Public transportation in the Netherlands and Leiden

Most locations in the Netherlands are relatively easy to reach by public transport, especially in and around the larger cities. Leiden has a train station (Leiden Centraal) with connections from Amsterdam/Schiphol Airport, The Hague/Rotterdam and Utrecht arriving a couple of times an hour, and a variety of bus lines throughout the city, most of them leaving from the bus station right next to the main entrance of the train station. The centre of Leiden is not too large, so it's also quite possible to navigate to most locations within the city centre on foot. It's also possible to rent an OV-fiets from the train station if you want to truly blend in with the Dutch crowd.

Planning your journey
To plan your journey in The Netherlands, you can use the online route planner 9292, it takes into account all available forms of public transport (bus, tram, train, subway, ferry) and all operating companies, and will give you accurate departure times and delays as well as the cost of your journey. There's also an iOS and Android app for your phone. For NS trains specifically you can also use the NS route planner, and to find your way around in general you will of course find a lot of information on Google Maps as well.

Public transportation card (OV-chipkaart)
To use public transportation around the Netherlands you will most likely find yourself in need of a public transportation card (OV-chipkaart). It's a creditcard sized plastic card with a chip that you use to pay for your journey. If you're just visiting The Netherlands, you'll most likely want to get the anonymous OV-chipkaart which is available directly from the yellow ticket machines around train stations. The card itself costs €7.50, and you will have to have at least €4 in credit loaded onto the card to travel by bus, metro or tram, and €20 to travel by train -- you can load credit onto the card at the ticket machines as well. The OV-chipkaart is used for all public transportation in The Netherlands. When you start your journey, you 'check in' at one of the gates or other card reader points with the pink OV-chipkaart logo on them at the metro or train station, or inside the bus if you're traveling by bus. Once you have reached your destination, you 'check out' at a similar place and the card reader will show the cost of your journey and how much credit is left on your card. Do not forget to check out, as the full boarding fare (€4 for bus/metro/tram and €20 for train) will be deducted from your card. More information can be found on the OV-chipkaart website: https://www.ov-chipkaart.nl/.

NS Group tickets
If you're traveling together to Leiden by train (or know a few other people who are also traveling by train), you may find the NS 'group return' offer very attractive: from 4 up to 10 people, you can form a group with the same destination (your departure station does not need to be the same) and buy a group return together, which is a valid day return ticket from your departure station to the common destination (you can individually enter different departure stations). For 4 people, the group return ticket costs €55 in total (independent of the distance from your departure station), and each additional group member up to the 10th pays only €2.50. So if you gather a group of 10 people, you may travel from any station in The Netherlands to Leiden and back for only €7.- per person. The group tickets need to be purchased online with a Dutch bank account though, and you need to bring a printed copy with you in the train as well as your passport/ID-card to be presented to the ticket officer on request. If you would like to form a group with other people traveling to Leiden, try and search for 'NS group' along with the name of any major Dutch city on Facebook.