A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
Leiden is a beautiful city with plenty of historical monuments and built heritage, and as you walk through its central streets and canals you would think there are not many natural spaces in it besides Van der Werf park and the little green area around the Burcht, but in reality there are plenty of options in or around the city to enjoy nature and even see quite a bit of wildlife, as there are many amazing parks in the suburbs and neighborhoods surrounding the historic heart of Leiden. Here I’ll review three of my favourite ones as well as some of the wildlife you can encounter in them.
Named after a bygone castle, this is definitely my favourite park of the many that you can find in Leiden, and luckily for me it is also the one closest to my house. The polder park is located south of the city and consists of around 120 hectares of woods, pastures and waterways, in it there are picnic tables as well as plenty of foot and bicycle paths, including ones that circle the whole area, which make it an excellent place to go jogging or cycling for exercise. In Cronesteyn you can see lots of birds such as cranes, ducks, coots, pheasants and swans, as well as plenty of mushrooms and some wild edibles, such as sloes, wild garlic and blackberries.
At the centre of the park there is a lovely café, De Tuin van den Smid, which serves excellent cold and warm drinks as well as simple but tasty food, and they have a petting zoo with farm animals, including three adorable hairy pigs!
Situated north of the city centre, this is another very nice, but slightly smaller park, with plenty of trees, a very picturesque looking teahouse and an enclosure with deer, chickens and turkeys. It was built in the 1930s as part of a government program to provide employment during the Great Depression. Close to LUMC and the Faculty of Social Sciences, Leidse Hout is a perfect location to go for a walk and clear your mind after classes.
Located next to Warmond and a little bit further away from Leiden, you can find this amazing lake island completely designated as a nature and recreational area. In the waters of Het Joppe lake you can see plenty of waterfowl, including grebes, as well as sailboats and the beautiful Broekdijk wind mill, which dates from the mid 19th century. If the weather permits, you can also swim in the lake, although I never did; I mostly cycled up to Koudenhoorn to go for walks with friends and look for mushrooms.
So what are you waiting? Go out to wander around these three wonderful parks in or around Leiden and enjoy the last weeks of summer!