Discover & Experience Leiden
Leiden has been called the most beautiful city in the Netherlands. That is not too surprising, considering how much of the rich city history is still visible everywhere in the charming city centre. Plus, when you add the large number of museums, the many monuments and the thriving cultural climate you will certainly agree that the city is well-deserving of this reputation.|
First time in Leiden
Never been to Leiden? Are you very curious, but you have no idea what kind of city it really is?
- Take a look at this brief introduction to give you a first impression and what to see, do and experience.
There is plenty to do in Leiden throughout the whole year. You will find below a small selection of some of the annual events.
Night of Arts & Science
During the Night of Arts & Science in September, the historic city centre of Leiden will be transformed into one big festival area. The Night showcases the richness of Dutch academia and arts. During the Night, visitors can enjoy exciting experiments, new discoveries, arts, ideas, extraordinary keynotes, music, dance, and so forth.
Leiden Film Festival
Come to Leiden and enjoy six days of films and more films. You can choose from many new and memorable films, not only in the cinemas, but also in the museums and on culture and pop stages. Every year special premieres and arthouse films are brought to Leiden to celebrate this filmlovers’ festival.
Laken (Cloth) Festival
Both for Leiden citizens and for visitors, at the start of July the centre of Leiden is one big party. For four days you can enjoy all the attractions of the Laken Festival; there’s the Crazy Boat procession, the cloth and bric-à-brac market, the dragon boat race and many live music performances!
During the last weekend of August, the Rapenburg is transformed into the cultural heart of Leiden and for three days, a whole range of different artforms can be seen and heard in and around this elegant city street. Every year an impressive stage is built in the middle of the Rapenburg where a varied programme of music, poetry, dance and visual arts is presented.
Open Monument Days
In the second week of September you have the chance to visit more than thirty historic monuments that are usually either closed to the public or where visits are limited. This special weekend also features activities such as concerts and children’s events.
The Relief of Leiden
Every year on 2 and 3 October the City of Keys shakes on its foundations. This is when Leiden commemorates the seige of the city during the Eighty Years War and its relief on 3 October 1574. The city is one gigantic party, when citizens and visitors can join in the traditional festivities. There’s always a parade of marching bands, a costume pageant and a funfair. And not to mention the traditional handing out of herring and white bread to the citizens of Leiden.
Leiden has 12 fantastic museums all in walking distance of one another. Dinosaur skeletons, masterpieces by Rembrandt and Lievens, Wajang puppets from Indonesia, the medical history of bloodletting and breast prosthetics, an Egyptian temple, treasures from Japan and everything about the relief of Leyden: you will find all of this and more in Leiden’s museums.
Take a look at all 12 museums
Food and drink
Leiden has hundreds of restaurants, cafés and bars. Every cuisine imaginable can be found here, and there is something available in every price range. If you want a tasty lunch or a relaxing drink at the end of the afternoon, Leiden has plenty to offer. You’ll find that many of Leiden’s restaurants and cafés are located in beautiful historic monuments, each with its own rich history. This is what gives the city its special ambience.
Leiden has over 2700 monuments. From almshouses to windmills and churches to city gates. In fact, Leiden’s entire downtown area is a historic monument in its entirety. Located within such a short distance from one another, a walk along the canals to view the most conspicuous monuments hardly takes any effort and is well worth the time!
Leiden is a lively city that offers a wide variety of parties and festivals. But it also has plenty to choose from in music, dance and theatre entertainment. The oldest theatre in the Netherlands, the Leiden Schouwburg has been the cultural heart of Leiden since 1705. This beautiful building is praised by performers and visitors alike for its unique ambience, excellent acoustics and intimate atmosphere. An evening out at the Leiden Schouwburg is a very special experience.