Immortalized by Vermeer in many of his masterpieces, the Dutch city of Delft is just as enchanting as it was in the painter's heyday in the late 17th century. Prosperous, beautiful and full of attractions, it's a fantastic European vacation destination.
Delft was one of the Netherlands' richest cities for hundreds of years, and it has a wealth of magnificent architecture. Highlights include the Oude Kerk and the Prinsenhof, which also houses an excellent museum.
Along with the historical exhibits in the Prinsenhof, visitors can see beautiful Delftware pottery at the Lambert van Meerten Museum and there are plenty of enjoyable exhibits at Science Centre Delft as well.
Delft is famous for its delicate blue and white tin-glazed pottery, and you can purchase gorgeous examples at stores like Delftse Pauw.
One of the greats of world painting, Vermeer's home is now a wonderful museum (The Vermeer Centrum), while a guided tour route snakes its way around sites associated with his major works.
Like Amsterdam, Delft is criss-crossed by canals. There's nothing quite like taking a guided cruise along the major routes, while water taxis are also a great - and enjoyable - way to get around.
Summer is a good time to visit, as Delft hosts its Jazz Festival (in August) and Chamber Music Festival (July and August). However, spring and fall are magical times to arrive as well, with mild weather and smaller crowds.
Most visitors choose to fly into Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. From there, you can catch a train (but you'll need to change at Leiden). The journey takes 45 minutes and costs EUR9.50. Taxis will cost around EUR60.
Delft is connected to Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Den Haag by regular trains. Be sure to alight at the central Delft station, not Delft Zuit if you are heading to hotels in the center.
Take the A13 from Rotterdam or the A4 southbound from Amsterdam and you'll be in Delft in no time.
Becker Reisen and Megabus both provide bus connections from Amsterdam to Delft and there are local buses from Rotterdam. Most stop just behind the central train station.
Excellent hotels in Delft include the Best Western Museumhotels Delft, which, as its name suggests, is handy for the main museums. There is also the central and modern Hampshire Hotel - Delft Centre.
Oude Delft - The core of the city dates back over 1,000 years and includes the stunning Oude Kerk, City Hall and the Vermeer Centrum.
Delftse Hout - More of a massive park than a neighborhood, Delftse Hout features campsites, the charming Arboretum Heempark and is a great place to relax.
Zuidwal - Just south of the old center, Zuidwal runs alongside the Delftse Schie canal. Local bars and restaurants like Huszar and Moodz are some of the best in town.
Buses aren't a major form of transport in Delft itself, but there is a public bicycle hire scheme (you'll need a EUR50 deposit before you can ride away). The Canal Hopper water taxi service also takes tourists around the inner city canals, with prices starting at EUR7.50 (coffee included).
Expect taxis in Delft to charge around EUR3 per mile.
Much of central Delft is pedestrianized, but a car can come in handy to get from Rotterdam to the city. Local outlets include Bo-Rent and Sixt, and you can find daily rates of EUR20.
Central Delft (north of Zuidwal) has plenty of stores. Try Brabantse Turfmarkt or Oude Langendijk if you want to shop for jewelry, clothes or shoes. High-quality ceramics showrooms include Heinen Delfts Blauw and Delft Pottery De Delftse Pauw.
Local supermarkets include Jumbo and Spar, where 12 eggs will cost about EUR2.20.
Superb local eateries include the seafood-oriented Brasserie 't Crabbetje, the laid-back canalside cafe Stads-Koffyhuis and the popular Italian restaurant La Fontanella. Meals should come to around EUR20-25 per head.