The city of Delft is a wonderful historic place, rich in art and culture, located right at the edge of The Hague, political capital of The Netherlands.
Delft is the place where William of Orange died (more on that below!)
With so much art and history here, there are so many wonderful things to do in Delft.
Essential Things to Do in Delft
Delft is the resting place of both William of Orange and legendary Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer.
It is most famously the home of Delftware and the Delft Blue style of blue and white pottery. One single manufacturer remains in the city.
That aside, the architecture, coffee, and food culture of Delft is all also outstanding. Here are the essential things to do in Delft.
Given the compact size of the city, all of this can be done in a single day in Delft.
Vermeer Centrum Delft
Johannes Vermeer was one of the most celebrated and accomplished Dutch artists of all time. He was a baroque painter who did things with light that few could ever match.
Most famous for his Girl With the Pearl Earring portrait, Vermeer excelled at depicting interior scenes that capture ordinary life, speaking to the beauty and complexity of simple moments.
Having both lived and died in Delft, the city is home to a place called the Vermeer Centrum.
The Vermeer Centrum is a museum dedicated to Vermeer’s art, life, and the art that he went on to inspire.
There are no original pieces here; most of Vermeer’s art is shared between galleries in The Hague and Amsterdam. The Vermeer Centrum is a museum, not a gallery.
That said, it remains one of the essential things to do in Delft. Here, you will learn about how his work evolved over time, how he played with light, and even the hidden messages in his work.
A tour of the museum culminates in a celebration of modern art inspired by Vermeer’s works and techniques. It is smart and beautiful.
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Located a short walk south from the city centre, right beside the Delft University of Technology, is the last remaining manufacturer of Delft Blue pottery: Royal Delft.
Approaching its 400th birthday, Royal Delft is a living, breathing legacy of Dutch art and tradition.
The earthenware pottery of Delft Blue is legendary across the world, and here at Royal Delft you can see it being designed and produced first-hand.
You’ll also learn about its origins, which can be traced back to Ancient China and the trade between there and Western Europe.
There is so much skill, tradition, technique, design, and history, to learn on a visit to Royal Delft. It’s a beautiful space with so much to teach every visitor.
And, of course, there is original Delft Blue pottery for sale if you want to take some home with you.
Of all the amazing things to do in Delft, a visit to Royal Delft is absolutely essential!
Museum Prinsenhof Delft
This building has an incredible history. Original built to be the Saint Agatha monastery, it was the last home of William of Orange, and the place where he was shot and killed.
Eventually, the building became the Museum Prinsenhof (Prince’s Court), and it now exists as a museum dedicated to the history of The Netherlands.
Here, we follow the life and achievements of William of Orange, and see the creation of the Dutch Republic.
What better place than this to explore the nation’s history? The bullet holes even remain in the walls where William died.
For fans of Dutch art and history, the Museum Prinsenhof is one of the absolute essential things to do in Delft.
Art Super Delft
A visit to Art Super Delft (Kunstsuper Delft) is one of the lesser-known things to do in Delft.
This unique art space is a gallery in which local contemporary art from artists of the city can exhibit their art.
You’ll find everything from paintings and pottery to jewellery and knitwear. The coolest thing about it is that every single piece of art at Art Super Delft is for sale!
You can wander the gallery and admire the beauty and skill on display; the vision and creativity of local artists. And, if any of it takes your fancy, you can buy it!
This is such an exciting space to really celebrate contemporary art of every type.
While Delft is full of gift shops that sell merchandise inspired by classical art, one of the more unique things to do in Delft is to pick up an original piece from the Art Super!
Every city in The Netherlands — from The Hague to Rotterdam — has its own beautiful stadhuis (city hall), but the Stadhuis Delft stands above the rest in terms of its beauty.
At the heart of Delft is a market square that stands between the Stadhuis Delft and the Nieuwe Church, making for one of the most stunning city centres in Europe.
The Stadhuis Delft is a renaissance era building, built between 1618 and 1620, but it features a far older belfry tower that survived the burning of the previous city hall.
This belfry tower is a piece of mediaeval gothic architecture that dates back to 1300.
The contrast between this belfry tower and the renaissance architecture of the rest of the Stadhuis Delft makes for a very dramatic sight.
This is a really stellar place to simply stand and admire, especially as you browse the modern market of the town square.
Simply taking a step back and taking in the architectural splendour of this building is one of the best things to do in Delft.
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The Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) sits across the market square from the Stadhuis Delft.
It’s a splendid piece of gothic architecture that was constructed over a hundred years through the 15th Century. It is also exceptionally tall!
Aside from being a powerful and dominating piece of mediaeval gothic architecture, the Nieuwe Kerk is also the resting place of William of Orange.
Otherwise known as William the Silent, William of Orange led the Dutch revolt against the Spanish Habsburgs in the 16th Century, eventually leading to Dutch independence.
Celebrated as the founding father of The Netherlands, William of Orange is entombed in the Delft Nieuwe Kerk.
The Blue Heart of Delft
The Blue Heart of Delft is the city’s most unique piece of public art. While Delft has many statues to admire, seeing the Blue Heart is one of the essential things to do in Delft.
This beautiful sculpture, which stands very close to the Nieuwe Church, is a glistening piece of modern artwork that every visitor to Delft should get a few photos with.
It’s a piece of art that really celebrates the city’s love for its own art history, its pottery and paintings and unique artistic expression. A gorgeous bit of public art for all to enjoy.
Museum Paul Tétar van Elven
Compared to Escher, Vermeer, and van der Neer, Paul Tetar van Elven is a slightly less famous Dutch artist, but his home is absolutely worth visiting.
After he died, his home (by his own request) was turned into a museum, and not only to his own works but to the things he collected.
Paul Tetar van Elven was an avid collector of pottery, including Delft Blue but also earthenware from East Asia.
You’ll learn about his own art here, while also admiring his collections of pottery, art, and antiques.
For fans of 19th Century art and Dutch antiques, the Museum Paul Tetar van Elven is one of the best things to do in Delft.
Here’s one of the more niche and unique things to do in Delft — definitely not for everyone but, if you’re a fan of toys and games, you need to visit Speldorado.
Very simply, Speldorado is an expansive shop dedicated to toys, board games, and Lego! A wonderland for kids of all ages!
If you’re a board game collector, there will be something here to add to your collection. And if you love toys (as we do), you’ll be in heaven exploring Speldorado.
This is one of the most unique and charming spaces in Delft, and absolutely worth a visit for kids, nerds, and people who love to be happy.
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The Real Greek
After an afternoon of galleries, museums, and taking in the gorgeous architecture of Delft, nothing satisfies like good Greek food.
The Real Greek is located in the town centre, just behind the Stadhuis, and its staff are the friendliest people you’ll ever meet.
This is such a great place to relax and enjoy a good meal at the end of a long day.
Delft has a lot of excellent restaurants, from Japanese to Spanish, but this one comes out on top when it comes to pure satisfaction for tired tourists.
The food culture of Delft is pretty great, and exploring the food scene is one of the best things to do in Delft, but you’ll be hard-pressed to beat The Real Greek.