It’s a beautiful morning in Delft. The sun is shining on the canals, the roses are in bloom, and the sugary scent of stroopwafels fills the streets. I duck down a cobbled alley rich with bicycles and emerge to find a view of quintessential Dutch houses. There’s even a windmill in the distance.
Guide to Delft, Holland
I’ve come to this idyllic part of Holland on a day trip from Rotterdam, where I’m speaking about Instagram at a conference. Delft is less than 15 minutes away by train, so it’s easy to get here and explore (Delft is also an easy day trip from Amsterdam and The Hague).
It’s straightforward to explore once I’m here, too. Delft is a small canal-ringed city and walking is a great way to take it in. A lot of people call this part of Holland a miniature Amsterdam without the tourists, and as I start to wander I find it a good comparison.
Things to Do Delft, Holland
I start my trip to Delft in the Markt, a large square surrounded by historic buildings, a Renaissance-era town hall, and the soaring Nieuwe Kerk church. There’s a lot of heritage here, and a lot of Vermeer. The famous Dutch artist was a son of this city and was baptized in the Nieuwe Kerk in 1632. There are signs up throughout Delft with information about his life and paintings.
I wander around the Markt, ducking into shops full of iconic blue-and-white Delftware pottery, a product that has made Delft famous since the 17th century.
Beyond the Markt, I explore the canals and side streets. I love the corner of Kerkstraat and Vrouwenregt, where a brick house that featured in the film Girl with a Pearl Earring takes on distorted proportions by a bridge arching over the water.
Nearby Voldersgracht is full of cafes and shops, and the houses on the canals around it have me reaching for my camera every few steps.
My day trip to Delft continues at the Oude Kerk, another of the city’s famous churches. Dating back to the 13th century, this stately structure is where Vermeer is buried. It’s also near an archway that leads to the Museum Prinsenhof Delft, where bullet holes in the wall mark the spot where King William of Orange was assassinated in 1584.
Back out along the canals, I take in shop windows stacked high with cheese, meander through leafy squares like Beestenmarkt brimming with cafe tables, and explore lanes like Hopstraat where I can smell roses everywhere.
Eventually I reach the Oostpoort, the remains of Delft’s historic city walls. Twin spires and an arch over the canal are all that’s left of the 15th-century fortifications, but they’re an impressive sight.
From the Oostpoort I wander back to the train station, a brand new building that would be a better fit among Rotterdam’s contemporary architectural feats than Delft’s charming historic ones. But it eases the transition back to where I’m staying. Delft has felt like such a storybook city that I suppose something has to pluck me out of the fairy tale and back into the modern world. I’ll bring the memories of canals and aromas of stroopwafels with me so I know it wasn’t just a dream.
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