When visiting a major city, it’s always a surprise what you can find nearby. These places can feel a world away from the main city you are visiting. If you are in Amsterdam, you can see beautiful windmills at Zaanse Schans, and in the other direction, the charming city of Utrecht. But also, just a 35 minute train ride from Amsterdam Centraal Station will drop you off in Alkmaar, North Holland. Though it has much more to offer, this city is known for its Cheese Market which has been around for over 400 years.
Think about that for a second. Some of our countries aren’t even as old as this Cheese Market!
They weigh, inspect, taste, and sell the cheese here in traditional uniforms. Those men are part of the Cheese Carriers’ Guild. They are volunteers and do it for the history and culture. To help you figure out who is part of the Guild, just look for the white uniforms and colorful hats!
Even the movement of the cheese from the scales to the buyer’s lorries fun to watch. With straps over the shoulders and two men carry the wooden barrow and walk in a way that keeps the cheese stable. It’s a must-see!
The Cheese Market is free to watch with options to buy a booklet about the market, and bundles of cheese products. Feeling hungry? There are lots of food options around from grilled cheese, to poffertjes, and many other Dutch creations.
Keep your eyes open on the canal behind the market and you might just see a gondola-style boat filled with cheese too!
You can catch the Market from the beginning of April to the beginning of September each Friday from 10am-12:30pm.
Don’t stop at the Cheese Market! The old town part of Alkmaar is so charming. The little streets, cute shops, picturesque canals, and Dutch buildings are more than enough to keep you interested throughout the day.
You will be rewarded for stepping outside the main area of Amsterdam to discover this gem. What place have you been just outside of a main city have you fallen in love with?