Tradition runs deep at Dutch cheese markets, on top of selling world renown cheeses. Discover the most famous cheese markets in the Netherlands at Alkmaar, Edam, Gouda and Woerden.
A visit to a Dutch cheese market is a great day outing from Amsterdam. There are many Dutch cheese markets in places near Amsterdam. Although, the market of Woerden is the only ‘real’ Dutch cheese market. The cheese markets of Alkmaar, Gouda and Edam are more tourist re-enactments.
A visit to a cheese market in the Netherlands is only possible in the summer. All Dutch cheese markets are free to visit and are held in lovely old towns, all worth visiting. Visiting a Dutch cheese market is also a nice thing to do with kids.
Visiting cheese markets in the Netherlands
Traditionally, Dutch cheese farmers brought their cheeses to the market square in town to sell. Special teams (vemen) carry the cheese in barrows because they are more than 160kg. Each team wears different coloured straw hats, depending on the official guild of cheese-carriers. The buyers then taste the cheeses.
If they like the cheese, they start bargaining the price using a ritual handshake or ‘clap the hands’ (handjeklap). They clap the hand of the other and shout out the price. If they agreed on a price, the porters then carry the cheese to the weighing house (de Waag).
Cheese market in Alkmaar
The most famous and classic cheese market is in Alkmaar, North-Holland. The cheese market is every Friday morning. It’s not just a market, but rather a spectacle of carriers hauling cheeses, especially for tourists. The cheese market is surrounded by a fun art and craft market. This is where you can find real Dutch ‘poffertjes’, herring, farm cheese, a clog maker, craft stalls and much more!
Alkmaar cheese market tours
You can soak up the Dutch charm on a visit to the town of Alkmaar, outside Amsterdam. Several companies offers guided tours in Alkmaar. In a two-hour guided tour of the city, you will stroll through the medieval city centre and visit Alkmaar’s famous cheese market, one of the oldest and most traditional in the country. You meet the guide at the train station.
Evening cheese markets in Alkmaar
The cheese market in Alkmaar is also on Tuesday evening from 7pm till 9pm.
Other things to do in Alkmaar
Alkmaar is an old town with more than 1,000 monumental buildings. It’s also great for shopping. You can also visit the local museum ‘Stedelijk Museum Alkmaar’, and learn about the history of Alkmaar. The Cheese Museum is located at the old Weighing House. There is the Beer Museum ‘De Boom’, located in a former brewery dating back to the 17th century where you can try different locally brewed beers. And there is the Beatles Museum.
How to get to Alkmaar cheese market
The cheese market in Alkmaar is easy to reach by taking a direct train from Amsterdam Central Station to Alkmaar (four times a days). The train takes 34 minutes and costs EUR 7.50 (one way).
Cheese market at Woerden
At the small town of Woerden, near Utrecht, the 100-year old cheese market is real. Farmers from surrounding farms bring their cheese to the market where it is sold. The prices determine the national prices of Dutch Farmers Cheese (Boerenkaas). Great cheese!
When to visit Woerden cheese market
In summer, you can see the Woerden Cheese market live in action every Saturday morning. There is a special program that includes tasting and a ‘tableau vivant’ between 11am and noon. There is also a local market with cheese and local produce all day.
Woerden’s Grass Cheese Day and Historical Cheese Market
Recommend is the Grass Cheese Day on 3 June, when the young ‘grass cheese’ is presented. It is a big feast and festival. In August 2018 you can see the Historical Cheese Market. On this day, the cheeses are brought to the market by people in costume with horses and carts. The Woerden cheese song is sung as the market opens under the guidance of the local harmony. After trading, the farmers and traders have a tug-of-war match.
How to get to Woerden cheese market
From Amsterdam Central Station, Woerden is easy to reach by train. The trip takes 40 minutes. From Utrecht it is only 15 minutes by train to Woerden and a ticket costs EUR 3.60.
Cheese market in Gouda
The name of Gouda Cheese comes from the Dutch city of Gouda, located near The Hague. Annually about 300,000 people visit the Gouda cheese market.
Gouda cheese wheels are delivered to and from the market on wagonettes and weighed after the sale in the monumental Gouda Weighing House. This is also a museum where you learn everything about Dutch cheese.
When to visit Gouda cheese market
From 6 April till 31 August, you can visit the Gouda Cheese Market every Thursday morning.
Other things to do in Gouda
Gouda is a larger Dutch city, famous for its cheese, syrup waffles and earthenware. The city is full of picturesque streets. The huge Sint-Janskerk and the Town Hall are monumental buildings worth seeing.
How to get to Gouda
Gouda can be reached by train from Amsterdam Central Station in 53 minutes. A one-way ticket is EUR 11.30.
Cheese market in Edam
Edam lies near Amsterdam and Volendam. Thought Volendam is much more famous for tourism than Edam, Edam is more authentic and nicer. Edam holds historical reenactments of its cheese market every Wednesday morning (till 12.30pm) in July and August. The cheeses are brought to the market by horse-drawn carts and boats.
How to get to Edam cheese market
From Amsterdam Central Station, Edam is only a 30-minute bus ride. Rent a bike and explore this lovely village or just wander by foot exploring the narrow cobbled streets.