The City of Cheese
This city in the Netherlands calls all the cheese lovers out there, and we know that the number is quite large! Situated just 50-minutes by train, north of Amsterdam, Alkmaar is a must-visit if you’d want to experience a true folkloristic city. Dating back to the fifteen-hundreds, this Alkmaar cheese market is a traditional event that normally takes place every Friday. It’s a great day trip from the Dutch capital, a chance to escape the hustle and bustle of the city for a while.
For the exact dates, browse the official cheese market website. During July & August (2019), evening cheese markets are also organised every Tuesday.
What to Expect at the Alkmaar Cheese Market?
Friday’s Alkmaar cheese market takes place on the Waagplein and it starts at 10.00 a.m. as soon as the bell rings. Part of the fun is finding the actual market. Trust us, you’ll get to the cheese market just by following the cheese from the Alkmaar train station. Actually, these cheese cubes signs have been placed in the form of a 15-minute walking path.
The cheese market is a proper mirror of what used to happen in the past. The only exception is that no real trading happens nowadays. Cheese is delivered on the small boats throughout the canals and then loaded on a barrow which is later carried to the Waag. Here it is sampled, weighed and the deal is made. During the process, all personnel dress up in the traditional way. You can also see the cheese carriers carrying the 120 kg cheese load while dancing along with the traditional music.
If you have the time, you should definitely go and experience the lively vibe there. Out of it all, cheese tasting was indeed our favourite part. We had never tasted such fresh flavours and honestly, we were never given those many options of cheese.
Also, small café’s are situated all around the area if you need a pit stop to rest and freshen up. If you feel like you can spend some time cruising the canals as we did, boat rides leave from the same square throughout the day. You could enjoy a picturesque ride around Alkmaar’s canals for just €10 or so.
Other Things to Do in Alkmaar
If you’re a football follower (or a fanatic), Az Alkmaar competes in the Eredivise which is the nation’s top tier. Timing a league game at the AFAS AZ Stadium would be a great opportunity to be amused by the Dutch football atmosphere. We had the opportunity to watch AFC Ajax play in a pre-season friendly, and the atmosphere was amazing! Can only imagine what a league match would be like!
Tulip Shopping along the way to the cheese market is worth a stop. As you can imagine, it’s a small and vibrant market plus some colourful tulip bulbs will make a great (and very cheap) souvenir.
As a tribute to the Beatle’s legacy, a Beatles museum was set up in Alkmaar. Band records and other memorabilia such as George’s first guitar can be found there which is very interesting.
If you’re lucky and have a car or bike in your possession, an unmissable drive would be from Enkhuizen (35 mins east of Alkmaar) to Lelystad over the man-made N302 bridge. The 27km long road is such a spectacular drive! Throughout, you’ll lose sight of land from both sides at some point. Marvellous! You can find “Road House Checkpoint Charlie”, a small café & restaurant open daily from 10.00 to 14.00 in the middle of such a bridge.