Alkmaar, Cheese and Windmills Tour

Alkmaar Cheese Market: a must-see experience

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 cheese market in Alkmaar is a household name and a major attraction for tourists. The market is held every Friday from March 31 to September 29 from 10.00 – 13.00. Be sure to visit the city of Alkmaar as well as it is a little gem and much more quiet and relaxed than Amsterdam.

Note: the windmill tour is no longer included in this package. Click here for the Windmill Tour Zaanse Schans 

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 Alkmaar 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 weigh master calls out the weight of the batch and the porters deliver it to the buyer.

photo: Wiki Commons