Leiden, Holland's first academic city

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Leiden, terrasjes, shopping, de Waag, eten en drinken
The river Rijn flows through Leiden, flanked by cafes and terraces. Left: the Waag (1657).
The ‘Academiegebouw’ belongs to the oldest university of the country

Leiden’s compact city centre is a gem. Historical architecture and academic life smoothly blend with cheeky coffee boutiques and artsy shops.

The museums on offer are downright spectacular: Naturalis, de Lakenhal and Boerhaave all deserve a spot on your must-see list.

There’s a museum for all of us

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  • The National Museum of Antiquities ('Oudheden') or National Museum of Antiquities displays ancient art and archaeology, including regional finds and treasures from all over the world.
  • Lakenhal Museumthe official Leiden museum, is housed in a 17th century city palace. Key piece of art is the 16th century painting by Lucas van Leyden. The renovated museum was re-opened by King William-Alexander in 2019.


Lakenhal, Lucas van Leyden, Leiden, stadsmuseum
Triptych of the Final Judgment, by Lucas van Leyden (1526-1527, collection Lakenhal Museum)
  • Boerhaave Museum: Here science is made tangible. The museum was recently renovated and named European museum of the Year (most prestigious award for museums) in 2020.
  •  Naturalis. This home of the dino T-Rex Trix and institute for biodiversity makes all ages marvel at nature in the most accessible way.
    Don’t forget to enjoy the impressive architecture of the new building, finished in 2019.
Dinosaurus lifesize Naturalis T-res
Nice to meet you: Trix, the lifesize dino & breakthrough in science. Copyright: Naturalis Biodiversity Leiden.
  • CorpusAre you ready to travel the human body from the inside? Be sure to book tickets in advance.
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Corpus ©Frank van Beek

On any sunny day ...

Right behind the Academy building of Leiden University, you’ll encounter the Hortus Botanicus (1590). In this scientific garden park you’ll be met by beauty, serenity and harmony and, if you’re lucky, by the Victoria Amazonica in the greenhouse. All located at one of the idyllic Leiden canals.

For centuries the indigenous have met the exotic in the Leiden Hortus. Photo: Cunie Sleijpen.

The Observatory 

The Leiden Star Watch, or observatory, was founded in 1633 as the second worldwide and is still part of the highly acclaimed Faculty of Science of Leiden University. The building stems from the early 19th century – a jewel, majestically located next to one of Leidens surrounding canals.

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Sterrewacht, the former observatory