A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
If the heat hasn’t entirely worn you out by now, here are some ideas for how to spend the sunny days in Leiden as the year is drawing to a close. They’re all in Leiden and require minimal money, so they’re perfect for this time of year when you might simply need an excuse to take a break from thesis writing with minimal damage to your bank account.
If seeing all the boats out in Leiden at the weekend is making you jealous, get closer to the water for cheaper by cycling out to the Kagerplassen just north of the city. Head out of the city towards the northeast and cycle along the Zijldijk, which will take you out of Leiden with the Zijl canal on one side and picturesque fields on the other. At the end of the Zijldijk, looking out at the Zweiland lake, you can stop for a drink at one of the brasseries looking out along the lake; or, continue further by crossing Zijp by boat and heading further along the lake’s edge. If you’re looking for a more challenging cycle, go south of Leiden towards Zoetermeer and you’ll reach the Zoetermeerse Plas, a huge lake ringed with forest. This is about a 12km cycle, but worth it to enjoy a hot day by a lake.
I think probably every student has done this already this year at some point, but it really is the best way to spend a sunny day. Obviously there are plenty of parks in Leiden, and plenty of canal banks, to choose from for your picnic, but Van der Werf gets extra points for being close to a supermarket (Hoogvliet) for any last-minute snack buys and free wifi (either from the Law Faculty over the canal or the Kamerlingh café).
If you feel like treating yourself a bit, why not have brunch outside at one of the many cafes on the canal? Roos is a personal favourite – coffee is reasonably priced at €2.15 for a cup, and they have a range of brunch choices, including vegan options. If you’re also happy with dealing with inquisitive seagulls, they are one of the Nieuwe Rijn cafes with a terras on the canal, giving you the illusion that you’re actually brunching on a boat.
I tend to forget about Hortus a lot of the time, but it’s the perfect place to go on a summer’s day – better to take advantage of it while you get in for free as a student, too. Since it’s so close to the university buildings, it’s also the perfect place to take a break from thesis writing by wandering among the plants and enjoying the canal views.
This also seems a pretty obvious suggestion, but Holland’s beaches are the perfect place to spend a sunny day. It only takes around 40 minutes to cycle to Katwijk, and this will also give you a chance to cycle through some perhaps neglected areas of natural beauty between Leiden and the sea. This is a good option if you need a change of scenery for a picnic, and by cycling you save the money for an ice cream once you get to the beach.