Tourists from different parts of Europe and the world are happy to visit the small city of Alkmaar (Netherlands). The stone-frozen Middle Ages, narrow streets, countless canals, a cheese market, unhurried and measured life of citizens, interesting sights and much more make a trip to this northern city of the Netherlands extremely attractive. Local authorities are developing a tourism business and have succeeded in this: annually the flow of travelers increases, which allows citizens to have a solid budget.
The small town of Alkmaar is located in the north-west of the Netherlands in North Holland (province), 37 kilometers from Amsterdam. Through it are railways and roads, the Northholland Canal. Machine-building factories, metal-working enterprises, and food-processing enterprises work here, a shipyard operates, but tourism is the basis of economic welfare.
According to the latest census in the Netherlands in 2015, 107,600 people lived here. According to the forecasts of specialist demographers who take into account the population growth dynamics of the city, in 2018 it will grow to 130 thousand.
Alkmaar means “surrounded by water.” Like many settlements in the Netherlands, it is indented by canals. Narrow streets, low houses built in the 17th century, antique-style more modern buildings determine its appearance. There are many attractions, visiting which you will make your vacation unforgettable.
In Alkmaar there are many attractions, the contact with which leaves visitors with surprise and delight. Thus, several buildings dating back to the distant Middle Ages have been preserved in the city. Among the famous sights of Alkmaar in the Netherlands is the late Gothic church of St. Lawrence (the building was erected in 1470-1512), the Town Hall building, built at the beginning of the 16th century, residential buildings of the 16th and 17th centuries. There are museums for tourists: the history of Alkmaar, the history of the struggle with the Spaniards, cheese, beer, Beatles.
Cheese was traded in Alkmaar for a long time, but to this day the townspeople observe the tradition and delight tourists with action – cheese trading. The performance “Cheese Market” is held from the end of March to September. Every Friday at Wagplein Square, at the Chamber of Weights and Measures, in front of crowds of tourists, a ceremony for the wholesale of golden cheese heads is held.
“Alkmaran gold” is brought to the square by boats through the canals of local farmers. Under the guidance of a special inspector, the product is unloaded and laid out right in rows in rows.
At the beginning of the market at exactly 10 a.m. the bell rings. Sellers and buyers enter the auction, with the participation of the inspector take a sample, agree on the price of the goods. Then it is weighed. This work is performed by special loaders.
The Guild of Loaders consists of four groups, seven people each. The movers are dressed up in white clothes, and they have hats decorated with ribbon on their heads. Among the members of the groups responsibilities are clearly divided. So, the oldest in age is responsible for setting and accuracy of the readings of the measuring device. Team members load eight heads of dairy product onto a curved stretcher and, hooking them with ropes, drag on themselves for weighing.
Then the product is loaded into carts, and the buyer takes the goods from the market. The whole ceremony lasts until half past twelve. At the end, city guests can buy sliced cheese in bags worth ten euros and purchase various souvenirs.
The theatrical action attracts many tourists, which is used by the Alkmarans and raise the price of “Alkmaar gold” in the central part of the city at all retail outlets.
Enthusiastic viewers can immediately continue exploring the history of the dairy product at the Cheese Museum, which is located on the second and third floors of the Chamber of Weights.
Among the exhibits are many tools for the production of cheese at home. Watching presentations and videos, sightseers get information about the history and technology of dairy product production, about the role that he played in the development and formation of Alkmaar. For little tourists, a quest game is organized here.
- The institution works from 10 to 16.
- Tickets cost 5 euros for adults and 2 for children aged 4 to 12 years.
The cathedral was built from 1470 to 1518; even at the construction stage, the building was called “Grote Kerk” (translated as “large church”). Performed in the style of Brabant Gothic, the building looks majestic, serves as an ornament and the main attraction of the city.
Huge arched columns let in a lot of daylight into the interior of the church. This allows visitors to see in detail the unique carved ceiling and the decoration of the walls. Inside the temple there are organ installations: a small organ, the authorship of the master Jan Vann Kovelens, and a large one, built in the middle of the XVII century. Jacob Vann Hagerber. Small – one of the oldest working tools in the country, and large – claims to be the most beautiful tool in the world.
Today, the temple holds a variety of cultural events and unsurpassed musical meetings. The attraction is located in the central part of Alkmaar on Koorstraat. You won’t miss it if you walk from the train station to Wagplein Square to the cheese fair.
In Canada Square, next to St. Lawrence Cathedral, there is another attraction – the building of the city museum, which was built in 2000. True, the museum itself has been operating since 1875. The institution acquaints tourists with the history of the region, its culture, traditions. Talks about the heroic past (the war with the Spaniards in 1573).
The Golden Age exposition presents the works of the Dutch masters and painters who created in the 16th-17th centuries, Caesar Vann Everdingen, Martin Vann Hemskerk, Jan de Bann, France Menton and Willem Vann de Velde. Contemporary art is represented by the works of Elsie Berg, Charlie Thorop, Jan Slaters, and others.
- The attraction operates every day (Monday off) from 11 to 17 hours.
- Admission is free for children, an adult ticket costs 13 euros, and entrance for seniors is 9 euros.
Among the attractions of Alkmaar in the Netherlands, we note the National Museum of Beer. The subtleties of the manufacturing technology of a delicious drink, the history of the development of mechanisms and devices that accompanied the production process, you will learn by visiting the institution. It works in the winter months from one to four, and in the summer from eleven to half past four.
- Adult entry costs 4 euros for children 2 and 3 euro for seniors.
- On Sunday, the institution does not work.
- Beer tasting is held in the basement and you can stay there until midnight.
The first John Lennon guitar manufactured in Alkmaar is stored here, and the entire exposition is dedicated to the visits of the legendary four to Holland. The museum is open from eleven o’clock until half past four. Entrance ticket costs 4 euros.
Where to stay
Accommodation in the Netherlands for tourists is not cheap, so you need to book it in advance – so you can save several tens of euros. Alkmaar does not have a very wide selection of hotels. You can rent a decent room in the city and beyond in a three-star hotel.
For example, Kings Inn City Hostel offers a room costing 26 € per night, which is the minimum amount. And at the College Hotel Alkmaar, the traveler will have to pay about € 165 per night. Both hotels are located in the city center. Housing can be rented outside Alkmaar. Most three-star hotels provide an average of 55 to 100 € per night. For accommodation, you can rent apartments where prices, as in hotels, are in the range of 60-100 € per day.
How to get to Alkmaar from Amsterdam
The best way to get from Amsterdam to Alkmaar is to use the services of the Netherlands railway. From the central station of the capital every 15 minutes there are trains in a given direction. A ticket costs from 8 to 15 euros (the class of a train and a car affects the price). Journey time 40 minutes. Tickets are bought at the box office and in special machines (they accept only coins, and a ticket costs half a euro cheaper than when buying through the box office).
You can also get there by bus or rental car. True, parking a car may cause problems already at the final destination. You can also come to Alkmaar from Amsterdam by bicycle. The trip takes about 3 hours.
Going to Alkmaar (Netherlands) on a tour, take care in advance of the cultural program of your stay in the city, the itinerary and overnight.
Video: walk around the city of Alkmaar.