaint little street with restaurants and shops that seem to have a theme: handicraft, a paint shop, shop for needlework, an art gallery and antique shop...
    When I was little I'd sit on the back of my mum's bicycle and watch this street pass me by as we always entered the city center by way of the Morspoort.
    I distinctly remember my mother helping me buy a tie for my dad as a present in this street. I was 6 years old then.

    LEIDEN MORSSTRAAT
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    Along Oude Rijn

    by ATLC Written Jul 27, 2003

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    We decided for a small detour and leave Haarlemmerstraat (a busy shopping street) and walk along the quieter Oude Rijn. The bridge here leads to the Hooglandsekerkgracht and just beside the bridge was a former bookprinters Eduard IJdo building which I liked.

    LEIDEN EDUARD IJDO
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    Havenplein

    by ATLC Written Jul 27, 2003

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    Finally we reached the end of Haarlemmerstraat and onto Havenplein (harbour square) where I could see the Zijlpoort in the distance and the house I lived in (left of the flag is a tree, that's about where it is).

    LEIDEN HAVENPLEIN
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    Wandering - #1 Molen de Valk

    by johngayton Written Aug 4, 2013

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    With its compactness, and the fact that much of the city centre retains its 16th and 17th centuries layout and features, Leiden is perfect for wandering. There are several self-guided tour books available from the Tourist Office for those who want to follow a specific interest, such as the life of the young Rembrandt, or the churches and almshouses. For a general walk, taking in the city's highlights, the Leiden Loop is particularly recommended.

    However I personally like meandering totally free-flow and discover things for myself, even if at the time I don't know what I'm looking at - part of the fun is coming home with a random set of pics and sitting, as I'm doing, researching them and reliving the journey.

    Arriving at the Centraal train station on a rainy Monday morning wasn't the best introduction to the city's charms, but at least it was late June and so it wasn't cold.

    My first priority was to find somewhere sheltered for a coffee and post-train cigarette but Leiden is such an immediately eye-catching place that the couple of hundred meters into the centre threw up half-a-dozen digressions for the camera, despite the rain.

    The bridge over the canal into the city is the Rijnsburgerbrug and on the left is this perfectly maintained windmill, the Molen de Valk (Falcon). This is the last remaining of the Medieval city's 19 windmills (although a smaller one, the Molen de Put is currently being restored). The Falcon is a flour mill, dating from 1743, which has been turned into a working museum, open to the public. But not on Mondays!

    Six levels of the seven storey building are exhibition areas, starting with the millers' living quarters on the ground floor ascending to the Hoisting Loft from which you can get a panoramic overview of the city. The seventh floor is the Cap Loft which swivels on its bearings to keep the sail into the wind but because of the working machinery, including the main axle and brakes, is considered too dangerous for public access.

    The mill is still used for demonstration grinding and a unique souvenir are the bags of wholemeal flour available from the gift shop.

    Website below has details of opening times, admission prices and etc.

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    Wandering - #7 Bridges

    by johngayton Written Aug 4, 2013

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    With 88 bridges crossing the 28+ kilometres of canals I couldn't help but notice the variety of designs. Here's a couple that specially caught my eye:

    Pic #1 - The Kerkbrug (Church Bridge) constructed in 1867 by the local engineering firm Schretlen

    Pic #2 - The 17 century Doelenbrug, last restored in 1981.

    Pic #3 - A more modern one, the Turfmarktbrug, completed in 1971.

    Pic #4 - The famous Koornbrug which was where the cornmarket was held. This was rebuilt in 1825 with the covered market buildings on either side of the throughfare. These are now the fish and butter markets.

    Note that they all feature the "Crossed Keys" - the symbol of the city.

    Website below has a comprehensive list of all 88 bridges, along with a set of pop-up pictorial information notes.

    #1 #2 #3 #4
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    Bridges

    by Mique Written Feb 18, 2004

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    You'll find bridges everywhere in Leiden. It is one of its distinctive features. The bridge on the picture is a reconstruction of the bridge as it was in Rembrandts' time. When you cross this bridge from the direction of mill De Put, you'll walk right into the Weddesteeg. The street where Rembrandt was born.

    Bridges

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    Beestenmarkt

    by ATLC Written Jul 27, 2003

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    We turned the corner and walked on to the Beestenmarkt (a large squarewhere we had 3 choices:
    1) take a boat tour
    2) walk down Steenstraat up to Central Station to pay a visit to the Tourist Office
    3) walk down Haarlemmerstraat, right up to the Zijlpoort and have lunch there.
    We chose the last option.

    LEIDEN BEESTENMARKT
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    Wandering - #2 The Medieval Canals

    by johngayton Written Aug 4, 2013

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    With over 28 kilometres of channels, along with 88 bridges, Leiden's canal network is second only, in The Netherlands, to that of Amsterdam. The canals had a triple purpose with the outer ring being the defensive enclosure of the Medieval city - in fact it was the city limit until 1896. The internal waterways were used for transportation and water management and in the city's 16th to 17th centuries heyday it was a major Rhine port.

    The canals are still used for transportation of goods and the canalside restaurants and businesses have their own quays.

    For tourists there are several canal tours and boats to hire and if you have your own boat there are public moorings available at the Beestenmarkt and Zijlpoort.

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    Wandering - #5 Tempted By A Boat Tour

    by johngayton Written Aug 4, 2013

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    Sitting under the umbrellas of the canalside cafe on the Beestenmarkt I was watching one of the canal tour boats being readied for the day. This mostly involved mopping puddles of rainwater and drying the seats.

    With it still raining quite heavily I was very tempted and at 10 Euros for a one-hour trip it looked like good value. However as the 11 am departure time approached no other potential passengers had arrived and so they changed the time on the clockface at the ticket office to 12.

    By now the rain had eased up and tempted though I was to hang at the cafe for another hour I decided to continue wandering instead.

    Maybe next time.

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    Wandering - #6 Architecture

    by johngayton Written Aug 4, 2013

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    Leiden is definitely a three-dimensional city and so it's necessary to keep looking up as you wander. As with Amsterdam the 17th century Leiden was a thriving city and canalside properties were in great demand from the merchants. In order to fund municipal projects property taxes on private accommodation was based on the size of the houses' frontages and so even wealthy homeowners had their houses built with narrow gabled fronts.

    These can be quite ornate and in those days the houses weren't numbered and so were identified by their "namestones" - carvings which often included pictorial representation of the merchant's speciality.

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