You've probably heard of Gouda, even if you've never been to Holland before. The city of Gouda has the cheese of the same name to thank for its worldwide reputation. The historic old city is absolutely worth visiting.
- The church of St John (Sint Janskerk) is famous for its colorful glass window from the 16th century.
- The traditional cheese market takes place in the historic center every Thursday, from April to August.
- In the period leading up to Christmas, Gouda creates an unforgettable experience by candlelight, as all of Gouda shines brightly in the light of the candles.
Besides cheese, there are other products in Gouda that have achieved recognition across international borders, such as candles, different types of beer, and the delicious syrup waffles (stroopwafels).
Gouda: Cheese and market
Practically every child knows about Gouda cheese. And in fact, this historic city gave the famous cheese its name. Cheese from Gouda accounts for about 60 % of Dutch cheese production, with the cheese not being manufactured in the city itself, but in the surrounding region. If you visit Gouda in the spring and summer, you'll experience the cheese market in full swing. At the marketplace between the Waag (the weighing house) and the town hall, the cheese is handled almost exactly the same as it was several centuries ago. By the way: the town hall (stadhuis) is one of the oldest Gothic town halls in all of Holland, and is definitely worth a couple of photos. The Goudse Waag is located opposite the Stadhuis. In this historic building from the 17th century, the world-famous Gouda cheese used to be weighed; today it houses – along with the tourist information center - the Cheese and Crafts Museum. A visit to the museum gives an informative glance into Gouda's significance as a cheese city, especially combined with a visit to the cheese market (on the central square in front of the town hall).
Things to see and do in Gouda
Other highlights include the Museum Gouda, also known as the 'treasury of Gouda'. In the historic museum building, which once housed the poor and the sick, you can see pictures of the marksman's guild, glazed earthenware, and paintings from the 17th to 19th centuries.
The gigantic St. Jans Church stands proudly over the old city of Gouda, and at 123 m long, is one of the Netherlands' longest and also most beautiful churches. It is especially famous for its Gouda church windows, which were mainly created during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. A visit to the church is a magical experience, especially on sunny days when the light streams through the colorful glass.
The De Roode Leeuw flour mill also has a couple of centuries under its belt – built in 1727, it is one of the oldest mills in Holland. And it's still functioning today! You can purchase flour from Gouda in one of the shops located near the mill.
A walk through Gouda
Old times are brought to life as you pass by the canals, alleyways and medieval houses. The cheese market takes place in the center on Thursdays. As well as the cheese market, there's another fascinating event in Gouda: Gouda by Candlelight. Once a year, on an evening in December, all the electric lights in Gouda are switched off, and the city shines brightly in the light of thousands of candles. Be there and sing Christmas carols in front of the town hall, which is lit with 2500 candles.
However historic Gouda may seem – in the old buildings, you'll definitely find modern and even trendy shops. Wilhelminastraat, Naaierstraat, Tiendeweg, and Nieuwehaven invite you to go on a shopping spree. For food and drink, go to the market, where restaurants and cafes have set up shop at the feet of the historic town hall. The Lichtfabriek is a bright spot under the restaurants, in the most literal sense: today, seasonal wines and meals are served in what was once the energy center of downtown Gouda (Hoge Gouwe 189). For dessert, you should definitely get a warm syrup waffle (stroopwafel), a typical Gouda delicacy, at the stand in Agnietenstraat 2 (downtown)!
Trip destinations in the surrounding area
Around 30 km away from Gouda lies the city of The Hague, steeped in tradition, which is not only the headquarters of the government, but the royal family as well. Follow in the footsteps of the members of the House of Oranje-Nassau and then catch your breath in one of the many lovely restaurants. Also worth seeing, and full of history and tradition, are the venerable university cities of Leiden with its canals, drawbridges and large windmills, as well as the – somewhat smaller - city of Delft, where you can stock up on wonderful ceramics in Delft blue.
As everything is very close-knit in Holland and the local transport network is well structured, all Dutch towns can easily be visited by train. Even Rotterdam is easy to reach by train in less than half an hour. The station there, incidentally, is one of the most spectacular modern buildings in the Netherlands. However, not only cities can easily and comfortably be reached by train, but also areas close to nature, such as the 'green heart' of Holland.
Staying in Gouda
Are you looking for a trendy designer hotel, a romantic bed and breakfast, or a comfy holiday apartment for your family? In Gouda, you'll find the right accommodation for every taste and every budget. Take a look at our extensive offer, and book your ideal vacation here! Our tip: In the center of the historical center, you can find some very pretty bed and breakfasts in historic buildings.