On a recent visit to Amsterdam for my birthday I decided I’d like to explore a bit more of Holland and go on a day trip. The furthest out of Amsterdam I’d been was a trip to The Hague, aborted because of an accident on the tracks, so we never actually got there. Given my previous experience I didn’t fancy the idea of being on the train for too long, in case we got stuck. I’d read that Delft Holland’s hidden gem is about an hour from Amsterdam central station. Delft Holland’s hidden gem was supposed to be steeped in history and quaint, like a mini version of the capital. It sounded perfect.
Our first challenge, on arrival, was working out the way to the centre of Delft. Thankfully it’s not very big so it didn’t take us too long. I can see why people describe Delft as a smaller version of Amsterdam. There are lots of (much narrower) canals and Delft has a really pretty old town, without the seediness of the Red Light District, although you do get the odd coffee shop. It reminded me a bit of Cambridge as Delft is a Dutch University town. But as Sharps pointed out it did appear to be predominantly full of over 60s.
Delft Holland’s hidden gem is famous for its pottery, perhaps one of the reasons why it attracts an older age bracket of tourist. It is possible to visit a pottery factory in Delft but as it was a bit out of town (and €12 entry fee) we decided we weren’t that fussed about going. Instead we opted for a leisurely lunch.
Most of the cafes and restaurants seemed to have similar menus so we decided on Cafe Zondag (on Vodersgracht 7) as it had a smoked fish salad with avocado dressing on the menu, and great views facing out onto the canal and some of the weird and wonderful vintage market stalls. We weren’t disappointed with by the generous portions and good coffee.
Delft also has a huge vintage market (April-October on Thursdays and Saturdays), full of bric-a-brac and this is what makes Delft Holland’s hidden gem for me. It’s bursting full of weird and wonderful treasures as you can see from my pictures.
I was almost tempted to buy some hand painted plates that were pretty reasonably priced but I didn’t fancy having to (make Sharps) carry them round with us all day. And I loved the eclectic mix of mannequins and madness on some of the stalls.
And I loved the eclectic mix of mannequins and madness on some of the stalls and around the town.
As well as Delft’s vintage market we also came across its main market, a combination of mainly fruit and veg and food stalls along with a few places to buy bags and clothes. Plus, there were of course fresh fish stalls selling all manner of herring.
We made another pitstop near the New Church in Delft, sipping cold beers and drinking in the scenic square. It’s possible to pay and go up the tower to check out the view and your ticket gives you entry into the Old Church too. Delft is also known for its links to the Dutch painter Vermeer, who was born in the city and created some of his finest masterpieces here. The Vermeer Centre gives an insight into the life of the Dutch painter whose works include The Girl With The Pearl Earring.
If you fancy brushing up on your Dutch history (or if it’s raining) you could stop off at the Prinsenhof Museum. It was at this spot that William of Orange was assassinated in 1584, you can still see the two bullet holes in the wall at Prinsenhof. Personally, we preferred to wander along the canals and into the main square to people (and vintage doll) watch.
We even came across a bride on her wedding day at the Eastern Gate, the only remaining city gate, built around 1400 and an example of European Brick Gothic architecture. I’d say a day is more than enough time to discover what makes Delft Holland’s hidden gem and it is a fun day trip. But if you’re thinking of staying longer its location, right between Rotterdam and the Hague, makes it a great alternative as a base to explore the two bigger cities from.