Let’s talk cheesy: cheese tourism in the Netherlands

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.

gouda cheese
How could you miss out on such adorable-looking cheese windows like this? Image: Pixabay

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.

READ MORE | Dutch cheese varieties: the comprehensive (and cheesy) guide

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!

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.

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.

picture-of-Gouda-cheese-market
Cheese dealings are no joke. Image: Depositphotos

While you’re there, don’t forget to visit the Gouda cheese weighing house (The 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.

Piles of golden goodness. Image: Pixabay

Like Gouda kaas, Edam cheese also owes its name to the Dutch town, Edam, and to its exportation that started back in the 14th century (yep, so long). 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, same as the Alkmaar one, mainly made for tourists. 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.

People-carrying-cheese-wheels-in-the-alkmaar-cheese-market
It doesn’t get cheesier than this. Image: Depositphotos

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 on 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 house, 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 house 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!

cheese-museum-in-amsterdam
Get your cheese on at the cheese museum in Amsterdam. Image: Donald Trung Quoc Don/Wikimedia Commons/CC4.0

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 September 2022 for your reading pleasure.

Feature Image:Depositphotos

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