Everything you need to know about the Gouda cheese market

Gouda cheese market, the Netherlands

On a recent sunny Thursday, we took a quick trip from Rotterdam to Gouda. The reason for our trip was the Gouda cheese market. We love cheese in general, but Sarah really really loooovvves Dutch cheese. Also, having now lived in Rotterdam for six months (ack… where does the time go?!), it was time to visit this small yet famous city. So we hopped on an early morning (for us) train and made our way to Gouda. If you too want to take a day trip to Gouda or visit the Gouda cheese market, here is some hopefully helpful information.

How do you pronounce “Gouda”?

Gouda, Netherlands

Gouda cheese is known throughout the world. And where we come from one pronounces this cheese “goo-da.” This is not how the city of Gouda in the Netherlands is pronounced. We learned this on a train a while back when the conductor announced the stop. She said something that kinda sorta sounds like “gghhow-da” (the Dutch “g” is difficult to say and even harder to transliterate). Needless to say, our minds were blown! But we’ve been attempting to pronounce it correctly ever since.

When is the Gouda cheese market?

The Gouda cheese market only takes place during a specific time of year. Specifically, you can visit the cheese market on Thursdays 10:00-12:30 from the beginning of April through the end of August. It is not held on national holidays. You can check all opening times here.

Can you take public transportation to the Gouda cheese market?

Gouda, Netherlands

You can easily take public transportation to the Gouda cheese market. From Amsterdam, trains run every 10 minutes and take a little under an hour. From Rotterdam (where we live), trains run every 15 minutes and take about 45 minutes. The cheese market, which is held in the main market square, is about a 15-minute walk from the Gouda train station. There are super clear signs (as there are everywhere in the Netherlands) directing you where to go.

So what happens at the Gouda cheese market?

Gouda Cheese Market, Netherlands

As we mentioned above, the Gouda region is well-known for its cheese – specifically its farm cheese (“boerenkaas” in Dutch). At the Gouda cheese market, farmers “sell” their cheese. (Read more about why this is in quotes in the next section). In the middle of the market square, surrounded by large wheels of cheese, farmers and buyers make their deals.

The deal-making process is done by back and forth negotiation accentuated by each person clapping the other’s hand. I must say, it’s fun to watch. But unfortunately, there are a lot of people watching. There’s also an MC (a somewhat absurd looking fellow dressed in a bright yellow suit holding a cheese microphone) who tells the crowd what’s going on (in Dutch). Once the cheese is sold, it’s loaded onto horse-drawn carts by young men and taken away.

Gouda Cheese Market, Netherlands

All the action takes place in front of the Goudse Waag, which was the old cheese weighing house. It’s now home to a museum and the Gouda tourist information office. It costs 4.50 EUR to enter and was absolutely swarmed with people when we were there so we skipped it.

Is the Gouda cheese market real?

We don’t think so. The Gouda cheese market is described as an historic reenactment and it is most definitely a tourist attraction. In researching this post, we learned there is a real cheese market in the Netherlands – where the prices of boerenkaas is determined – is held in the city of Woerden. There’s a good chance we’ll go check their cheese market out this summer too!

Can I taste cheese at the Gouda cheese market?

This is the most important question, right?! And the answer is yes. But unless you’re an extremely pushy person, you won’t have much luck tasting it at one of the tents outside. We tried, but were stymied by all the other tourists. We were able to taste quite a lot of delicious Dutch cheese inside two cheese stores. The first was Kaas van Kees, a smaller shop on a side street. The second was Gouds Kaashuis, which seemed to be the most popular place to taste and buy cheese due to its location right next to the market square. There was a long line of people when we first walked by, but we were able to get in on our way out. We love this kind of cheese, so we were quite happy and sated after tasting it all.

What’s accessibility like at the Gouda cheese market?

The Gouda cheese market is held outside. There are no barriers or steps to get to it, but there are a whole lot of tourists there. Moving around is annoying for able-bodied people, so it might be a bit frustrating for those with accessibility issues or special needs. We did not enter the Goudse Waag ourselves, but in our research we learned that the ground floor is wheelchair-accessible.

Is Gouda pretty?

Yes! Gouda is yet another delightful Dutch city with canals and slightly crooked buildings and narrow alleyways and a whole lot of charm.

Gouda, Netherlands

The cheese market activity is flanked by two stunning buildings: the Goudse Waag and the Stadthuis (city hall). We are keen to return to Gouda on any other day of the week or during another season to get to know the city better as it is on average, non-cheese-market days.

Goudse Waag, Gouda, Netherlands

Other than cheese, what else is there to love about the Netherlands?

There are so many wonderful things about this country. If you want to read about some of our favorites, check out this post about Sarah’s favorite things about the Netherlands.

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15 Replies to “Everything you need to know about the Gouda cheese market”

  1. Lol I had no idea Gouda was actually a place! Thanks for making my bucket list longer :p. It seems like a very doable trip actually and since I’ve never bee to the Netherlands it would be pretty cool to explore. Happy #flyawayfriday!

  2. Cheese – one of my favorite things in the world 🙂 I’ve to Rotterdam and Amsterdam and loved it, but would love to visit Gouda one day too.

  3. katherinefenech2017 says: Reply

    The Gouda Cheese Market is my idea of heaven! And I’ve been sitting here for the pat five minutes trying to pronounce Gouda the Dutch way. I think I’m still getting it wrong, but I do have a few Dutch co-workers who I will pounce on today and get them to give me a lesson! #FlyAwayFriday

  4. Oh lord you had me at cheese, I so wanted to go here when I went to Amsterdam but I did have to go during the Beast from the East and it was so damn cold. Mind you I hit around 4 cheese museums in Amsterdam and now I must go back for gouda….#flyawayfriday

  5. I really need to get myself to the Cheese Markets! It’s bad that I haven’t been yet after 6 years of living here haha. In love with your photos of Gouda!

  6. Excellent, I love cheese! We went to the market at Alkmaar but I confess that I didn’t know there was one at Gouda ….one for our next visit!

  7. I am off to Gouda Cheese Market in two weeks and I can’t wait! Especially after seeing this post 🙂

  8. OMG I didn’t even know this existed and I feel like I’ve been missing out!! Thank you for sharing. I am definitely putting this one on my bucket list!

  9. A cheese market!! Too bad it’s just a tourist attraction, but still very cool. Beautiful photos of the canals. The Netherlands looks like such a dream country to visit.

  10. Glad I read this, I’m hoping to go to Gouda to the cheese market in a couple of weeks so now I know a bit of what to expect.

  11. I had no idea such a place existed! I came here expecting a market full of Gouda cheese – I was not disappointed though it is disappointing that it’s just a tourist attraction. Gouda looks like a beautiful city to visit, as it much of the Netherlands. #FlyAwayFriday

  12. I had no idea Gouda was a real place!! I want to visit it now!! Great post, thank you for sharing! #flyawayfriday

  13. Christina Guan says: Reply

    oh my gosh, how did I not know this existed?! I LOVE Gouda (the cheese) but still haven’t visited the actual city. it actually looks so pretty! a cheese market would be the best way to combine my passions haha. and that first photo with the canals and the the bench – so quintessentially Dutch haha. Definitely need to do this the next time I’m in the Netherlands!

  14. I love gouda cheese! I need to check this out if I ever get to be on a city as lovely as Netherlands! Thank you so much for joining the 50th Fly Away Friday Link-up! Hope to see you at the 51st edition on May 25!

  15. Omg I LOVE Gouda cheese! Yum! I had no idea they had something so cool like this! Thanks for joining Fly Away Friday, hope to see you again this weekend! XO

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