A complete guide to Gouda
Gouda is one of my favourite cities in the Netherlands. It’s known for the medieval market square, the historic buildings and, of course, the food. And the food has to be phenomenal, right? After all, the city has a cheese named after it! As you probably know, Gouda is a mild, yellow Dutch cheese. It’s one of the oldest recorded cheeses, and it received its name from the city of Gouda because it was traded here. Another famous Dutch snack, the stroopwafel, was first produced in Gouda. But enough about the food for now. Here’s a look at what the city has to offer.
Things to do and see
There is a lot of things to see and do in Gouda. Every time I’ve been to Gouda, there has always been something going on in the main square. Either the weekly market with stalls selling fresh and regional produce, or the famous cheese market or a huge Christmas tree and an ice rink during the festive season. Here are my favourite things to see and do in Gouda.
Sint Janskerk (St. John’s Church)
At a length of 123 m, the St. Jonh’s Church is the longest church in the Netherlands. The church is dedicated to the patron saint of Gouda, John the Baptist, and it dates back all the way to the 15th century. Aside from the length, the Sint Janskerk is also known for its beautiful stained glass windows. And let me tell you, the windows are very impressive! The entrance fee is €7 for adults. You can find more information about the church here.
Stadhuis (City Hall)
The gothic city hall of Gouda can be found on the market square and dates back to the 1400’s. It’s one of the oldest city halls in the Netherlands. After a fire practically destroyed the previous city hall, a new free-standing building was erected in the middle of the medieval markt square. As stunning as the outside of the city hall is (admittedly I have a thing for gothic architecture), it’s worthwhile to see the inside of the building too. Be sure to check out the city hall after sunset when it’s beautifully lit up.
De Goudse Waag (Weighing House)
The Waag was built in 1668 and as the name suggests, this building was used for weighing products, in particular, cheese, to levy taxes. Today, it’s a Cheese and Crafts Museum where you can learn about the history of the building and how cheese is made. The Gouda tourism office is also located inside the Waag.
Molen De Roode Leeuw (Red Lion Windmill)
Built in 1727, Molen De Roode Leeuw is one of the oldest corn mills in the Netherlands. From the market square, you can reach the windmill within 10 minutes on foot. There is also a shop right next to the mill that sells artisan and organic products. In the shop, you’ll find flours and ready-made cake and bread mixes.
As with many other Dutch cities, Gouda has no shortage of canals. I don’t know what it is about the canals, but they just make the city even more beautiful. My favourite canals are the ones around the medieval city centre.
Watch a show at Studio Gonz
If you are into alternative music, be sure to catch a show at the local hotspot, Studio Gonz. One of my favourite Swedish metal bands played a show here in 2017. Smaller, more underground bands tend to play shows here because venues in Amsterdam are often more expensive. Check out the list of upcoming gigs here.
Crimson Moonlight at Studio Gonz!
What and where to eat
As I’ve mentioned above, the food in Gouda is phenomenal! Both savoury and sweet, you’ll have no problem to satisfy your cravings. There are lots of cute little eateries to pick and choose from. If you’re looking for a snack, I highly recommend Adriatika delicacies. I had an amazing platter here. The best part for me was the Medjool dates filled with mascarpone cheese. YUM! Here is a list of the best shops and bakeries in Gouda.
Platter at Adriatika delicacies.
As the name suggests, there is no shortage of cheese shops in Gouda. My personal favourite is ‘t Kaaswinkeltje. The shop has the biggest variety of Gouda cheeses that I’ve ever seen! From truffle to lavender to black lemon, you’ll find a cheese for every colour of the rainbow and more. They also have the best roombrie! If you’re looking to stock up on your cheese supply in Gouda, look no further than ‘t Kaaswinkeltje.
The best stroopwafels
Stroopwafels are a sweet Dutch treat, a waffle with a caramel syrup filling wedged between two layers of baked dough. Now, I haven’t tasted all the stoopwafels in the Netherlands. Not yet, anyway. But of all the ones that I have eaten, the stroopwafels from Kamphuisen Siroopwafelfabriek in Gouda is the best. The caramel syrup is delicious and the waffles are crunchy.
If it’s baked goods you are in the mood for, look no further than Banketbakkerij Herfst. Everything in the bakery looks terrific, and if I could, I’d buy a piece of every single cake and tart. I can personally recommend the cheesecake and the appelpunt (apple tart).
During the summer months, the queue to get your hands on a scoop of David’s famous gelato extends beyond the doors of the shop. Don’t worry, the line moves fast. The assortment of gelato and sorbet include unique combinations like peach & basil, or mango and red pepper. Other flavours include M&M’s, white chocolate, hazelnut, and, of course, stroopwafel. Pop in to see the flavours of the day.
I tried the stroopwafel and white chocolate flavours…Yum!
Do you want to eat a Dutch pancake at the oldest pancake shop in the Netherlands? Of course you do and so did I! But, I’ll level with you. Although the service was great and pancake good, it wasn’t the best Dutch pancake that I’ve ever had (that honour belongs to the Pancake Bakery in Amsterdam). None the less, you can still check Pannenkoe out.
Annual Cheese Market
Every Thursday morning, between the months of April and August, the Gouda cheese market is held. It’s definitely something to experience. Everybody, from the framers and traders to workers, is dressed in traditional clothing. For an hour or two, you feel like you’ve been transported to a different century…And you get free cheese samples! What’s not to love?
How to reach Gouda
The fastest and most convenient way to reach Gouda with public transportation is to take the train. From Amsterdam, it’s only a 50 min ride, while The Hague and Rotterdam are closer and you can reach the city in about 20 minutes. The medieval market square of Gouda is only 10 minutes away on foot from the train station.
Thousands of bicycles outside the train station.
Where to stay
Although you can do and see a lot in Gouda in a day’s time, I’d recommend that you stay in the city for a couple of days. The Best Western Plus comes highly recommend, or if you are looking for something more budget friendly with a personal touch, check out the properties listed on Airbnb.
View from my Airbnb balcony.
As you can see, Gouda has lots to offer. Whether you are interested in food or history or culture, you’ll find something to peek your interest in the city. I want to know, have you been to Gouda and what did you think?
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