Everyone who’s lactose intolerant, time to check out, I’m afraid. This post is going to be cheesy. Very cheesy.
What would life be without cheese? Well if you ask me, it would be sad and boring. I sometimes believe that, somehow, my cheesy twisted mind got me to move in a country where it knew I would find other people as fond of cheese as I am. Yes, you could say I have an addiction. A very tasty one.
And when it comes to cheese, the Dutch might not be the highest consumers in the World (we French people are undeniably unbeatable at that, unlike football…), but they sure give it the respect it deserves… Am I going too far? Okay.
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 2/3 of their cheese production and are the third-largest cheese exporter in the World. That’s a number three spot to be proud of.
But why stop there? You are bringing cheese to people, why would you not bring people to cheese? Oh wait, the Dutch do that too!
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, of course, why it tastes so great. They even made it a Holland tour, surely that’s some kind of high standard commitment!
You love cheese and you are (planning on) visiting The Netherlands? Today is your lucky day. Here are the 10 best cheese touristic attractions in Holland.
#1 Gouda cheese market
In case you did not know this yet, yes; the cheese was named after a real place! In fact, gouda the cheese owes its name to the fact that it has been traded for centuries in the city of Gouda. Long before becoming one of the most popular cheese in the World and being sold almost everywhere.
If you want a traditional and authentic cheese experience in Holland, the Gouda cheese market has to be it!
Not only is the city very cute, but the market is being held in its most historic and beautiful spot, right in the center 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 (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.
When it comes to Cheese tourism, let’s not forget the main reason why you should visit Gouda: it’s the town were gouda has been invented for cheese sake!
#2 Edam cheese market
Let’s move on to the second tastiest cheese of Holland (wanna debate this in the comments maybe?): Edam cheese.
You will have guessed: Edam cheese originates from Edam the town, and it owes its name to its exportation that has started back in the 14th century (yep, so long). In fact, 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, as for 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 would recommend the Edam cheese market as a stop!
#3 Alkmaar cheese market and cheese museum
In Alkmaar, the cheese market takes place on the Waagplein, since 1593. In fact, the square itself has been extended eight times in the history of the city. The cheese market was that big for the local economy.
Here again, the show prevals on anything else: it goes from bell ringing, to inspecting the cheese by knocking on it, to 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 than the market, this historic building has been bringing cheese to life since 1983 and is the main cheese museum in Holland.
#4 Cheese Factory Volendam
Another attraction with a fancy and intriguing name… Ok not, but the cheese factory is still definitely worth visiting. It is more than just a factory you see, it is also an interactive center that will tell you all about cheese making and will also give you a demonstration.
On top of it, they make their own cheese which you can, of course, taste during the tour. That’s right, I am talking about free cheese!
#5 Amsterdam cheese house, cheese museum and cheese tour
You would rather stay in Amsterdam during your trip? That’s fine: the capital also has a lot for cheese lovers!
The Amsterdam cheese house is located in one of the oldest shopping street 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 of course, but also chocolates and souvenirs (it is one of the busiest street of the city after all).
The Amsterdam cheese museum is located near Anne Frank House so you might want to stop there on your way. It is essentially a shop with an exhibition on cheese, however different than most others as it is about all types of Dutch cheese, including Leerdammer, Maaslander, Maasdam and of course, 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 Tourism: Cheese tours
You care more about eating the damn cheese than looking at pictures and artefacts? Then you should definitely book a cheese tasting tour!
Cheese, wine and beers; sounds like a good day trip, right?! Here again, you don’t even have to leave Amsterdam to enjoy it. And 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 cheese making process, while your stuffing your face up with Gouda, mustard and fancy beer or wine.
Tours like this are available in a lot of locations across the country so it’s always accessible. You know, for one of those Dutch rainy days.