One thing that’s nice about a country as small as The Netherlands is that, when it comes to day trips, most every place you want to visit is easily accessible with a quick train ride. The problem then becomes this: where to go, when almost anything is an option?
During my stay in Amsterdam (see more here, here, here, and here), I knew I wanted to get out and explore a bit more of the country, and many places were high on my list. I settled on The Hague and Delft, but left on the cutting room floor were many others: Leiden, Haarlem, and Rotterdam, to name a few. Not a problem, really, as it’s always good to have plenty of reasons to return to a country as lovely as The Netherlands.
Of those cities I did make it to, I began with The Hague, where I went despite one large problem: the absence of the one piece of art I wanted to see there. I write, of course, of Vermeer’s most famous work, the Girl With the Pearl Earring. Typically found in The Hague, the museum the painting calls home is currently undergoing renovations, and so while I was in The Hague the painting was in…Bologna.
So, I must admit, my visit to The Hague was a bit of a letdown. Still, I was there on a beautiful April afternoon, so just wandering around town was pleasant. I grabbed lunch at one of the open air restaurants lining Plein, the town’s main square. I also wandered through the courtyard of the Binnenhof, home to the Dutch parliament and the Prime Minister’s office, and along Hofvijver, a small lake in the center of town.
After my stop in The Hague, I hopped the train and made the quick 20-minute journey to Delft. My main goal here was shopping-related (a rarity when it comes to my travels, as I hate to shop): I wanted to secure some Delftware as a gift for my mom. As I browsed Delft’s shops, it soon became clear that I had slightly underestimated how costly authentic, handmade Delftware is; I could only afford a small little box. Still, perusing the lovely selections at various Delftware shops was a highlight of my brief time in town.
Other than scoping out the Delftware, my main diversion in Delft was exploring the city’s canals. Delft felt like a miniature version Amsterdam to me; it had all the charm of the larger city, just on a smaller scale.
I must admit that, in my opinion, The Hague and Delft are lovely but somewhat staid towns. However, they make for a super easy day trip from Amsterdam, and while they don’t offer the abundance of cultural and culinary attractions that Amsterdam boasts, they’re nice little places to soak up friendly Dutch charm. I didn’t have my most memorable travel day visiting them, but I definitely had one of the more relaxing, laid-back, and pleasant ones.