With summer just around the corner, there's no better time to explore the beautiful Leiden region. Part of the wider 'region of discoveries' (which includes Leiden, Leiderdorp, Voorschoten, and Zoeterwoude), this part of the Netherlands benefits from close connections to nature reserves, beaches, and historic landmarks. Leiden itself is home to numerous fascinating museums, and the city was named the European City of Science in 2022 due to its reputation for innovation and scientific exploration. However, it is not only Leiden that is the perfect place for a day (or weekend) trip - its surrounding municipalities also offer many cultural attractions, picturesque villages, and scenic walking routes. Discover more about how to explore the Leiden region below!
Whether you're after a guided tour, or you prefer exploring at your own pace, there are many routes available for walking enthusiasts. Taking the time to walk around the Leiden region, even in your home city or town, can give you a new perspective on the surrounding area. You might choose to follow the Science Route in Leiden, which will lead you through the discoveries and ground-breaking research in the city. Or you might prefer to stroll along the Old Rhine in Leiderdorp, a walk that takes you through the historic town and provides you with views of the river. There are also guided tours that give you insight into the history of the region - perfect for a day out.
If you want to travel further, and faster, then why not take a look at the scenic cycling routes and paths throughout the Leiden region? For water sports enthusiasts, you can follow the Weipoort & Vlietland route, near Voorschoten and Zoeterwoude, that will take you around Vlietland and offers fantastic views across the lake. You can always stop at Vlietland to take part in some water sports yourself once you're there! If you can't get enough of the iconic Dutch windmills, then there's also the option to follow the Mills&More cycling route. This route will take you past 20 different windmills throughout the countryside, in both Leiden and Leiderdorp. For those who want a taste of summer cycling, but in a more unusual fashion, you can also choose to explore Leiden on a kickbike! Check out Op Step Leiden to learn more about renting your very own kickbike.
Eating Out, Shops, and Markets
Markets are a great way to get a taste of local produce, discover hand-made crafts, and to meet others in the community. Throughout the year, there are multiple markets for special occasions (such as Christmas markets), but there are also regular weekly markets in the Leiden region. Leiden's biweekly market is on Wednesdays and Saturdays, Leiderdorp's market is on Thursdays, Voorschoten's market is on Fridays, and Zoeterwoude's market is on Thursdays.
In addition to the weekly markets, there are many other shops (both small independent ones, as well as larger ones) in the region. Leiden's main shopping streets are Haarlemmerstraat and Breestraat, and you can learn more about shops in Leiden on VisitLeiden's website. Leiderdorp's Winkelhof shopping centre also has a wide selection of stores to choose from, as does Zoeterwoude's Rijneke Boulevard. Voorschoten's shops are mostly located in the centre on Schoolstraat, although Beethovenlaan and Noord-Hofland Shopping Centre are also popular. Regardless of whether you are looking for souvenirs, gifts, practical items, clothing, or something else entirely, the shops in the Leiden region have many excellent options for you to choose from!
Of course, during your exploration, it doesn't hurt to sample some of the delicious food the Leiden region has to offer. There are many restaurants and cafes that offer a wide range of cuisines, from Thai Restaurant Sabai to Pipa Streetfood Bar. You can also try sweet, or savoury, pancakes (a Dutch staple) at 't Pannenkoekenhuysje!
Leiden is home to 13 fantastic museums, including Naturalis (the natural history museum), Rijksmuseum van Oudheden (the national museum of antiquities), and Rijksmuseum Boerhaave (the science museum). The wide range of museums in the city means that there is truly something for everyone, no matter the age. Each of these museums offers a fascinating insight into different disciplines and discoveries, and many of them have regular events and special exhibitions that provide even regular visitors with the chance to learn something new. For a taste of the outdoors, you can also visit Hortus botanicus, Leiden's botanical gardens that date back to the 1500s. Take a look at VisitLeiden's website to discover more about all 13 museums!
It's not just in Leiden, however, that you can explore museums and historical attractions. Voorschoten, for instance, is home to both Duivenvoorde Castle and Museum Voorschoten, and Leiderdorp has its very own Leiderdorps Museum, too. These all provide visitors with glimpses into the rich cultural history of the region, and give you the chance to learn more about the identity of each municipality.
For some more inspiration about how to spend your time in the Leiden region, why not take a look at our list of the Top 10 Things To Do in the Leiden Region? From museum visits and water sports to castle tours and days out on the farm, there's no shortage of activities for the whole family to take part in! Don't forget to also check out our Event Calendar for an overview of upcoming events in the region.