We were living in Amsterdam for about a year when we heard about Alkmaar Cheese Market for the first time. We had no idea that Alkmaar is located about 35min by train from Amsterdam which makes it a perfect day trip.
From April to September, you can visit this world-famous cheese market in Alkmaar and see something unique which probably you won’t be able to see anywhere else outside of the Netherlands.
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When we visited Alkmaar we decided to write a post about it to give you tips on how to get there, why this cheese market is so famous and where to have lunch in Alkmaar.
When you travel, we always recommend having travel insurance. Our favourite is definitely World Nomads which you can adjust according to the destination or activities you will be doing at your holidays.
How to get to Alkmaar Cheese market
Alkmaar is located about 35 min by train from Amsterdam which really makes it perfect for a one day trip.
We caught train close to our house at Amstel station, however, if you are not so familiar with the public transport in Amsterdam, it is better to go to Central station and catch the train from there.
You can buy a round ticket, we paid around 9 EUR/one way/person (2019). When you get to Alkmaar, get off the train and follow the cheese market sign (boxes). In front of the train station, there was also a lady dressed in traditional clothes giving information about the cheese market and map of the city.
From the train station, you walk about 10min to the main square Waagplein where the Alkmaar cheese market is held.
If you have a car, or you want to rent one, there is also the possibility to visit Alkmaar Cheese market by car. It takes about the same time but a car gives you more flexibility and freedom to stop whenever you like.
If you want to stay longer, you can also sleep in Alkmaar and discover this city even more. We did not stay in any hotel however we other visitors recommended Kings Inn City hostel which is located just a few meters from the cheese market.
When to visit Alkmaar Cheese Market 2019
In 2019 Alkmaar Cheese Market takes places from the 29th of March till 27th of September, every Friday from 10 am until 1 pm. During July and August, there is also an evening cheese market every Tuesday.
If you don’t want to plan or organize anything, you can easily take an Alkmaar Private Walking Tour which lasts about 2 hours which will take you to discover not only cheese market but also hidden gems of this city.
Our Tips for visiting Alkmaar Cheese Market
This market is world famous cheese market which means it is a major tourist attraction and it will be crowded by many people.
Alkmaar cheese market starts at 10 am, however, we definitely recommend arriving at least 30 min before the market starts. We caught a train at 9 am and we got to the main square around 9.45 am, which was probably too late.
Stand on right or left side from the Cheese museum
When we arrived, it was totally crowded so it was difficult to find a spot where you can see the market.
When you arrive earlier the best spot is either on the right side or left side from cheese rows. You will be able to get better foto/video and also see running cheese bearers carrying the cheese to the market.
Visit Cheese museum
During our visit it started to rain so visiting the Cheese Museum in Alkmaar was a perfect choice. During the visit, you discover a history of cheesemaking, dairy trade and farming culture.
Monday – Thursday: 10 am – 4 pm
Saturday: 10 am – 4 pm
Friday: 10 am – 4 pm (During Cheese Market it opens at 9 am)
Entrance: 3.50 EUR/person
Buy Cheese at the market stands
There are plenty of market stands selling souvenirs and cheese. This is the best place to buy original cheese from Alkmaar and other varieties.
We bought two different types, young and old cheese to see what is the difference between both.
There is more in Alkmaar than Cheese market
We are talking only about the Alkmaar cheese market, however, there is much more to see.
Alkmaar has a beautiful historical city centre, many museums such as Beer Museum or Beatles Museum, a great offer of restaurants and bars and a beach just about 15 min away.
History of Alkmaar Cheese Market
The year which Cheese market was considered as an official market was in 1593. Since then the Alkmaar Cheese market has always taken place on the Waagplein square.
Due to its expansion, the houses around the square had to be demolished to create more space for the market.
In the 17th century, cheese was traded on Friday and Saturdays, however, nowadays there is no real trade conducted at the market.
Before the market is opened, there is a lot of work to do.
The cheese will arrive from the Campina and Cono factories directly to the Waagplein square.
At 7 am, the kaaszetters (setters) start to unload and set up the cheeses. The cheese is tested for taste, fat, moisture and number of holes and then the cheese is carried to the Weighing house for further inspection.
At 10 am the bell rings as a signal that the market is opened. The samplers and trades start inspecting the cheese. The price per kilo is bargained and when a deal is made, they will symbolically clap of hands and shout the price.
When the deal is made, the cheese is loaded on a barrow and carried to the Weighting house where is weighted and paid for.
During the process, the cheese is carried on a wooden barrow hanging between two cheese carriers which can hold up to 8 Gouda Cheeses. The full barrow which can weight up to 125-130kg is not very easy.
Check this video to see how they carry the cheeses with special walking rhythm to make it easier.
Where to have lunch in Alkmaar
After the market, there is a right moment to have some lunch in Alkmaar.
Start walking from the Cheese Market and you will discover that Alkmaar is full of cosy restaurants and cafes with many options to have a delicious lunch.
We opted in for a Rotisserie IJkgebouw just about 15min walk from the Cheese Market.
After the rain in the morning, the sun returned so we were able to enjoy our lunch at the terrace of this amazing restaurant. Inside of this restaurant you can still see some old furniture and paintings on the wall as this whole building used to be a school.
We chose Club Sandwich and Baba Ganoush also made as a sandwich. We both agreed that the food was delicious and the perfect for lunch in Alkmaar.
Do you have any other recommendations for Alkmaar Cheese Market? Did we miss something?
We loved this experience, it was something unique to see and we would recommend it to anybody as a perfect one day trip from Amsterdam.
Feel free to comment below and contact us with your suggestions. We welcome any recommendations!
Read more about another option for One day Trip from Amsterdam and visit Utrecht.
Take some amazing pictures on the road by the professional photographers and keep the memory of your trip forever.