The lillied canals and stone footbridges that still line the streets of Delft (pop.95,000) offer the same images that native Johannes Vermeer immortalized in paint over 300 years ago. It’s best to visit on Thursdays and Saturdays, when townspeople flood the marketplace. The town is renowned for Delftware, blue-on-white earthenware developed in the 16th century. Watch Delftware being made from scratch at De Candelaer, Kerkstr. 13a-14, located in the center of town. (Open 9am-6pm.) To see a larger factory, take Tram #1 to Vrijenbanselaan and ei\joy a free demonstration at De Delftse Pauw, Delftweg 133. (Open Apr.-Oct. daily 9am-4:30pm; Nov.-Mar. M-F 9am-4:40pm, Sa-Su llam-lpm.) Built in 1381, the Nieuwe Kerk holds the restored mausoleum of Dutch liberator Willem of Orange. Climb the tower, which holds a 36-bell carillon and offers a magnificent view of old Delft. (Church open Apr.-Oct. M-Sa 9am-6pm; Nov.-Mar. M-F llam-4pm, Sa llam-5pm. €2.50. Tower closes lhr. earlier. €2.) Nusantra Museum, St. Agathapl. 4-5, is post-colonial-ism at its best, housing a small but gorgeous collection of objects from former Dutch colonies. All information is in Dutch, but the friendly staff can answer your questions. (Open Su l-5pm, Tu-Sa 10am-5pm. €3.50.) Founded in 1200, the Oude Kerk has a rich history and a 75m tower that leans 2m out of line. (Open Apr.-Oct. M-Sa 9am-6pm; Nov.-Mar. llam-4pm, Sa llam-5pm. €2.50.)
The easiest way into Delft is the 15min. ride on tram #1 from The Hague (2 strips) to Delft station. Trains also arrive from Amsterdam (lhr. €9). The Tourist Information Point, Hippolytusbuurt 4, near the Stadhuis, has lots of free maps and books rooms for free. ( 215 40 15, phone service €0.30 per minute; www.delft.nl. Open M 10am-4pm, T-F 9am-6pm, Sa 9am-5pm, Su 10am-4pm.) There aren’t any rock-bottom budget accommodations in Delft; your best bet is to sleep in The Hague, which is 8min. away and has much better deals. Delftse Hout Recreation Area has campsites and cabins; take #64 to the end of the line. (213 00 40; www.tours.nldelftsehout. Reception May to mid-Sept. 8:30am-8pm; mid-Sept. to Apr. 9am-6pm. 2-person tent €22.) Restaurants line Volderstraat and Oude Delft.