You will probably have heard of Gouda before you ever visited Holland. Gouda has a worldwide reputation thanks its Gouda cheese. Besides cheese, the city has another famous product: ‘stroopwafels’ (syrup waffles). Every year the city is visited by thousands of people who want a taste of these two fine products.
Gouda, the historic city in the province of South Holland, is known world-wide for its Gouda cheese, its candles and its delicious stroopwafels. But Gouda has much more to offer than that alone.
- Visit the cheese market and see how the famous Gouda cheese was weighed and sold in the past.
- Discover Gouda’s historic buildings such as the Sint Janskerk and the City Hall.
- Celebrate the famous, atmospheric festival of light, Gouda by Candlelight, in December.
Gouda, more than a city of cheese
There is much more to be enjoyed in Gouda than just the famous Gouda cheese. As a matter of fact, Gouda has one of the most beautiful historic city centres in Holland, full of splendid monumental buildings to admire and ancient canals with attractive terraces and pleasant shops to promenade past.
What is there to do in Gouda?
Gouda’s centuries-old historic centre features splendid monuments, such as the Sint Janskerk. This church, measuring 123 metres long, is the longest church in Holland and is world-famous for its Gouda windows. Another must-see is the old City Hall, a beautiful monument dating back to 1450. Be sure to note the carillon on the right side façade, whose mechanical dolls come to life to put on a wonderful show at two minutes past every half and full hour.
Of course, one cannot go to Gouda and not visit the GOUDA CHEESE MARKET! This historic spectacle can be experienced from April to August on Thursday mornings from 10:00 to 13:00 (except on Ascension Day). See how the cheeses are brought in on traditional wagons known as briks, and how the farmers and merchants negotiate deals in the old way in front of the Weigh House. While there, be sure to visit the Cheese and Crafts museum in that beautiful building, the Gouda Weigh House, and discover how the delicious Gouda cheese was made and weighed.
In December of each year, Gouda celebrates its famous festival of light, Gouda by Candlelight. During this festival, thousands of visitors flock to the city to enjoy the many Christmas choirs and witness the spectacle of the City Hall and other monumental buildings on Markt square lit with thousands of candles. The climax of the evening is when the thousands of lights on Markt square are turned on. It’s magical! Its splendid history aside, Gouda’s streets are also great for shopping, with stores ranging from well-known chain stores to authentic boutiques and unique gift shops, cheese shops and ateliers selling stylish jewellery.
Good places to eat in Gouda
Gouda is home to many great restaurants and pleasant terraces. Particularly recommendable is restaurant Brunel (address: Hoge Gouwe 23), which offers wonderful dining on the terrace under the old fish auction when the weather is good. Another great place is Zalm on Markt 34, where you can enjoy the view of the city's historic market square. Finally, we recommend the Museumcafé (address: Achter de Kerk 14) in the romantic inner garden of the Gouda Museum as an excellent place for a lunch, high tea or Gouda-style ‘high cheese’.
If you really want to discover Gouda’s centre and its hidden courtyards and alleyways, try a guided city walking tour, or buy the tour map “Op pad in Historisch Gouda” from the Gouda Tourist Information Centre.