North Holland

On Friday mornings in season, waxed rounds of kaas (cheese) are ceremoniously stacked on the main square. Soon, porters appear in colourful cheese-guild hats, and dealers in white smocks insert a hollow rod to extract a cheese sample, and sniff and crumble to check fat and moisture content. Once deals are struck, the porters whisk the cheeses on wooden sledges to the old cheese scale. It's primarily for show but as living relics go it's both fascinating and entertaining.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby North Holland attractions

1. Waaggebouw

0.02 MILES

Built as a chapel in the 14th century, the Waaggebouw was pressed into service as a weigh house two centuries later. This handsome building houses the…

2. Hollands Kaasmuseum

0.02 MILES

Housed in the former weigh house the Waaggebouw, the Dutch Cheese Museum has a reverential display of cheese-making utensils, photos and paintings…

3. Nationaal Biermuseum

0.05 MILES

Housed in the atmospheric old De Boom brewery, the Nationaal Biermuseum has a decent collection of beer-making equipment and wax dummies showing how the…

4. Stadhuis

0.19 MILES

A local landmark, Alkmaar's Stadhuis was built between 1509 and 1520 in Gothic style. Additions over the ensuing years include a Dutch Classicist wing in…

5. Grote Kerk


Alkmaar's Grote Kerk is renowned for its organs. The most famous is the little 'Swallow Organ' (1511) in the north ambulatory. The 17th-century organ…

6. Stedelijk Museum

0.32 MILES

The Stedelijk Museum's collection of oil paintings by Dutch Masters, including impressive life-sized portraits of Alkmaar nobles, is alone worth the entry…

7. Museum BroekerVeiling


The waterlogged area north of Alkmaar was once home to 15,000 tiny, yet productive, farms, each one an island, whose farmers tended their crops by rowboat…

8. Zaans Museum

11.32 MILES

The impressive Zaans Museum traces windmill history from the very first mills and covers Dutch culture and costume; there's also a painting by Monet, who…