The Alkmaar Cheese Market

Should You Go?

The Alkmaar cheese market

It's A Re-Enactment, Not An Actual Market

The Alkmaar Cheese Market is quite famous, but it’s rather important to know that it is a re-enactment of an olde-timey cheese market. Many people (myself included) find it rather hokey and twee. On the other hand, it’s an impressive production and it does evoke a sense of history and civic pride.

Specifically what happens is local Dutch volunteers, many of them elderly, get dressed up in old-fashioned clothes and carry wheels of cheese around the town square as a cheese auction is acted out. It’s supported by the local tourist board and a couple of big cheese companies.

Should You Visit?

Well, if you read the description above and it sounds fantastic, then yes you should! If you read it and you’re on the fence – after all, sometimes doing something touristy can be fun – you should know that Alkmaar is a very pleasant city. It has an old medieval centre, is very walkable and it’s just 35 minutes from Amsterdam by train.

So, you could just decide to visit Alkmaar, retain a little skepticism about the market, and hope to enjoy it.

How To Visit Alkmaar

It’s super easy:

1) Go to Amsterdam Centraal.

2) Trains go five or six times an hour. Catch the train to either Alkmaar or Den Helder.  The train website is www.ns.nl.

3) As of time of writing, the return journey will cost you about €17.

4) The journey takes about 35 minutes.

Amsterdam Centraal
Amsterdam Centraal. Photo by Dietmar Rabach.