A Blog by International Students at Leiden University

Sun-kissed and inspired

It is probably not news that the weather in the Netherlands is less than optimal
(and that is an understatement). In fact many of my international friends experience vitamin D deficiency during their time here. However, when the sun graces us with its presence, a student city like Leiden is genuinely the best place to be.

Hortus Botanicus Leiden

I study law and spend my days indoors, mostly in the library. The rain and wind actually help me have less regret for doing so. Still, the past few February days were a very sunny surprise, which motivated me to finally explore Leiden (considering I have been living here for 6 months, this was long overdue).

All central cafes were overflowing with positive energy and beautiful people trying to catch a ray of sunshine, while enjoying their favorite drink. The whole city was buzzing and I wanted to be part of it.

I don’t have much free time, but for once I decided against making the obvious choice to sit at a table by the canal. Seems like passing by paid off, because an alley away from the canal I found myself in a garden café that took my breath away.

For people that Google’ things to do in Leiden’ this place will not be an amazing discovery, but I don’t have the habit of doing that in places I live.

For me accidentally stumbling upon the ‘Burcht van Leiden’ genuinely made my day. The structure is a round fortress-type on top of a hill, providing a 360 degree view of Leiden. I have passed by the street leading to it countless times, so believe me when I tell you unless you purposely look for it, you can easily miss it.

Most importantly, there is a café-restaurant overlooking the Burcht which does not offer cocktails or hard liquor, but serves food and has a good beer selection. While sitting in the café I could not believe that this place has been in the very center of Leiden the whole time. After my friend and I had a snack and some drinks, we went up to the Burcht (which is free of charge) and enjoyed the panoramic view during sunset. This was truly the cherry on top! For the first time I actually got to see all architecture in the center of Leiden, and there were small info-boards around the stone structure explaining what buildings you are seeing in front of you (both in English and in Dutch).

It has always been the case that I put off visiting tourist hotspots in the cities I live in, knowing that I can do that any day, but actually that day never comes and before I know it I end up moving. I recommend not leaving Leiden before visiting the Burcht. If you are looking to chill with a view, or have beers with friends, this place should not disappoint even in cloudy weather, but if it is sunny this visit will be a memory you will definitely not forget.

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