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There are lots of little tiny parks and playgrounds dotted around, but I will only list those worthy of a special mention/visit.

  1. De Burcht
  2. Cronesteyn
  3. Plantsoen park
  4. Leidse hout


De Burcht

Right in the centre of Leiden, this is an ancient grassy motte with much later castle walls. It is great fun to play in with children, although a head for heights is needed on the way up and if you want to walk round the ramparts. The steps are an adventure but you can go round with a pushchair (it's just about possible with a wheelchair but is extremely steep) if you are feeling strong. There is a disabled access gate, but you need to get the key from the café Het Koetshuis - since this doesn't open until 12, if you are earlier than that it's best to get someone to help you just carry the pushchair up the few steps at the bottom.

Apart from the omnipresent smoking teenage Goths, who for some reason like to hang out there, and who mean that it's a bit grubby, de Burcht is great for running around and playing knights and soldiers and suchlike. The view of Leiden is fab but it's quite scary going round the ramparts with several small children, especially the spiral staircase up to the top, and impossible if you also have a baby in a pushchair.


Cronesteyn is really lovely and a perfect contrast to town life: real wooded bits to build dens in, and huge open grassy spaces. There's a brilliant bit for muddy splashing and playing,and lots of wild bits to get lost in. There's also a little camp site for exciting mini camping trips. There's also a children's farm where they have lots of goats and chickens etc, and do fun activities such as weaving wigwams out of willow branches.

Review: Just to the south of the city centre lies the adorable Cronesteyn park. A wide open space with lakes and walk ways, secluded corners and a swimming hole there is something for everyone in the prettiness of the park. All year round ,and year after year, visits always deliver something new to do and discover; March and April provides the eerily mesmerizing sight of nesting herons, on warm days children wallow like hippos in the muddy shallows of the swimming hole and fishermen fish across from a field of a thousand poppies. Do not stay in Leiden and miss making Cronesteyn part of your life. Noeleen

Plantsoen park

picture Plantsoen park

Once you have got used to the bits where the banks slope scarily down to the Singel, this is a lovely place to go and feed the ducks. As usual, there is the occasional dog turd, but there is lots of space for games and lots of trees to climb and bushes to hide in. At one end there is a play area with some rather odd futuristic climbing etc stuff, which nonetheless they seem to enjoy. There are also budgerigars, quails, guinea pigs and sometimes chickens in cages, which are a particular favourite outing for really small children, who can happily push bits of grass through the mesh for hours. It is quite a sociable place, as it is visited by so many parents of small children. There are lots of ducks, which are very tame and expect to be fed (although in high summer they are often a bit sated). In the summer there are lots of ducklings. Do beware of the large swans that climb out of the water and try to nick your bread: not ideal with the smallest children. The other end of the park has picnic tables and good climbing trees, and tons of space to run around.

Leidse Hout

picture Leidse Hout

Houtlaan 100
2330 CL Leiden

This is the closest Leiden gets to nature, and is really lovely. There is a big lake with ducks, lots of trees and grass, and a very nice playground with sand opposite a pretty café with outside tables. It is one of the few places where you can sit and eat lunch in the summer while your children (albeit not tinies) play contentedly. There are also lots of deer and other animals in an enclosure alongside.



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