Leiden is a university town that has something to do for everyone. Located in the province of South Holland, it has great nightlife, culture and a lovely city centre.
Thanks to its success in the international weaving industry, Leiden was the biggest city in the duchy of Holland at the end of the 15th century. The university was established in 1575 and is the oldest in the Netherlands. The city centre owes a lot of its charm to the numerous historic and listed buildings.
Like Amsterdam, Leiden, has a lot of water. You can admire the historic buildings while enjoying a boat tour around the canals. History lovers will be thrilled with the Burcht (fort) which stands on the only hill in the city. Other historic buildings include Gravensteen which is currently home to the university's student and education administration, the Waag (weigh house) and Pieterskerk.
Breestraat is the place to be for shopping. There are loads of stores and places to eat. End the day with a visit to one of Leiden's many museums, such as Naturalis, a natural history museum with changing themes and special treasure hunts for kids, or the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden (National Archaeology Museum) with its exhibitions on Egyptian, Roman and ancient Greek civilizations.
The centre of Leiden is best explored on foot. Stroll at your leisure through the shopping streets and along the canals. Longer distances are easily covered by bicycle and of course by bus. You can also take a day trip to another city such as The Hague or Amsterdam.
Leiden is in the centre of the Randstad and is easy to reach by public transport and car. You can take the train to Leiden from St Pancras or fly to Rotterdam or Amsterdam from London City and catch a train there. If you're travelling by car, you can catch the ferry at Folkestone or Dover. However, the centre of Leiden has been almost fully pedestrianized so you'll have to park in one of the parking garages just outside the city centre. There are also two park and ride (P+R) parking lots just outside the city if you want to park your car cheaply.
Whether you're travelling with your whole family or just your partner, Leiden is a great place for a weekend away.