Delft, an elegant student city between The Hague and Rotterdam, is beloved by many, for various reasons. Delft is the birth place of painter Johannes Vermeer. The city where William of Orange was killed and Dutch Royal family members still get tombed. Where ceramics by Royal Delft brought prosperity. And where TU students bring liveliness. Walk around the city and discover what Delft has to offer. Read this article and get the most out of your trip to Delft, whether it’s a day trip or multi-day city trip.
1: Learn more about Royal Delft
De Koninklijke Porceleyne Fles, internationally known as Royal Delft, is a famous ceramics factory in Delft. After the Dutch shipping and trading company VOC brought porcelain from China back to The Netherlands in the 17th Century, the pottery bakers in Delft developed the product. In the Dutch Golden Age, there were more than thirty factories as Royal Delft ceramics became really popular among those who could afford it – the rich and famous.
For the price of a full set of Delft Blue tableware in the Golden Age, you could buy a Porsche Carrera with golden wheel covers nowadays.Royal Delft
Handmade since 1653!
The Delft branch is the only location that remained and is nowadays still the place where you can see and experience the authentic Delft Blue craftsmanship. They still make everything by hand! Lots of hours of work go in each piece. Not surprising one vase easily costs 500 euro.
The audio tour takes about one hour. Currently there is a temporary exhibition called Ink Connects with famous Dutch tattoo artist Henk Schiffmacher. It includes a controversial statue of Delft Blue ink tattooed Jesus Christ…
Purchase your Royal Delft entrance ticket here to skip the lines and get 10% discount in the fantastic ceramics shop. The ticket lady was really nice and gave us the tip of the day (see Eat & drink). It is also possible to expand your entrance ticket to a package deal with a high tea, boat ride, horse & carriage, etc.
When we visited there were only a handful of other visitors, great for us, not so great for the museum. Before Corona there were bus loads of people.
- Location: Rotterdamseweg 196, Delft
- Open Mon-Tue 11.30 -17.00h, Wed-Sun 10.00-17.00h
- Admission adult EUR 13
Tip: check out the Royal Delft Outlet on the Markt (next to the New Church) with more affordable stuff than Royal Delft.
2: Climb up the New Church
The 376 steps up the New Chuch (Nieuwe Kerk) will be rewarded by a wonderful view over the city. Constructed between 1381 and 1572, the church is with almost 109m one of the tallest churches in The Netherlands.
The crypts of the House of Orange-Nassau, the Dutch Royal family are in here, including Willem van Oranje, the ancestor of King Willem-Alexander.
You can visit two churches for the price of one; the Old Church and the New Church. Opposite the Market Square is the stunning Town Hall of Delft.
- Location: Markt 80, Delft
- Open Apr-Nov Mon-Sat 09:00-18:00
- Admission adult churches EUR 5.50 and towers EUR 4.50
3: See the cool Bonte Ossteeg
This alley between the Markt and Voldersgracht includes two cool things to see. Worth checking out and a nice place to take some shots!
- Delft Blue street art wall
- Delft Blue street art cow statue
There is some more street art in Delft but – as far as I know – not a lot and not Delft Blue related really.
4: Have a look at a painter’s house
Wondering how a 19th Century Delft painter lived? Check out Museum Paul Tetar van Elven, the 16th Century decorated house of Paul Tetar van Elven (1823-1896). He was a technical drawing teacher at what we now know as the Technical University of Delft. As the son of an officer he was born into some money, but this is not the type of house you can afford with a teacher’s salary. So how could he?
Travels to art museums in France and Germany inspired Paul to copy famous paintings, which were popular among the wealthy. This is how Paul acquired his prosperity and could afford to buy this pretty canal house. Since Paul had no children, he left the house to the municipality to be used as public space, effective when his second wife passed away. It is very interesting to see all three floors of this beautiful old house and get an impression of his life. Lovely museum and staff.
- Location: Koornmarkt 67, Delft
- Open currently only Wed, Sat & Sun 13:00-17:00h, except some national holidays
- Admission adult EUR 7.50, prior reservation required
5: Discover the secret gardens
Like Alkmaar and Amsterdam, Delft also has several so-called ‘hofjes’. These hofjes are courtyard style gardens with surrounding buildings that were founded by wealthy individuals, offering housing to the less fortunate category of the community. With this pretty unique Dutch hofjes phenomenon, the rich owners wanted to do well and connect their good name to something everlasting. Often hofjes are part of a monument and not always publicly accessible, or for example only open during Open Monument Day (every 2nd Saturday of September).
In Delft there are a few hofjes that you can visit for free, such as:
- Hofje van Pauw
- Klaeuwshofje (near the pretty Oostpoort)
- Hofje van Gratie
- Hofje van Almonde
See map below for locations. The garden of Prinsenhof is also in hofjes style. In April there is a special Delft tulip route called Flora Delfensis that will make you walk along several hofjes. In the Golden Century the tulip was as valuable as gold, a true status symbol. This time of the year (July) you’ll see a lot of hydragea for example, which I really like.
6: Check out outdoor ceramics
Throughout the city plenty of Delft Blue art can be found. Not only in the souvenir shops, but outdoors for the public to see. Sometimes literally where you stand, as a street tile. Go out and see:
- Dutch mosaic artist Nan Deardorff McClain created this super cool and colorful Ceramics Map of Delft on a wall at the Papenstraat. The map is really well done with incredible details of the city. It took 500 volunteers and 15 months to make!
- In the garden of Prinsenhof Delft (St. Agathaplein), there is this curvy bench with Delft Blue ceramic tiles called Hommage to Gaudi. The street lights on this square also have Delft Blue prints on the poles.
- The so-called Tegelmannen (tile men) can be found at the Abtswoudsebrug over the Delftse Schie canal close to the Delft Blue factory museum.
- Cow statue on a pole at the Beestenmarkt; unfortunately the paintwork looks messy.
- Pluympot blue mosaic in Delft Blue with bicycle.
- 12-meters tall Delft Blue tulip pyramid at Land Art Delft, which is out of the center (1 hour on foot or 15 min by car from the Town Hall).
I think a great addition would be a big tiled bridge over the water, like they have in Seville, but then of course done in Delft Blue. Now that would be amazing, right?!
7: Museum Prinsenhof Delft
This museum is located in a former monastery where Willem van Oranje (William of Orange) was murdered in 1584. The bullet holes that remained are still on display. There is also a replica of his assassinated body statue, which is on top of the actual tomb is inside the Nieuwe Kerk. Get to know William of Orange, famous inhabitants of Delft such as painter Johannes Vermeer and their work, and learn more about the beautiful Delft Blue ceramics.
There is currently a temporary exhibition with the master pieces of Delft silversmiths from 1590 to 1800s. In the garden you can find a statue of Willem de Zwijger (William the Silent), which was Willem van Oranje’s nickname, and a Delft Blue ceramics bench called Hommage to Gaudi (see also #6b above).
- Location: Sint Agathaplein 1, Delft
- Open daily 11:00-17:00h, except a few national holidays
- Admission adult EUR 12.50, prior reservation recommended
The Vermeer Center in Delft is about the life of the famous painter Johannes Vermeer, who was born in Delft, most famous for his painting the Girl with a Pearl Earring. Unfortunately there are no original paintings of him in this museum so we decided to skip it.
Delft has many cute boutiques, cheese shops, etc. and obviously also branches of bigger brands and store chains like Hema. Check out concept store SUP-R, a new style warehouse, where besides clothes you can also get delicious cakes, soup, sandwiches, coffee, etc. Antique shop De Kaerskorf on the corner of the Markt is one of the prettiest buildings of the city if you’d ask me (see the first photo of this article, building in the middle with the red shutters).
On Saturdays, there is normally a mixed flea market and regular market throughout the old center of Delft, but due to Corona measures those are on hold until at least Sep 1, 2020. For market locations see map below.
9: Admire old TU Delft buildings
The Technical University (TU) had and still has a big influence on Delft. Most of the beautiful university buildings from the 1920s and 30s are now apartment buildings. Walk around for example in the area of the Botanical Garden and Science Center Delft, there are plenty. A lovely walk in a residential neighborhood, especially for architecture lovers! For locations see the map below.
Not to mention the other gorgeous architecture Delft has, such as the beautiful 15th to 19th Century canal houses, the Town Hall, churches, etc. A feast for the eyes!
Locals joke that if you are looking for a man, you should go out in Delft or Eindhoven. Technical student cities and still the majority of those students is male.
10: Eat & drink A LOT
What does a woman become with an empty stomach? Exactly, grumpy. Easy to avoid here. Delft has an awesome collection of coffee bars, see some of the best in the map below. A local told us Kobus Kuch has the best apple pie in town but since she gave us some apple pie herself, we did not get the chance this time LOL During our last visit we had for example:
- lunch with grilled brie serrano ham sandwiches at NYC bistro style Seven Hills (Achterom 65)
- afternoon tea with banana cake at trendy Kek (Voldersgracht 27)
- dinner with all kinds of delicious international tapas at Hanno (Doelenplein 27)
Hanno turned out to be the tip of the day – from the ticket lady at Royal Delft – such a great place! Good atmosphere, friendly staff and professional bar tender shaking cocktails, excellent Chenin Blanc, great terrace, a wide variety of unknown international tapas on the menu to share… We picked five different tapas and they were incredible, all new tastes like I normally only have at Michelin kind of places, you know what I mean? I would love to go back any day!
Next time we’d also like to have lunch at Bij Best, dinner at ‘t Walletje, coffee at Neef Rob, drinks at Lakila, and many more. So much to enjoy here in Delft! See map below for locations and more suggestions.
Delft has numerous cozy squares and canal streets that function as one big sunny terrace for the surrounding bars and cafes in spring and summer, or basically any day the sun shines. Check out the best terraces at the Beestenmarkt, Markt and surrounding streets, Doelenplein, etc. although usually mostly suitable for drinks, not necessarily food.
Some of the restaurants also have a terrace boat on the canal, pretty cool right? The earlier mentioned Seven Hills offers private boat rides with food and drinks. If you are in the mood for Asian food, check out the restaurants at the Vrouwjuttenland and Voldersgracht such as De Parel van Flores.
How to get to Delft
Flying in? To Delft, Rotterdam airport (RTM) is the closest (RTM, 20 min by bus), followed by Amsterdam Schiphol airport (AMS, 37 min by train).
It is easy to travel by public transport to Delft. Simply grab the train from The Hague, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, etc. Check 9292 website or app or Google Maps for door-to-door directions. From Delft train station you easily walk to the center of Delft (Town Hall) within 5-10 min.
If you decide to visit Delft by car, you can easily park at one of the paid and secured parking garages, such as the Prinsenhof Garage (Kampveldweg 3) or the Phoenix Garage (Phoenixstraat 29), both EUR 3 per hour. Or, if you dare, park for free at Grando Keukens (Schieweg 3), which parking lot is officially only for customers, but no-one seems to pay attention… It is only a short 5 min walk to the Royal Delft factory.
In Delft you can also make a round trip by boat through the canals. Another cool way to get around Delft is by horse and carriage. Normally I am not a big fan of this as in many countries the horses are not treated well, but that’s a totally different situation with the respectable Stalhouderij Delftse Hout. Different kind of themed tours are offered by horse and carriage; from beer tour to cultural tour to kids’ party.
What does it cost
Obviously this is quite personal and really depends on what you will do, how long you will stay etc. This is just an example of what you could spend on a day trip to Delft (including tips).
- Lunch EUR 17
- Dinner EUR 29
- Tea with cake EUR 6
- Ticket Royal Blue EUR 13
- Ticket Museum PTvE EUR 7.50
- Souvenir magnet Delft Blue EUR 5
- Parking EUR 0
- Fun priceless
Where to stay in Delft
Whether you are with a friend, family or loved one, Delft is a perfect city for a weekend away. A day trip is too short to enjoy all the wonderful things this pretty city has to offer. There is a wide variety of accommodation in Delft to choose from, but if I may suggest two places I would recommend staying at:
Both are located in the center of Delft, with friendly staff, great atmosphere, comfy beds, delicious breakfast, a reasonable price and excellent reviews.
This mobile friendly map includes most things mentioned in this article and more! It is smartphone friendly; you can use it easily via Google Maps. Click on the top left icon to open the menu. To customize the map to your interests, simply (un)select categories. Via Google Drive you can copy it to your folder of My Google Maps.
When to go
When we visited Delft in July, it rained most of the time, bad luck! It was a bit of a pity, since we visited Delft as a day trip. We kept saying to each other: this city looks already great, imagine how pretty Delft is on a sunny day! Should you visit Delft as a multi-day city trip, it is not a problem if it rains for some parts of the day as there are plenty of indoor museums and restaurants that form a great hideaway from the rain outside.
But yeah, the city will be at its prettiest on a sunny day, although it will be busier too then. I guess every advantage has its disadvantage too! Late spring (May and June) are usually the best, but it’s hard to predict and every season has it’s charm!
This city reminded a bit of Alkmaar, with those canals, houses, squares, churches, etc. from a similar age yet Delft definitely has its very own unique charm and elegance.
Have you ever been to Delft or got plans to go? What’s your favorite city in The Netherlands? Share your story or questions you may have in a comment below. I hope this article was helpful for you.
This time I visited Delft with my friend and travel addict Elizabeth, who I recently interviewed about her life before, during and after the Corona crisis.
Read more articles about The Netherlands in the Netherlands Blog Archives.
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