Home in Leiden

Croatian, Za vise informacija na hrvatskom jeziku, molimo kontaktirajte Tamaru,

German, Wenn Du weitere Informationen auf Deutsch brauchst, wende Dich bitte an Dorothea,

Danish, For mere information paa Dansk kan De kontakte Heidi.



Czech, Pro více informací v ceském jazyce kontaktujte prosím


French, Pour plus d'informations en français, vous pouvez contacter Claire Caron sur

Polish, Po dodatkowe informacje w jezyku polskim kontakt or

Spanish, Si quieres más información en castellano, no dudes en ponerte en contacto conmigo, Laura

Indian, Please contact Rippy at if you'd like help in Hindi or Punjabi.

Diana Jekina,


About us
Pregnancy and Birth
Childrens Health
Learning Dutch
Previous Homepages
FAQ: Moving to Leiden


Cafes and Restaurants
Getting around
Hotels and B&Bs
The library


I hope you all have enjoyed all our recent holidays. I've always been fascinated by the notable number of religiously-oriented holidays in the Spring. I mean . .. I'm not complaining! But in addition to Queen's Day and Liberation Day (and, once every five years, Remembrance Day) off, we also have Ascension Day, Pentecost, Good Friday and Easter Monday off, all of which seems a bit odd in a country that is so irreligious, at least compared to my native United States. Granted, we are in Leiden and not the Dutch Bible Belt, so my perception of how religious the general Dutch population is filtered through life in the Randstad. Still yet, it seems that Those in Charge of Designating Holidays (and how are those people? And how can I be named to the committee?) have wisely grasped any excuse for days off when the weather has a somewhat better chance of being good. And the weather really was good this year . .. or . .. as good as we can expect in Holland!

My family and I spent all these various Spring holidays, as well as the long May vacation, at home. We just finished doing major renovation work on our house which means cost overruns which means no money to do much of anything. All of which made me realize how lucky we are to live in such a wonderful city with so much to do for little or no cost. I thought I'd share some of those things with you.

Top five cheapskate's things to do in Leiden

  1. Go to the market
    I know, I know, it sounds counter-intuitive because the market is there to . . . well . . um . . . have people buy things! But it's really a wonderful place to just wander around (and I tend to be a bit crowd phobic so this coming from me is saying something!). Especially when the weather is good, it's a great way to spend a Wednesday or Saturday afternoon (do be aware that there are far fewer stalls on Wednesdays) even if you don't spend a cent. It's also usually a much cheaper place to buy things like fruit and vegetables than the local supermarkets and there's more variety. In my opinion, it's really the only place to buy seafood in Leiden. Most of the people working the stalls speak reasonable English and are used to foreigners, so don't be put off by any lack of language skills. Just shove yourself to the front of the line à la the Dutch and ask for what you want.

  2. Go to a local park
    We're so fortunate to have a variety of wonderful parks either in the city, or close by. My personal favorite is Cronesteyn, which is right tucked close to the center of the city, yet feels a bit like real countryside. There's a wonderful place for children to play with water and, in warm weather, there are small barges in a shallow little pond for children to push around. An enterprising owner of an ice cream cart often shows up on warm summer days selling inexpensive scoops of The Cold Dessert That Must Not Be Named, so it's a particular favorite of my son. There are also all sorts of fun activities for children at the Visitor's Center, including dissecting balls of owl vomit, going on walks to look for bats, and investigating the small canals for little beasties. Check our What's On calendar for these events.

    I also really like the Plantsoen Park, despite the fact that we can no longer feed the ducks (see our last homepage). It's very close to where I live, and it's a wonderful place to take a walk and let your mind wander. There's generally a nice atmosphere in the park and, in good weather, people picnic and take advantage of the sun. There's a small bit of play equipment for the children, as well as a sort of aviary where various exotic birds can be seen.

  3. Sit in a café and watch the world go by
    Ok . . . once again I realize this sound a bit counter-intuitive because you will spend money in a café. But, in contrast to my native US, you will not be harassed for spending hours nursing just a cup of tea or coffee or glass of wine. In fact, you might be hard put to get service for a refill, even if you wanted one, especially on a sunny day! So you can spend a good few hours watching the world go by for only a few euros, which fits my definition of a cheapskate's afternoon!

  4. Go to the library
    This is a wonderful place to hang out on a rainy day, either with or without children. Unbeknownst to many people, there's quite an extensive English language section in the back (ask if you can't find it), as well as a few shelves of French and German books. There's also a nice café in the front of the building. If you want to check out books, you do need to become a member (although there's a program for low-income people that subsidizes this fee). A child's membership is free, however, and you are welcome to sit there and read to your heart's content as long as it's open.

  5. Wander around looking at the wall poems
    You may have noticed the poems written in various languages painted on the walls of buildings around the city. Even if you don't care about poetry much, it's a fun way to see parts of the city
    you might not otherwise visit.

Here's a bit in English about them

And now . .. something else you can do . . .

You all may have noticed the long break between updated homepages. Yours truly was swamped with work again and had to put Home in Leiden stuff on the backburner. If you'd like to see more regularly updated homepages and/or more events on the What's On calendar, we need you to step up and help out! Why not volunteer to write a homepage? As I well know, doing it regularly can become a bit too much, but there's nothing keeping most of you wonderful readers from contributing a "My Leiden" guest homepage. Within reason (!), we're happy to post whatever you'd like to say . .. top five things in Leiden, things you've learned since living in the NL, your favorite recipes, cool products you think might be of interest to the readership . . . or all of the above. We also need you to keep events coming. I may not post everything (For example, I limit putting up most of the events going on in the Hague because there's simply too much for me to keep up with, plus I figure the "typical" expat Hague group is already plugged in to those sorts of events anyway), but I'd love to hear about stuff in Leiden and environs. So . .. if you like Home in Leiden, help us out!



Baby/Toddler Groups
Vogelwijk Playgroup
Oegstgeest Family Life
Classes and Sports
Photo Gallery
Vrouw Kind Centrum


Find a Babysitter
Dutch Etiquette, Festivals and Traditions
Greener Leiden Living
HIL Top Tips
Expat Centre Leiden
Useful Links