What would life be without cheese? Well, it would be sad and boring. I sometimes believe that, somehow, my cheesy twisted mind got me to move to a country where I knew I would find other people as fond of cheese as I am. 🧀
When it comes to cheese, the Dutch might not be the highest consumers in the World (French people are undeniably unbeatable at that, unlike football), but they sure give it the respect it deserves.
So what do you do when you are a nation of cheese lovers and eaters, and you are particularly proud of yours? You export it, of course.
The Dutch export about two-thirds of their cheese production and are the third-largest cheese exporter globally.
But why stop there? You are bringing cheese to people; why would you not bring people cheese? Cheese markets, museums, shops and other attractions are a huge part of tourism in the Netherlands.
You cannot walk in a touristic street of Amsterdam without bumping into one of those shops where they sell Old Amsterdam cheese. But they take it so much further than that.
They like to tell you every little detail about its history, its production, and why it tastes so great. They even made it a Holland tour; surely that’s some high-standard commitment!
Without further ado, here are six popular cheese tourism spots!
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1. Gouda cheese market
If you did not know this yet, Gouda kaas actually owes its name to a great city in the Netherlands. Here, the cheese was historically traded before becoming one of the most popular cheeses in the World and was sold almost everywhere.
READ MORE | 17 not-so-cheesy things to do in Gouda in 2023
If you want a traditional and authentic cheese experience in the Netherlands, the Gouda cheese market has to be it!
Not only is the city very cute, but the market is held in its most historic and beautiful spot, right in the centre of town.
We’re not talking about a common cheese market either; you will cross a few wagonettes full of cheese on your way there.
While you’re there, don’t forget to visit the Gouda cheese weighing house (De Goudse Waag) as well: you’ll learn everything you need to know about how cheese is weighed and priced. And if you ever wondered how gouda is made, they’ll show you too.
2. Edam cheese market
Let’s move on to the second tastiest cheese of the Netherlands (don’t agree? Save it for the comments): Edam cheese.
Like Gouda kaas, Edam cheese also owes its name to a Dutch town: Edam. Exportation from the cheese’s namesake started back in the 14th century (yep, so long ago).
Its popularity was also due to the sailors who would usually take some Edam cheese on board with them, either to eat it or to trade it for other goods.
The cheese market in Edam is mainly made for tourists, and it’s the same for the Alkmaar one. They won’t insist as much on their authenticity of trading there compared to Gouda.
If you like cheese and enjoy a good show, we recommend the Edam cheese market as a stop!
3. Alkmaar cheese market and cheese museum
The cheese market in Alkmaar has been taking place on the Waagplein since 1593. The square itself was extended eight times in the city’s history — which really goes to show how successful it was for the local economy.
Here again, the cheese show prevails: it goes from bell ringing to inspecting the cheese by knocking on it, as well as bargaining the price by clapping hands.
If you are up for some deep, detailed history of Edammer and Gouda cheese, then the Alkmaar cheese museum was made for you. Located on the same square as the market, this historic building has been bringing cheese to life since 1983 and is the main cheese museum in the Netherlands.
4. Cheese Factory in Volendam
The name is a bit self-explanatory, but this cheese factory is still definitely worth visiting. Why? because it’s more than just a factory you see; it’s also an interactive centre that will tell you all about cheese making with a demonstration.
The best part? You can even taste this delicious cheese! Who would say no to a free cheese sample?
5. Amsterdam cheese company, cheese museum, and cheese tour
Would you rather stay in Amsterdam during your trip? That’s fine: the capital also has a lot to offer for cheese lovers!
The Amsterdam cheese company is located in one of the oldest shopping streets of Amsterdam, housed between a series of restored buildings that haven’t lost any character in the process.
There you will be able to buy cheese, chocolates, and souvenirs (it is one of the city’s busiest streets, after all).
The Amsterdam cheese museum is located near Anne Frank House, so you might want to stop there. It is essentially a shop with an exhibition on cheese, however different from most others.
It’s about all types of Dutch cheese, including Leerdammer, Maaslander, Maasdam, Old Amsterdam, and Gouda.
You can visit the shop and the little museum and purchase every cheese you need — we know your time is precious. Make the most of it in one place!
6. Cheese tours
Do you care more about eating the dang cheese than looking at pictures and artefacts? Then you should book a cheese-tasting tour!
If you do want some information on cheese while enjoying all its flavour, you’re in luck: most of the tours offer a video or some explanations on the cheese-making process while you’re stuffing your face up with Gouda mustard and fancy beer or wine.
Tours like this are available in many locations across the country, so it’s always accessible. You know, for one of those Dutch rainy days.
Have you been to any of these cheesy attractions? Tell us in the comments! 👇
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in July 2016, and was fully updated in August 2023 for your reading pleasure.