View of Delfshaven. On the left is De Distilleerketel, which processed malt that was used for genever, the traditional liquor of the Netherlands.

More than any other part of Europe, Delfshaven is a humbling reminder of how young the U.S. is. It was from this port that the Pilgrims set sail.

Typical Delfshaven buildings

Back in the 1600’s, a group of disgruntled Puritans left England in search of religious freedom. They ended up in Amsterdam, then Leiden, then here in Delfshaven before setting sail in 1620 to North America. Though they set sail on the Speedwell, the boat sprung a leak in Plymouth, Devon and the group crowded on to their companion ship that they had met up with in Southampton, the Mayflower.


Delfshaven is on the right bank of the river Nieuwe Maas. The harbor was created in the 14th century as part of Delft, which is about 10 km north, to avoid Rotterdam’s tolls.

Historic drawbridge with Pelgrimvaderskerk, where the Pilgrims last worshipped on European soil, in the background

A quiet stretch

Today, Delfshaven is a picturesque neighborhood with canals and renovated warehouses. There’s no shortage of ways to wile away an afternoon – there’s plenty of unique shops and cafés, the Pelgrim brewery and a history museum. If you want to stay here longer, many of the old houses are run as B&Bs.

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