Off the beaten track: Delft, Netherlands

A historic city from the Dutch Golden Age
The picturesque city of Delft lies in South Holland, in the Netherlands, approximately midway between the bustling port of Rotterdam and the regal city of The Hague. Step into parts of the city and you enter an historic town unchanged in many ways from its time during the Dutch Golden Age of the 17th century. During this time Delft was one of the richest cities in the Netherlands, largely due to its trading connections with the Dutch East India Company, and an important centre for both art and science.

Cultural visits
This well-preserved city has miles of bicycle paths, walkways and canals. It is an ideal town for exploring by bicycle or foot, and its small scale makes it easy to navigate. Sights not to miss include the Royal Delftware Factory, where visitors can take guided tours, buy gifts and even participate in pottery workshops. Shops in the Market Square also sell pottery, but these vary in quality. Other sights include the gothic Old Church, with its leaning tower, the New Church, containing the mausoleum of William of Orange, and the Prisenhof Municipal Museum, with its superb collection of Dutch artwork. The Vermeer trail takes visitors on a tour of the celebrated Dutch painter’s life, from his baptism to his View of Delft cityscape and the Voldersgracht canal, one of the oldest in the city and the presumed site of his painting The Little Street.

Events in May and June
Delft hosts a number of exciting events throughout the year, and the late spring to summer period is one of the best times to visit the city. From 20th to 26th May 2013 there is a week long celebration of culinary delights, where visitors can enjoy a four course meal over four superb restaurants, with a leisurely sightseeing stroll between courses. Other events include the Delft Fringe, with pop-up theatre performances throughout the city from 16th to 19th May, and the street festival of Mooi Weer Spelen from 1st to 2nd June. City tours, canal tours and guided walks take place on a regular basis throughout spring and summer.

Weather wise, this time of year is ideal. From May onwards, milder springtime temperatures evolve into comfortable summery days. Average highs in May reach 20 degrees C (68F), while June and July reach average highs of around 22 degrees C (72F).

Food and accommodation
Delft has a fantastic array of food shops and cafes, offering treats such as molasses bread, homemade jams, Dutch cheeses and sweet and savoury pancakes. Accommodation in the town ranges from canal-side bed and breakfasts and friendly family run establishments to stylish boutique and luxury hotels. Bed and breakfasts start at around £45 per night, while luxury hotels in the centre can be booked from around £100 per night.