Gouda makes for a perfect day trip from Amsterdam. Of course, cheese lovers will want to taste some of the famous Gouda cheese right where it’s made. But Gouda is such a picturesque city, that you might want to consider staying a little longer. Wander along the pretty cobbled street of the 16th-century city centre, gaze over the small canals, admire the golden stained glass windows of the grand church. And of course, eat some cheese. Check out this city guide Gouda to plan your trip.
City guide Gouda
Gouda is almost a thousand years old. The setting, where the small rivers Gouwe and Hollandse IJssel meet, was of great significance back then. Gouda was an important Dutch trading hub, due to the setting at the crossing of these rivers and flourished during the 15th and 16th century. A lot of buildings in the city centre of Gouda are dated back to the Golden Age of this city. Plagues and war brought disaster to Gouda, but the city picked up again during the industrial revolution in The Netherlands in the 19th century with the openings of the candle making factory and spinning mills. When Utrecht and Rotterdam were connected by rail, Gouda once again became a bustling hub.
- Gouda: getting to Gouda and getting around
- Gouda: must-sees
- Where to taste and buy Gouda cheese
- Where to eat in Gouda: my favourites
- Where to sleep in Gouda
- Gouda is an easy enough day trip from Amsterdam. Simply hop on a train and you will reach Gouda by direct train within 50 minutes (yes, I told you everything in Holland is close… go on and explore!). You can buy your tickets at the station, check NS.nl for the accurate timetable.
- Gouda is really close to The Hague, Rotterdam and Utrecht (the three cities are within 15-20 minutes of Gouda), so if you’d like to combine a few cities during your stay in The Netherlands, combining Gouda with one of these cities is just perfect.
- When you get to Gouda, simply walk from the station to the city centre. I will only take a few minutes.
- If you’re pressed for time, or if you’d like to see the best of Gouda without doing any research, I highly recommend joining this guided bike tour. In just a few hours you will see all the pretty highlights of the city and get to know some interesting facts about the famous cheese and candle making Dutch city.
- Gouda doesn’t have any grand canals, like Amsterdam, Utrecht or Leiden. But the cosy, small canals of Gouda have a charm all of their own. Go on a canal boat tour to view Gouda from the water’s perspective.
Traditional Gouda Cheese Market
A lot of visitors to Gouda will absolutely want to see the traditional cheese market that takes place every Thursday morning, between April and September. The trading of cheese is sealed like in old time: by the clapping of hands. Some locals dress up in traditional dress and don’t mind if you’d like to take a photo with them.
Gouda has one of the prettiest market squares in The Netherlands, mostly thanks to the simply stunning city hall. It was built after a great fire in the 15th century basically destroyed the entire city. Gouda was completely reconstructed and one of the first buildings to be erected was the current town hall on the market square, which wasn’t much more than a bog at the time. If you’d like to visit? You can: when the doors are open, simply wander in. If they’re closed, you’re out of luck, but do walk around the splendid town hall to see the carillon with the mechanical puppets and the sculptures on all sides.
De Kaaswaag is one of the prettiest buildings on the Gouda market square, facing the Town Hall. In the olden days, the cheese was weighed and traded here at the weighing house. There is a small cheese museum to teach you all about the history of Gouda cheese and cheese trading in the city. It’s also an excellent place to taste and buy the real Gouda cheese.
By all means, the Sint Jans Kerk of Gouda should have been a cathedral (in my honest opinion), it certainly has all the ingredients to be a cathedral. It isn’t a high or tall building, as the soil in Gouda and surroundings is too soggy to support tall buildings, but it sure is big and grand. The first things you see when you walk in are the 72 amazing stained glass windows, that were made with a great eye for detail. They let in a golden light, adding to the divine atmosphere.
The city museum of Gouda is housed in a beautiful historic building, behind the church, that used to be a 17th-century hospital. It covers the history of Gouda and sometimes works together with slightly more famous Dutch museums to host special exhibits. The particularly pretty walled garden is a great place to have a rest and a cup of coffee.
This museum dedicated to the Dutch resistance during the Second World War has an interesting exhibition on the violation of human rights during and after the Second World War. It’s housed in a pretty old bank building.
Het Joodse Poortje
This gate has been baptised ‘The Small Jewish Gate’ as this work of art symbolises an entrance way to a Jewish cemetery, remembering the Jews of Gouda that were deported and killed during the Second World War.
Whether you’re into vintage and crafts, architecture, grand sights or food: if you download the Xplre Gouda app you can take up to 9 differently themed walks and see added highlights along the way. It’s an interesting way to see the different faces Gouda has, and the app is completely free for both Apple and Android.
Kamphuisen syrup waffle factory
Have you tasted a real Dutch stroopwafel (2 thin wafers with syrup in the middle) yet? Oh no, you better have one. It’s one of the best treats in The Netherlands and stroopwafels were invented in Gouda. There used to be many factories that made them, but only a few remain. You can visit Kamphuisen syrup waffle factory to see the process of stroopwafels being made, and of course, take some stroopwafels home.
Gouda cheese market
Unless you’re interested in buying a whole wheel of Gouda cheese (hey, I’m not one to judge), I think it’s better to roam the stalls that surround the Gouda cheese market on Thursday, when it’s market day. Several local cheese producers sell their artisan cheeses, let you taste them and wrap them up so they’re easy (and odourless….) to transport home.
Het Gouds Kaashuis
This traditional Gouda cheese shop, on Markt/Hoogstraat, sells over 50 kinds of traditional Dutch farmer’s cheeses. The shop looks beautiful and the owners take great pride in their produce. They’ll be able to advise you on what to taste and buy.
‘t Kaaswinkeltje (translates to ‘The little cheese shop’) is located along one of the prettiest small canals of Gouda and offers exclusively the best local authentic Gouda cheese. You can taste 40 to 50 types of cheese.
Situated next to the weighhouse and opposite the beautiful town hall. When you visit Gouda, have at least one drink, or maybe some lunch, at De Zalm. This place was once the oldest hotel in The Netherlands, now it’s a nice café and restaurant. It’s the perfect restaurant to order Fruits de Mer and seafood in Gouda and it’s famous for its Sunday brunches.
De Goudse Eend
This is Goudas own Beer café and it’s a joy to go there late in the afternoon or after dinner at night and order yourself one of the many Dutch craft beers that are either on tap or bottled.
Your morning coffee should be ordered at Koffiefabriek, a stone’s throw away from the pretty market, but away from the crowds. The decor is a little shabby chic and the coffee and cake are excellent. There are plenty of tables available outdoors as well.
Miss Nice Banana
Vegetarians and vegans will simply love this option in Gouda (it’s also excellent when you’re not a vegetarian or vegan, by the way). Order some ice cream, smoothies, juices or cake. Everything is made from pure and organic ingredients, and it all tastes amazing.
Hofje van Jongkind
Gouda is home to many secret courtyards (which are all beautiful, by the way) and the owners of Hofje van Jongkind have added the courtyard to their café, which is now a wonderful oasis in Gouda. It’s an excellent place for breakfast or lunch, but if you’re planning on staying the night in Gouda, I highly recommend coming here for the cheese fondue made from authentic local cheese.
Your Food Print
Another excellent vegan option in Gouda. Your Food Print Started out as an (online) vegan supermarket, but the shop also has a few tables in the front of the store. It’s a good place for breakfast and lunch. The salads and sandwiches are excellent.
Gouda is still a very traditional place, but slowly some new hip cafés are opening their doors. Dependance is one of them. It’s the first cocktail bar in Gouda and is overlooking the market square. Traditional meets Mai Tai, yes please!
Zoet & Zalig
For those with a sweet tooth: head over to Zoet & Zalig, which has outdoor seating in the most amazing traditional courtyard with red shutters. Enjoy freshly baked cakes, stroopwafels or make reservations for afternoon tea.
B&B Het Goudsche Huys
Why would you stay the night in Gouda, you ask? Well, Gouda has some excellent dining opportunities. Plus, you will be able to stay in a Golden Age house for a fraction of the price that you’d have to pay for something similar in Amsterdam. Het Goudsche Huys is an amazing old mansion, with all the authentic details intact. The bedrooms are immaculate and comfortable. Breakfast is served in your room. Sweet dreams!
Gouda doesn’t have a lot of hotels. So you may as well stay in an excellent B&B, like Tannery Lane, situated in a beautiful historical alleyway with gorgeous gabled houses. It doesn’t get any more Dutch than this. The bedrooms and bathrooms are modern and top notch. A perfect B&B for a comfortable and quiet stay.
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