There’s More to Alkmaar Than Its Kaasmarkt (Cheese Market):
Alkmaar is a historic city and municipality located in the province of Noord Holland. Whilst most tourists come to Alkmaar to enjoy its traditional kaasmarkt (cheese market), one of the four traditional cheese markets remaining in the Netherlands, the city has 399 listed rijksmonuments (national heritage sites), most of which are situated along the city’s old canals.
Victory Begins at Alkmaar!
Alkmaar’s existence can be traced back to the 10th century. There are many medieval buildings in the city that are still intact, the most notable of these being the Grote Sint-Laurenskerk. Whilst its kaasmarkt (cheese market) may be a star attraction for the city, Alkmaar has another event that it is very proud of – Bij Alkmaar begint de victorie (“Victory begins at Alkmaar”). Each year Alkmaar still celebrates its 1573 success in fighting off the siege by the Spaniards which was the turning point of the Dutch War of Independence from Spain, or the Eighty Years War.
Alkmar Old City
Most of Alkmaar’s attractions are centred around the Old City which can be explored on foot. On the north side is Alkmaar’s main church, the medieval Grote Sint-Laurenskerk, a popular venue for weddings. The Stadhuis (Town Hall) is on Langestraat, the main street which runs from Sint-Laurenskerk and ends just past the Waagplein, the main market square.
The Waag (Weighing House) on Waagplein, is one of the more striking rijksmonuments and a main symbol of Alkmaar. The Waag was originally a church during pre-Reformation times, but these days it houses the Kaasmuseum (Dutch Cheese Museum) and the local tourist office. During the warmer months, a wholesale cheese market operates every Friday on the the square on the north side of the building.
There are several interesting museums in Alkmaar, including:
- the National Beer Museum – the Biermuseum De Boom is located just north of the Waagplein
- the Stedelijk Museum Alkmaar – this is one of the oldest city museums in the Netherlands and covers the history of Alkmaar and the region, and
- a Beatles Museum – If you are wondering why this traditional Dutch city would have a Beatles Museum – it seems that John Lennon’s first guitar was made in Alkmaar.
Hotels in Alkmaar
Hotels in Alkmaar old city include the Grand Hotel Alkmaar, a brand new 4-star hotel in the heart of Alkmaar. Hotel Herenhuys is a small 5-room hotel in a manor house just a minute’s walk from Waagplein. The Zorghotel de Palatijn is a 15-minute walk from the Waagplein.
Alkmaar is about 10 km inland from the coast, and 40 km north-west of Amsterdam.
By Train – There is an Intercity train from Amsterdam to Alkmaar. From Amsterdam Central Station there are direct services to Alkmaar (four services per hour). There are also direct train services from Den Helder, Horn, Haarlem to Alkmaar. See www.ns.nl for travel times and fares.
By Bus – Local bus services connect Alkmaar to surrounding villages and towns, up to about 30 km away. For public transport information, see www.9292ov.nl.
Day trip from Amsterdam to Alkmaar – You can also join a day trip from Amsterdam which includes a visit to the Alkmaar Cheese Market.
Map of Alkmaar: