Leiden is a typical university city, hosting the oldest university of the Netherlands (1575). University buildings are scattered throughout the city and students that live and study in Leiden give the city its relaxed and vivid atmosphere. Leiden is especially attractive to visit, because the city and region offer an amazing range of temptations.
Leiden is a bustling, friendly medium-sized city, an urban community full of life with an outward-looking, international character, particularly with its world famous university, more than 400 years old (founded in 1575).
Leiden and its suburbs have a population of 329,000 making it the ninth largest urban region in the Netherlands.
It is an attractive town, because city and region offer an amazing range of temptations. Leiden is very close to the North Sea coast and to beautiful national parks in the dune landscape. Its suburbs to the west are attractive seaside resorts of international style. To the north and east, the town borders on several lakes, with ample sailing facilities.
All of these are within biking distance of Leiden.
Leiden is located just eight miles east of the North Sea coast, in between the cities of Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam and Utrecht.
Working and living in Leiden also means ease of mobility based on a very well-developed and ever-improving infrastructure: Leiden has excellent connections by train, air and car. It is just twenty minutes by direct intercity train to Schiphol, Amsterdams International Airport.
Other intercity trains connect Leiden directly with Amsterdam (35 min.), The Hague (15 min.), Rotterdam (30 min.) and Utrecht (35 min.): Leiden is therefore part of the European rail network, including the high speed train to Brussels and Paris.
Similar convenient connections are available for transport by car: Leiden is directly connected to the A4, one of the Netherlands most important motorways, and to the A44.
The city itself has retained all that its past has to offer: a picturesque city centre with an 12th-century fortress, gothic 14th-century churches, beautifully restored 17th-century houses. Leiden has special ties with the United States: the Pilgrim Fathers left from Leiden in 1620.
The propsperity of the city in past centuries is still visible in the noble mansions along the historic canals where many famous scholars lived and worked. Within the city centre you can explore numerous historic inner courtyards (almshouses), walk along the renaissance city hall, visit the 14th centrury 'Count's House' ('Gravensteen'), and enjoy the beautiful view from the 12th century Citadel ('Burcht'). Or just stroll through the narrow medieval streets and enjoy its many restaurants and pubs near the old University and its oldest church, Pieterskerk, built in 1121.