About a year ago, I had visited Woerden. I was utterly charmed by this town outside of Utrecht that hosts one of the last remaining authentic cheese markets in the Netherlands. This is a day trip guide to Woerden with what to do in Woerden. (Woerden is best visited in summer when you can experience the cheese market!)
I visited this time with the assistance of Visit Utrecht Region. All opinions are my own. You can easily reach Woerden by train!
Coffee & Cake
A good coffee is a must when it comes to starting off a day well. Every single time I’m in Woerden, I always head to OOK. This charming Dutch cafe/store/local staple has delicious coffee and cake. It’s also a fun place to browse for kitchen items!
Experience the Woerden Cheese Market
Woerden is quite unique in the Netherlands for its cheese market. Although you’ll find plenty of cheese markets in the Netherlands, the Woerden Cheese Market is a rare example of a cheese market where the trades are still conducted by the traditional hand clap method. In this method, the seller and buyer (after the seller inspects the cheese) debate the price using claps until a handshake occurs!
It is exciting to watch the cheese market and I highly recommend it. The cheese market occurs currently only in summers promptly starting at 11am on Saturday mornings, so be sure to arrive early to ensure that you see the cheese bell rang! You can click to read more about the Woerden Cheese Market‘s traditions and tips for visiting here!
You’ll find a few stalls that sell delicious cheese as well as snacks. I highly recommend getting a fresh stroopwafel. I also stopped by the local Roti stand for a quick lunch!
Tour the Kaaspakhuis Woerden (Woerden Cheese Experience)
As someone who is quite knowledgeable about cheese, I was a bit skeptical about how much I’d learn from visiting the Kaaspakhuis, but I came away appreciating cheese much more than before. This small tourist attraction in Woerden is a working cheese warehouse that you can visit and taste fresh Gouda cheese at!
You’ll need to suit up prior to climbing the stairs (not handicap accessible) in order to go down aisles of cheese. I don’t want to ruin the cool trivia that you’ll learn (you can ask lots of questions!), but I was pleasantly surprised by this attraction. Cheese lovers will love tasting the cheese that came from 0km (just upstairs!) after the tour.
Climb the Petrustoren
For one of the best views of Woerden, I recommend planning ahead and contacting the local tourism board (VVV Woerden) to book a tour of the Petruskerk. (Unfortunately, this is also not handicap accessible.) This medieval historic tower that has survived quite a few fires is a great place to get stunning views of the countryside. (One of the times that the tower had burned down included when soldiers attempted to signal soldiers in Utrecht with fire only to burn down the entire tower by mistake. Oops!)
In earlier times, Holland and Utrecht were not always friends, so this tower was often used as a look-out post. Once Napoleon came, he turned into a military post and it’s remained in the hands of the city of Woerden since then.
As you climb the tower’s 200+ steps, you’ll spot the beautiful carillon that rings regularly during the weekend. This carillon is one of two carillons in Europe where the carillon keyboard is located above the carillon. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to hear a carillion performance by one of the carilloneurs played from the tower.
Our tour guide of the city (from the guild of guides) was clearly quite enthusiastic about the history and the carillon itself, which made for a fantastic visit to the tower. Be sure to plan carefully if you want to visit the tower as it is not generally open to the public.
Explore the historic center of Woerden
Woerden has a nice historic center. I especially loved the former city hall, which has a slightly gruesome history. The lion heads were once where people were hung. Today, it houses the city museum (Stadsmuseum Woerden), which can be visited for a few euros.
Just across from the former city hall, you’ll see the beautiful and historic Petruskerk, which had once been a Catholic church. The vibrant ceiling certainly surprised me and it’s definitely worth a look if you’re a lover of historic churches! The church was plundered and partially destroyed during the Protestant Reformation, however work is being done to discover what the church looked like before it was destroyed.
You’ll also want to check out the Woerden Castle when entering the city. This impressive fortress was built between 1407 and 1415 for the lord of Woerden. The castle was intended to defend across Utrecht, which is now the province of Woerden! It was also used as a warehouse, a hospital, and prison at various points in history. Today, it’s used for weddings and offices. There’s a cafe inside in case you want to get a coffee inside.
Optional: Take a cycle (if you want!)
If you’re looking for a picturesque cycle through the Dutch countryside, I highly recommend cycling from Woerden to Oudewater. Oudewater is a picturesque town famous for its Witch Weighing Scale. It’s a nice afternoon away from Woerden if you’re looking for something more to do in the city center.
Have a fantastic Italian dinner
I cannot give enough praise to Viviamo! This charming Italian restaurant in Woerden has incredible and innovative Italian food that is likely to surprise you. From starting with their homemade Limonsecco, you’ll feel at home here.
We went for the chef’s menu, which took into account our tastes and dietary restrictions. I can’t say what you’ll get, but I especially loved the Risotto al Tartufo (Risotto with truffles), the creative soup served with gin, and the mussels. If you intend to order a wine, the helpful sommelier will advise you what works best with the next course. (It’s also possible to get appetizers if you’re not so hungry yet!)
End the evening with some beers
We ended the evening at Drinkerij ‘t Bierhuys, a charming typically Dutch beer bar with a great beer selection from all over the Netherlands and Belgium. Don’t be intimidated by its menu as the staff can give a good recommendation once you let them know your favorite!