The museum town of the Netherlands: 14 great museums to visit in Leiden

You know some of them! Let's talk about all of Leiden's museums. ✨

Tired of the museums in Amsterdam and devoured all that the museums in the other major cities have to offer? Don’t worry, the Netherlands is a small country, but Leiden has an abundance of culture and art to discover.

We’ve come up with a list of no less than 14 museums you can visit to get your brains tingling with rich history, culture, and art.

1. Wereld Museum Leiden

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Wereld Museum Leiden offers an enjoyable day for the entire family! Image: DutchReview

Wereld Museum Leiden is super close to Leiden Centraal and is one of the National Museums of World Cultures in the Netherlands. It has objects from countries around the world, like China, Indonesia, Japan, and Korea. To get a feel of the museum, check out our video!

Feeling your curiosity rising? You better check it out yourself, Wereld Museum Leiden is massive, and you can easily spend a whole day just there.

READ MORE | Let your kids run wild this autumn break at Wereld Museum Leiden’s Animal Academy! 

Tip! The museum is currently hosting two exciting exhibits until 29 October 2023, and they’re great for the family — or just a fun first date. We recommend checking out the DierenAcademie exhibit and the Maps: Navigating and manipulating exhibits before they go!

💶 Price: €15 for adults, €10 for students, €6 for children aged 6-18

⏰ Opening Hours: 10 AM to 5 PM, Tuesday to Sunday

📍Location: Steenstraat 1, 2312 BS Leiden

2. Rijksmuseum Boerhaave

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This museum is great for science enthusiasts! Image: Abuzer van Leeuwen/Supplied

Wondering how the Netherlands contributed to the field of science and how this history of science shapes our life here? The Rijksmuseum Boerhaave should be on your list of museums to visit in the Netherlands.

Named after one of the prominent scientists of the Netherlands, Herman Boerhaave, the collection at this museum spans about five centuries and is curated in collaboration with scientists of our times. It has something for all ages.

READ MORE | The Wonders of Science! 7 Reasons to visit Museum Boerhaave in Leiden

The building itself is historically significant and a beauty to look at as well. It has been through a lot of changes since it was built in 1440.

First, it was the St. Caecilia’s Convent, then went on to be a home for the plague victims in the city and the mentally affected.

After that, it became the first academic hospital in Northern Europe as St. Caecilia’s Hospital. It was here that the museum’s name-giver taught medicine some 300 years ago.

💶 Price: € 14,00 for adults, €5.50 for children (ages 4-17).

⏰ Opening Hours: 10 AM to 5 PM, seven days a week.

📍Location: Lange Sint Agnietenstraat 10, 2312 WC Leiden

3. National Museum of Antiquities (Rijksmuseum van Oudheden)

The National Museum of Antiquities celebrated its 200th anniversary in 2018, and it should definitely be on your list! The highlight of the museum is their permanent Egyptian Collection — which they boast to be one of the top 10 of its kind.

This collection includes the full 2,000-year-old Egyptian temple from the village of Taffeh.

READ MORE | 7 things the Dutch don’t talk about, but should

For anyone who wants cultural heritage to be returned to their countries of origin, we can rest easy when it comes to this temple.

Back in the 60s, this was one of the few temples that were at risk due to the construction of the Aswan High Dam across the Nile.

After UNESCO made an international call to save the sites at risk, the Netherlands played a role in the rescue operations. To show their gratitude, this temple was a gift from Egypt to the Dutch people.

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Part of the beautiful collection in the Museum. Image: Abuzer van Leeuwen/Supplied

Apart from this permanent collection, the museum has some great exhibitions about the classical world and allows you to explore the history of:

Ancient Greece, Etruria, and the Roman Empire; the only complete survey of the archaeology in the Netherlands; explore the life of the Netherlands during Roman times; the Dutch and the ancient Near East (from present-day Turkey to the Arabian Peninsula and from Lebanon to Afghanistan).

As you can see, there’s a lot to see at this museum, and it’s truly an underrated gem — not to be missed!

💶 Price: €14 for adults (18+), free for children under 18.

⏰ Opening Hours: 10 AM to 5 PM, seven days a week.

📍Location: Rapenburg 28, 2311 EW Leiden

4. Young Rembrandt Studio

Okay so, the sun is shining, you don’t want to spend your time indoors, but you still want to do something intellectually stimulating?

Sign up for the Rembrandt Experience in Leiden. We have specially curated a route through Leiden so that you can walk in the footsteps of a young Rembrandt, and still have a day in the sun (or rain)!

READ MORE | The Rembrandt Experience: discover the life of a Young Rembrandt in Leiden

The whole of Leiden is actually kind of a museum on Rembrandt, it was his birthplace. 💁‍♀️

The exhibition on Rembrandt’s youth in Leiden can be seen at the Young Rembrandt Studio. This is where he actually learned to paint from his tutor Jacob van Swanenburgh.

Nowadays, it’s a shop with lovely Rembrandt memorabilia. This charming shop also provides a free experience that will give you a glimpse into Rembrandt’s Leiden days — in a completely mesmerising way.

💶 Price: Free!

⏰ Opening Hours: 12:00 PM to 5:00 PM, Tuesday to Sunday.

📍Location: Langebrug 89, 2311 TJ Leiden

5. Naturalis Biodiversity Center

Love learning more about nature? Do you want to get your little one more interested in the world around them? Want to see a T-Rex? You might want to plan a visit to the Naturalis Biodiversity Center then!

Naturalis is dedicated to keeping a record of all-natural life on Earth. They want to preserve the knowledge of biodiversity and nature for everyone to enjoy.

READ MORE | Lekker? Giant meatball from extinct woolly mammoth unveiled in Amsterdam

They conduct research to contribute to solutions “for major, global issues involving climate, living environment, food supply, and medicine”. What’s better is that they are a place for the whole family!

💶 Price: €17 for ages four and up. For students, €12.75 with ID.

⏰ Opening Hours: 10 AM to 5 PM, seven days a week.

📍Location: Darwinweg 2, 2333 CR Leiden

6. Museum de Lakenhal — the best art museum in Leiden?

The Lakenhal’s building has been around since 1640 and underwent a huge renovation and restoration in 2019. This museum shows history and fine art, housing some of the finest paintings from the Dutch Golden Age.

The collection includes “The Last Judgment” (ca. 1526/27) by Lucas van Leyden, the “Brillenverkoper” (ca. 1624) by Rembrandt van Rijn, and “Contra-Composition VII” by Theo van Doesburg.

If you want to learn more about the history of the Lakenhal, exhibition, go to their website and start planning your visit!

💶 Price: €16 for adults, free for children up to 17.

⏰ Opening Hours: 10 AM to 5 PM, Tuesday to Sunday

📍Location: Oude Singel 32, 2312 RA Leiden

7. Siebold House

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The Siebold Huis holds a ton of treasures. Image: Niels/Wikimedia Commons/CC2.0

Looking to get a little taste of Japan here in the Netherlands? Go to the Siebold House, which has been reinstated with the support of the Japanese and Dutch governments, various Dutch and Japanese companies, and the city of Leiden.

The museum features seven different rooms, each with its own story to tell — with cultural treasures collected during the 19th century by the Bavarian physician Philip Franz von Siebold.

💶 Price: €10 for adults, €6 for students, free for children under 17 years.

⏰ Opening Hours: 10 AM to 5 PM, Tuesday to Sunday

📍Location: Rapenburg 19, 2311 GE Leiden

8. De Valk Windmill Museum

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Does it get more Dutch than this? Image: Ricardo Liberato/Flickr/CC2.0

With its seven floors and 29 metres of height, the De Valk Windmill Museum in Leiden is hard to miss. De Valk Windmill is one of the last remaining windmills from the 19th century and became a museum in 1966 after the death of miller Willem van Rhijn.

This museum provides gorgeous views of the city of Leiden, so if you’re looking for great shots, this is the place to go!

💶 Price: €5.50 for adults, €3.00 for children ages six to 15, free for children under six.

⏰ Opening Hours: 10 AM to 5 PM Tuesday to Saturday. 1 PM to 5PM Sunday.

📍Location: 2e Binnenvestgracht 1, 2312 BZ Leiden

9. Stoomtrein Katwijk-Leiden

Want to travel back in time? Head on over to the Stoomtrein Katwijk-Leiden (Katwijk is a beach town near Leiden). No, it doesn’t have time travel technology, but it does have a 100-year-old steam locomotive waiting for you!

It’s not a high-speed train like the ones we’re used to. It’s an old-fashioned steam train for you to enjoy — just like maybe your grandparents did.

So if you want to know how this works, this museum is the place for you. It’s a museum where you can smell, watch, and touch to see how everything works. It’s kid-friendly, so you can take the whole family there!

💶 Price: €12.00 for adults, €9.00 for children aged four to 12. Free for children under four.

⏰ Opening Hours: Check the opening days on their website.

📍Location: Jan Pellenbargweg 1, 2235 SP Valkenburg ZH

10. Academic Historical Museum

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The Academy Building in Leiden is one of the most gorgeous buildings the city has to offer. Image: Kees Hummel/Leiden Marketing

This historical museum is housed in the Academy building of Leiden University. Its collection is linked to this building and the history of Leiden University, where it has a plethora of items to browse through.

The rich history of the university and student life is displayed for everyone to enjoy.

💶 Price: Free

⏰ Opening Hours: 8 AM to 7 PM, Monday to Friday.

📍Location: Rapenburg 73, 2311 GJ Leiden

11. CORPUS

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Head to CORPUS for a truly mind-blowing museum experience. Image: Андрей Бобровский/Wikimedia Commons/CC3.0

Ever wondered how the human body works? Or want to get your kids interested in biology or give them a gentle nudge towards the natural sciences? Then the CORPUS Experience might just be the perfect place for you.

You can take a “journey through the human body” in just 55 minutes, with a guided audio tour which is available in eight languages.

A visit here usually takes two and a half hours, but be sure to reserve a spot on one of the tours because they leave at specific times.

You will go through the journey in groups of 16, and it is recommended to arrive 20 minutes before your chosen time.

💶 Price: €21.95 for adults and children. €19.95 per person if a group of 12.

⏰ Opening Hours: 9:30 AM to 3:00 PM Tuesday to Fridays, 9:30 AM to 5 PM Saturdays and Sundays.

📍Location: Willem Einthovenstraat 1, 2342 BH Oegstgeest

12. Leiden American Pilgrim Museum

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The Pilgrim Museum is one of Leiden’s unique experiences. Image: Herenld/Wikimedia Commons/CC3.0

This beautiful house was built around 1365-1370 and tells us the story of how the Pilgrims founded New England and their time living in Leiden. You’ll get to see how they used to live and important events through a collection of 16th and 17th-century maps.

You will be able to see what Pilgrim life in Leiden looked like, how the children studied and played, and so much more! Want to know more about their history? Pay this place a visit!

💶 Price: €9.50 for adults, €4.25 for children aged six to 18.

⏰ Opening Hours: 1 PM to 5 PM, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

📍Location: Beschuitsteeg 9, 2312 JT Leiden

13. The Leiden Weaver’s House

You may not see this museum immediately because it doesn’t seem like your run-of-the-mill house on an ordinary street, but you have to remember that the house itself is the museum exhibit.

The Leiden Weaver’s house has an interesting history that reflects the people of Leiden’s passion for preserving their neighbourhoods.

This museum was founded by the Het Kleine Leidse Woonhuis foundation in 1976, an initiative by the citizens to stop “large scale interventions in the impoverished part of the city.”

READ MORE | 13 unmissable World Heritage Sites in the Netherlands to visit

This house was going to be demolished to make way for roads, but thanks to this initiative, it was preserved.

It doesn’t have any permanent exhibitions, but different temporary exhibitions. Maybe not what you would expect from a museum, but definitely a spot you don’t want to miss out on.

💶 Price: Free — but a donation is appreciated!

⏰ Opening Hours: 1PM to 4 PM, Tuesday to Sunday

📍Location: Middelstegracht 143, 2312 TV Leiden

14. Botanical Gardens

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Is this Leiden or Lisbon? Image: Xsandriel/Wikimedia Commons/CC4.0

Did you know that the city of Leiden is home to one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world? The University of Leiden was responsible for planting the first seeds in this historical garden.

READ MORE | 17 unforgettable things to do in Leiden in 2023

It really is a sight for sore eyes! Take a relaxing afternoon out and stroll through the gardens.

💶 Price: €9.00 for adults, €3.50 for children aged four to 12.

⏰ Opening Hours: 10 AM to 5 PM, seven days a week.

📍Location: Rapenburg 73, 2311 GJ Leiden

Will you be visiting one of these museums in Leiden? Or have we missed out on anything? Tell us in the comments below!

Feature Image: Kees Hummel/Leiden Marketing
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in May 2019, and was fully updated in September 2023 for your reading pleasure. 

Feature Image:Depositphotos
Kavana Desai
Kavana Desaihttps://medium.com/@kavanadesai
Coping with the aftermath of her 3-year stint in the Netherlands, Kavana is a writer, content creator and editor for DutchReview. Hailing from India, she frequently blogs about the Netherlands, being Indian in the Netherlands, and everything in between. She envisions herself to one day be the youngest person to win that Nobel Prize for Literature (she is also not very humble but welcomes only constructive criticism). In the meantime, she fills her days with writing for DutchReview, writing her master's thesis on art theft, and writing fiction that will hopefully see the light of day soon.

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