Spending One Day in Delft
Most visitors stay in Amsterdam. For good reason, of course. And when they do venture out, Delft is usually not the first thing on their mind. Don't let this be you.
It's so easy to get to Delft, it's just an hour away from Amsterdam and so close to Rotterdam and The Hague. Let us tell you why Delft should be on your next trip itinerary as well.
Delft is hidden between its two larger neighbors; The Hague and Rotterdam (either city is just 10 minutes from Delft). Even the Dutch themselves somehow seem to forget about Delft.
What makes Delft such a great place to visit?
Delft is a picture-perfect city. It's like a miniature Amsterdam but then more idyllic. The thing that we LOVE about Delft is its size. You can walk across the historic city center of Delft in just 25 minutes flat.
Picture opportunities everywhere in Delft
In theory that is, because around every corner, in every alley, in every small street, there are a million different picture opportunities. With its many facades, buildings, cobbled streets, and charming cafes and restaurants. There is no way you'll cross this city in just 25 minutes.
And to add to all this, Delft is home to one of the largest universities in the country. It's a real student town and because of that Delft is full of life.
If the sun is out, so are the people. Outside terraces and patios pop-up everywhere. Even boat decks will be changed into terraces with chairs and tables. Friends catching up over a beer, girlfriends chatting with a good glass of wine, and kids playing in the streets. And when the sun is not cooperative, the Dutch know how to make it "gezellig" (translates roughly as "cozy") indoors.
The best way to see this city is to get lost
The best way to see Delft is to allow yourself to get lost a little bit. You still see all the sights, you'll never be truly lost. It's too small for that. However, it will force you to go a lot slower than you might have anticipated, and you'll see more because of it. If only because you're not staring at a map.
Delft is the type of town you'll instantly love and have this, "I could live here" feeling. Then add the fact Delft is SO easy to reach and to explore, there is no excuse not to visit 🙂
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Delft is the city Johannes Vermeer (Girl with a Pearl Earring - now visible in the Mauritshuis in The Hague) once called his hometown. And without doubt, he got inspired by this city. If you like his paintings, you'll instantly like Delft.
The well-preserved streets of this old city will transport you back in time without any trouble at all.
10 things to do in Delft for a perfect day:
You can easily spend a full day in Delft. But if you're short on time, you can see a lot in just a few hours.
You can use the itinerary below with ten things to do in Delft as a starting point for your own "one day in Delft" itinerary.
Don't let it limit you though, in any way. If you like to enjoy all the different little streets, then give yourself permission to do so or wander from shop to shop. Nobody will blame you for doing so.
Here is at least a free self-guided Delft Walking Tour to get you started. It will let you discover the city's most famous sights:
Our favorite 10 things to do in Delft:
Table of content:
1. Delft Railway Station Ceiling:
To begin your self-guided Delft walking tour, you don't have to go far for your first "must-see" sight. It's right there when you arrive at the Delft Railway Station.
Recently the new station has opened. The station is now underground, and it's for sure an eye-catcher — all you have to do is lookup. The ceiling is stunning and showcases a large map of the city of Delft from the middle ages. We love it!
2. Delft Canals and it's Canal Houses:
When you leave the station, you instantly know you're in Holland. There is a working windmill in view on the left, and trams stop right in front of you. You only have to walk 2 minutes before the classic picture with the canal, and the tilted tower will reveal itself to you.
Getting to the canals of Delft from the station is straightforward. Just cross the street, pass through a small alleyway called the "Poppesteeg," and there you have it: the "Oude Delft."
Take in this beautiful canal, and the Delft canal houses alongside it. When we cross this alleyway, we always feel somehow a little bit different. Like we leave all worries behind, and we enter a different world.
The best way not to lose time while finding the "Poppesteeg" alleyway for example is to have an affordable data bundle for Europe on your phone. That way you're able to use Google Maps on the go. Read our post about the best SIM card for Europe here to find the best deals!
3. Have a break at the Stads-Koffyhuis:
As one of Delft's oldest and most beautiful canals, the "Oude Delft" is a perfect place for a break. We know you just arrived. But who else does?
The "Stads-Koffyhuis" is just the perfect place to do so. Make a left on the "Oude Delft" and follow the canal. You'll recognize it's blue facade very quickly.
For generations, locals have come to this old-style cafe. It's perfect for taking in the view, have a chat, or read the newspaper. A local specialty to try is a cake called "Delftse Donder." They are also famous for their sandwiches at lunch time.
Famous does mean this cafe is popular. At lunch time it can be difficult to find a table. Our advice is to go in for an early lunch at 11:30/noon when it's not as busy.
PS you can even have a Dutch pancake here, so why not try one! My (Gerjo) favorite is "Kaas en Spek met stroop en poedersuiker" It's a cheese and bacon pancake with syrup and powdered sugar. The combo may sound odd, but I think it's the best 🙂 Herman doesn't agree. His favorite is apple with cinnamon.
Oude Delft 133, Delft. stads-koffyhuis.nl
(This recommendation is unsolicited - We’ve never received a discount or compensation from Stads-Koffyhuis.)
4. Delft Boat Tour:
Next up is a boat tour on the canals of Delft. The city is beautiful from the water. Seeing something from the water always gives a unique angle. It's no different in Delft. And thankfully, it's so easy to hop on a canal tour. We always find this a welcome break from a lot of walking :-).
Boats usually depart about hourly and take about 45-50 minutes. Look at their webite for prices and rondvaartdelft.nl.
Boats depart in season only (April-October). Koornmarkt 113, Delft.
(This recommendation is unsolicited - We’ve never received a discount or compensation from Rondvaart Delft.)
5. A quick lunch at the Stadsbakkerij de Diamanten Ring:
Before exploring the rest of Delft, why not enjoy a sandwich (and get a snack for later) at the Stadsbakkerij de Diamanten Ring, it's the oldest bakery in Delft. Did you know this bakery is in business since 1789! The interior feels old fashion, but in a good way, it's pretty. The store is not large, still, they have an incredible selection for you, and it changes throughout the day.
What to get here? Oh, difficult to say. We're both just a mess inside a bakery like this because we like it all. If we were in your shoes, we would try a Dutch favorite. Something you don't know what it is yet like a "Mergpijp" (scrumptious). Or a Tompouce (be prepared for some mess). Or just a good old fashioned "krentenbol."
Another great snack and a local specialty from this bakery is a bread called: "Delft Bruggetje." It's a luxurious sweet bread filled with dried apricots, candy pieces, and hazelnuts rolled in cinnamon sugar. They are called Delft Bruggetje (Delft Bridge) because their shape reminds you of the many bridges you'll see spanning over the canals of Delft.
The holidays are a special time at this bakery
If you're lucky enough to be in Delft during the Holiday season (October - December), you're in for a treat.
Their "Pepernoten" (Chewy Gingerbread) win prizes! Get a bag if they have them. Other seasonal items well worth trying are an "Amandel Letter" (Flaky puff pastry filled with almond paste). But to be honest, it's best if you have an oven to heat this.
Or get an "Oliebol" or "Appelflap", which we (the Dutch) eat only officially during New Year, and in secret months before. Oliebollen are fried sweet bread with or without raisins and topped with powdered sugar. Try one, their flavor is difficult to describe but it's so good.
Appelflappen can be soft (beignets) or flaky (turnovers). Both are filled with apple. Yes, we do think about your vitamins too. They have a separate stall outside the store where they sell these treats.
Choorstraat 9, Delft. Stadsbakkerij de Diamanten Ring
(This recommendation is unsolicited - We’ve never received a discount or compensation from Stadsbakkerij de Diamanten Ring. We did receive a tour of the store when we introduced ourselves.)
6. Delft Market Square with the Delft City Hall and the New Church Delft:
After lunch, you can walk to the Market square. Prepare yourself: it's touristy here. We did say Delft is skipped by most visitors. But tour buses make a stop for the Delft market square so here it feels a bit different then in the rest of the city.
All the shops on the square seem to be owned by one (souvenir) company. But this is still a fascinating place. It always takes our breath away. With the Delft Town Hall on one side and the very tall Delft New Church on the other.
The New Church is beautiful inside and is well known in the Netherlands as the place where the Dutch royals are buried. Unfortunately, the royal tombs are not accessible.
Oh, and don't let the name of the "new" church fool you. Building for this church started in 1396, and it was completed in 1496. New is quite relative here!
There are a few different ticket options available. 1. Just visit the church, 2. just climb the tower or 3. a combination ticket for the New and the Old Church including climbing the tower of the New Church. This is the best option if you have time to go see them all. If you just want to go up for the incredible view then get the tower ticket only. Tickets are just a few Euro.
Climbing the tower of the New Church is something we highly recommend. It's the second-highest church tower in the country after the Domtoren in Utrecht. The views are breathtaking.
But we have to share our experience with you, to make sure a climb will be an enjoyable experience for you. Going up the tower is not for everyone.
There is no elevator. It's 376 steps up and the same 376 steps to get down. They tell you at the bottom you should be able to get up there in 12 minutes. We don't know what kind of fitness level you need for an olympic achievement like that, but we don't have it. It took us over 20 minutes to make the climb and we thankfully used all stops in between to catch our breath.
When the church was built over 600 years ago, people were smaller. Meaning it can feel claustrophobic during the climb. But that is personal. We both are not comfortable in small spaces with no windows, and we're tall.
Being on a winding stair with a low ceiling at times is not exactly our idea of a happy place. To add to this, it's two-way traffic on these tiny steps.
Are you about to quite this idea? Please don't! Because with these tips you won't regret going up there.
The first tip; get there early! The church opens at 10 am. Be there at 10 am. When you go up, nobody is coming down! The tour groups usually will not arrive until noon. You'll have a pretty clear run going down as well, making it feel far less claustrophobic. (Don't take run literally. Walk carefully, safety first).
The view at the top is just incredible. It truly is unreal. Delft is beautiful. And from above you can see it all. When we felt uncomfortable during the climb, the idea of the view kept us going.
During the climb, there are three "breakouts." The first one is indoors. Here you have a magnificent view of the tower's bells. And there is a bench to take a break. We, or better I, Gerjo, don't remember which one of these was appreciated more, but it might well have been the bench.
The 2nd level has the first viewing platform outside. The views here are already fantastic. You're now about halfway up the tower. But we promise you going to the 3rd level will be even more rewarding.
Once at the 3rd level, the views are just incredible. The old city hall, the Old Church, the canals, the houses, the cobbled streets, all are far below you and into view like a picture-perfect miniature world.
If you're lucky, you can see for miles on a clear day. The skylines of both the Hague and Rotterdam are easy to recognize.
A final word of caution: both outside areas are entirely open. No safety fences or nets like on the Eiffel tour. Perfect for picture taking. There are no obstacles. Not so perfect if you have a fear of height.
There is a railing up to elbow height. But if you're tall like us, it doesn't feel that heigh. The paths are tiny as well. One person can cross at a time. There is no place to "stand back." Just so you're prepared!
The New Church. Markt 80, Delft
(This recommendation is unsolicited - We’ve never received a discount or compensation from the New Church.)
If you're in Delft on a Thursday or Saturday make sure to visit the Market
If you are in Delft on a Thursday, there will be a fresh market on the Market square. If you are in Delft on a Saturday, then the market is spread out over the city center along the Brabantse Turfmarkt and the Burgwal. Make sure to get a fresh and warm (ask it to be warm) Stroopwafel (caramel waffle).
It's always time for ice cream, especially on the Delft Market Square
If you are at the Market square during a beautiful warm day (or any day really, who are we kidding), one of the best places to get ice cream is at Otelli. They have so many different flavors to choose from; it's impossible to choose. All are good.
If you want to try something new, go for the Dutch flavors. Like Vlaflip (which is a pudding/yogurt dessert in real life but now made into an ice cream flavor). Or Engelse Drop (English licorice, but there is nothing English about it, and not very licorice-like either, but very Dutch and tasty). And there is Speculoos (cookie butter) , Stroopwafel (caramel waffles) and others (ask!).
You probably have to opt for the four scoops option :-). Thankfully scoops are smaller than in the US. Keep that in mind.When we travel to Delft, I (Gerjo), tell myself I'm going to get two scoops. If I chose one scoop, I would feel like I was on a diet. Three or four sounds overindulgent, so two is the compromise (remember I'm Dutch, I compromise - Read more about "the Dutch" here).
But then I enter the shop, and all is lost. Four scoops it is. Or is that just me? Thankfully four scoops are only around €5, including a nice big freshly baked waffle cone. I think it's a bargain for what you get. And in case you wonder. Herman never gains weight. He orders four scoops anyway plus whipped cream without giving it a second thought. He's just amused by my internal battle, knowing the outcome from the startgo.
Otelli. Markt 49, Delft.
(This recommendation is unsolicited - We’ve never received a discount or compensation from Otelli.)
Another excellent choice for ice cream is close by at "De Lelie." If you're lucky, they have "Delftse Donder" ice cream. If you like chocolate, then go for it! You won't regret it. It's chocolate heaven.
(This recommendation is unsolicited - We’ve never received a discount or compensation from De Lelie.)
7. The Delft Old Church and it's tilted tower
You don't need to go to Pisa, Italy to see a tilted tower. Delft has its very own. After a visit to the New Church, you can visit the Old Church with its crooked tower. It's just a few minutes away.
The Old Church is dating from 1246 and is also called in Dutch the "Oude Jan" or the "Scheve Jan," which means the Old Jan or the Crooked Jan. Jan is a common first name in this country. And it's called crooked because, well, it is. You instantly see it from the outside. In 2018 renovation was completed, and the building is now secured.
We can continue to enjoy this magnificent church for a long time to go. Please note you can not climb the tower of the Old church.
Oude Kerk, HH Geestkerkhof 25, Delft
(This recommendation is unsolicited - We’ve never received a discount or compensation from the Old Church.)
8. Delft museums: Museum Prinsenhof and the Vermeer Museum
There are two pretty well-known museums in Delft. The first is the Prinsenhof museum situated in a beautiful monumental building right across the old church. The Prinsenhof museum has a diverse collection of different types of arts, including Delft Blue pottery. Here you'll also learn a lot about the history of Delft.
Sint Agathaplein 1, Delft
(This recommendation is unsolicited - We’ve never received a discount or compensation from the Prinsenhof Museum.)
Vermeer Museum Delft
The other museum is the "Vermeer Centrum Delft" or the Vermeer museum. Here they don't have any real Vermeer paintings. The authentic artworks are scattered around the world. In the Netherlands, you can see a few of them at the Mauritshuis (The Hague) and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.
Why should you visit the Vermeer Center here in Delft when they don't have real paintings?
We still like this museum. We're a fan of his work. And only here you can see 37 high-quality reproductions of ALL his paintings at actual scale, all in one place.
Elsewhere they may be original, but you can only see one or two at the same time. At the Vermeer Museum in Delft, you can see them all. Together with a lot of background information about each painting. You'll also get a glimpse into the life of Johannes Vermeer himself and his work methods.
For just €9, including a free audio tour (or with a live guide, also free, every Sunday at 10:30 am in English), it can be a fascinating museum to visit, even without any real Vermeer paintings.Vermeer Museum Delft Voldersgracht 21, Delft
(This recommendation is unsolicited - We’ve never received a discount or compensation from the Vermeer Centrum.)
9. Visit a real working Delft Porcelain Factory
If you would like to visit a working factory creating Delft Blue, then you are in luck. Because you can, by visiting the Royal Delft factory.
Royal Delft is the last remaining original Delft Blue factory, and it dates back from the 17th century. Here they still manufacture Delft Blue by hand according to a centuries-old tradition. It's beautiful to see this level of detail and hand work. If you like Delft Blue porcelain, we highly recommend a visit for a behind the scenes look. Tours take around 90 minutes.
Royal Delft Porcelain Factory. Rotterdamseweg 196, Delft.
10. Delft's romantic and quiet inner courtyards
One common theme you'll find in many old Dutch (and Belgium) cities are "hofjes." These are groups of small homes built around a garden to create an inner courtyard. The houses themselves are the wall of the courtyard, and usually, they are only accessible by an entrance gate.
These gates are often hidden from the main streets. To make them even more secretive and quiet. The gateway should also provoke the feeling of "Am I allowed to go in here?" All this creates a tranquil and peaceful area amidst the busyness of the city, like a green oasis.
And that is why we love them so much. It's a retreat from the busyness. We said it before, Delft feels to us like entering a different world. Entering a courtyard like this feels like another world within another world. It's so peaceful.
Usually, there is (used to be) a relationship between the inhabitants of these courtyards. For example, single women, members of a church, or a group. More often than not, there was a social aspect to the reason why they were built. In Delft, there are quite a few of them left. And some are open to the public.
The following are accessible to the public:
This is how you find the "Hofje van Almonde": When you enter the Bagijnhof (name of the street) from the Phoenix street, you make a left at the first alley. It's next to number 6 and the streetlight fixed to the house. Enter the gate with the year 1607 above it. And yes, you are allowed to enter.
Money tip #2: the best way not to lose time while finding any of the courtyards above is to have an affordable data bundle for Europe on your phone. That way you're able to use Google Maps on the go. Read our post about the best SIM card for Europe here to find the best deals!
How to get from Delft to Amsterdam by train
Traveling between Delft and Amsterdam by train is straightforward. It's the preferred mode of transport because it's from city center to the city center. You'll have no parking issues, and you'll avoid congestion. The journey is non-stop and takes about 1 hour.
Amsterdam to Delft train times and prices:
There are two trains an hour that travel directly between Amsterdam Central Station and Delft station. There are two more departures if you're willing to transfer once (very easy in Leiden at the opposite side of the platform). Bringing the total to 4 trains an hour. Travel times are the same (direct or with transfer). For extra comfort, we advise a 1st class ticket.
Look at the NS (railways) website for a travel planner and prices.
Download the NS app on your phone. It's available in English and super handy! From planning your train journeys to buying tickets directly in the app (no paper tickets needed).
Schiphol Airport to Delft trains
You can also travel 2x per hour directly between Delft and Schiphol Airport (37 minutes). (4x per hour if you're ok with one transfer). This is the fastest option to get to the airport. We advice a 1st class ticket for this journey for extra comfort.
Delft to Rotterdam and Delft to The Hague trains
Other handy train connections from Delft are direct services between Delft and Rotterdam and Delft and The Hague. It's just around 10 minutes to either city, and there are up to 12 departures an hour. Do not get a 1st class ticket for a journey between Delft and Rotterdam or Delft and the Hague. The trip is too short for that. Before you found a seat, you're there. Buy a standard 2nd class ticket instead.
If you want to travel to other destinations in the Netherlands or Belgium from Delft, use the travel planner in the app!
PS: for tips on things to do in Rotterdam read our blog post about one day in Rotterdam.
Should I take the tram between Delft and The Hague or the train?
You have the option to travel by tram between Delft and The Hague or by train. There are pros and cons to either one of these options. It's up to you what will work best for your scedule:
Nearest Airport to Delft
The nearest airport to Delft is Rotterdam Airport. It's a small airport perfect for trips in Europe. But most travelers will arrive and depart from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, the main airport in the Netherlands.
Travel time to either airport is between 35 and 40 minutes by public transport. To and from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, you can catch a direct train. If you want to travel between Delft and Rotterdam Airport, you can take a train to Rotterdam, and from Rotterdam Central Station you catch bus 33 to the airport.
Where to stay in Delft
The itinerary above is enough to keep yourself busy for one day in Delft. But as we can only imagine, you might want to spend a bit more time in Delft.
If you plan to see The Hague and Rotterdam as well, Delft is a perfect base. After all, both are only 10 minutes away. And both are worth visiting! Like the Peace palace, the beach, and top rated museums in The Hague. Or see the Erasmus bridge and harbor for yourself in Rotterdam.
And how about a visit the windmills of Kinderdijk (A Unesco World Heritage site)? Which is also close to Delft. All perfect reasons to book accommodation in Delft and use this city as your base for the region.
With train connections this good, Delft is a perfect base.
It's much more relaxed when you don't have to move house every day. Plus, waking up every morning in a scene like you are living inside a Johannes Vermeer painting is not a bad bonus either.
Below are three options that we recommend for your stay in Delft and why we like them:
Bookmark the links in this post and save them to a travel planning folder in your browser. When you're ready to book, you have all the links conveniently in one place. Open the link and then click Ctrl+D on a PC or Cmd+D on a Mac or the bookmark symbol on your mobile browser. That's it.
Stay at the Museum hotels Delft
We have to include the museum hotels Delft as our first pick. What makes this hotel so unique is the fact that it consists of 3 different monumental buildings that together make up this hotel. It's right in the middle of the historic city center. When you wake up in the morning, you walk straight into a Vermeer painting. This is hotel can't be more central, right next to the Old Church.
The rooms may not be the most luxurious, but they are all adequate, unique in shape, and decorations. A breakfast buffet is included every morning, and they have to-go cups available for your coffee (free of charge). Oude Delft 189, Delft. Museum hotel Delft.
The Johannes Vermeer hotel Delft
Our second pick is another unique hotel with a story: the Johannes Vermeer Hotel. This characteristic hotel is situated in an old cigar factory in the city center of Delft. Have you ever stayed in a former cigar factory before? We haven't!
The front of the building still has the branding in tact, which looks fantastic. This is not a 13 in a dozen chain hotels. Inside they did an incredible job with the Vermeer theme. From a wall painting of the "Girl with a Pearl Earring" in the lobby to decorating the rooms in typical Dutch style.
The location of this hotel is central. All rooms have air conditioning and free Wi-Fi. The rooms are cozy. The suites are just stunning. And a good breakfast is included. Guests are raving about this hotel on Booking.com. We understand why. Molslaan 18-22, Delft.
Short Stay Apartments Delft:
Another enjoyable option for Delft is to choose to stay in a privately owned apartment. This is a perfect option if you want more of a home when you're traveling. The offering is quite extensive in Delft. Many apartments available are very modern on the inside with all the amenities you would expect.
One of our favorites is the "Apartment Havenstraat." It's very close to the Delft Railway station, which means you are right there in the city center, but it's also a breeze to catch a train for a 10-minute ride to either Rotterdam or The Hague or take the tram.
The interior is light and modern. Guest reviews are raving on Booking.com, especially about the care of the hosts and the fact you'll have a private garden. This apartment offers real value for money compared to other similar apartments. Don't wait to long to book, since they're often booked. Havenstraat 5, Delft.
See all the places we recommend in this post in the Goole map we created below (click on the menu icon (top left) for more details, and the names of all the places we've mentioned:
Did this post about Delft help you?
We hope we made you excited about visiting Delft! If so, then please join the conversation and let us know in the comments at the bottom of this page. We'd love to hear what you think. Have you been to any of these suggestions? Are you planning them for your next trip? We want to know.
Looking for more inspiration just like this post about Delft?
We have written more one day itineraries for Holland. They're well worth a read. Including one around the life of Anne Frank, and one of our most popular posts: Our 5 favorite cafes near Amsterdam Central station.
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