Many visitors come to Gouda, The Netherlands, drawn by the famous cheese that originates from this picturesque Golden Age Dutch city. Unfortunately, the traditional cheese market is only held in the summer months. Luckily, winter in Gouda is just as spectacular, when you can witness the entire historical city centre being lit by candles and it’s possible to ice skate in a church. Don’t skip these 6 top things to do in Gouda in winter.
Gouda, The Netherlands: plan your winter trip
- You can easily reach Gouda by train from Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht, as Gouda is very centrally located. From each city, you’ll be able to reach Gouda within 45 minutes. Check the train time tables to plan your trip and buy your train ticket online.
- If you feel like spending the night in Gouda, you should. There are some wonderful hotels in Gouda. For example, you can stay in canal-side B&B’s for a fraction of the price charged in Amsterdam. You’ll have a unique Dutch experience in B&B Het Goudsche Huys.
- If you’re pressed for time, I highly recommend this walking tour with a local. You’ll see the best well-known and hidden gems in the city and get a good local feel for the place.
- Read my complete city guide and plan your trip to Gouda, The Netherlands.
Gouda in winter: 6 top experiences
Gouda by candlelight
The second weekend of December marks a very special event that is unique in The Netherlands and a top reason to visit Gouda in winter. This year on the 13th and 14th of December the entire historical city centre of Gouda will be lit by candles. Gouda has a rich history of candle making and by switching the lights off for one weekend a year and bathing the city in candlelight, Gouda celebrates the darkest time of year as well as honouring the tradition of candle making. From the afternoon until midnight there are festivities in the city centre. Read all about Gouda by candlelight.
Go skating around city hall
Gouda has one of the most beautiful historical city halls in The Netherlands, it’s right in the middle of the city centre. So you can’t miss it. And in wintertime, you can ice skate around this pretty medieval building. Seriously, it’s a serious must-do. Don’t worry about taking your own ice skates, you can simply rent a pair. After ice skating, you can drink something at the stalls surrounding the ice ring, but the market square of Gouda is filled with lovely cafés to have drinks or dinner.
Visit the beautiful St. Janskerk
The St. Janskerk is special for quite a number of reasons. Even though it’s not the highest church, it is the longest church in The Netherlands. And a walk around the church takes on a small tour through the cutest historical cobbled streets, along the canals of the city. The church is also home to the largest 16th-century stained glass panel in the world, formed by 72 (!) beautiful glass stained windows. And it doesn’t matter how dark it gets in winter, the windows filter the daylight and cast a gorgeous golden glow on the church.
Taste the best Dutch stroopwafels
You simply can’t leave The Netherlands without having tried our stroopwafels. They’re seriously the best. Stroopwafels, or syrup waffles, are thinly baked waffles held together by a layer of golden syrup. And the first syrup waffle ever was made in Gouda. And so, you can visit the Stroopwafelfabriek in the city. Yes, a museum dedicated to stroopwafels. Trust me, it’s one yummy experience. You’ll learn everything you never needed to know about stroopwafels, but of course… it’s all about the sampling at the end. You can also buy stroopwafels at the museum, but any proper bakery or market stall in Gouda sells the real deal.
Make your own chocolate
Gouda in winter means hot chocolate, like everywhere else. But did you know you can make your own chocolate in Gouda? At PUUR you can buy the loveliest chocolates in Gouda and they make special editions for all the festivals in town. If you’re feeling creative sign up for a workshop where you can learn how to make your own pralines or you can watch a demonstration. If you are more into tasting than into making, I recommend you walk to Chocolade Fabriek (the chocolate factory) which is set in a building with the library and a traditional printer. It’s a lovely venue to taste the best hot chocolate among the locals.
Have dinner in a historic courtyard
The courtyards of Gouda are beautiful, secluded must-sees. Maybe winter doesn’t seem like the right time of year to go looking for them, so I am nudging you in the direction of Hofje van Jonker. Because this little courtyard has turned into a restaurant, with warm and dry seating in the old courtyard. Having dinner there is just so charming and if you’re into cheese, do order cheese fondue made with real Gouda cheeses.
Read more about Gouda
- The complete guide to Gouda, The Netherlands
- Discover traditional Gouda, The Netherlands
- Hip guide to Gouda, The Netherlands
- Summer in Gouda, The Netherlands: 5 must do’s
Gouda in winter
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More about winter in The Netherlands
- Winter in Amsterdam: 14 must do’s
- Winter festivals in The Netherlands that you shouldn’t miss
- 7 Christmas markets in The Netherlands you simply must visit
- Winter in Maastricht