Delft is a city that is full of culture, traditions and a network of fantastic canals. Located in the South Holland province, Delft is directly in-between The Hague and Rotterdam, and Zoetermeer is just 15 minutes to the north east. With origins in the 11th century, delft has always had an association with canals and it was developed into a city around the 13th century.
The renowned Dutch leader William of Orange had a residence in Delft and during the 1500’s it was one of the prominent cities in the Netherlands for many years. In modern times, Delft has become well known for its ceramic pottery industry and also has a plethora of historical monuments and stunning architecture such as the city hall and Oostpoort.
Lets explore the best things to do in Delft:
1. Nieuwe Kerk
Translated as the New Church, this wonderful religious structure can be found on the popular and central Markt Square.
Although named the new church, the structure actually dates back to the 1300’s and was completed in 1496. Its main feature is a huge bell tower that stands at a monumental 108.75m high.
Built in a gothic style, the exterior and tower of the church look fantastic and create a real centrepiece for the Markt square opposite the city hall.
Entombed inside the church are a myriad of Dutch royalty including William the Silent and other prices of Orange.
A main attraction of the church is to climb the bell tower for unparalleled views of Delft – From the viewing platform you can see for miles!
2. Koninklijke Porceleyne Fles
This is the last remaining Delft Blue pottery factory from the 17th century.
Here you can see the art of hand-painting earthenware and watch techniques that have been handed down for hundreds of years.
For an insight into this fascinating world, the Royal Delft Experience is recommended.
During this interesting tour you will learn about the history of Delft pottery, the factory and the craft that is used to create the signature blue and white collections.
There is also a museum, a shop, and a delightful tile workshop where you can learn how to paint a Delft design on your very own 13×13 pottery tile!
3. Oude Kerk
While the Nieuwe Kerk is not really new, the Oude Kerk (Old church) is not that much older! Constructed in 1246 around 100 years before the new church, the Oude Kerk has a distinct leaning tower that stands at 75m tall.
The exterior of this church features a combined brick and stone design with many arched stained glass windows, while the main entranced is accessed over a beautiful bridge on one of the cities canals.
Inside this stunning structure there are three ornate pipe organs dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries, a decorative stone floor with many carvings and a series of high vaulted ceilings.
This historical museum features a plethora of information and artefacts relating to the Dutch Golden age, together with information about William the Silent and Delft pottery.
Originally a palace for the prince, the Prinsenhof marks the location that he was actually assassinated in 1584 and the bullet holes are still visible.
Now serving as a museum, inside this fine establishment you can find a collection of paintings, including many works from Vermeer.
Furthermore, there is also a permeant exhibition displaying the impact that the citizens of Delft have had on the country, and a detailed look at the life and assassination of William of Orange.
For a slice of local history and an interesting insight into Dutch political figures, the Prinsenhof is a wonderful place to visit.
5. Delft City Hall
Another fine building located on the fantastic Markt square, the City Hall stands out as a fine piece of architecture.
The front façade of this structure features beautiful stonework, a series of red shuttered windows, many trappings of gold and several impressive stone statues.
Its central tower has a large clock face and the symbol of Delft is proudly displayed above the main entrance.
Although you cannot enter the building as it is used for weddings and ceremonies, it is still a wonderful structure to admire and photograph.
When walking through the Markt square, this building should be high up on your list of sights.
Part of the remaining city defences, the Oostpoort stands proudly as a reminder of the city former military glory during earlier centuries.
Constructed in the 1400’s, this gatehouse was once on of the main entrance points into Delft.
While currently serving as a private residence, you can still admire the fantastic architecture of this building with its two spiral towers and circular turrets.
Accessible by a bridge, the surrounding landscape is simply divine – Canals sit on either side of the gatehouse and it stands out as a beautiful photographic opportunity.
7. Delft canals
As with many cities in the Netherlands, Delft has a network of canals that is a true pleasure to walk around.
In the old town centre you can find several different inter-joining canals that are lined with beautiful trees and typical Dutch architecture.
Particular pleasant canals include the stretch on the Hippoltusbuurt street with its cafes and quaint bridges, and the stretch on Voldersgracht street where the water comes right up to the doorsteps of the houses! Simply take some time to enjoy walking the lengths of the canals and exploring the streets of Delft.
8. Markt square
One of the main squares in Delft, the Markt square hold regular markets and events, contains the fantastic city hall and Nieuwe Kerk buildings and is a fantastic place to see some local culture.
Located in the middle of the old city centre, the Markt square is a great starting point for a walking tour of Delft, and as place to enjoy a meal or a drink.
The City Hall and Nieuwe Kerk are two amazing historical buildings located on the square that shouldn’t be missed, and if you are lucky enough to arrive on a market day, you will be treated to a wide variety of products and themed stalls.
9. Molen de Roos
This windmill is actually the last standing windmill from the many that once stood in Delft.
Created in 1679, this mill was used as a corn mill and was created in stone to replace the old wooden version.
Various restoration works have been carried out on the windmill to ease its crooked tilt and to maintain its quality.
Admire the fine structure of this windmill, and on certain days, take a tour of the structure and see the mill in action.
Just a short walk down the road, there is also an associated shop that sells various delicious baked goods.
10. TU Botanical Garden
Located in the grounds of the Technology University of Delft, the Botanical gardens are simply stunning and for anyone interested in nature, are a real treat.
The university and gardens can be found on the outskirts of the city centre not far from the Oostpoort gatehouse.
Inside the gardens, you can find a colourful and mesmerizing display of tropical and sub-tropical plants, herbs, technical plants used for medical purposes and several greenhouses.
A truly pleasant place to walk through, the Botanical gardens offer a combination of education and natural sight-seeing.
11. Canal boat trip
Due to the large network of canals in Delft city centre, there are plenty of boat trips that you can take.
This is the perfect way to see the city from a different angle and admire the fantastic waterways first hand.
Originally serving as a defence system for the city, the canals are now used for leisure and transportation.
You can find many tour operators who provide boat trips most of which will last for an hour or so.
During these tours a guide will regale you with the history of Delft and give you interesting facts about the canals.
This English Landscape park can be found to the northern edge of Delft, next to the busy A4 road.
Created in the 1930’s, this public park has seen much renovation after World War II and is maintained to a high standard.
In the grounds of this fantastic natural area, you can find several different lakes, many well-manicured lawns and a plethora of hiking and cycling trails.
For a family outing and to get away from the city, Wilhelminapark (named after Queen Wilhelmina no less) offers the perfect opportunity.
Another of the fantastic squares in Delft city centre, the Beestenmarkt offers a quieter alternative to the busy Markt square.
Located next to the Maria van Jessekerk, this square is accessible by foot and is a pleasant place to visit during a sightseeing tour of Delft.
Surrounded by a square of charming quaint buildings, the square is full of tall trees that provide an ample amount of shade.
You can also find a myriad of superb cafes and restaurants to enjoy a quiet coffee or a bite to eat.
14. Day trip to the Hague
When located in such close proximity to this wonderful city, it would be a shame not to visit The Hague.
As the political centre of the Netherlands, this city has a great deal of importance and has played a major role in the countries development for hundreds of years.
If you want to visit the country’s political capital from Delft, there are regular buses and trains, and you can reach the city centre in 15 minutes.
Sights of The Hague include the Madurodam model city, the spectacular Peace Palace, the interesting Mauritshuis museum, and the royal Binnenhof and Ridderzaal court.
15. Cycle tour through midden-delfland
This region of Holland is home to some truly stunning natural landscapes and is the perfect area to enjoy cycling.
An area known as midden-delftland provides a mind-boggling myriad of cycle trails and published routes for the enthusiastic biker.
You can literally spend days traversing through the countryside and enjoying the sights of Delft and the small villages found on the outskirts.
A standard route is the Delft cycle route and encompasses 40km of trails including the city centre.
Bicycles can be hired at the main train station or the Markt square and you can find information about the trails at the tourist information centre.