One of Amsterdam’s most famous central squares, the busy Leiden Square (Leidseplein), claims a prime location south of the city’s canal ring and opposite the popular Vondelpark. Once a 17th-century transport stand for horse-drawn carriages, the square is alive with street entertainers and remains a vibrant hub for shopping and nightlife.
During the day, costumed acrobats, break-dancers, and street musicians amuse passersby at the square’s many cafés, shops, and restaurants. As the sun sets, the city’s notorious coffeeshops, Irish pubs, and live music venues fill up and the square is at its liveliest, flickering with neon and echoing with music spilling out from surrounding clubs. Melkweg and Paradiso are two of the most famous music venues in the area, as they showcase acclaimed international artists in addition to local acts.
Leiden Square is a stop on many walking tours of the city, as well as on hop-on hop-off bus sightseeing tours and hop-on hop-off boat tours. For a taste of the area’s famed nightlife, you can join an Amsterdam pub crawl that takes you through the area or, for a deeper cultural experience, take a tour that is focused on Amsterdam’s history.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Leiden Square is a must-visit for those with an interest in local Amsterdam life and culture.
- Café Americain at the American Hotel Amsterdam is a long-running popular spot, noted for its Jazz Brunch on Sundays.
- The square is within a 10-minute walk of such attractions as the Rijksmuseum and the Bloemenmarkt floating flower market.
- Leidseplein is usually noisy and busy with a mix of tourists and locals, making it a great place for people-watching.
How to Get There
To get to here from Central Station, take trams 1, 2, or 5 to the Leidseplein stop. From other parts of the city, trams 7 and 10 are the most useful. If you’d rather walk, you can follow Leidsestraat from the city center, cutting through the southwestern edge of the canal ring. Leiden Square is a major transport hub, so you’ll easily find taxis here.
When to Get There
Whether the sun is shining or snow is falling, Leidseplein is at the heart of much of the city’s festivities. Throughout the summer months, sun worshipers spill from café terraces out into the square, while holiday season brings a giant open-air ice rink and food stalls serving seasonal delicacies and hot snacks late into the night.
Even in quieter times, there’s plenty to admire around the square. Impressive architectural landmarks in this area include the neo-Renaissance facade of the famed Stadsschouwburg theater, now home to the Dutch National Ballet, and the impressive art deco building that houses the renowned and historic American Hotel Amsterdam.