A visit to a cheese market is a great idea for an outing from Amsterdam. In Holland (the west of the Netherlands), there are five cheese markets. The cheese market of Edam is nearest to Amsterdam. The market of Woerden is most authentic, as the cheese is still really sold there. The most famous markets are in the bigger cities Alkmaar and Gouda.
A visit to a cheese market in Holland is only possible in summer. All cheese markets are free to visit. All the markets are set in historic towns, really worth the visit. A visit to a cheese market in The Netherlands is also a nice thing to do with kids.
RECOMMENDED READ: Gouda Cheese
Cheese markets in Amsterdam
There are no cheese markets in Amsterdam. But there are interesting tours that take you around town where you learn everything about cheese. And tast it!
Cheese tasting tour at Albert Cuyp market
Tasting Reypenaer cheese in Amsterdam
Reypenaer has been making cheese for over a century. Their cheese is creamy and soft and contains no artificial ingredients. During the Cheese tasting tour Reypenaer you are going to taste their cheese in the cellars of a 17th century townhouse in Amsterdam. An expert will tell you all abut the making of the Dutch cheeses.
The Cheese market of Edam
The cheese market of Edam is only 20 kilometers from Amsterdam. Edam is a small village, but its cheeses are very well known! The Edammer cheese is from here and it’s very tasty.
In July and August you can witness a historic reenactment of Edam’s century old cheese market. It is held every Wednesday morning. The cheeses are brought to the market by horse-drawn carts and by boat.
How to get to Edam cheese market from Amsterdam
The village of Edam does not have a train station. You can reach the cheese market in Edam by bus. At Amsterdam Central Station, buses leave for Edam about every 10 minutes. The bus takes 40 minutes.
Guided tours to Edam cheese market
Guided tours often visit Edam on day trips that also include the larger villages of Volendam and Marken. Read more about this side-trip to Marken en Volendam.
If you want to visit only the cheese market of Edam, there is a a tour in July and August that takes you there. The tour starts in Amsterdam, where you hop into a coach from the Eye Film Museum. After the 1-hour walking tour in Edam and the visit to the marke, you even go on a canal cruise, visit a windmill and meet the miller! To book the tour: From Amsterdam: Edam Cheese Market Tour and Canal Cruise.
The cheese market of Alkmaar
The most famous cheese market in Holland is in Alkmaar. The cheese market of Alkmaar is every Friday morning. It’s not just a market, it’s a spectacle!
The cheese market is surrounded by a fun art and craft market. You can try the Dutch ‘poffertjes’ (small pancakes), raw herring and of course the farmer’s cheese. There are also old crafts like a clog maker.
How to get to the cheese market in Alkmaar
Alkmaar lies about 30 kilometer north of Amsterdam. From central Station it is easy to take a train to Alkmaar. This Half Day Cheese Market Tour to Alkmaar departs from Amsterdam.
Group Tour to Alkmaar and cheese market
You can explore Alkmaar by yourself, but you will learn a lot more about the history of the city and the cheese market on a guided tour. This 2,5 hour walking tour in Alkmaar is a great option. As you walk through the city of Alkmaar, the guide will tell you all about Alkmaar’s best known attraction: the Cheese Market! Alkmaar’ has a medieval center with pretty cobbled streets and picturesque canals. The guide is actually from Canada and this ‘outsider’ can get you a good insight in all the strangeness of all things Dutch!
Private Walking Tour in Alkmaar
The town of Alkmaar has over 400 monuments! In this part of Holland, it is in fact the oldest town, most likely founded by the Romans. With your own private guide, you can really understand the long history of this beautiful Dutch town. This private walking tour takes 2 hours. You stroll through the medieval city center and visit Alkmaar’s famous cheese market.
Museums in Alkmaar
Alkmaar is an old town but it’s also great for shopping. And it has a good variety of museums. Worth visiting is the municipal museum Stedelijk Museum Alkmaar to learn more about the history of the area.
The Cheese Museum is located at the historical 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!
The ritual of the cheese markets in Holland
For hundreds of years, cheese makers in the Netherlands brought their large, round cheeses to the market square in town. But the cheeses are very big and very heavy. Special teams (vemen) have to carry the cheese on barrows that weight more than 160 kilo!
After the customers try the cheeses and find the one they like, they start bargaining. The bargaining is done with a ritual using a special handshake named ‘clap the hands’ (handjeklap). They smack the hand of the other and shout out the price. If they agree on a price, the porters then carry the cheese to the weighing house (de Waag).
The Cheese Market of Gouda
The name ‘Gouda Cheese’ comes from the Dutch city of Gouda. Gouda is in near The Hague. Gouda is a beautiful historic town, with the old City Hall, Saint John’s Church and the weighing house as monumental highlights. From April till August, Gouda has its own cheese market every Thursday morning. Apart from the cheese, Gouda is also known for its sweet syrup waffles, pipes and earthenware.
How to get to the cheese market in Gouda from Amsterdam
You can get to Gouda by train from Amsterdam Central Station in 53 minutes. The Gouda Cheese Market tour departs from Amsterdam. A visit to the Gouda cheese market is followed by a cheese tasting and a short walking tour. After that you have time to explore beautiful Gouda on your own.
The Woerden cheese market
At the small town of Woerden, near Utrecht, the 100-year old cheese market is the real thing. Farmers from surrounding farms bring their cheese to market where it is sold. The price determines the national prices of Dutch Farmers Cheese (Boerenkaas). Great cheese!
In summer, you see the Woerden Cheese market live in action every Saturday morning (27 April – 24 August 2019). There is a special program that includes tasting and a ‘tableau vivant’ between 11 am – 12. There is also a local market with cheese and local produce all day.
Grass Cheese day
Recommended is the Grass Cheese day in June when the young ‘grass cheese’ is presented. On Grass cheese day the whole city celebrates spring and the new cheese season. That day it’s all about cheese, and a giant 150 kg grass cheese is auctioned for charity. You can taste, watch, and experience cheese. The 2019 Graaskaasdag in on 1st of June.
Historical Cheese Market
At Historic Cheese Market, the town shows its ancient cheese making techniques dating back to Roman times. You will see cheese carriages (‘kaasbrikken’) and farmers wear typical Rhineland costumes. Furthermore you can enjoy traditional tug of war games. The historic cheese market is on 31 August 2019.
The Cow market, in dutch ‘Koeiemart’, is an old tradition that has been going on in Woerden for over 600 years. It’s is a festive cow market with cow show, a large market, fair and much more entertainment. The cow market at Woerden is at 23 October 2019.
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.