Everything you need to know about visiting the Gouda cheese market

Three pictures of Gouda and the Cheese Market

Last Updated on 27th December 2019 by Sarah and Justin

One sunny Thursday in May, we took a quick trip to visit the Gouda cheese market. We love cheese in general, but Sarah really really loooovvves Dutch cheese. Also, having lived in the Netherlands for six months (at the time of first publication), it was time to visit this small yet famous city. Though we were coming from Rotterdam, if you’re looking for day trips from Amsterdam, you should also put Gouda on your list. Here is some hopefully helpful information to plan your visit to Gouda and its famous cheese market.

Note, we update this post every year so it has the correct opening dates. This post has updated information for visiting the Gouda cheese market in 2020.

How do you pronounce “Gouda”?

Canal, Gouda, the 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. In 2020, it’s open from April 2-August 27. The market is not held on national holidays.

Can you take a day trip from Amsterdam to the Gouda cheese market?

Gouda, an easy day trip from Amsterdam

Gouda makes for a great day trip from Amsterdam or Rotterdam. And it’s really easy to take public transportation there. 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, the 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. We 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, the 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.

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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 are determined. It’s held in the city of Woerden on Saturdays. In 2020, it’s open May 2-August 29. You can read more about the Woerden cheese market here.

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?

Canal, Gouda, the Netherlands

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

Gouda, the Netherlands

The cheese market activity is flanked by two stunning buildings: the Goudse Waag and the Stadhuis (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 in Gouda, the Netherlands

<< Get more Dutch travel inspiration: Best places in the Netherlands you may have never heard of >>

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16 thoughts on “Everything you need to know about visiting the Gouda cheese market

  1. illcookyouwash says:

    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. katherinefenech2017 says:

    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

  3. xyuandbeyond says:

    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

  4. Shannon says:

    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!

  5. Celia says:

    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.

  6. TheSterlingTraveler says:

    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

  7. Christina Guan says:

    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!

  8. Kana says:

    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

  9. Pingback: The Most Beautiful Cities In The Netherlands Besides Amsterdam - Brogan Abroad

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