A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
Just when I thought this winter was never going to end, it couldn’t get any colder and I had lost my third pair of gloves (I’m not even kidding…unfortunately), February in Leiden surprised us all with a wonderful pinch of summer.
Naturally, as soon as the first rays of sunshine hit the city, the population of Leiden seemed to increase tenfold, the streets were filled with people pilgrimaging to the parks and students were sunbathing by the canals. But most importantly, it’s finally generally accepted to have your first beer around noon.
Days like those show us what a wonderful city Leiden is and suddenly the opportunities to go out and avoid studying seem endless and irresistible. Here are some of my favourite things to do when the sun shines in the Netherlands (and oh yes – it does!):
1) Bike to the beach! Katwijk aan Zee is just a forty-minute bike ride away (even less if you don’t get constantly lost like I do) and it boasts a beautiful sand beach with everything you could wish for: cosy cafés to treat yourself to coffee and cake, enough space to do…. literally anything, and some dazzling dunes. So, gather up your friends, prepare a picnic and spend an amazing day you won’t forget very quickly.
2) Go for a barbecue in the park. Leiden has many public parks to offer and according to this website it is allowed to barbeque in all of them! A sunny weekend day is best spent at the park with your friends and if you go on a Saturday you can even buy your meat/ veggies fresh from the market! My personal favourite is the Huigpark 😊
3) Head over to the botanical gardens in Leiden and enjoy this oasis in the city centre. Admittingly, the Hortus Botanicus is one of those places I always tell myself to go but never and up going because … I don’t even know why, I really need to go there again! Not only is it the oldest botanical garden in the Netherlands, it also prides itself with four different gardens, two glass houses and a variety of exotic plants for you to discover. It is also free of charge for students of Leiden University! So, don’t be like me and pay this lovely spot a visit the next time the sun shows its face.
4) This has got to be one of my favourites – rent a boat! There is nothing like spending the afternoon on a boat, cruising through the canals and feeling as Dutch as you’ll ever be. You might even want to learn some Dutch phrases to call to other boats passing you by, as you won’t be the only one with this glorious idea. There are a multitude of places where you can rent boats in and around Leiden and if you’re a lot of people it can be as cheap as 20 euros per person for a couple hours.
5) If none of the above-mentioned outings suit you or you simply don’t have enough time because uni does what it does best – hug you tight and not let go – there is always the possibility of just grabbing your textbook and sitting down by a canal. After all, studying is only half as bad when your feet are dangling in the water (actually, maybe don’t do that), the sun is shining in your face and the seagulls are squawking in the distance.