Canal in Leiden
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Canals of Leiden

Leiden’s canals were incorporated into the city plan as early as the seventeenth century. The outer canal was dug to protect the city. The historic inner city is surrounded by a six kilometer moat. Leiden’s moats are among the biggest city fortifications in Europe with an intact structure. Leiden’s canals run through the city and are lined by docks on which trees have grown, to anchor boats.

  • After Amsterdam, Leiden is the city with the greatest number of bridges, canals and moats.
  • Leiden has as much as 28 kilometers worth of waterways and 88 bridges.
  • Discover Leiden from the water on a boat tour or electric boat.

Boating in Leiden

Discover Leiden from the water and enjoy an entirely new view. Tour the canals and moats and explore the historic inner city with its beautiful merchant houses and monuments with their wonderful facades. The Plantsoen is a fantastic city park contained within the moats. While boating in Leiden, you cannot avoid passing underneath extraordinary bridges, such as the Visbrug and Koornbrug with its beautiful covered walkway.

There is a broad offering of boat tours and packages, but you can also rent an electric boat. If you rent an electric boat, you can easily dock your boat to enjoy a picnic or lunch. You can also stop at one of the countless eating and drinking establishments along the water to relax. Boat tour and package tickets are available from the shipping companies on Beestenmarkt, Blauwpoortsbrug or Apothekersdijk at a two to five minute walk from Leiden Central Station. You can also contact the local VVV tourist office for more information on boat tours or boat rentals.

Beautiful surroundings

Leiden is also a perfect base for beautiful day trips nearby. Sail to the Kagerplassen, which everybody calls ‘de Kaag’. This is a large lake area at less than half an hour by boat from Leiden’ city center. With dozens of windmills and old farms along the water, this is one of the country’s most beautiful places to explore by boat. You can also sail to places like Katwijk, The Hague and even Delft.

Editors’ tip: Order a picnic basket when you rent a boat.

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