Sun. May 19th, 2024

An hour south from the Netherland’s capital city of Amsterdam is Delft, a bustling college town with a historic city center and a fascinating history tied to the Netherland’s royal family. 

Delft’s idyllic old town with its serene canals and old brick buildings was the fodder for one of the Netherland’s most famous painters, Vermeer, who lived and worked here in the 17th century. It’s easy to see what Vermeer found so appealing about the quaint Dutch town — simply wandering around the streets of the old town is one of the main draws of a day trip to Delft.

Another one of Delft’s famous residents, the Netherland’s beloved William of Orange, is buried in an impressive mausoleum within the towering Niewe Kerk at Markt Square in the center of town. The so-called House of Orange has a long history here; the location where William lived in hiding and was ultimately assassinated is now a museum where visitors can learn all about the Royal Family.

During the Dutch Golden Age, Delft was famous for producing a type of pottery inspired by Chinese porcelain called delftware. At its peak in the 18th century, Delft had 35 factories producing the namesake pottery with its characteristic Delft Blue. Eventually, delftware was ousted by British-made porcelain, which led to the closing of nearly all of the factories around town — all except for the Royal Delft Factory, which is still in operation today and is open for tours.

Day Trip to Delft

The best way to reach Delft from Amsterdam is by train, which takes around 1 hour. Delft is situated along the central north-south railway line that connects some of the Netherland’s largest cities — including Haarlem, The Hague, and Rotterdam — which means trains between Amsterdam and Delft are regular and frequent.

The old historic center of town is just a 10 minute walk from the train station. All of the major sights are within the compact old town with the exception of the Royal Delft Factory, which requires either a long walk or taking the shuttle (more on that later).

The Highlights

Delft’s historical highlights include Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) at Markt Square in the city center and its older counterpart Oude Kerk (Old Church). The Museum Prinsenhof and Vermeer Centrum are both located in the center of town. The famous Royal Delft Factory is on the outskirts of town and can be somewhat difficult to reach.

At the end of the post, I’ve also included recommendations for restaurants and bars. Whether its lunch, dinner, or a mid-afternoon drink you’re after, there are plenty of options to choose from.

Markt Square & Nieuwe Kerk (New Church)

At the center of town is Markt Square, an open plaza surrounded by some of the oldest buildings in the city. At one end is the towering Nieuwe Kerk, which translates to New Church. “New” is relative; construction on the church began in 1393 and was completed in 1655.

Many members of the royal family are buried here, the first of which was William of Orange who was assassinated in Delft in 1584. William was actually from Breda, but at the time of his death his home town was under Spanish control, so the decision was made to bury him in Delft instead. Since then, nearly every member of the Dutch Royal Family has been buried here as well. The royal crypt is not open to the public, but William of Orange’s hard-to-miss mausoleum is located in the choir of the church.

TO VISIT: The church is opened every day but Sunday. Visiting hours differ depending on the time of year — check the Nieuwe Kerk/Oude Kerk website for more info. Admission is €5 for adults, €3.50 for students, and €1 for children ages 6-11. Tickets to climb the tower may also be purchased and cost €4 for adults, €2.50 for students, and €2 for children ages 6-11. Combination tickets may also be purchased for a reduced rate.

Nieuwe Kerk (New Church)

Oude Kerk (Old Church)

As the name implies, the Oude Kerk (or Old Church) predates the Nieuwe Kerk — its history extends back to the Middle Ages, but it’s considered to have been officially founded in 1246. While this church doesn’t have any royalty, Delft’s second-most-famous resident, Johannes Vermeer, is buried here. Other notable occupants include two naval heroes, a well-known philanthropist, and the inventor of the microscope.

TO VISIT: The church is opened every day but Sunday. Visiting hours differ depending on the time of year — check the Nieuwe Kerk/Oude Kerk website for more info. Admission is €5 for adults, €3.50 for students, and €1 for children ages 6-11. Combination tickets may also be purchased for a reduced rate. Note: only the tower at the Nieuwe Kerk can be climbed.

The Oude Kerk (Old Church) in Delft

Museum Prinsenhof

The Museum Prinsenhof occupies a former monastery dating back to the Middle Ages. The building was also the temporary home for William of Orange during the Eighty Years’ War with Spain. King Philip II of Spain declared William an outlaw and announced a reward for his assassination, and in 1584 someone succeeded. The bullet holes from where William was assassinated can still be seen at the Prinsenhof.

In 1911 the building was turned in to a museum about William of Orange and the Royal Family and features a number of Dutch Golden Age paintings.

TO VISIT: The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 11:00am to 5:00pm. Hours may differ seasonally or on holidays — check the Museum Prinsenhof website for more information. Admission is €12 for adults, €6 for children ages 13 to 18, and €3 for children ages 4 to 12. Admission is free to Museumkaart holders. Click here to read more about museum passes in the Netherlands.

Royal portrait gallery at the Prinsenhof Centrum Delft

Vermeer Centrum

Vermeer Centrum is dedicated to the famous 17th century painter that lived the majority of his life in Delft. Johannes Vermeer completing most of his paintings in his small 2-room apartment just around the corner from Nieuwe Kerk — a plaque at Burgwal 20 indicates where his house once stood. While there aren’t any originals of Vermeer’s paintings at Vermeer Centrum, the museum does a great job of outlining his work in chronological order so as to give visitors a glimpse into his process, inspiration, and life.

TO VISIT: The museum is open daily from 10:00am – 5:00pm with limited hours on some holidays. Admission to the museum is €9 per adult and €5 for children ages 12-17. Students and Museumkaart holders receive a discount on admission at €7 per person. Click here to read more about museum passes in the Netherlands.

The Vermeer Centre in Delft

MORE OF VERMEER: The location for the buildings pictured in one of Vermeer’s most famous paintings, The Little Street, has long been a mystery. But in 2015, researchers were able to definitively locate the site of Vermeer’s snap shot of daily life in 17th-century Delft, which was actually his aunt’s home. The only identifying element left today is a portal, but if you’re a true Vermeer fan you might like to pay the site a visit — the address is Vlamingstraat 40-42.

Side-by-side comparison of the painting and how the site appears today — Photo by the Rijksmuseum

Royal Delft Factory

At its peak, there were 35 factories producing Delft Blue pottery in the city, but the rise of British-made porcelain eventually led to its decline. The Royal Delft Factory is the only surviving original delftware factory in Delft. A tour of the factory will give you a great overview of the history of delftware. You’ll get to see older pieces in their collection and will get to see first-hand how its made today.

The tour ends, as most do, in the gift shop. The shop is filled with vases, platters, ornaments, and much more, all in the signature Delft Blue of course. The prices for the hand-painted pieces are astronomical (even the smallest dish will cost upwards of €200), but there are some other less expensive factory-produced alternatives as well.

Suggestion: Only those with a real interest in pottery should put the Royal Delft Factory on their itinerary. It’s an interesting place to visit, but if you’re tight on time, your probably better off spending time at Delft’s other museums in the center of town.

TO VISIT: The Royal Delft Factory is open daily from 9:00am to 5:00pm. Hours differ on some holidays and during the off-peak season. Check the Royal Delft website for more information. Admission is €13.50 for adults and €8.50 for students and children ages 13-18. Museumkaart holders receive a reduced rate of €10.50; admission with the Holland Pass is free. Click here to read more about museum passes in the Netherlands.

The Royal Delft Factory is a 30-minute walk from both the train station and old town. You can take public transportation from the train station, but there’s no easy connection between the old town and the factory. There is, however, a shuttle that runs a loop from the Tourist Information Office (VVV) to the Royal Delft Factory. Tickets are €4 for the day and must be purchased from the VVV at Kerkstraat 3.

Painting demonstration at the Royal Delft Factory

Where to Eat & Drink


I had one of the best brunches of my life in Delft at the restaurant Kek. The chai latte and avocado toast were off-the-charts delicious and the interior was beautifully decorated. If you sit at the two window seats as I did, you’ll also have a fantastic view of the Nieuwe Kerk’s tower.

Other highly-rated restaurants include Restaurant The Living for vegetarian, Bij Best for breakfast and lunch, and Le Vieux Jean for dinner. For desert, check out Chocolaterie de Lelie for an assortment of chocolate and other sweets, or grab a piece of pie with your coffee at the cozy and eclectic Koffie & zo.

Brunch at Kek in Delft — Chai Latte and Avocado Toast


As with any college town, there is no shortage of bars. I stopped in to a cozy dive bar called Jazz Café Bebop, which had a jazz performance the night I visited.

This is a college town, after all, so there are plenty of places to grab a drink. Some other great options include Tierney’s Irish Pub (next door to Jazz Café Bebop), Locus Publicus, and De Kat in de Stad for a selection of Dutch beers.



By Lala