Visit Alkmaar for an authentic taste of the Netherlands. Located just 10 kilometres from the coast and 30 minutes from Amsterdam, it boasts a historic city centre full of canals, a traditional centuries-old cheese market, and a lively shopping scene that offers something for everyone. Alkmaar is a unique blend of charm, culture and natural beauty.

Like a local
Discover Alkmaar like a local

Discover Alkmaar like a local

Cheese market Alkmaar

The Waagplein square is the vibrant heart of Alkmaar and home to the iconic Waagtoren building. It is a thriving hub of hospitality and the setting for the oldest and largest Cheese Market in the Netherlands. The spectacle of traditional cheese trading takes place here every Friday from the end of March to the end of September. Led by the Kaasvader (Cheese Father), the men of the Kaasdragersgilde (Cheese Carriers' Guild) have been running back and forth with wooden carriers known as ‘berries’ laden with cheeses for over 430 years. It should come as no surprise that Alkmaar is called the Cheese Capital of the Netherlands.

D'Oude Stad is the historic city centre of Alkmaar. With its narrow streets, beautiful traditional façades, bridges and canals, you’ll feel like a time traveller. This is especially true during Kaeskoppenstad: an annual summer festival that transports you back to the 16th century. The historical acts and performances are fun for young and old alike. You will also find unique boutiques and delis in this part of town such as Sweets & Antiques, the tastiest museum shop in Alkmaar.

Sweets & Antiques Alkmaar

North Holland villages

De Waag Alkmaar

Known as the front garden of Alkmaar, the Land of Leeghwater is a beautiful region located to the east of the city. Cycling from Alkmaar, you travel past dikes, windmills, beautiful bulb fields and picturesque villages such as De Rijp, the cultural heart of this region. The fascinating historical character of this area invites you to go exploring, whether by bike, boat, paddleboard (SUP) or on foot. Clearly mapped routes take you along the best market stalls and farm shops such as Smit's Boer & Goed and Bram & Aagie.

Alkmaar has many stories to tell. You’ll find them behind the doors of national monuments, on the decorated bell and stepped gables, in the traditional courtyards and by the statues in the city. And of course in the museums. The Grote Kerk is the perfect example of this. It is the cultural living room of Alkmaar where you can enjoy concerts, exhibitions and other events, and you can also admire The Great Window. Designed by artist Fiona Tan, this is the largest window in Europe and is reminiscent of a kaleidoscope with a lovely play of colours and shapes.

Green routes and stories

Green routes and stories

Alkmaar is surrounded by polders, dunes, forests and beaches, which makes it perfect for walking and cycling! There are plenty of routes available that take you past the most beautiful and interesting locations. Stop by the Alkmaar Store - VVV in the city centre and they will be happy to provide you with personal advice. You can hire bikes and e-bikes at several places in Alkmaar. Why not take a tour of the dunes or hop on the ferries that transport you along the so-called 'ferry route'? Use the RoutAbel app to help you find a route.

Surroundings of Alkmaar
Alkmaar by the water

It is also fun to explore Alkmaar from the water. This can be done in various ways but travelling on a SUP has the most impact. If you rent it at El Kombi Sup, that is. This 'SUP & zero waste community' organises tours, clean ups, classes and Sup it ups, an event where you fish litter out of the canals while paddleboarding. It's fun and good for the environment. If you're not keen on getting wet, rent a whisper boat from Greenjoy and just cruise around while enjoying the sights.

A wonderfully green city

In 2022, Alkmaar won the Green Cities Europe Award Netherlands. The jury said that this North Holland city is an inspiration for European cities because of the way the municipality added an amazing 30,000 m2 of green space in 3 years. It means you get to do your shopping in green surroundings, such as on the green shopping street De Laat. Pay special attention to the cute little façade gardens here and there.

Shopping in Alkmaar
Hidden gems
Alkmaar's hidden corners

Alkmaar's hidden corners

Crossing the Alkmaar Canal

Alkmaar Overstad

Overstad is Alkmaar's industrial area and can be reached on foot from the city centre across the canal. It houses over 80,000 m2 of shops specialising in housing, electronics, sports and travel. Fans of upcycling and treasure-hunting will be thrilled with the thrift boulevard where several large thrift shops are located next to each other. Active visitors can visit the indoor shopping centre, which includes Buitenwinkel Bever, for outdoor activities, the ANWB and 2 large shops with sporting goods.

The Ringersterrein is home to a rare piece of industrial heritage: the Ringers cocoa and chocolate factory, from which this area takes its name. The factory is currently being transformed into a retail and hospitality hotspot. Located on the Alkmaar Canal, the Ringersterrein has undergone a green metamorphosis in recent years. It is great to hang out on the quay or dig your toes in the sand at city beach De Kade. You will also find restaurant Blue District and coffee hotspot Blusch here. This part of the Overstad is a great place to relax after a long day of shopping.

Ringersfabrieks Erf Alkmaar at night

Creative breeding ground

Hal 25 Alkmaar

Creative breeding ground Hall 25 is Alkmaar's cultural playground. In the large industrial hall with an outdoor area, people happily experiment and organise events. So far this has led to a beer garden, a city sauna, an art factory and much more. It is regarded as the best place to find inspiration, entertainment or unique surprises. It also has an important social function in the form of the 'City Lab', where questions and issues arising from local data are addressed on Saturdays. For example, they use data to look at noise pollution, neighbourhood projects and flooding, as well as missing cats and green spaces in the city.

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