The Stoomtrein (Steam Train) Katwijk-Leiden is a heritage train line between Den Haag and Leiden near the sea-side tourist town of Katwijk. The original line used to be used for the maintenance of the dunes by the governmental water authority and is now home to a museum built by volunteer train enthusiasts.
The main attraction is a restored steam train with carriages that travels at a leisurely ~15-20 kph around the artificial lake ,Valkenburgse Meer. It is a strange location for a museum as it is quite off the beaten track.... between two major towns (Den Haag and Leiden) and on a little exit from the main motorway connecting them.
The carriages are open to the weather and definitely NOT insulated or heated. So, if you are coming in the colder months, dress appropriately. A trip back and forth along the line takes around 30-40 minutes... and the train (more like a tram?) is best described as moving at a jogging pace! Still, if you have children who are interested in trains and that sort of thing, it is a nice outing away from the city!
You travel around the artificial lake's circumference, reach a turning point where they reattach the locomotive to the opposite end of the carriages and pull (backwards) all the way back to the starting station again. There is very little out here except to enjoy the characteristic Dutch landscape and weather!
Returning back to the station gives you a chance to just stretch out your legs again... and let the kids run around before you enter the museum area.
The Museum is several construction sheds and a main display area. In the various sheds, there are vintage and lovingly restored engines from the 19th and 20th centuries. These appear to be of the smaller variety, or perhaps I have no idea and the trains from back then were really actually a lot smaller than modern trains!
Among the various locomotives, there are little oddities like this combination bike for trackwork! Combining rails and the Dutch love for bicycles! It would have been really nice if they had set this up on a little bit of track so that people could try it out... but instead, it was left in a side shed. Interesting, but it could be have been more interactive!
Of course, the place is only partly a museum... it also serves double duty as a place for the enthusiasts to come together and work on their precious machines! So, some of the areas are real in-progress workshops.
You have quite a few little oddities from the past as well...
People that love steam trains seem to also LOVE building miniatures as well! There are a number of large scale model trains sets around the area... both indoor and outdoor! The kids really loved this part of the museum the best!
Finally, the main shed area of the museum... this is quite an interesting historical area if you are really into trains.. however, for the kids, it wasn't really that interesting. It is mostly done in an old-school show and tell fashion... with little to interact with. Still there were some interesting relics from the past ages of locomotives.
Definitely a place that is more for a train enthusiast. If you love trains... you will love this museum. If you are on the fence... it can be interesting, but there may be other ways that you would prefer to spend your time!