7 things to do in charming Delft (and a Dutch snack you just HAVE TO try)

Ah, how I love my road trip adventures.

They give you the freedom to make detours and visit amazing places you’d otherwise miss out on. Underrated, beautiful cities, small towns and villages. Places that are not overwhelmed by mass tourism. Places with an authentic feel to them. Based on personal experience, those are the places we end up falling in love with – and can’t wait to return to.

This is a guide to one of those places.

Back in May, while road tripping cross-country Netherlands, my boyfriend and I ended up in Delft, a beautiful city in the province of South Holland. And let me tell you why I regret not spending a night there – and why you should add the city  to your itinerary right now!

It’s no secret that the Netherlands is a country spoiled with idyllic scenery and quirky towns.

Delft is one of those places.

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In fact, the city looks like a mini Amsterdam. A little less bicycle traffic, none of that weed-smell, no red light district, no huge crowds of tourists. It’s like an Amsterdam for those who want the same atmosphere, the same aesthetic, but it’s just so much more quiet. Peaceful. Calm.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Amsterdam. But there’s just something about Delft…

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We were on our way from Kinderdijk (and the many windmills) to Hague (the seat of the Dutch parliament), and decided to make a detour and spend a couple of hours exploring Delft – a city I had heard of, but didn’t know much about. Well, besides its pottery production, that is!

Arriving in Delft, my boyfriend and I were blown away by how much the city resembled Amsterdam, and we immediately regretted not booking a night at one of the quaint hotels by the canals. I would have loved to have the opportunity to stay longer and enjoy the calmness, the beauty and everything Delft had to offer.

It ain’t a lot, but at least we got to spend half a day exploring the city!

The time was well spent strolling along the narrow streets and along the canals and photographing everything from every angle.  At one point, we were forced to seek refuge from the sudden rain showers (in a bar). A couple of ice-cold beers, accompanied by some (most likely) very unhealthy but oh-so-delicious snacks, made us forget all about the rain. By the time we left the bar, the sky had cleared up and everything was back to being nothing but perfect.

We finished our little Delft-adventure by checking out the local flea market and admiring all the arts and crafts displayed.

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This was enough to convince me that Delft should totally be on everybody’s bucket list.

I didn’t get enough time to see everything, but perhaps you will.

In that case, may this list be enough to convince you?

Here are 7 things to do in Delft (and the snack you just have to try)

  1. Eat and drink Dutch. Visit one of the many bars on the Delft Market Square by Neuwe Kerk, or one of the bars along the canals. Order a refreshing pint of white or fruity Wieckse or, if you’re more of an IPA or Stout kinda person, a pint of Jopen . And don’t forget to order a tasty snack to go with your beer. Bitterballen is the snack you never realized you needed in your life, but you totally do. These deep fried little things have a hard, crispy crust and are soft and yummy on the inside. They’re filled with a delicious mixture of minced or chopped meat, beef broth, butter, parsley and seasoning. Dip them in mustard and enjoy! bitterballen
  2. Check out the Thursday farmer’s market. Every Thursday there’s a farmer’s market (between Neuwe Kerk and the City Hall). With around 150 stalls displayed, you will most certainly be able to find some delicious Dutch cheese, freshly baked bread, fish and meat, nuts, ecological fruits and vegetables – and much more. Do they sell Stroopwafel (thin waffles with caramel-like syrup filling)? Or Gouda cheese? Visit the market to find out (and buy some)!
  3. And the flower market (Thursdays and Saturdays). The flower market is located on the Brabantse Turfmarkt, which is a five minute walk from the Market Square (and the Farmer’s market). Thousands of beautiful, colorful flowers are displayed, obviously including the flower the country is known for; the tulip. A smaller version of the market is held every Saturday. Surprise someone you love with a gorgeous bouquet – and don’t forget to take pictures!
  4. And the flea market (also Thursdays and Saturdays)! Are you interested in antiques, art, pottery or used books? Every Thursday and Saturday, from April through October, an amazing flea market takes place in Delft. On Thursdays it’s located along the canal in the street called Hippolytusbuurt, and on Saturdays you’ll find a much bigger flea market (including a book market) along the Voldersgracht, Hippolytusbuurt and Wijnhaven canals. DSC_0942
  5. Visit the Porcelain Museum. Delft is mostly famous for its blue and white pottery, also known as Delftware, Delft Blue or Delft Pottery. To learn more about Delft’s tin-glazed pottery and its long history (dating back to the 16th century), visit the Royal Delft museum (and shop).
  6. See the works of Vermeer. One of the most well known names from the Baroque era, this is the painter who gave us the beautiful “Girl with a Pearl Earring”. Learn more about the artist and see more of his works at the Vermeer Centrum.
  7. Relax and just let life happen. In a city like Delft, it’s perfectly fine to just sit down at a cafe with a good book, or take a stroll along the canals and photograph the scenery. No need to rush from one place to another. No need to make any plans. Just enjoy yourself and let Delft seduce you!delft restaurants

How to get to Delft – by public transportation

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From Amsterdam: Take the direct NS Intercity train, direction Vlissingen, from Amsterdam Centraal.

From Schipol Airport: Take the direct NS Intercity train, direction Dordrecht, from Schipol Airport train station.

From Rotterdam: Take the direct NS Intercity train, direction Duivendrecht, from Rotterdam Centraal.

To purchase train tickets, visit the NS website.

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6 Reasons why you (with or without kids) will enjoy visiting Muiderslot Medieval Castle near Amsterdam

About 15 kilometers southeast of Amsterdam, located along the Vecht river, that’s where you’ll find the beautiful Muiderslot, or Muiden Castle – the best kept medieval castle of Holland.

My man and I made sure to visit this magnificent historical site while road tripping from one Dutch city to another, with a Lonely Planet guidebook in my already very full handbag and my beloved camera around my neck, recharged and ready for action.

We had just left Amsterdam and was on our way to go to Haarlem, but made a little detour to visit what is known to be one of the most picturesque castles in the Netherlands. We obviously didn’t wanna miss out on something as spectacular as this!

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While my man was complaining about the weather not being that great that day (gray and cloudy) my only complaint was regarding my questionable choice of attire. I was wearing a miniskirt – the most inappropriate thing to wear while climbing the steep stairs all the way to the top of each tower. I’m sure my boyfriend enjoyed his view up my skirt, but I’m not sure other people enjoyed it quite as much. And there were lots of kids there. What an eyesore that must have been for those poor children!

We learned a lot of random facts about the castle and the location of it, while wandering around from room to room, tower to tower. Mostly about Count Floris V, the guy who built the castle back in 1280. The count was later kidnapped by Gerard Van Velsen and his comrades, and was later imprisoned in his own castle. When he tried to make his great escape, he was killed by Gerard Van Velsen who stabbed him 20 times. Brutal. Gerard Van Velsen’s wife was raped by Floris V, and this was allegedly the reason for the conflict between the two nobles.

Understandable, if you ask me.

After visiting the castle, we went to see the falconer. We hadn’t actually booked an appointment or anything – which is what you’re supposed to do. We just stumbled upon a bunch of school kids on a field trip and decided to hang around and photograph the birds of prey. I was ecstatic as I absolutely love owls and I’ve never been as close to an owl as I was there. I’ve never felt as happy and jealous at the same time. While the kids got to touch the owl, I couldn’t, as I was just an intruder and not part of the group. Or a child, for that matter.

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At least I’m left with some pretty cool photos. I guess that beats touching an owl once.

Those who know me well, know how much I love medieval architecture and history. The castles from the Medieval Period remind me of those illustrated in fairy tales and Disney movies. From a (sort of) young couple’s point of view, visiting historical sites like the Muiderslot is a great occasion to take photos, educate ourselves – and sneak around and hide behind a wall, or in one of the castle’s towers and kiss our partner. Yes, I find castles romantic. Don’t you?

Speaking of romance, did you know you can book this castle for your wedding?

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Besides photography and romance, let me give you 6 more reasons why you should take a day trip to Muiderslot from Amsterdam or nearby!

  1. You can visit Muiderslot by boat from Amsterdam with the Amsterdam Tourist Ferry! Now doesn’t that sound like a fun way to start your day trip? I sure think so! The ferry operates a daily service except from Mondays, and departs from the marina of Amsterdam IJburg, which is a 15 minute tram ride (nr 26) from Amsterdam Central Station. The ferry has an inside and outside area, toilets, heating and a bar.
  2. Muiderslot is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I don’t know about you, but in my opinion, if something is officially recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization it’s something worth adding to your bucket list.
  3. Get up close and personal with owls and falcons! Visits can be arranged (between April and October) to the falconer in the tent on the Bastion, next to the castle. You get to see the beautiful creatures up close and the falconer will tell you all about falconry in the time of Count Floris V.
  4. Fun and educational for kids! There’s plenty of games and entertainment for children at Muiderslot, as they explore the castle and its towers. You can buy them a small activities booklet from the ticket office, which adds a lot of interest and curiosity. They also get to dress up as knights and play with toy swords in the castle!
  5. Guided tour around the castle. Travel back in time to the 17th century, to the age of the most famous resident of Muiderslot; writer, historian and poet, P.C. Hooft. Visit the rooms used by the occupants of the castle, and learn all about the culture, customs and habits of the Golden Age.
  6. See the Water Shield and visit the historical gardens. I didn’t get around to doing this myself, as we had to make it a quick visit and prioritized seeing the birds over the gardens, but hopefully I’ll one day return and spend some time enjoying them – as well as the water shield pavilion (which is yet another thing your kids will enjoy)

Are you ready to visit Muiderslot? See, told you you’d love it!

Here’s some practical information:

The castle is open to the public all year around, but opening hours depends on the season.

From April 1st to October 31st,  visiting hours are between 10 am to 5 pm from Monday to Friday, and from noon until 5 pm during weekends.

From November 1st to March 31st, the castle is closed to the public during weekdays, and is open from noon until 5 pm during weekends. However, during school holidays from December 23rd until January 7th, you will be able to visit from noon to 5 pm, all week!

Visit the official website of Muiderslot for more information.

(below is the view from one of the towers)

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