Despite its small size, getting into Leiden is a piece of cake. There are two big airports nearby with direct connections to the city: Rotterdam The Hague and Schiphol, the international behemoth. From Schiphol there is a direct train service which only takes 20 minutes and costs €6-7. From Rotterdam The Hague it’s a little over an hour journey (again €6-7) but since the airport connects with some budget airlines, it could be a lot cheaper to travel this way.
You can travel in from neighbouring countries by train if you want to, and will probably get a connection from Amsterdam for the final leg of your journey. The train system in the Netherlands is a well-oiled machine, so there shouldn’t be any mishaps or delays one you get here.
The easiest and most common way to get around the city is by bike. Whether it’s the daily commute, a run to the shops or even dropping your kid off somewhere, the Dutch are crazy about cycling. You have a few options:
Rent a bike for €10 a month (and €40 upfront)
Buy a bike for between €50-100 which will last you the year and can be sold on again
The bike rental company is EasyFiets, and if you’re staying for over a year you can get an even better deal than the €10 per month. One good thing about this subscription is that if your bike is ever damaged, they’ll repair it for free or give you a new one within 15 minutes. Can’t ask for more than that! Making most of your journeys by bike also helps lower the cost of living and save you more money for socializing!
If you want to take the bus (to get around the suburban area of Leiden, perhaps), travel between cities or use the trams, buses and metro in other cities around the country, you’ll need an OV-Chipkaart. It’s the Dutch travel card and works everywhere. Simply top it up at any station (make sure you have a minimum of €20 credit before travelling) and you’re good to go!
In addition to the card itself, you can pay €50 to get 40% discount on all train journeys for the next year. During exchange you’re likely to travel all over the country, so the discount can easily pay for itself within a few trips.