One of the most popular spring/summer day trips from Amsterdam has to be Alkmaar. Maybe I’ve been a bad resident of Holland, but I somehow had never visited Alkmaar. Alkmaar is a charming city about 35 minutes from Amsterdam by train. This is a one day guide to Alkmaar with the best things to do in Alkmaar (including the Alkmaar cheese market!) and practical information on how to get to Alkmaar from Amsterdam by train.
I include some choices for breakfast as well as lunch! I was really surprised by Alkmaar, which reminded me of the coziest parts of my favorite Dutch cities (e.g. Amersfoort) due to its pretty canals, numerous cats, and lovely cafes! (You can follow this guide as if it was a self-guided walking tour of Alkmaar although it might be easier to save these places onto Google Maps.)
- About Alkmaar
- How to visit Alkmaar from Amsterdam by train
- Beginning to your day trip to Alkmaar: Arrival into Alkmaar
- Alkmaar Cheese Market* (Seasonal)
- See the house with the bullet
- Browse the shops along Fnidsen and Hekelstraat
- Step into Provenhuis van Wildeman
- Walk along Oudegracht
- Shop along Koorstraat (and buy some cheese!)
- Step into Grote or Sint-Laurenskerk
- Sample for some craft beer from Alkmaar or stop for an ice cream
Alkmaar is a city that has existed for many years near the polders of Noord Holland. It’s not fully known how long the city has existed in some form, but records show that Alkmaar has existed since at least the 900s. The polders in the region and proximity to the Zuiderzee made Alkmaar into a hub for agriculture and trade.
One of the most famous moments in Alkmaar history is when the Spanish attempted to siege the city in 1573. The people of Alkmaar even put wooden barrels used for cheese making on their head as helmets, which is why the locals call themselves “cheeseheads” sometimes. (This is not a term that other Dutchies appreciate!). The people of Alkmaar ultimately won and this was an important step in allowing the Netherlands to become the Republic of the Netherlands! This is still celebrated every October in Alkmaar.
If you’re looking to shave some costs off your trip to the Netherlands and you already have plans to visit Alkmaar, consider staying overnight in Alkmaar as hotels are a fraction of the cost of similar boutique hotels in Amsterdam. The Wolf Hotel is right in the city center with fantastic views of the canals.
How to visit Alkmaar from Amsterdam by train
Alkmaar is very easy to visit from Amsterdam by train without much planning. In order to visit Alkmaar, you’ll want to head to Amsterdam Centraal. You’ll need to purchase a round-trip ticket to Alkmaar, which is possible with paying by card at the machines.
You can use Google Maps to check the schedule,
Alkmaar Cheese Market* (Seasonal)
The reason why so many people come to Alkmaar is the famous cheese market! The Alkmaar Cheese Market runs between the end of March and September on Friday mornings. (There is also an additional night market on Tuesday evenings in July and August.) Although real trades are still not executed anymore, it’s still a great show. The members of the cheese guild are a delight to chat with.
The cheese market occurs in the Waagplein, which is easy to find thanks to the clear signs with cheese. I recommend arriving early as the market starts promptly at 10 am to get a good place. You can click for tips for visiting the Alkmaar Cheese Market.
If you come to Alkmaar on another day, you won’t get to experience the market, but you can always head to the Stedelijk Museum in Alkmaar to learn about local history. There’s also a cheese museum in the same square where the cheese market takes place if you still want to learn about the history behind the market. (It’s still a lovely city for a relaxing day trip away from the crowds of Amsterdam!)
Lunch in Alkmaar
Alkmaar is full of cozy and hip cafes where you can find lots of options for any diet, including vegan. Echt came highly recommended and I really loved the cozy atmosphere within the cafe, which focuses on organic ingredients. Another vegan-friendly or just delicious option for lunch in Alkmaar is Sencha Lunchroom, which is a 5-minute walk from the cheese market.
See the house with the bullet
Although the name is certainly a bit misleading, this house has a cannonball, not a bullet. This historic wooden house dating back to the 1500s located at Appelsteeg 2 is best viewed from the bridge (which has stunning views of Alkmaar!). During the siege in Alkmaar, the house was hit by a cannonball,
Browse the shops along Fnidsen and Hekelstraat
Alkmaar is full of adorable shops, which is why I really liked the city and hope to return in the near future! Along the charming Fnidsen, you’ll find a few home goods shops, including the cozy Twin Arts Lifestyle shop.
However, you’ll want to continue on towards Hekelstraat for the coziest shopping street in Alkmaar complete with boutique shops and antique shops! (For a unique experience, step into “Sweets” Oudhollandse Museum Winkel for a coffee and browsing this old-school Dutch candy shop.)
Experience a hofje
Like most Dutch cities, Alkmaar has some charming courtyards that were generally constructed by wealthy members of the community to help those in need.
Walk along Oudegracht
Oudegracht is such a beautiful canal in Alkmaar. This canal/street has some really beautiful Rijksmonument (protected) homes. My favorite was the gorgeous red house at 239 with its decorative facade! Don’t rush and take in the pretty bridges, wide canals, and decorated houses. A pro tip: It’s always good to
Shop along Koorstraat (and buy some cheese!)
Koorstraat is a gorgeous street that runs past numerous shops and the Sint-Laurenskerk. I recommend stepping into Kaan’s Kaashandel to experience a real Dutch cheese shop with a great selection. (You can ask for a sample if you wish.) They had good prices for local farmer’s cheese from the area.
I recommend trying Beemster, which is the local specialty cheese. If
Step into Sint-Laurenskerk
The Sint-Laurenskerk is an impressive former church that sits in the city center with several impressive features. It’s open in spring and summer to tourists although it’s closed in winter. Those fond of Dutch history will want to find the tomb of Floris V and Anna Visscher. It’s free to visit and you can even get a coffee within the church!
Music lovers will want to look for the various organs around the church, which includes the oldest playable organ in the Netherlands. (There’s a plaque in English!) The church itself is quite impressive although we heard an interesting story about a painting mistake that resulted in painting over historic paintings, likely where the art exhibition sicks.
Sample the local craft beer in Alkmaar (or stop for ice cream)
Two of the best craft breweries in the Netherlands at the moment (in my humble opinion) are based in Alkmaar. I strongly recommend looking for beer from Zeglis as well as Brouwerij De Moersleutel. To taste Zeglis’ beer and other great craft beer within Alkmaar, you can head to their tasting room (Zeglis Proeflokaal) within Gedempte Nieuwesloot 42.
For something a bit more benign, take out cash and stop at IJssalon Laan Alkmaar for vanilla ice cream. Although you might be thinking that’s boring, this is their specialty and it is a local favorite for a reason. 😉
Have you been to Alkmaar on a day trip? Let me know what you though!
- Tips for visiting the Alkmaar Cheese Market
- Dutch cheese markets to visit
- Dutch cheese to try in the Netherlands
- 20 Best Day Trips from Alkmaar
- The Nederlands Kremlin: a gorgeous sculpture garden nearby
- Hoorn: A beautiful village nearby
- How to see the tulip fields in the Netherlands
- Tips for visiting Amsterdam for the first time
- Your guide to public transit in Holland