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

delft map

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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Cool stuff in the Netherlands: Visit the Alkmaar Cheese Market!

I don’t know about you, but I love cheese. I actually love it so much that I’m sure it’s the main reason why I have my love handles and enormous thighs. Because, not a single day goes by without me eating some kind of cheese at some point of the day.

Last week, my partner and I went road tripping through the Netherlands – and ate A LOT of Dutch Gouda, every single day. We claimed we did it to be cultural, but let’s face it, we’re two fatties who just love everything food-related (and especially cheese).

Being someone who loves to try local specialties when I travel, I am always interested in learning about the traditions, the food culture and participate on local culinary events and celebrations wherever I go. So before going to the Netherlands, we wanted to make sure we wouldn’t miss any kind of event related to Dutch cheese. Because..cheese.

Which is how we ended up visiting Alkmaar for the weekly Alkmaar Cheese Market!

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Uhm.. What exactly is this Cheese Market?

The Cheese Market is the main attraction in town!

From April until the end of September, you can watch the art of cheese trading, according to a tradition which dates back to 1365.

The cheese would be delivered early in the morning, the cheese market masters and traders would then check to see whether the cheeses had been well stacked, and then lots of cheese – something like 30 000 kilos (2200 cheese wheels) would be lined up and ready for purchase.

…And you’ll get to watch all of this at the market!

The most fun part of the cheese market is watching the kaasdragers (cheese porters) identified by their differently colored straw hats, carry the farmers’ cheese on barrows and take them to the weighing house.

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Alright! What else is there to do at the market?

Taste cheese, buy cheese, eat cheese, eat stuff that isn’t cheese, drink beer at one of the nearby terrace bars, buy souvenirs from the artisan market behind the cheese market – or visit the cheese museum. After all this is THE cheese town!

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The Cheese Market sounds awesome! When can I visit?

The Cheese Market takes place from 10 am until 1 pm – every Friday (from March 31st until September 29th). This year there is also an evening market on certain Tuesdays (visit Kaasmarkt.nl for more information)

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I don’t know Alkmaar…How do I get there?

If you’re taking your car, I advise you to park it a bit outside of the main center, or in a parking garage. Street parking can be a bit tricky on busy days like these!

If you’re traveling from Amsterdam by train, there’s a direct connection to Alkmaar from the Amsterdam Central Station (trains depart four times pr hour).

If you’re traveling from Den Helder, Hoorn or Haarlem, there’s also a direct connection to Alkmaar and trains depart twice pr hour.

Shopping for souvenirs?

Pick up a Dutch handmade household item from “the old-fashioned shop”!

BOOM (since 1835) is a family-run traditional shop in the old historic quarter of Alkmaar. For nearly 200 years, this family business has been selling handmade Dutch items including traditional wooden clogs, brushes and ropes in Alkmaar – the cheese capital of the world!

The shop is museum-like and presents timeless Dutch products and good old-fashioned personal service. Loved by locals and tourists alike, this little gem is easy to recognize by its big yellow clog/wooden shoe next to the entrance!

For more information, check out Ouderwetsewinkel.com

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just me being cheesy (oh no, I didn’t just pull that joke, did I?)

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