We gave you already a couple of good reasons to visit Leiden: its market, its music scene, its crazy 3 Oktober festivities and its lovely canals. I feel like it should be enough already but if you are not convinced yet, well, let me give you 5 more reasons to love Leiden even more!
1. The Nieuwe Rijn
The Nieuwe Rijn stands at the top of my list because of the hustle and bustle all year round. The exact portion I am talking about is from Annie’s and the V&D, on the West side, to Hooigracht, on the East side.
Whether you want to shop, to have a coffee, indulge in an ice cream, sit on a floating terrace, or sit on a bench to watch the Leidenaars come and go, the Nieuwe Rijn is the place to be. And that’s without mentioning the market on Wednesdays and Saturdays. These are some of the activities you can do on the banks. What about on the water?
Imagine you could go ice skating and drink mulled wine at Christmas, listen to live music or dance all night long on the water? Sounds like I am joking, right? No! In Leiden, it’s possible. A giant wooden platform is built on the canal, transforming it in a floating dance floor (or ice rink) where flocks of people gather to party all night long, and sometimes for several days in a row!
2. The countryside
I’ve always defined myself as a city girl. Growing up in Brussels I couldn’t imagine living somewhere else than in a big city: easy to move around, shops at every corner, always an event going on, etc. However, the older I get, the more conscious I become about the perks of living close to the countryside. And for that reason, Leiden is the perfect combination. I still have everything I need, and as a bonus, I only need to cycle for 10 minutes to get to the countryside, lost in the flower fields.
Cycling a bit further, you get to Warmond and the Kagerplassen, a lovely area just outside Leiden where families go cycling and boating on almost any day of the year. Moreover, in just a 40-minute ride, I can be breathing the fresh air of the sea, my bare feet in the sand. Yes, Katwijk is that close to Leiden and on hot days, 40 minutes on the bicycle isn’t long at all!
3. Picturesque Dutch town
It’s hard to avoid clichés, but you cannot not talk about clichés when thinking of Leiden, and that’s what I love about this town. When someone says ‘Holland’, we all immediately picture the lovely houses on the canals, the flower fields, Dutchies riding their bikes, windmills, clogs, and cheese. In Leiden, you have it all. I love having a stroll along the canals, marveling at the cute houses, petting the cats in the streets, riding my bike like a local, and basically enjoying the life in this lovely picturesque town.
4. Central location
Living in Leiden and working in Amsterdam, I often get the question: “Isn’t it annoying to commute every day?” The answer is no. First of all because I get what I consider extra time to do random things like reading the newspaper or a book, checking my emails or writing this article. Secondly, Leiden has such a great central location that I can go anywhere in the Randstad pretty quickly! The Hague is right next door, Rotterdam, Delft, Utrecht, Amsterdam,…They’re all at a maximum 45-minute train journey. Imagine you’d live in Amsterdam and want to check an exhibition in The Hague or Rotterdam, it becomes almost an adventure!
5. The people
Last but not least, I love the people in Leiden: a perfect combination between old and young, Dutch and international people, all from different cultures and living harmoniously together. Flocks of students hanging in the parks in summer, families with a bunch of kids in the bakfiets cycling around the city, the elderly going grocery shopping at the market on Saturdays, friends having coffee in one of the lovely cafés, tourists taking photos,…Leiden welcomes everyone.
These are only some of the reasons to love Leiden, and why it’s the Netherlands best kept secret. There’s more than meets the eye, and I’d love to know if and why you also love this city!