The Dutch are famous for their fondness for cheese, particularly Gouda and Edam. The cheese market in Alkmaar has been taking place on the picturesque Waagplein since 1365. It’s just a short train journey from Amsterdam, so you can enjoy a day steeped in cheese and tradition during your visit to the Netherlands.
The traditions surrounding this market are well documented. Back in 1365, there was only one set of scales in Alkmaar for weighing and distributing the cheese. That’s why cheese traders would congregate on the Waagplein to make use of the large scales and compete against their fellow cheese market masters. Usually, there is up to 30,000 kgs of cheese waiting to be bought. That’s over 66,000 lbs of cheese. Pure heaven!
So who stacks and weighs the 2200 whole cheeses onto the market square? That’s where the ‘kaasdragers’ come in. The cheese porters have various roles, from cheese loading to cheese tossing to cheese weighing. They are a huge part of market life. Wearing traditional garb, these cheese porters are actually part of a guild with an array of traditions, keeping the history of the market alive. It really is a fascinating spectacle.
Insider tip: Alkmaar is known locally as cheese town, or the city of cheese, and residents of Alkmaar are often referred to cheese heads! These kaaskops are very connected with their heritage, and wear the title with pride.
Alkmaar cheese museum
If you’re curious to learn more about the peculiar traditions of the cheese market, a visit to Het Kaasmuseum is highly recommended. The museum overlooks the beautiful Waagplein and has been educating visitors since 1983. It has a unique collection of artifacts and you can learn all about how Edam and Gouda are traditionally made. For children, there’s a series of interactive games and videos. There is even a scavenger hunt for those who want a little bit of adventure with their cheese.
Holland actually had five cheese markets. The most famous is definitely Alkmaar, followed by Edam, Hoorn, Gouda and Woeden. At the museum, you’ll learn about these various markets and of course you’ll be able to enjoy a few samples. The Alkmaar cheese market itself is open every single Friday between April and September. That’s cheese season!
Accommodation in Alkmaar
At HolidayParkSpecials, we have a huge variety of holiday parks and holiday cottages near or in Alkmaar. Enjoy a stay, for example, at Roomport Kustpark Egmond aan Zee, which is just a few kilometres from Alkmaar and right on the beach. Explore the Dutch coast, the wonderful city of Amsterdam, the various cheese markets of the Netherlands and plenty more.