We have some exciting news to share with you: we were invited on a press trip as travel bloggers to Gouda Cheese Valley!
Lucky us, we have always wanted to visit this region of the Netherlands and learn more about its famous cheese making tradition.
Gouda Cheese Valley is a collective name for 4 towns in the province of South Holland: Gouda, Bodegraven, Reeuwijk and Woerden. These towns have a long history of producing some of the best cheeses in the world, dating back to the Middle Ages.
The Gouda cheese from this area is known for its rich flavor, creamy texture, and distinctive yellow color.
This press trip was such an opportunity to explore Gouda Cheese Valley and discover its secrets!
We also enjoyed the beautiful scenery of the Dutch countryside, with its green pastures, typical windmills and canals.
Let us walk you through our 3- day trip where we visited a cheese farm, cheese warehouse museum, a brewery and ended with a lovely guided walk thought the picturesque town of Gouda.
Gouda cheese is a sweet, creamy, yellow cow’s milk cheese from the Netherlands.
The first mention of Gouda cheese dates back to 1284 which makes it one of the oldest recorded cheeses in the world that are still made today. Making cheese was traditionally a woman’s job in the Netherlands, and farmers’ wives would traditionally pass their cheesemaking skills on to their daughters.
The Gouda cheese is named after Gouda, not because it was produced in or around that city, but because it was traded there. In the Middle Ages, Dutch cities could obtain certain feudal rights which allowed them get a total monopoly on certain goods.
Within the County of Holland, Gouda acquired market rights on cheese, the sole right to have a market in which the county’s farmers could sell their cheese.
All the cheeses would be taken to the market square in Gouda to be sold. Buyers would come to sample the cheeses and negotiated a price using a traditional bargaining ritual called handjeklap in which buyers and sellers clap each other’s hands while shouting out prices.
Once an agreement was made, the Gouda cheese was carried to the weighing house to complete the sale.
What is the Cheese Valley in The Netherlands and why is it called so?
The Cheese Valley is a region in the Netherlands that is known for its Gouda cheese production.
It is located in the province of South Holland, and it includes the cities of Gouda, Woerden and Bodegraven-Reeuwijk. The region is home to many cheese farms and factories, and it produces a variety of cheeses, including Gouda cheese.
The name “Cheese Valley” comes from the fact that the region has a long history of cheese production.
Today, Cheese Valley is a popular tourist destination for cheese lovers.
You can explore Gouda cheese farms and factories, learn about the history of cheese production in the region, and sample different types of cheese.
Things to do and places to visit in Cheese Valley, The Netherlands
Dutch Silver Museum (Schoonhoven)
We started off our press trip in Schoonhoven in the late afternoon.
After a car ride from the Gouda train station to Schoonhoven, we deposited our luggage at Hotel Belvédère. Leonie from Cheese Valley took us on a walk through the picturesque city.
Schoonhoven is also known as the Silver City of the Netherlands because of its rich history of silversmiths and goldsmiths. The city has been a center for the education of silversmiths and goldsmiths since the Middle Ages.
The Dutch Silver Museum in the heart of Schoonhoven showcases the city’s history and is the only silver museum in Holland. It also features a workshop where you can watch silversmiths make jewellery during the day!
We were treated to a guided tour in the museum, and learned so much about this town’s history.
The creations on display were a perfect mix of very old and well preserved utensils and accessories, and modern day jewellery.
A must visit!
Besides being a hub for silver, Schoonhoven is also a fortified city and part of the Dutch Waterline. The city is located in the beautiful region of Krimpenerwaard, which is perfect for cycling and walking.
As we left the Silver Museum, a lovely walk in the evening sun took us along small canals and medieval buildings.
Behind every corner another hidden gem and lovely little quiet corner seem to hide, what a gorgeous town Schoonhoven is!
Our walk took us to the outskirts of town.
Where another delight was waiting for us…
An amazing dinner at restaurant Rivero!
The chef created a 4-course dinner especially for us showcasing some of the region’s local and organic products and ingredients, and keeping sustainability and zero waste in mind.
Needless to say that we were absolutely blow away by the flavors, what a feast!
We tasted fresh crayfish (from the river Lek next to the restaurant), poached Stolwijk eggs, Waards veal and Krimpenerwaards apples with Dutch vanilla.
Hands down an epic dinner, with a lovely view over the river!
Cheese Farm Hoogerwaard (Oudekerk aan de IJssel)
Rise and shine!
After a good night’s sleep and breakfast at hotel Belvédère, we hopped into the car again to visit a cheese farm.
Are you ready to taste some cheese?
If you love Gouda cheese, then you really need to visit cheese farm Hoogerwaard, a family-run business that produces delicious and authentic Dutch cheese.
The owner welcomed us in and talked us through his family’s cheese making history, while we sipped hot coffee and enjoyed Dutch stroopwafels.
Cheese farm Hoogerwaard is located in the picturesque village of Ouderkerk aan den IJssel. The farm has been in the same family for over 100 years, and they still use traditional methods to make their cheese. They use the fresh raw milk to create different types of cheese, such as Boerenkaas.
The best part is that you can visit the farm, the stables where the cows are kept, and see how they make their cheese.
And yes, the cheese here at Hoogerwaard is truly delicious. We enjoyed a cheese platter with all the different cheese that the farm produces. How interesting to taste the differences!
If you are looking for a unique and memorable experience, you should definitely visit Cheese farm Hoogerwaard. They have a lovely cheese shop where you can buy cheese wheels as well as thick slices to take home.
More info: Cheese farm Hoogerwaard
Cheese Warehouse (Woerden)
Next stop: the Cheese Warehouse in Woerden.
This is a unique place where you can learn everything about cheese making and tasting, and experience the history and culture of cheese in the region.
The Cheese Warehouse in Woerden was built in 1937 and used to store and age cheeses that were transported by boat along the Oude Rijn river. Today, it has been transformed into a cheese experience centre, where you can see how cheese is made, watch cheese masters at work and taste different varieties of cheese.
We first watched a very informative video about the history of the Cheese Warehouse. And we were blown away by what we learned. Did you know that there are 12 cheese warehouses in the region that store a total of over 15 million kilos of cheese?!
We took steep steps up to the first level of the cheese warehouse and were totally surrounded by orange cheese wheels, what a fantastic place! We had never seen anything like that, let alone thought that this is the way cheeses are stored.
During our guided tour we also met the cheese master, and of course tasted some delicious Gouda cheese.
You can also buy Gouda cheese and other local products in the shop as well.
More info: Cheese Warehouse Warden
De Windhond Mill, Woerden
Is there something like ‘too much cheese’?
If you ask us, no!
We enjoyed a nice lunch in restaurant De Woerdenaar, where we tasted some more local cheeses accompanied by a glass of excellent Dutch wine from the picturesque Dutch village of Thorn.
Top notch quality, and a superb lunch again.
We are really starting to fall in love with the Gouda Cheese Valley region!
Next stop: De Windhond mill.
It is a historic and valuable landmark for the city of Woerden. The mill was built in 1755 on an artificial hill that was part of the defensive enclosure of the ancient city. The mill itself has a wing span of 25 meters.
We went up the very steep steps to reach the workshop where flour is still being produced by miller Karel. We had visited mills before, but never a mill that is still operational like this one right here. What an opportunity! If you are brave enough to go up much higher, the view over Woerden from the mill right underneath the rotating wings is absolutely stunning.
The mill sells different types of flour downstairs, from bread flour to flour to make Dutch poffertjes for instance.
More info: De Windhond
De Molen Beer Factory (Bodegraven)
How about we visit another mill?
If you are a beer lover, then a visit to the De Molen Beer Factory in Bodegraven should also be on your to do list when you come to visit Gouda Cheese Valley!
This is not your ordinary brewery, but a small craft beer paradise located in a historic windmill from 1697.
De Molen Beer Factory was founded in 2004 by Menno Olivier, a former homebrewer who wanted to create his own distinctive beers. He started with a small brewing system of 500 liters per batch, but soon expanded to a larger facility nearby. Today, De Molen produces around 25,000 hectoliters of beer per year, and exports to more than 30 countries.
De Molen is known for its experimental and innovative beers, often with high alcohol content and complex flavors. Some of their beers have intriguing names like Hel & Verdoemenis (Hell & Damnation), Moord & Doodslag (Murder & Manslaughter), and Vuur & Vlam (Fire & Flames).
We started our guided tour with an extensive introduction about the brewery, while sipping several of their beers. And they were absolutely delicious, our favorite was a smokey porter. Wow!
After visiting De Molen brewery across the street, we enjoyed some more beers in their brewpub. The weather was again so lovely, so we all sat outside on the benches in the gorgeous September sun sipping beers and eating the classic Dutch bitterballen.
The pub has a lovely food menu, and you can also buy their beer on the spot in the bottle shop.
More info: De Molen Beer Factory
Gouda, cheese city
Off to the next lovely city, Gouda!
We dropped our luggage off at the excellent Best Western Hotel in town, enjoyed some free time to rest and post our experiences in Gouda Cheese Valley on our socials.
In our room was also a welcome gift from the Gouda tourism board: a wheel of Gouda cheese, stroopwafels and beer… What a lovely surprise!
We had dinner at the fantastic restaurant De Kleischuur that focuses on again local, seasonal and organic ingredients. We tasted a bunch of bright flavor combinations and lip smacking local ingredients during our 5 course dinner: mullet, elderflower, kohlrabi, beet, blackberry, carrot, beef, chard, chanterelles, black garlic, just to name a few.
The wine pairing was fantastic as well, owner Marijke really pampered us.
And our dinner in Gouda had the perfect ending with… some local cheeses of course. The Bunker Blauw cheese was a revelation.
Owner and host Marijke was amazing!
What a spectacular dinner we had.
Berg’s Bakery, Gouda
A refreshing night’s sleep at the Best Western, that is what we needed after a full day of exploring.
The breakfast at the hotel looked good, however we knew that we had to pace ourselves.
Why is that?
Because our first stop in the morning was at Berg’s Bakery in the heart of Gouda, where we got our hands dirty making the famous Dutch stroopwafels…
What a cool workshop, highly recommendable!
The owner gave us a brief introduction about the family bakery, showed us how to make a stroopwafel and then let us to the same.
Fluffy thin waffles, baked for one 35 seconds in between the waffle iron, filled with a sugary syrup filling. The freshest stroopwafel we have ever tasted, what an awesome experience.
This workshop is definitely a must!
More info: Berg’s Bakery
Gouda Cheese Weigh House, Gouda
Just a minute walk from Berg’s Bakery is the Gouda Market Square, the heart of the city.
Here is the impressive town hall, which dates back to the 15th century and is one of the oldest in the Netherlands.
Also on the square is the Goudsche Waag, or weigh house, where cheese was weighed and traded in the past. It was built in 1668 by architect Pieter Post. The building is now home to the Gouda Cheese Museum, the VVV tourist information centre for Gouda and a souvenir shop.
The Waag is a national heritage site and one of the most important buildings in Gouda. If you look closely, the facade features a relief sculpture by the sculptor Bartholomeus Eggers, which depicts people weighing cheeses and taking notes.
We were invited to another Gouda cheese tasting on the first floor of the Waag, where we compared 4 different cheeses: a young Gouda, a goat’s cheese, and 2 more aged cheeses. What a great way to compare the flavors, textures and saltiness in 4 different Gouda cheeses!
Here we also learned that the crunchy white specs in aged cheese are not salt crystals, but protein. Did you know that?
More info: Goudsche Waag
Did you know that Gouda has much more to offer than just Gouda cheese?
Gouda is a charming city with a rich history and culture.
It was founded in the 11th century and became a prosperous trading center in the Middle Ages. Gouda is known for its beautiful architecture, such as the Gothic town hall, the medieval St. John’s Church (the longest church in the Netherlands and a UNESCO World Heritage Site), and the picturesque canals and bridges.
During summer months in the city of Gouda, South Holland, there is a cheese market in traditional style once a week primarily as a tourist attraction. Most Dutch Gouda cheese is now produced industrially. However, some 300 Dutch farmers still produce boerenkaas (“farmer’s cheese”) which is a protected form of Gouda made in the traditional manner using raw milk.
Gouda is also home to many museums, art galleries and markets where you can learn more about the city’s heritage and traditions.
Gouda is a wonderful city that is easy to explore on foot. A guided walking tour or a boat tour on the city’s canals will make your experience even more enjoyable and memorable.
We certainly had a great time in Gouda Cheese Valley!