Leiden Square (Leidseplein)
Once serving as a 17th-century transport stand for horse-drawn carriages, the square remains a vibrant center point, alive with street entertainers and freestyle jazz performers. Here, costumed acrobats and break-dancers amuse punters at the square’s many cafés, shops and restaurants. As the sun sets, the city’s notorious brown cafés, Irish pubs and music venues fill up, and the square is at its liveliest, flickering with neon and echoing with music spilling from the clubs. Melkweg and Paradiso are two of the most famous music venues, with a number of acclaimed international artists performing alongside local acts.
Whether the sun’s shining or the snow’s falling, Leidseplein remains at the heart of the city’s festivities. Throughout the summer months, café terraces sprawl out into the plaza, while the festive season brings a giant open-air ice rink and food stalls serving seasonal delicacies and hot snacks late into the night.
There’s plenty to admire even in the quietest times, with some impressive architectural landmarks dotted around the square. Passersby can marvel at the neo-Renaissance facade of the famed Stadsschouwburg theatre, now home to the Dutch National Ballet, and the impressive Art Deco building that houses the renowned American Hotel.