The Netherlands is a country famous for its canals, tulips, bikes and, of course, its cheese! One of the reasons to visit this country should be trying out all the different varieties of Dutch cheese. It can be found everywhere in the country and all over Amsterdam.
Amsterdam is a city for cheese lovers. All over it, there are specialized shops, such as Amsterdam Cheese Company and Old Amsterdam Cheese Store, where you can find all types of cheese. You can shop for good pieces of cheese at Schiphol Airport, in the Centraal Station and in most supermarkets.
Finding good cheese in Amsterdam is not a hard task, but sometimes finding the obvious in a place where there is plenty of it can be a little overwhelming. I have learned a lot about cheese and where to bring my family and friends when they come to visit me and are expecting to get some advice from me. So much pressure! In this article, you will be able to find my tips and what I have learned throughout the years.
Where to Find Good Cheese
As I was saying before, it is not a coincidence that the Netherlands is worldwide known by its cheese. Finding good cheese is not a hard task, that is for sure. But being a tourist sometimes means not knowing where to go, where you can buy cheese to bring back home without having any customs issues and so on.
Dutch cheese often takes its name after the city of origin: Gouda, Edam, etc. There is no real Amsterdam cheese style, except for Old Amsterdam (claimed to be from here).
However, in Amsterdam, there are a lot of specialized shops where tourists can buy cheeses, in pieces, whole cheese wheels and so on. The most common ones are:
- Old Amsterdam Cheese Store
- Amsterdam Cheese Company
- De Kaaskamer van Amsterdam
Old Amsterdam Cheese Store
Dutch cheese makers classify their cheeses by age, that is why Old Amsterdam. This store specialises in this type of cheese, apparently created by them, and they have three different shops located in the heart of Amsterdam:
- Flowermarket: Singel 490, 1017 AW Amsterdam (everyday, from 10am until 6pm)
- Damrak: Damrak 62, 1012 LM Amsterdam (everyday, from 9am until 10pm)
- Koningsplein: Singel 490, 1017 AW Amsterdam (everyday, from 10am until 6pm)
Old Amsterdam Cheese Store is a great place for a cheese lover. If you want to get some cheese and not miss the experience, go in there, but if you really are cheese passionate, this place is a MUST.
This store is a family-founded business of Dutch who created their own recipe for an Old Amsterdam Cheese, a mature Gouda cheese of special qualities. Besides having their specialty, they count with many varieties of cheeses and souvenirs.
One of their special services is their Tasting Experience. You can book here this tasting activity almost every day of the week after their closing time. In there you will have the pleasure of tasting 5 types of cheese over some good wine and fig bread, as well as water, a little quiz and a free souvenir at the end. The idea is getting to know more about the cheese, their foundation, and creation of Old Amsterdam Cheese and the whole process of creation and steps in general. (Tickets are 20 euros for adults and 15 for kids).
Amsterdam Cheese Company
Amsterdam Cheese Company has 5 stores located in the centre of the city. They open everyday from 10am to 8pm:
- Dam Square (2): Damrak 84, 1012 LP
Nieuwendijk 180, 1012 MT Amsterdam
- Spui (2): Kalverstraat 132, 1012 PP
Wijde Heisteeg 8, 1016 AS Amsterdam
- Leidsesquare: Leidsestraat 2, 1017 PA Amsterdam
You can find cheese, souvenirs and other delicatessens that would bring up the flavors of the cheeses, either in store or online. They ship all over the globe, so if you don’t want to exceed your allowed suitcase weight, you can always check if they send it to your country here.
De Kaaskamer van Amsterdam, literally, the cheese room of Amsterdam, is a less touristic cheese shop that offers over 350 different types of cheese, both Dutch and international ones.
This little cheese supermarket is located in Runstraat 7 1016 GJ (relatively close to Spui) and opens everyday, from Tuesdays to Fridays between 9am and 6pm, and Saturday, Sundays and Mondays from 12pm to 5pm.
This cheese room offers cheese, salumi, souvenirs, catering and a lot of knowledge. You can even go get yourself some sandwich made with their long lists of cheese for lunch. Check them here. You can also place your orders and get it anywhere in the world (link).
If you happen to go there and want to check some Dutch cheese, they offer a lot of different biologically and locally made cheese with or without spices, old and young and wheels or pieces.
Henri Willig’s Cheese Stores
Henri Willig’s cheese stores have its own cheese products, made in their own Dutch farms. There are 13 stores in all Amsterdam, where they offer Henri Willig’s products. These stores also offer a lot of souvenirs and cheese products, other types of food and special experiences.
Henri Willig’s offers a tasting experience that you can book here. You will be up for a little film and presentation of the farms and the process, as well as a little tasting menu with some extra Dutch touches such as mustard and Dutch beer.
In their Damrak store, they also have a restaurant where you can sit for breakfast or lunch and order from a menu with a lot of cheesy options. If you are up for more, there are also tours of the farms where they produce the cheeses, only 20 minutes away from Amsterdam. For more information, you can check it here.
You can find them in all these locations:
- Amsterdams Kaashuis
- De Kaaskelder
- Henri Willig Warmoesstraat
- Henri Willig, Singel
- Henri Willig Westermarkt
- Henri Willig Reguliersbreestraat
- Cheese & More Singel
- Cheese & More Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal
- Cheese & More Kalverstraat
- Cheese & More Leidsestraat
- Cheese & More Nieuwendijk 109
- Cheese & More Nieuwendijk 226
- Cheese & More Stationsplein
Buying Cheese at Schiphol Airport
If you forgot about your cheese, your suitcase is full or the shops are closed already and you are leaving tomorrow, don’t worry. If you are going back home by plane you can always get some at the airport, before and after security check. Planning on buying your cheese at the airport is a good idea anyway. Why? I think these are good reasons:
- Luggage: nowadays most airlines are very strict when it comes to the amount of luggage you can bring with you, but they can’t forbid you to bring your duty-free shopping onboard. If you run out of space in your luggage or you know cheese will take a lot of space, this is a solution.
- Time: airlines ask you to be at the airport 2 hours before your flight, at least. Sometimes you need all that time but sometimes you don’t. If you are like me and always have time to walk around the duty-free, leaving your cheese shopping for the airport is a good option.
- Duty-free: I am not sure buying cheese at the airport will be cheaper, but I am 100% sure they have a lot of good deals if you buy more than one piece, they always have offers!
Say Cheese (Schiphol Airport)
After security check, duty free, you can find Say Cheese, a small cheese-shaped store where you will also be able to find the most popular Dutch cheeses, souvenirs and all kinds of tools and food to accompany cheese (such as the already mentioned mustard, wine, and fig bread).
Say Cheese: Lounge 3, after security, Schiphol Airport. Open from 5am until 1:30am.
Dutch Food Gifts (Schiphol Airport)
Also after security, you will find two stores of Dutch Food Gifts. This is not a specialised cheese store, but a Dutch delicatessen store: you will find many drinks, stroopwafels, souvenirs and cheese (including Old Amsterdam).
Dutch Food Gifts: Also after security, BC hall and Holland Boulevard from 5am until 1:30am.
Cheese at Amsterdam Central Station
If instead of going back home by plane, you are going by train, there are also cheese shops at Amsterdam CS. This is the most centric one:
Cheese & More by Henri Willig: located in Stationsplein 39, 1012 AB (Central Station), opening from 9am until 9pm.
Buying Cheese: My Tips
Maybe you have a lot of questions about cheese, and these are some of the ones I remember my friends and family asking when they wanted to buy cheese:
How do I know what to buy? Of course, this comes by taste, but you need to know if you like what you are buying before you spend your money on a heavy cheese wheel or already packed cheese. When you enter any of the shops I have mentioned in this article, you either have samples of all the cheeses or you are on your full right to ask for a sample of any of them. Sometimes they don’t have all the samples available for the public but they have their own fridges and most shops are willing to share their precious cheese with authentically interested buyers.
Can I transport cheese? cheese is not the same as meat or other types of food. The process of the creation of cheese makes it a safe product to transport to other continents. I have brought it to the USA without having any issues nor having to declare it. Cheese is not a problem. If you want to keep it fresh, however, you have two options: one of them is asking at the store for vacuum closed cheese, which are very popular for tourists, or buying your cheese at the other side of the airport, at the duty free, where it will for sure be properly packed. I remember last time I bought some, I was given some special paper to put the cheese on to keep it fresh for as long as possible. Good service!
Another good option would be to ask for their shipping service. The stores that offer it are linked in this article, offering this service on their websites. If you ask at the store, they will also be able to inform you if they offer it, where and prices. Just ask!
Besides questions, here are the pieces of advice I have learnt through my experience buying cheese in Amsterdam:
Tip 1: among all the souvenirs you will find at the shops, there are a lot of cool cheese cutting tools. The first time I saw these tools was when I move to the Netherlands, and Dutch people actually use them a lot! I haven’t seen these tools anywhere else in the world, and they make cutting, grilling and enjoying cheese much easier and why not, also much more fun. I got a mini set of them with some cheese for my brother in law and he definitely loved it.
Tip 2: if you go to certain supermarkets like the Albert Heijn in Museumplein or Dam Square, they will also offer a variety of cheeses. These are not necessarily cheaper than the ones on stores, but there are small pieces and different cuts. If you want to enjoy cheese while being there and not necessarily bring it along with you on a plane, there are some high quality cheeses at these supermarkets.
Gouda: day trip
If you are a real cheese fan and while you are visiting Amsterdam you have time for a day trip, Gouda is your place. This town is the origin of the famous Gouda cheese and it is not only a place to visit for peregrination, but also for amazing cheese.
I have brought all the cheese lovers of my family to visit this small Dutch locality and they all have loved it. It is located in the south of Amsterdam, an hour away by train from Central Station. It belongs to the province of South Holland (to know more about the provinces read here) and it is one of the charming towns of the Netherlands.
In Gouda you will also have a lot of amazing little shops with hundreds of varieties of Gouda cheese to try and to buy. It is a whole experience, knowing that you are in the same town this amazing cheese was invented, checking out the buildings and all the constructions that represent the real Dutch country side.
How do you get there? Well, the Dutch train system is very comfortable to use, you can learn more about visiting cities around Amsterdam here. In the case of Gouda, you can go there going through Rotterdam or Utrecht, both cities worth visiting too. Don’t forget that the Netherlands (or Holland) is a very small territory and going from one place to another is relatively easy. Taking a train to go there will cost you around 30 euros return and you can either do it on a machine or at CS. The trains go there every 30 minutes or so and it will take you approximately 1 hour.
Extra tip: if you happen to be there on a Saturday, they have the local market in the middle of the square. There you will not only find cheeses but also some other Dutch typical delicatessen such as freshly made (and warm) stroopwafels, poffertjes and many more delicious food. Besides, ALL THE STORES HAVE FREE SAMPLES of all their cheeses, it is the paradise of samples.
Sometimes the best way of enjoying some good cheese is not only by choosing the product but the company, the ambience and the selection of food you are eating it with. A very typically Dutch way of enjoy cheese is a Borrel. Borrels imply first and foremost drinking some good beer (also something very easy to find when in Amsterdam) with some snacks, Dutch famous meatballs, bitterballen, with mustard, Surinamese fried pastries and, of course, cheese!
The places I like doing this the most are:
De Brabantse Aap: Spui 30, 1012 XA Amsterdam, opens from 11am until 1am.
De Brabrantse Aap is a very Dutch place very close to Spui and Koningsplein with outdoor and indoor places to enjoy their big selection of beer and their cheese table. Much recommended!
If you like the idea of beer and cheese combined together, here there is a list of trendy places that offer them in Amsterdam: article.
Finally, my last general recommendation to visit while in Amsterdam, not only for their cheeses (but also for the cheeses) is the Albert Cuyp Market: opens from 9am to 5pm everyday except Sundays. There you will be able to find typical Dutch food, fresh food, clothing, shoes, flowers and random products of all sorts. Definitely worth visiting!