Delft is one of the unique cities in The Netherlands that are worth a visit. Planning your roundtrip through the country, you probably wondering how many days you should spend in Delft.
One day is enough to visit all the highlights in the city. In one day, you can visit Delft’s city highlights like;
- The Old and New Church,
- Vermeer Museum,
- Royal Delft (Renowned Delft Blue Pottery),
- City Hall,
- TU Delft Botanical Gardens,
- Market Square
- Museum Prinsenhof,
- New Central Station.
There’s a lot to do in Delft, and it is great to spend a day exploring the Dutch heritage. The city has a close connection with the Dutch Royal Family. In this article, we will tell you all about the things to do in Delft. How to get around, the best time to visit, and how to easily add Delft to your Dutch itinerary. Let’s find out more about the unique things to do in Delft!
Delft City Highlights (Must visits)
You might look at this list of highlights and think: ‘Wow! That is a lot of things to do in one day!’. And yes, the list is a bit long, but it is easily manageable in one. It is not like you spend hours and hours at one of these highlights. And the best part is, everything is within walking distance!
We will tell you later on how to get around, and also advice a schedule to spend your time in Delft in the most effective and fun way. But first, let us tell you more about the highlights of the city. Here’s a list of the best things to do in Delft!
The Old and New Church
Delft has two churches that play an important role in the development of the city. The old church, one of the oldest churches in The Netherlands. And the New Church, the most famous landmark in Delft.
History of the Old Church in Delft goes back to the early middle ages. Excavations discovered that there was already a church at this place around the year 1050. It was a tiny building and took another 200 years before the church changed into a building with meaning for the community.
Delft received official city rights in the year 1246, and around that time, they decided to expand the church. The people built a new choir and two new aisles.
Tower of the Old Church
While the city kept growing, there was also a need to expand the church. The old church didn’t have a (bell)tower, as was typical for that time. So it was decided to build a tower. And there’s an interesting story to it.
The problem was that there was not enough space to built it. The church was directly next to a canal, which we know now as Oude Delft. The inventive people decided to divert the canal, so they would create enough space to build the church tower.
They didn’t anticipate the influence of the old canal. The soil was still wet, maybe a form of quicksand, and thus not strong enough to hold the heavy stones they used to build the tower. During the building process, the tower started to shift, almost tipping over. Luckily, the builders managed to stabilize the tower. They built on, creating a church tower of 75 meters high, but with an offset of almost 2 meters!
After hundreds of years, the tower is still standing, and luckily it is completely stabilized to modern-day standards. So you don’t need to worry it will fall 😉
The New Church
As the most famous landmark in Delft, you would expect such an exciting story as the old church. And the story of the New Church is unique. The construction of the church started a few years after the people finished the tower of the old church. In 1393 they began to build to the first stone church. The church design is in a cross shape, referring to the Christian cross. It took over 300 years to finish the construction work!
The New Church is an architectural masterpiece. Everywhere you look, you’ll see something different in the construction work. By coincidence, Willem of Orange, the first leader of the independent Netherlands as we know it now, was buried in the new church. You can visit his mausoleum inside the church, which is an authentic artwork itself!
Since then, almost every deceased member of the Dutch Royal Family buried in the church. The crypts are not open for the public out of respect for the Royal Family.
The New Church also has a unique tower. And this one is not crooked! 😉 It is actually the second-highest church tower in The Netherlands, reaching a height of 108 meters.
(The highest church tower is, of course, the Dom Tower, located in Utrecht. You can read more about Utrecht this article we wrote about the Dutch cities).
The first construction of the church tower in Delft took until 1496. They placed a symbol of eternity on top of the tower. However, the tower didn’t have eternal life. It was only 40 years later, in 1536, when a massive fire destroyed the tower. After an extensive renovation and rebuilding process, the people thought the tower would stand for eternity, this time without a symbol on top. And for years, it was standing, until a big thunderstorm in the 19th century destroyed a large part of the tower again. Again renovation followed.
This time the tower was renovated by Pierre Cuypers, the renowned Dutch architect who also designed the Amsterdam Central Station and Rijksmuseum. The tower you can visit today is still the work of the latest renovation.
Climbing the tower
When you’re in a reasonable physical condition, it is great to climb the tower. You need to walk the stairs, though. There’s no lift. So, unfortunately, climbing the tower is not suitable for disabled people. The tower stairs are 367 steps and bring you to a height of 85 meters. You can’t reach the top because the last 23 meters are the tower’s spire, where you can’t walk.
We recommend climbing the tower if you’re able to. You’ll have a splendid view of the city and its surroundings!
Johannes Vermeer, the renowned Dutch painter, lived his complete life in Delft. Born in 1632 and died in 1675 at the young age of 43. He lived during the heydays of the Dutch Golden Age but didn’t benefit from the Dutch rich economy at that time. He probably lived a mediocre life and was not very successful during his life. The most popular book of that time, describing the artists of the golden age, written by the famous painter Arnold Houbraken, didn’t even mention Johannes Vermeer.
It took almost 200 years after his death before he gets any recognition. Since then, he’s known as one of the best painters of the Dutch Golden Age, and often named in the same breath with Rembrandt and Frans Hals.
The most famous painting of Vermeer is the painting of The Girl with the Pearl Earring. Which is on display in Mauritshuis The Hague (Read more in our article about great things to do in The Hague).
Vermeer Centre in Delft is a museum dedicated to the life and work of Johannes Vermeer. In the museum, you can see the reproductions of all his paintings and learn more about the person. It is recommended to visit the museum and taking a free guided tour, where the people explain Vermeer’s story more in-depth.
Royal Delft (Renowned Delft Blue Pottery)
You probably know the typical Dutch Blue and White Pottery. It is Delft Blue, inspired by the original Chinese porcelain art. Delft Blue artwork established in the 17th century after the Dutch Eastern Company imported different Chinese art via the trade routes in Asia. The unique Chinese art, which was also blue paint on a white background, became very popular in The Netherlands.
The Dutch artists tried to remake the art with local materials, and after they succeeded, the industry quickly grew. At a certain point, there were over 30 different porcelain factories in Delft. The Porceleyne Fles, which is the official name of Royal Delft, is the only factory that’s remaining from that time.
The blue artwork was a product of wealth in the 17th and 18th centuries. It was not only trendy among the Dutch citizens, but also overseas people wanted to have unique Dutch artwork.
Every piece of Delft Blue artwork is handmade by the artists. First, they create the outline on the pottery. And later, they fill it in with water-based paint. You can join a painting class yourself if you like to learn how to make Royal Delft paintings. A unique thing to do while visiting Delft!
Across the New Church on the big market square, you’ll find the renaissance style city hall. The building is still the seat of the local government. But it is also one of the most popular venues in the region for wedding ceremonies.
The City Hall dates back to 1618 and is a remarkable building to visit.
TU Delft Botanical Gardens
The Technical University of Delft is a highly respected university worldwide. They attract many students from around the world every year. We understand that you probably not want to visit a university during your trip through The Netherlands. However, the botanical gardens of the university are unique to visit. It’s more like visiting a beautiful city park.
You’ll find the gardens at the outer ring of the city center, close to the eastern gate of the university campus. The gardens are more than 100 years old and around 2.5 hectares. Different segments divide the botanical gardens;
- Tree Garden
- The Middle Garden
- Tree Pavilion
- Technical Plants
Walking around the tree garden, you’ll see over 25 monumental trees from every corner of the world.
The main square in the heart of the city center. At this square, you’ll find The City Hall and The New Church. It is a great central place where you can relax and have a drink or something to eat.
During the summer months, the square is bustling with people enjoying the weather and a lovely vibe. You’ll find many markets and different events throughout the year on the main market square.
Beestenmarkt (Market square)
Next to the main square, you’ll find a much smaller square which is also very popular. Today you’ll find many bars and restaurants at Beestenmarkt. And during the winter months, an ice-skating ring is placed in the middle of the square. However, the square used to be an animal market. Where farmers could trade their animals. Hence the name Beestenmarkt, which means Animal Market in Dutch.
The museum is not your everyday museum. And probably one of the most famous buildings in The Netherlands.
Museum Prinsenhof is located in the former house of Willem of Orange. Also, know as Willem the Silent. He was the leader of the revolt against Spain, which resulted in the independence of The Netherlands. Willem of Orange became the first king of the Netherlands (his official title was Prince of Orange) as we know it today. He is one of the ancestors of the current Dutch Royal Family.
After defeating the Spanish army, the Spanish King ordered the murder of William of Orange. In 1584 Willem of Orange was murdered in this house after surviving several attacks on his life while walking up the stairs to his sleeping room. You can still see the bullet holes of the shooting on the wall.
Today the unique building is a museum, where you can visit different exhibitions of Dutch history and the history of the city of Delft. Permanent exhibitions on display are:
- Willem of Orange You can visit the ‘crime scene’ where William of Orange was murdered, and learn more about the attack.
- Delft Blue masterpieces the best artwork of the renowned Delft Blue pottery are on display.
- Delft Masters, an exhibition about the best Dutch and Delft painters during the Golden Age, you’ll find some beautiful works of Johannes Vermeer.
New Central Station
The central station of Delft is a unique building to visit. From here you can hop on the train to Amsterdam, The Hague or Rotterdam. However, walking along with the station, you feel like walking in a modern architecture museum.
The underground station has a massive station hall, and with its modern design, you don’t have the feeling you’re visiting a medieval city. The ceiling is the most unique part of the building, where you can see an old map of the city displayed uniquely.
Visiting the new station will probably be your first stop in Delft. We recommend traveling with public transport to the city. Which is more convenient, and the city is easy to go around by foot.
How to Get Around Delft
Delft is a relatively small city, so it is easy to get around. It is recommended to get around on foot or rent a bicycle. However, the heart of the city center is best reachable while walking. This way, you can also enjoy the beautiful medieval architecture.
Some places in Delft which are worth a visit are a bit outside the city center. Still within walking distance, but sometimes it is more convenient to use public transport, which can save you a lot of time. Luckily Delft has an excellent public transport network. It’s mainly buses that are connecting all the parts of the city. Also, there are a few trams that are connecting different neighborhoods in Delft with cities as The Hague. And of course the train track, which connects Amsterdam, Leiden, The Hague and Rotterdam with Delft.
Did you know the train track in Delft is part of the oldest train track in The Netherlands? The track was opened in 1839 and reached from Amsterdam to Rotterdam. The train track connects the cities Haarlem, Leiden, The Hague, and Delft.
One Day Itinerary – Time Table
So we told you about the most fun things to do in Delft, but what is the best way to fill your day? We made a schedule that you can easily follow. Of course, you can change it however you like, but it might be useful for you while planning your day in Delft.
We recommend that you arrive in Delft in the morning and staying overnight in the city. This way, you can easily add a visit to Delft when you only stay for a few days in The Netherlands, check out our four-day itinerary for more information.
- 09u30 Arrive at Delft Central Station
Take your time to explore Central Station.
- 10u00 Visit Royal Delft
You can easily walk from the central station to Royal Delft. Walking distance is around 1.5 kilometers (20 minutes). When you don’t feel like walking, you can also take a bus 69 from the station. The bus leaves every 8 minutes.
Or rent a bicycle to go around. You can rent a bike at FietsPlus Delft close to the Delft Station.
- 11u30 Visit Botanical Gardens Technical University
The Botanical Gardens are magnificent to walk around and enjoy the beauty of some unique trees and plants. It is not necessary to use public transport. You can easily reach the botanical gardens as it is within 800 meters from the Royal Delft Factory
- 12u30 Visit Market Square for a Lunch
Walking from the Botanical Gardens to the Market square is also straightforward. The distance is around 1 kilometer. You can also hop on the bus, which leaves every 8 minutes. Find a beautiful place that overlooks the square and enjoy the views and some excellent Dutch food for lunch!
When you rented a bicycle, it is probably a good idea to bring it back, because from here you’ll stay in the city center and everything is within walking distance.
- 13u30 Climb the Tower of New Church
When you have refilled your energy, it is time to get more active. Climbing the church tower with over 300 steps. On top, you’ll have a great view of the city!
- 14u30 Walking to Museum Prinsenhof
Before you go to Museum Prinsenhof, you walk by the City Hall and the Old Church. Both unique buildings to have a look inside. Don’t forget to spot the crooked tower of the old church!
Museum Prinsenhof is unique for a visit. You can enjoy the history of famous Dutch artists. And also learn about the tragic death of William of Orange while visiting the old ‘crime scene.’
- 16u30 Visit Vermeer Centre
The last museum of this day is the Vermeer Centre, where you can learn more about the life of Johannes Vermeer. One of the best Dutch painters ever lived.
- 18u00 Beestenmarkt
After visiting all these museums, it is time for a nice cold beer at one of the bars on Beestenmarkt. Enjoy some drinks and have fun with the local people!
Beestenmarkt & Market Square are both great places to have dinner, as well. You’ll find many different restaurants. Delft is a great city to walk around at night, so after dinner, we recommend exploring the city a bit more. Let the vibe of the city guide you: the beautiful surroundings, and many bars. There’s much to do during the evenings. You might even stumble upon some live music!
Best Places to Stay in Delft
Delft has some fantastic places to stay overnight. You can either stay in a fully serviced hotel or book an apartment in the historical center. Both accommodations are widely available on Booking.com, which is our favorite booking engine regarding hotel bookings.
Use this link to open a new window with search results for Booking.com
When looking for accommodation, we recommend that you read the customer reviews. Our standard is to book a place with recent customer reviews of a 9 or higher. Everything lower we try to avoid. You can also use our recommendations page where we explain how to find the best hotels and accommodations!
Best Time to Visit Delft
Delft is year-round, a great place to visit. However, just like everywhere else in the country, you will probably have the best time between April and September.
Starting in April, the weather in The Netherlands gets better. More sun hours, less rain, and warmer temperatures. Also, some of the best Dutch events are taking place between April and May, which you can also celebrate while visiting Delft.
We wrote an extensive article about The Best Time To Visit The Netherlands, which is an interesting read for you!
A visit to Delft is easy to combine with visiting other parts of The Netherlands. In this part, we tell you more about our recommendations in The Netherlands, including links to related articles which we wrote.
While visiting The Netherlands, we recommend considering that you are planning at least four days staying in the country. When you have more time and want to stay longer, that’s great! You can take your time exploring and go for a full roundtrip of the country.
Interesting Read: Four-day itinerary The Netherlands
When you only have one or two days to stay in The Netherlands, you probably want to stay near Amsterdam. There’s enough to see and do in our capital!
Interesting Read: Things to do in Amsterdam
You can easily combine a visit to Delft with a visit to The Hague. A train ride from Delft to The Hague takes only 10 minutes. Delft is also a great city to combine with some other cities like Rotterdam, Utrecht, Gouda, Dordrecht.