7 tasty spots for cheese lovers in the Netherlands
It’s true, the Netherlands is absolutely crackers for cheese! The average Dutch person gets through 14,3 kilograms of the stuff per year. But this nation of cheese-lovers doesn’t stop there: taking it to the next level, they express their adoration with a variety of cheesy attractions. From taste-testing to cheese-making, there’s a whole load of opportunities out there. Pack your kaasschaven (cheese slicers) and let’s go.
1. Reypanaer Cheese Tasting Room - Amsterdam
Cheese experiences = cheese tasting, right? When it comes to tasting, Reypanaer in Amsterdam is the cream of the crop. All their cheeses are naturally ripened in a 100-year-old, specially-constructed warehouse in Woerden, near Utrecht. No fancy temperature control devices there; they just open the shutters when things get too hot.
Join a workshop and you'll get to sample six kinds of cheese with your very own cheese guillotine (it makes sense when you see it) and wash it all down with three glasses of wine. The tasting demonstrates how the ripening process affects the cheese’s flavour and texture. There’s even a video of the cheese master at work, ecstatically sniffing his beloved cheese wheels.
Tasting workshops last an hour and take place Mondays & Tuesdays 1pm - 3pm, and Wednesdays - Sundays 12 - 5pm. The workshop costs 15 euros per person and can be booked on the Reypanaer website.
2. Booij Kaasmakers - Streefkerk
If you want to do more than taste, the Booij Kaasmakers farm really allows you to get hands on. The Booij family has been making artisan cheese at their farm in Streefkerk, near Rotterdam, for over 300 years, so they ought to know a thing or two about cheese.
As well as guided tours and cheese tastings at their farm shop, they also offer workshops where you can make your own raw milk cheese to ripen at home (if you can resist eating the entire thing on your train back).
Guided tours cost 60 euros for up to 10 people, the cheese workshop is 25 euros per person, and the tasting masterclass costs 15 euros per person. All need to be booked in advance via the website.
3. Cheese Weighing House - Gouda
“Say Gouda!” The eponymous cheese is the nation’s favourite, comprising an entire half of all cheese production. At the market in Gouda that gave its name to the cheese, you can spend a sunny Thursday morning watching the trade of yellow cheese wheels. But, if you want to really dive into some cheesy history, turn your attention to the building behind the market.
The Gouda Weighing House (Goudse Waag) has been weighing cheese since 1668. While traders still symbolically shake hands in front of the Waag, today it houses a museum dedicated to the art of Gouda cheesemaking and crafts. Alongside exhibits detailing the history of the building and the cheese, the museum also regularly hosts cheese-making demonstrations.
From March to October, it is open from 10am - 5pm daily. Opening hours are reduced in November - February, so make sure to check the website (in Dutch) before you visit. Entry costs 4,50 euros for adults and 4,25 for children.
4. De Simonehoeve - Katwoude / Volendam
What’s more Dutch than cheese? Clogs, of course! Why struggle to choose between the cheese museum and the clog museum when you can have both?
De Simonehoeve, near Volendam and within easy reach of Amsterdam, is a cheese-farm-come-clog-factory (we didn’t realise such things existed either - dreams really do come true). Let the cheesemaker show you how Edam and Gouda are made and then, if you’ve not had your fill of clichès, watch the clog maker demonstrate how Dutch clogs are made. You can taste cheeses and decorate clogs to your heart’s content.
The tours, demonstrations and tastings are all completely free. De Simonehoeve is open all year round (except for Christmas Day), 8.30am - 5pm (6pm in summer).
5. Cheese Museum - Alkmaar
“Have you ever seen cheese in a museum?” the website asks. Well, yes, if you’ve been working your way down this list. But, if you were only going to visit one cheese museum, let it be the Cheese Museum in Alkmaar.
Located next to the oldest cheese market in the Netherlands, this interactive museum tells the story “from cow to cheese”. Learn why cheese presses were traditionally given as wedding presents, view 16th-century portraits of Dutch women and admire the views of Alkmaar. Of course, there are cheese-tasting opportunities as well.
The museum is open daily from 10am - 4pm (from 9am on Fridays when the Alkmaar cheese market is in season). Entry costs 5 euros for adults and 2 euros for children.
Photo: Het Kaasmuseum
6. Cheese Museum - Amsterdam
This may be a slightly grand name for a room beneath a cheese shop, but trust us on this one. Not only does the Amsterdam Cheese Museum explain how all different kinds of Dutch cheeses are made, but it also houses the most expensive cheese slicer in the world! That, surely, is a bucket list item you can’t afford to miss.
You also have the opportunity to dress up like a traditional Dutch cheese farmer and sample the large collection of unusual Dutch cheeses in the shop above the museum.
Best of all for you bargain-seekers, the museum is free to enter! It is open every day from 9am - 9pm.
7. Kaasboerderij Weenink - Lievelde
It’s one thing to learn about cheese-making in a shop or museum, and quite another to actually get stuck in yourself. At the Kaasboerderij Weenink, you can do exactly that. Tour the cheese farm, witness a milking robot in action and, most importantly, taste cheese.
Those who really want to get stuck in can take part in a cheese-making workshop. Once made, your mini cheese is ripened at the farm and sent to you two weeks later in the post. The serious cheese fans among us (seriously, we salute you) can opt for a full-day package comprising of a farm tour, cheese tasting, hike and wine tasting.
A cheese farm excursion costs 4 euros for adults and 3 euros for children aged 4-12. Both the workshop and the full-day tour will set you back 29,50 euros. The farm has variable opening hours, so it’s best to book in advance via their website.
Ready to get cheesy?
Enjoy chomping your way through these recommendations! If you think we’ve missed something that deserves a place on the list, let us know in the comments below.