Alkmaar, Cheese and Windmills Tour

What springs to mind first when you think of the Netherlands? Clogs, windmills, tulips and cheese is the most likely answer. Go on a daytrip tour to Alkmaar and learn more about Dutch cheese and windmills. Alkmaar is a city close to Amsterdam and famous for its weekly cheese market. Piles of cheeses are spread out on the ground. The flat wagon-wheel type is Gouda cheese and the smaller red ball-type is Edam cheese. The tour includes a drive through typically Dutch polder landscape to the windmills of Schermerhorn.

Alkmaar, Cheese and Windmill Tour departs every Friday from Damrak, close to Amsterdam Central Station. You will visit the city of Alkmaar and the cheese market, afterwards you will go to Schermerhorn and its windmills. Duration of this tour is 5 hours. Book online so that you are sure of a place!

The City of Alkmaar

The city of Alkmaar is a miniature version of Amsterdam complete with canals, drawbridges and canal houses. But it is cheese that makes the city famous! This part of the Netherlands has a soggy soil unfit for growing farm crops but excellently suited for grass and grazing cows. Cows mean milk and cheese. As far back as the fourteenth century farmers brought their cheeses to Alkmaar to be weighed. The city prospered from the taxes levied on each cheese that was weighed.

The Cheese Market

The Alkmaar Cheese Market is not only a tourist affair but a real market where wholesalers and exporters taste the cheese before bidding. Prospective buyers scoop out a round a piece of cheese, smell it, taste it and crumble it to determine the fat content. If all is to their liking, they negotiate the price in the traditional way of slapping each other’s hands. Then the cheeses are carried to the weighing scales. Dressed in spotless white and wearing straw hats, the two porters carry trays piled with round cheeses by means of leather shoulder strings. They walk in a bobbing way, otherwise it is impossible to carry such a heavy weight. The weighmaster calls out the weight of the batch and the porters deliver it to the buyer.

Windmill Tour

The Windmill Tour will take you to the windmills of Schermerhorn. Four hundred years ago, the countryside in this area was an inland sea. The Dutch used 43 windmills to pump out the water and reclaim land that lies 3.5 meters below sea level. This new land consisted of fertile clay. Farmers were keen to have a plot of this land to grow crops and to keep livestock. Rich merchants built here large mansions, stately homes and manor houses. Three iconic windmills in a row stand proud in Schermerhorn: the ideal photo and selfie opportunity!

Kaasmarkt Alkmaar