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The odds are that you’ve probably heard of Gouda, even if only in reference to its famous cheese. Gouda is not only a real town in South Holland but one that’s certainly worth adding to your Netherlands travel itinerary.
Gouda, roughly pronounced how-dah, is located about an hour southwest of Amsterdam by train or about a half-hour train ride from The Hague or Rotterdam. This makes it easy to visit Gouda on a day trip or use it as a home base to explore the many other major cities nearby.
First founded along the River Gouwe by the Van der Goude family, Gouda scored its official city charter from Count Floris in 1272. It’s since become a charming city of around 70,000 citizens, offering everything from gorgeous historical landmarks and museums to seriously amazing cheese.
If you think Alkmaar is cheesy, you’re in for a shock. I’m not going to sugarcoat it; Gouda goes hard for this hard cheese, and you’ll have to make peace with that.
- Things To Do In Gouda
- 1. Visit the Gouda Cheese Market in Markt Square
- 2. The Gouda Cheese Experience
- 3. De Goudse Waag (the Weighing House)
- 4. Stadhuis Gouda (City Hall)
- 5. Sint-Janskerk (Saint John’s Church)
- 6. Museum Gouda
- 7. Visit the Gouda Syrup Waffle Factory
- 8. Visit a Great Cheese Shop
- 9. Kaasboerderij Jongehoeve
- 10. Montagne Aardewerkfabriek
- 11. Red Lion Windmill (Molen De Roode Leeuw)
- 12. Oud-Katholieke Kerk Gouda (Old Catholic Church)
- 13. Set Out on a Walking Tour
- 14. Take a Day Trip to the Open-Air Museum Archeon
- 15. Experience Gouda By Candlelight
- 16. Gouda’s Best Restaurants
- When is the best time to visit the Gouda Cheese Market?
- Are there any annual events or festivals in Gouda?
- How to get to Gouda Netherlands from Amsterdam or Rotterdam?
|Most significant landmark||Stadhuis Gouda (City Hall)|
|Best museum||Museum Gouda|
|Best free activity||The Gouda Cheese Market|
|Best food||Gouda Syrup Waffle Factory and the CHEESE|
|Best activity for kids||Open-Air Museum Archeon|
|Best activity for adults||The Gouda Cheese Experience|
|Best place to stay||Relais & Châteaux Weeshuis Gouda|
Things To Do In Gouda
1. Visit the Gouda Cheese Market in Markt Square
In the city center of Gouda, you’ll find Markt Square, a great place to start if you plan to visit Gouda for the first time. The city’s historic center is where you’ll find some of its most incredible landmarks, like St. John’s Church, Stadhuis, and the Goudse Hout – but more on those later.
If you’re visiting Gouda between April and August, head down to Markt Square on Thursday morning between 10:00 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. That’s when the square transforms into a traditional cheese market, complete with cheese-toting horse-drawn wagons and appearances by the Gouda cheese girls.
Aside from the massive flood of cheese, the cheese market also features plenty of street vendors who create and sell everything from traditional clogs to candles. The Gouda cheese market is a chance unlike any other to experience the history of Gouda live and in action.
Consider booking a room at the Relais & Châteaux Weeshuis Gouda, a gorgeous hotel in a historic building in the city center. With a blend of historical beauty and modern comfort, the hotel offers amenities like room service, bike rentals, hotel gardens, and two exceptional restaurants.
See Related: Rotterdam vs Amsterdam: What’s the Difference?
2. The Gouda Cheese Experience
Address: Agnietenstraat 21, 2801 GZ Gouda, Netherlands
Whether you can’t make it to the cheese market on Thursday or simply can’t get enough cheese, check out the Gouda Cheese Experience. Located right on Market Square, this 60-90 minute experience will answer every question you never realized you had about Gouda’s famous cheese.
From virtual milking to the age-old art of the clapping of hands, you’ll have a blast exploring the unique history of the cheese that put the charming Dutch city on the map. Rest assured, it also comes complete with the chance to sink your teeth into a sample of real Gouda cheese.
3. De Goudse Waag (the Weighing House)
Address: Gedempte Singel 24, 9401 JP Assen, Netherlands
De Goudse Waag, aka de Waag, is a historic building that’s stood at the center of Gouda since 1668. Every Thursday during the cheese market, farmers roll up to the old weighing house to unload their cheeses for weighing and inspection, just like in the old days!
Located right across from the Old City Hall building, de Waag is also home to a small cheese museum called de Goudse Waag Cheese and Crafts Museum. You’ll learn all about the history of the traditional cheese market and enjoy the chance to purchase cheese and an assortment of Dutch souvenirs.
See Related: Essential Travel Tips for Visiting the Netherlands
4. Stadhuis Gouda (City Hall)
Address: Markt 1, 2801 JG Gouda, Netherlands
The Stadhuis Gouda, or city hall building, is nearly impossible to miss as you walk through the city center. In 1438, Gouda suffered a devastating fire that caused significant damage to its town hall.
The city council ultimately decided it was time to build a new one, and the inspiration for the stunning mid-15th-century Gothic building was born. The Stahuis Gouda is an architectural masterpiece with its striking statutes, carillon, and even a mechanical puppet show that was added on in the 1960s.
Visitors are even allowed to check out the interior of the town hall on days when its front doors are open. It’s well worth a peek inside to see the paintings, drawings, and other artwork that adorn the building’s interior.
5. Sint-Janskerk (Saint John’s Church)
Address: Achter de Kerk 2, 2801 JW Gouda, Netherlands
Just a short walk from City Hall, you’ll find St. John’s Church, also located in the city center. Boasting the title of the longest church in the Netherlands, this 16th-century masterpiece is particularly renowned for its 72 beautiful stained glass windows.
It’s definitely worth signing up for one of the church’s guided tours to the story behind what’s largely considered the significant collection of stained-glass windows in the Netherlands. If you prefer to explore at your own pace, opt for a downloadable Saint John’s Church audioguide.
Every Saturday at 4 p.m., the church also gives free concerts featuring everything from gospel choirs to organ music. Combining ethereal sounds and light through the stained-glass windows is a remarkable experience!
See Related: Best Cities in the Netherlands to Visit
6. Museum Gouda
Address: Oosthaven 9, 2801 PB Gouda, Netherlands
Dive headfirst into Dutch history when you visit Museum Gouda! This fascinating museum retraces the history of Gouda through over 40,000 items, including art, artifacts, and even a scale model of the city as it appeared in 1562.
Check out the museum’s huge collection of clay smoking pipes, which once played a vital role in Gouda’s economy. Or descend to the cellar to explore the museum’s collection of antique torture devices!
Located about a block away from Museum Gouda and a km from the main train station, the B&B De Kamer Hiernaast offers spacious rooms with beautiful views. Enjoy the charm of the historic Dutch house, complete with friendly hosts who serve a wonderful breakfast each morning.
7. Visit the Gouda Syrup Waffle Factory
Address: Markt 69, 2801 JM Gouda, Netherlands
If you plan to visit Gouda, a visit to the Kamphuisen Syrup Waffle Factory may be the only thing as essential as feasting on cheese. A ticket to the Syrup Waffle Factory will ensure the chance to learn everything you need to know about the origin of Kamphuisen syrup waffles and how they’re made.
If you’re unfamiliar, syrup waffles are crispy, delectable morsels still produced using an original Goudse from 1810. One taste will answer any questions you may have about why they’ve since become a Gouda staple.
See Related: Best Amsterdam Food You Need to Have
8. Visit a Great Cheese Shop
While you’ll find plenty of cheese shops in Gouda and the surrounding area, you can’t go wrong with ‘t Kaaswinkeltje. Located at Lange Tiendeweg 30, just off Market Square, this place is famous for its friendly staff and a generous selection of samples.
Gouda Cheese Shop at Hoogstraat 1 is another cozy shop located right in the city center. Owned by a couple called Maurice and Sandra, the shop offers a huge assortment of local and foreign cheese, along with cheese tools, drinks, and other Dutch gifts.
Last but not least, there’s De Fijnproever, which is located a little further north at Lekkenburg 31. These folks also have a passion for next-level cheese, which they offer alongside everything from fine wines to chocolates.
9. Kaasboerderij Jongehoeve
Address: Benedenberg 90, 2861 LH Bergambacht, Netherlands
While Gouda has plenty of great cheese shops to choose from, Kaasboerderij Jongehoeve has earned a spot all its own due to the fact that it’s on an actual working cheese farm. Whether you’re a diehard cheese fiend or are just looking for a really fun day trip, it’s worth heading down to the farm.
The farm is located less than 20 minutes southeast of town by rental car or ride-share. The owners make their own cheese on-site and offer a huge range of gouda variants, including delicious herb-infused options. If you love to taste cheese the way wine enthusiasts sip different vintages, then prepare for a trip to paradise.
Take things a step further by checking out vacation rentals like this at this gorgeous farmhouse. Located on a 5th generation organic Gouda cheese farm, this three-bedroom rental is a perfect choice for families or groups hoping to get off the grid.
See Related: A Day Trip to Zaanse Schans, Volendam and Marken
10. Montagne Aardewerkfabriek
Address: Middelblok 134b, 2831 BP Gouderak, Netherlands
Montagne Aardewerkfabriek is a family-owned Delft pottery factory and shop specializing in Delft Blue ceramics. The ceramic style first originated in Delft (a town about half an hour west of Gouda) in the 16th century when local potters were inspired by imported Chinese porcelain.
From hand-painted wall plates to unique tattoo-style ceramics, this place has it all. It’s worth dropping by their shop in Gouderak, which is less than a 10-minute drive from Gouda’s city center.
11. Red Lion Windmill (Molen De Roode Leeuw)
Address: Vest 65, 2801 VE Gouda, Netherlands
It just doesn’t seem right to visit Gouda, or any other Dutch city for that matter, without securing at least one windmill selfie. Luckily, the De Roode Leeuw or Red Lion Windmill has everything you need to cross that obligatory snap off your list.
Constructed in 1727, the landmark is one of the oldest flour mills in the Netherlands. Stop by to watch the millers do their thing and purchase flour, yeast, or mixes for cakes, pancakes, and bread.
See Related: Visiting Kinderdijk Windmills: What You NEED to Know
12. Oud-Katholieke Kerk Gouda (Old Catholic Church)
Address: Hoge Gouwe 107, 2801 LD Gouda, Netherlands
The Old Catholic Church takes the phrase “hidden gems” to a whole new level. The hidden church is so well disguised as an average housefront that it’s easy to walk past without ever noticing.
But each Thursday afternoon from 1 to 3 p.m., the church opens its doors to anyone who would like to come in and light a candle or have a look around. Learn about the history of the church, which dates all the way back to the 1600s.
13. Set Out on a Walking Tour
While it may not be the Netherlands’ largest city or even its second-largest city, Gouda is still an undeniably great place to soak up the local history and culture!
With a fascinating story, Gouda is an extremely popular destination for guided tours. If you fancy being guided through the best bits of the city, you’ll find plenty of fun local tours, like this all-inclusive walking tour of Gouda’s highlights.
Many tourists even set out on tours that include Gouda and the surrounding region, such as this fascinating Gouda, Witches & Cheese Tour. You can even turn sightseeing into a game with options like the self-guided Gouda Syndicate City Escape Game.
See Related: This Year’s Best Tours in Amsterdam
14. Take a Day Trip to the Open-Air Museum Archeon
Address: Archeonlaan, 2408 ZB Alphen aan den Rijn, Netherlands
Located less than a half hour from the city, you’ll find the Open-Air Museum Archeon, an incredibly living history museum that has all the makings of an awesome day trip. Step back in time and spend a day exploring the Netherlands as it was during prehistoric, Roman, and medieval times.
Throughout your day, you’ll meet Vikings, explore ancient building reconstructions, and learn fun skills like archery or candle making. A mix between a museum and a Renaissance fair, Archeon makes for a fun-filled day with friends or family.
15. Experience Gouda By Candlelight
If you’re lucky enough to visit Gouda in mid-December, make sure you check out a magical annual event called Gouda by Candlelight. Each year, Gouda’s 15th-century town hall is illuminated by the light of 1,500 candles.
The whole city gathers in front of the beautiful Gothic building in the Markt to enjoy performances and await the annual lighting of the town Christmas tree. Be sure you also head over to St. John’s Church, which holds an annual Winter Market each year on the same weekend as Gouda by Candlelight.
Check out the church’s magnificent stained-glass windows free of charge and visit the many food and souvenir stalls that line that square. Between the performances, candlelight, and holiday cheer, Market Square is the perfect place to get into the holiday spirit.
See Related: The Very Best Restaurants in the Netherlands
16. Gouda’s Best Restaurants
No matter how into cheese you may be, at some point, you’ll want to branch out and explore the other great food in Gouda. The good news is that you’ll enjoy plenty of options!
If you’re in the mood to splurge, then head over to Lizz, a Michelin-starred restaurant in the Relais & Châteaux Weeshuis Gouda Hotel. If you’re more in the mood for a local hidden gem, then check out the Gouda Chocolate Factory, which now actually serves as a combination library and food venue.
If you’re in search of a cozy spot to relax and enjoy lunch or a coffee, then stop by Prego! at Sint Anthoniestraat 1. Or stop by local favorite Kamphuisen Bar & Restaurant to enjoy a wonderful meal and drinks all in one.
When is the best time to visit the Gouda Cheese Market?
The Gouda Cheese Market occurs on Thursday mornings between 10:00 and 12:30 a.m. from April to August. Watching the farmers from the surrounding areas bring their cheese to Market Square in horse-drawn carriages is one of the best experiences in town!
Are there any annual events or festivals in Gouda?
Aside from the Gouda Cheese Market each summer, the city’s annual Winter Market and Candlelight ceremony are one of its most famous events. But if you happen to be in the city in mid-October, make sure you also check out Zotte Zaterdag, an annual Medieval festival that takes place each year in the city center.
How to get to Gouda Netherlands from Amsterdam or Rotterdam?
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Kyle Kroeger is the Founder and Owner of ViaTravelers.com. He is a full-time traveler and entrepreneur. Kyle started ViaTravelers.com to help travelers experience a fully immersive cultural experience as he did initially living in Italy. He’s a converted finance nerd and Excel jockey turned world wanderer (and may try to get lost on purpose). After visiting 12 countries and 13 national parks in a year, he was devoted to creating and telling stories like he’d heard.
Plus, after spending more time on airplanes and packing, he’s learned some incredible travel hacks over time as he earned over 1 million Chase Ultimate Rewards points in under a year, helping him maximize experiences as much as possible to discover the true meaning of travel.
He loves listening to local stories from around the world and sharing his experiences traveling the globe. He loves travel so much that he moved from his hometown of Minneapolis to Amsterdam with his small family to travel Europe full-time.