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Leiden or Amsterdam train station hotel?

Hello,
We are spending four nights in the Netherlands. We have a hotel booked in Amsterdam by the train station and another hotel booked in Leiden by the train station, for ease of travel.

We are wondering which is better to stay at. Is one train station area nicer than the other?

Is one town's train station closer to restaurants and nice places to walk than the other?

Thank you.

Posted by
16171 posts

I'll answer only for Amsterdam. "by the train station" can still cover a lot of ground as it is a big station. But the Loetje Centraal, right outside the station downstairs of the tourist office is really good. There are a lot of restaurants across the water way fronting the train station. As far as "nice places to walk", it is a busy area and a few paths will quickly lead you into the red light district.

Posted by
2487 posts

If you love some peace and quiet, Leiden is the better choice. The station area is, to frame it positively, functional. After a 3-min walk, you've left it behind you, and you find yourself in the historical centre.

Posted by
177 posts

Sam and Tom,

The hotels I refer to are the Golden Tulip in Leiden and the Doubletree at Central Station. Does anyone have an opinion on them?

Also, Tom, I was told that It was a 15 minute walk to the historic center. Is that wrong? We will be getting in around 8:30PN on a week day. Will there be restaurants open late nearby?
Are there any canal cruises in Leiden?
Thanks.

Posted by
5006 posts

Perhaps it depends on how big your luggage is. There's otherwise no need to stay near the Train station in either city. Neither is a "run-down" area, as are many European train station areas. But neither has much charm. I personally would be glad to walk to the museum area in Amsterdam from the train station, but many people would say it is too far. If you're going to buy a tram/bus pass, it doesn't matter where you stay. Most posters here place cost above other hotel criteria.

If you were staying longer, there are many good daytrips on the train from Amsterdam. But you will have two or three very full days just in Amsterdam. It is a large city, and you would do well to get a local transit pass, just to cover more ground. Have you reserved/bought your Anne Frank house ticket yet? This is urgent.

Your actual question is confusing. Are you chosing which city to have more nights in? The character of the train station area is a poor criterion to make such a choice. I like Leiden a lot, but there is much more to see in Amsterdam. In fact, Leiden can be skimmed over nicely in a day trip from Amsterdam, if you get a comfortable hotel there with a good price. Then you don't have to waste half a day picking up and moving. Don't forget that rooms are not ready for occupancy in the morning.

Posted by
2950 posts

We've stayed at the Golden Tulip in Leiden and a different hotel near the train station in Amsterdam. The GT is a 2 minute walk to the train station in one direction and a 5 minute walk in another direction to the beautiful, historic center. Leiden is a peaceful but active city to return to after a day of sightseeing and worth many walks and bicycle rides in and around itself. Amsterdam's large train station area is more crowded, teaming with people environment with all there is to do and see in Amsterdam.

It is a quick (20 min) and inexpensive train ride into Amsterdam from Leiden and if I were going again I'd base myself in Leiden. Disclaimer: I do love cities but we didn't care for the grittiness around the train station in Amsterdam and had a student have her back stolen when she momentarily set it down by her feet in our hotel's lobby there.

Posted by
16171 posts

The Double Tree is in a modern development called the Oosterdok just east of Centraal. The floating Chinese restaurant is right in front. This is an area of office type structures, including a Starbucks, and car rental companies. A walk over the pedestrian bridge to the NEMO Science Museum.

Posted by
2487 posts

Mona answered most of your questions. She underestimated the travel time between Amsterdam and Leiden. It's more around 45 mins, whether you go via Haarlem or via Schiphol.
There is a canal trip on offer, not originally named Rembrandt, leaving from the Beestenmarkt, a 5-min walk from your hotel.
I'm always hesitant with suggestions about restaurants. Here you find a list.

Posted by
177 posts

Ton,
Do you know if the restaurants in Leiden are open fairly late?
And are you saying you have to change trains to get from there to Amsterdam?

Posted by
2487 posts

Around 20.30 would be fine, but not much later.
I meant to say that there are two train routes to Amsterdam. You'll have a direct connection every 15 mins.

Posted by
26422 posts

There are two train routes from Leiden to Amsterdam Centraal. The route via Haarlem is a little slower, may require a change in Haarlem, or not, and goes through the heart of the tulip bulb growing fields (and hyacinths, crocuses, and narcissi) so if your trip is at the right time (April, plus or minus two or three weeks) it is a beautiful and colourful ride.

The route via Schiphol goes under the airport in a long tunnel, is more direct, a bit faster, and doesn't require a change, but because the tunnel is dark inside there isn't as great a view.

Posted by
2950 posts

Ton I see my mistake on train times. I had not picked Central but Zuid instead. It says the trip takes 35 min. to go to the central train station. There are 4 stops but no train changes.

As far restaurant times, Leiden is a university town and many restaurants stay open late, at least by American standards. You can take the handy list Ton provided and click on the name of any restaurant you are interested in and scroll down to see their hours.

Posted by
2487 posts

I forgot: if you're in Leiden on a Saturday, don't forget to have a look at the market behind the Town Hall. WIth stalls on both sides of the Nieuwe RIjn it's a lively affair, and the perfect place to get your broodje haring (herring roll).

Posted by
433 posts

I think it depends on what you want to see and do with your 3 full days/4 nights. There are many more options in Amsterdam than in Leiden. Lieden is nice but I would choose Amsterdam. It is easy to avoid the Red Light district and crowds by just going a few blocks off the main flow. Canal cruises, museums, Vondelpark, street markets, so many things to do! However if you have done Amsterdam before or want quiet or to visit Delft or Kinderjik then Lieden is a better base.

Enjoy the trip!

Posted by
177 posts

Thank you all for your input. It's been very helpful.

On of the interesting things we saw in Leiden's event calendar For June 9-11 is Lepeljte Lepeljte food festival, but the page is in Dutch only, so we don't know what exactly it is.. There is also a Flower Power Market in The Hague that weekend but it, too, is only in Dutch so if anyone can shed some light on these events, please do.

We've been to Amsterdam before and plan only to see the Rijksmuseum and maybe a night canal cruise there , if any one can recommend one.

We were thinking of a day bus tour to Giethoorn. Has anyone been? 8 hours seems like a long tour for one stop. Is there a lot to see there? Maybe I should post this separately, but that's the only other time we would need to go to Amsterdam. If we leave from Leiden I suppose that's about another hour's travel time.

Posted by
2487 posts

Forget Giethoorn. The ride alone should deter you, but once there you'll notice that for some reason it is high on the Chinese tourist calender.
If you want something essentially Dutch, go to the Zaanse Schans, a 50-min train ride from Leiden. Or 15 minutes longer on the train the attractive historical former port town of Hoorn.
Or see the famous windmill complex Kinderdijk. Getting there is half the fun with the direct ferry service from Rotterdam. Check at the public transport planner 9292 and select a conneciton with »Veerdienst 202«. You can continue with the same ferry service to Dordrecht,

Posted by
177 posts

Thanks, ton. Do you know anything about the weekend activities in Leiden/Hague I mentioned/

Posted by
177 posts

i don't suppose you could translate...

Posted by
16171 posts

Use Chrome browser to access the website then use the "translate" button.

Posted by
2487 posts

Copy/paste the relevant parts of the texts in Google Translate and you get a reasonable English translation.

Posted by
177 posts

Is it possible to visit Zaanse Schans and Hoorn in the same day? Sounds more fun than Giethorn.
We'd rather stay in Leiden now. Thanks.

Posted by
26422 posts

Yes, seeing both in one day is very easy.

Posted by
177 posts

My husband was thinking it might be nice to visit one of these places in the evening. Does anyone know if they suitable to visit then? Anything open after 6PM? I imagine it will still be light out after 9PM....

Posted by
2487 posts

The Zaanse Schans is a museum. Their website is surprisingly discrete about the opening hours, but I suppose most, if not all attractions close at 18.00.
Hoorn is a normal city, with restaurants and the like having normal business hours. It would be a pity to miss the Westfries Museum, but it closes at 17.00.

Posted by
5006 posts

I don't "bike" but it might be helpful to know that Kinderdijk is directly on a national bikeway. That suggests to me that you could walk around the dikes and look at the exterior of the windmills, even if you arrive after-hours. We were there while open, paid the admission, and visited the interiors. So I am not presenting this as "a fact."

Posted by
2487 posts

Kinderdijk is on public pedestrian and bicycle paths. It has no entry. No need for a ticket, unless one wants to see the interior of a windmill or the museum.