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Exploring Leiden, Netherlands: Bluefin SUP Itinerary

Jenny Buckley |

Leiden is truly one of the best paddling cities in the Netherlands to SUP! This gorgeous city boasts of 28 kilometres of canals and more than 2,800 monuments! So expect this itinerary to get you paddling through the bustling city centre, past old mansions, windmills and parks, and we’ll even let you in on some of the popular terraces and restaurants on the water.

We are Bas and Bianca from @Vrolijkopreis. We were both born in Leiden and we’re going to share with you our all-time favourite SUP-itinerary that takes you through the city’s top sights.

The Itinerary

Duration: ± 2 hours

This route starts at the Zijlpoort. You can choose any point to start your SUP adventure, but we’ve chosen this start point so that we can include all of the city’s highlights in one trip.

1. The Zijlpoort City Gate

Leiden once had 8 city gates, and now with only 2 gates left, Zijlpoort is one of them. The Zijlpoort is classified as a listed building due to its historic beginnings. Once you’ve paddled through this remaining city gate, continue along the old harbour to the Herengracht canal.

2. The Herengracht Canal

This is our favourite canal due to its stunning old canal houses on both sides! During the Summer the bridges are decorated with colourful flowers, making this the perfect photo opportunity! So get ready to snap a few pictures here!

3. The Nieuwe Rijn Canal

Continue on and you’ll reach the Nieuwe Rijn canal which will take you right through the vibrant city centre! This canal is lined with beautiful terraces. When you reach the “Korenbeursbrug” bridge, you’ll see that it has been trading corn for centuries. We recommend that you look closely when you’re paddling underneath the bridge as you’ll be able to see the famous corn symbol. Nowadays, the bridge is only used as a large bandstand to celebrate national holidays. After this bridge, continue straight and you’ll come across the beautiful town hall that dates back to 1595.

4. Morspoort + Molen de Put + Rembrandtbrug

Soon after you’ll come across the Morspoort, which is the city’s other remaining gate. When paddling on this canal you’ll find the Molen de Put and the Rembrandt Bridge, which are situated right beside one another and are well-known sights in Leiden.

5. Molen de Valk

When you reach the Molen de Valk, you’ll be interested to know that it was built in 1743 and was grounding grain right up until 1925. Today, it has been converted into a mill museum.

6. Rapenburg Canal

Several members of the Dutch Royal Family have lived along the Rapenburg canal. King Willem-Alexander lived at 116 Rapenburg during his student days and was known for enjoying his beer and drinking at Café Barrera (also at the Rapenburg). His mother, Princess Beatrix, also lived along this canal, at number 45.

7. Van der Werfpark

Our final stop is one of the most famous parks in Leiden, Van der Werfpark. Many locals enjoy picnicking here during the Summer. Opposite this you’ll find the Leiden Law Faculty.

If you want to carry on paddling at this point, it might be nice to paddle along the “Plantsoen” canal towards the park. This is our favourite park and it also has more than enough space to moor and jump off your board to explore.

Restaurants/terraces with mooring options in Leiden

1. Lot & de Walvis

Our personal favourite! Lot & de Walvis is located in the old harbour and has a nice terrace in Summer that looks out over the water. This is a wonderful place for a drink whilst watching the sunset. You’ll also find the delicious food and interior are very Instagram-worthy.

2. De Waag

De Waag is a restaurant that’s situated in a very special building! The name refers to its occupation; in the Middle Ages this building was used as a weigh house. Traders had to moor here to have their packages weighed. Nowadays, you can moor here for lunch/dinner or even just for a drink!

3. Tabú

At Tabú you’ll almost believe that you were in South America! The menu includes tacos, quesadillas and an extensive range of cocktails. The music played on the terrace is always a treat to experience too!

We hope our suggestions ensure that you have an enjoyable SUP-adventure in Leiden! Maybe we’ll see you on the water?!

A Special Bluefin Thanks! 

Thanks so much to Bas and Bianca (@Vrolijkopreis) for this awesome blog. If you would like to contribute to our Paddler Blog, then please email us at  

We look forward to hearing from you!