48 Hours in Leiden – Things To Do, Where To Stay & Where To Eat

Are you visiting the Netherlands and want to see more of the country than just Amsterdam? A quick 48 hours in Leiden may be exactly what you are looking for. And if you don’t have time for a weekend long break, you can easily visit Leiden on a day trip from Amsterdam as it less than an hour away from the capital by train. In this article we share the Top Things To Do in Leiden as well as provide recommendations of where to eat and where to stay to make sure you have a great time in Leiden, with whatever time you have! 48 Hours in Leiden Things To Do

Related: Looking for info on Amsterdam? Check out my Guide to 48 Hours in Amsterdam.

Leiden is also one of the perfect places to get off the beaten path in the Netherlands – so grab your train ticket now and explore the Netherlands like a local! Day trip from Amsterdam

Things To Do Leiden Day Trip from Amsterdam

Guide to 48 hours in Leiden, Netherlands

– Things To Do, Where To Stay & Where to Eat!

A Guest Post by Brigitte van de Pas from The Life and Times of a Dutchie Aborad

There is more to the Netherlands than Amsterdam. Even though the majority of the tourists never leave the capital, a stone’s throw away there is more history and more beauty to be found. Alkmaar, Gouda, Haarlem, Utrecht and Leiden are all within an hour from Amsterdam and make for a lovely day trip from Amsterdam. Today I will take you to Leiden, Rembrandt’s hometown.


things to do in Leiden day trip from Amsterdam

Old harbour and Beestenmarkt

Leiden Things To DoWalking from the Central Station to the city center, you will find yourself at one of the most picturesque places in town, the old harbour and Beestenmarkt square. Just across the bridge near Mill De Put you will find the charming Weddesteeg, where world-famous painter Rembrandt was born in the early 17th century. The house where he was born was demolished in 1927, but a placquette indicates its approximate location today. Leiden Things To Do


Canal tour (Leiden Things To Do)

Leiden Things To DoLike Amsterdam, Leiden is home to countless canals and one of the best ways to enjoy the city is from the water. Several companies offer tours starting at the Beestenmarkt, (if you prefer to book in advance, Viator offer great tour deals) or alternatively, you can hire your own boat and tour for as long as you like. For really sporty travelers: canoeing is also an option!


Rapenburg – Leiden things to do

Leiden Things To DoThe most beautiful of Leiden’s canals, the Rapenburg is one of the most expensive locations in town. The Dutch Royal family has a special connection to Leiden, as most of the members were educated at Leiden University. King Willem-Alexander lived at Rapenburg 116 during his student years, his mother Princess Beatrix at Rapenburg 45. Famous is also Rapenburg 56, which featured in war movie Soldaat van Oranje (Soldier of Orange), one of the highlights of Dutch cinema. Leiden Things To Do


Museum de Valk

Leiden Things To DoNo visit to the Netherlands is complete without visiting a mill. Molen de Valk (Mill the Falcon) was built in the mid 18th century. The mill is still regularly operated by amateur millners, but now mainly serves as a museum. Here you can learn about the working of the mill and the millner’s life as well as climb the mill and discover what they look like from the inside. From the upper store you have a lovely view over the Leiden city center. Leiden Things To Do


Temple of Taffeh

Leiden Things To DoLeiden is home to a number of interesting museums. History fans should go to the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden (National Museum of Antiquities). Located in the entrance hall you will find the Temple of Taffeh. This is an Egyptian temple gifted to the Netherlands for helping Egypt preserve its national heritage during the building of the Aswan Dam in the 1960s. For those unable to travel to Egypt, this is as good as it gets in the Netherlands. Next to this extraordinary temple, the museum has a large collection of archeological treasures from ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome as well as more local finds.


De Burcht

Leiden Things To DoOne of Leiden’s most famous landmarks, the old fortress dates back to the 11th century. Right in the city center, the fortress can be climbed for wonderful views of the old city. Day trip from Amsterdam


Hortus Botanicus Leiden things to do

Leiden Things To DoLeiden’s Hortus Botanicus is the oldest botanical garden in the Netherlands, dating to the late 16th century. Here you can admire plants and flowers from all around the world. Visit the Japanese garden to see a glimpse of cultural exchange between Europe and Asia. Do not forget to pay a visit to the Victoria amazonica, as this huge water lily is the Hortus’ pride and joy.


Leiden University

Leiden Things To DoA student town, as many as 1 out of 10 Leiden inhabitants is estimated to be a student, creating a close bond between the city of Leiden and Leiden University. Leiden prides itself on having the oldest university in the country, dating back to 1575. The oldest university building is the Academiegebouw (Academy Building), built in 1516. A former convent, this is the heart of Leiden University and nowadays mainly used for ceremonial purposes. Over the centuries, thousands and thousands of students graduated here. Their signatures are still visible in the Zweetkamertje or Sweat Room. The Leiden University Library is also home to a large collection of beautiful Islamic manuscripts from all over the Muslim world. 48 hours in Leiden Things To Do


City gates

Leiden Things To DoLeiden originally had eight city gates, but only two of Leiden’s old gates still remain today. The Morspoort is the former Western gate, the Zijlpoort the former Eastern gate. Both surviving gates were designed by architect Willem van der Helm and date from the 17th century. Visiting the interior is unfortunately not possible, but both can be admired from the outside and are well worth crossing the city center for.


go to the Beach Leiden things to do

Leiden Things To DoLeiden is located near the seaside, and popular beach towns as Katwijk and Noordwijk are only a bike ride away. Do as the Dutch do and stroll across the beach in winter, or go for a swim in summer.


Where to stay in Leiden 48 hours in Leiden

If you want to extend your day trip from Amsterdam, these hotels and perfect for an overnight stay: 48 hours in Leiden

Where to Stay Leiden

Van der Valk Hotel - Luxury Stay (approx $100 per night)

Situated in Leiden, Van der Valk Hotel Leiden offers modern 4-star accommodation, as well as free Wi-Fi.
The modern rooms at the hotel have air conditioning and include a coffee maker, a refrigerator and a private bathroom. They each offer a flat-screen TV, a laptop safe and a desk.
Like more info? Click to Read Trip Advisor Reviews
Where to stay Leiden

Ibis Leiden - Mid-Range Stay ($50-100 per night)

Ibis Leiden Centre is situated in Leiden and is close to the area's well-known attractions. It offers 3-star accommodation with air-conditioned rooms.
Guests of Ibis Leiden Centre can enjoy the in-house bar, suitably situated for a drink. Guests can also try one of the many bars and cafés in the surrounding area.
Like more info? Click to Read Trip Advisor Reviews

Where To Eat in Leiden day trip from Amsterdam


Where to eat LeidenDe Catwalk is located on the picturesque Beestenmarkt. A large selection of coffee, tea and delicious sandwiches, bagels and toasts is available here.

Steenstraat 30, 2312 BW Leiden

LUNCH where to eat in Leiden

Where to Eat LeidenA Leiden favourite, lunch is at Grand Café Vlot. Located on the water, here you can enjoy the great view on the old harbour. Grand Café Vlot offers a wide selection of baguettes, salads and warm dishes at a reasonable price.

Prinsessekade 5L, 2312 DA Leiden



Where To Eat LeidenLeiden has something to offer for every budget. A Leiden special is Puur, where sustainable food and responsible dining is central. 48 hours in Leiden

Pieterskerk-Choorsteeg 9, 2311 TR Leiden

So there you have it a full run-down of the Top Things To Do in Leiden along with suggestions for where to stay and where to eat. I hope you now have loads of ideas for how best to spend your day trip in Leiden, and don’t forget to let me know you’re own highlights once you’re back!

Oh, and don’t forget to pin and share – I’d really appreciate it! Click the P in the share bar for full size images!

Things To Do Leiden Day Trip from Amsterdam    Things To Do Leiden Day Trip from Amsterdam

Things To Do Leiden Day Trip from Amsterdam     Leiden Things To Do

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Brigitte is a Dutch researcher now based in Hamburg. On The Life and Times of a Dutchie Abroad she writes about her adventures in her adoptive Heimat as well as her travels in the Middle East, and Kuwait specifically. You can follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter

32 thoughts on “48 Hours in Leiden – Things To Do, Where To Stay & Where To Eat

  1. Bhushavali says:

    I really wanted to go to Utrecht but somehow I couldn’t! Leiden looks beautiful too – like Amsterdam but much less touristy!!! Btw, I have a never ending love for windmills!

  2. Sharon says:

    Although I lived in the Netherlands for nearly 5 years, I have never visited Leiden. Now I see that I should have done it. But it is not so far from Belgium so I am sure that I will go there soon 🙂

  3. Raymond Carroll says:

    My cousin lives in Rotterdam and she is constantly saying to people that if you come to the Netherlands ‘DO’ more than just visit Amsterdam. She has talked to me about Leiden – her partner comes from that area and she has told me how lovely it is. Good post. One day hopefully I’ll get to visit there. Love the look of the old fortress in the city centre.

  4. Cliodhna Ryan says:

    This is exactly what I’ve been looking for. I can’t wait to visit Amsterdam but really wanted to combine it with somewhere else in the Netherlands. Leiden seems like a perfect weekend trip.

  5. Ling Ge says:

    Ugh, I totally wish I saw this when I was in the Netherlands. I was in Amsterdam for 4 days. Don’t get me wrong, great city to enjoy. But I definitely would’ve taken the hour train ride to check out Leiden just to see other places in the country. I’d check out De Burcht for sure since I love architecture. I don’t know if I would’ve gone to the beach in the winter unless it was a clear day (overcast almost every day I was there). I’ll keep Leiden in mind if I make it back to the Netherlands.

  6. Suze says:

    I’ve not yet been to Leiden but I’m impressed at how much there is to see and do. A trip to the Botanical Gardens would definitely be on my list. Are there other places within close reach that are worth visiting, for those who want to stay longer than 2 days?

    • Vicki says:

      Hi Suze, If you wanted to extend your stay Leiden is less than a hour away from Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht. The Netherlands is quite compact so it’s easy to explore the different cities without extensive travel time between them.

  7. Fiona Maclean says:

    Ah, I’ve stayed in Leiden, when I was working in Amsterdam and it got too busy there! It’s better value if I remember rightly . Now I’m regretting not spending more time looking round

  8. Brittany Stopa says:

    Wow, I can’t believe I didn’t know about Leiden before! I’ve only been to Amsterdam, but loved it so I’m sure I would love Leiden too. I really want to go to that mill museum, I just loved the windmills in the Netherlands1

  9. Mike Cotton says:

    I’ll be honest, I’ve visited the Netherlands and have only been to Amsterdam before this past summer when I had the chance to spend the day in The Hague. It’s alway good to read about the lesser-visited parts of a country.

  10. Suma Jain says:

    During my visit to Netherlands years ago, I have only managed to visit Amsterdam. Planning to visit with my husband this summer, will be sure to add Lieden to my list. Lieden looks like a very quaint and a perfect liesure town, it will be a great choice for weekend getaway. The canal tour and De Burcht seem to be the highlight of the city, and yes the Temple of Taffeh looks magical, it will be fun to explore all this.

  11. Kris says:

    Leiden looks like one happy place for a tavelbug. I would love to try the canal tour and check out the mill! This is my first time to stumble upon a Leiden post and it’s like visiting the place virtually. 🙂

  12. stacey veikalas says:

    Leiden looks awesome … we have never been only Amsterdam but I think we would love it! We will have to take a run over there this year! I love the bikes just the sheer number of them is fantastic! Thank you for sharing!

  13. Laura Lynch says:

    I’ve been searching lately for the smaller siblings of the big tourist cities, and this is the perfect example. I’ve already been to Amsterdam. Now it’s time to check out Leiden. Great guest post!

    • Vicki says:

      Thanks Laura! It will be easy for you to explore Europe more now living in London – I’ll try and find some more alternatives for you to add to your list!

  14. Elisa says:

    I did not know about Leiden. I would not mind to do one of those boat rides along the picturesque canals. And riding my bicycle, of course!

Comments are closed.