Leiden by boat

Leiden by boat

Water is an important part of Leiden’s Leiden's cityscape. The old and new Rhine converge in the center of the city. Next to that there are several canals and ‘singels’ in the city. The most famous canal is the Rapenburg.

Outside the center, in addition to the Rhine, rivers, canals and former migratory waterways such as the Zijl, the Haarlemmertrekvaart and the Trekvliet connect the city with large water and recreational areas just outside the city such as Vlietland, the Kagerplassen and the Valkenburgse Meer.  

Dennis Callan, who recently led us on a tour through Leiden, explores Leiden again, but now on the water.

Dennis  Callan:  

Leiden is one of the great cities of the Netherlands. In this segment on Leiden we’re taking you on a canal boat tour. It's a great way to get an overview of the city while sitting and relaxing for an hour and watching the historic buildings glide by.

88 bridges

They say Leiden has more canals than any other Dutch city besides Amsterdam. They extend for 28 kilometers within the inner-city and are crossed by 88 bridges, some of which are quite low so you gotta keep your head down when you go beneath them.

It has all of those historic and pictorial charms that you would hope for in a quaint Dutch town -- a city of canals, pedestrian zones, historic buildings and bicycles -- in many ways a typical Dutch town but in others, something quite special.

Oldest university

It has the oldest university in the Netherlands with 30,000 students among the 120,000 city population. One of the oldest cities of the country founded about 1000 years ago but with a young population and so many things for the visitor to see and do you could easily spend a couple of days here: drop in on some of its 200 restaurants, 60 bars, thousand shops, many along the pedestrian lanes, explore historic monuments such as this elaborate gatehouse through the medieval wall, one of two surviving gates from the old days, get educated and entertained at one of the half-dozen important museums and stay in one of the 22 hotels offering 3000 rooms.

Easy to reach

Leiden is located just 40 minutes away from Amsterdam by train, or 20 minutes away from the airport by direct train -- easy to reach yet like many Dutch cities it's overlooked by most of those millions of visitors to Amsterdam who rarely venture beyond that big city. They're missing out on a lot that the Netherlands has to offer as will be showing you in our series.

A private tour

The route that we will be taking in our one hour boat tour goes through some of the most beautiful of the canals of the city in a big loop and then coming back to where we started. I was lucky to take what turned out to be a private tour. Well, nobody else showed up for the departure and Tim very gallantly said okay let's go and took me on a one hour boat ride.

He works with a very special boat tour company that relies on 60 volunteers to do most of the driving and guiding. A lot of retirees and other interested residents of Leiden pitch in and help out. The boat company is De Leidse Rederij. 



Apothekersdijk 5
2312 DC Leiden


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