City Breaks

Gouda - There's more than just cheese

Gouda is famous for its delicious cheese, but there is so much more to discover in this most quintessential of Dutch cities.

Whether you go for the classic cheese experience, or to explore the historic buildings and churches, the southern city of Gouda is well worth a visit on your Dutch holiday.

Gouda - There's more than just cheese

There certainly is. Of course, when visiting Gouda the cheese is hard to miss. From the cheese shops to the cheese market and the De Waag, the product for which Gouda is famous is rightly celebrated. 

But did you know that Gouda was also the childhood home of the Renaissance philosopher Erasmus, boasts the longest church in the Netherlands and holds the largest Christmas by candlelight event in the country?

Where is Gouda?

You can find Gouda in the south of Holland, around half an hour’s drive from Rotterdam. Other Dutch cities in close proximity are the seaside city of The Hague, beautiful Utrecht and, around an hour’s drive to the north, the capital Amsterdam. If you're planning to travel through the Netherlands, it's an ideal stop for a day or two.

Wheels of cheese on red pallet with larger piles of cheese in background, in town square, with men in white coats inspecting

Driving to Gouda from Calais

Visiting Gouda from LeShuttle is quicker than you might think. The fastest route from our Calais terminal will get you to Gouda, Holland in just under four hours. You will experience a beautiful drive through France, Belgium and the Netherlands on your journey.

Must-see attractions in Gouda

There are plenty of opportunities to ‘say cheese’ in Gouda! From the captivating towers and spire of the Town Hall to the flower-flanked canals and windmills, your camera or phone will be happily snapping away.

Gouda cheese market

Thursday is cheese market day in Gouda, so if you are in the town between April and August you will be able to take in this world famous foodie spectacle. It is held in front of Goudse Waag, just like it has been for hundreds of years. While it is fascinating to watch the cheese traders do business, it is also a chance for you to buy the local produce at the Gouda cheese market.

Market Square

The Plaza Markt is the centre of life in Gouda. It is home to the stunning town hall, the cheese market, the Goudse Waag and a pleasant variety of shops, restaurants, bars, cafés and food vendors.

It is the ideal spot for a bite to eat (cheese perhaps?) or just to feast your eyes on the magnificent buildings. At Christmas time it is also the venue for ‘Gouda by Candlelight’, when the town’s Christmas tree (a gift from Gouda’s Norwegian sister town) and all the buildings in the market square are illuminated solely by candlelight. First held in 1956, it is the largest candlelit festive celebration in the Netherlands.

Huge brightly lit Christmas tree at night with Gouda town hall behind it, illuminated in light blue

Gouda Stadhuis (the town hall)

The 15th century town hall in the market square is an icon of Gouda, and one of the oldest gothic city halls in the Netherlands.  It dates back as far as 1448 or 1450, and has been through many modifications, including the removal of the moat that initially protected the hall.

It's also striking on the inside, and visitors are free to wander through the halls, looking at the open rooms and snapping pictures (without a flash) of the art and interior decorations.

Church of St. John

Across from the Markt is the city’s main place of worship, the Sint Janskerk (Church of St. John). The stained-glass windows are wonderfully detailed and colourful, including beautiful depictions of scenes from the life of Jesus. They were installed between 1555 and 1571 by the brothers Dirk and Woulter Crabeth.

The Sint Jans church itself is a large, Gothic building, built in the 15th and 16th centuries. In fact, at 123 metres it is the longest church in the Netherlands! 

There are lots more churches to discover in this incredible country of stunning architecture and rich history.

Kaasboerderij Jongehoeve working cheese farm

To truly appreciate the history and importance of Gouda and Dutch cheese, drive 20 minutes south of the city. There you will find Kaasboerderij Jongehoeve, a working cheese farm near the De Lek river.

It has a rustic and traditional feel which will give you an amazing insight into how cheese is made. Guided tours are available of the farm and you can also sample some fine fresh produce.

Windmill in background on bank of a canal, with canal boats and barges in the foreground. Cloudless deep blue sky

Museum Gouda

To get to know the city intimately, take a few hours to wander through the Gouda Museum. It’s not only cheese that the museum focuses on, but the whole tapestry of Gouda’s past, including religious and secular art, pottery, silverware and ceramics. 

The museum is located in the old hospital, Catherina Gasthuis, on Achter de Kerk street, where Erasmus of Rotterdam lived as a child. He went on to become one of the world’s most highly regarded Renaissance humanists, priests, philosophers and teachers.

Molen De Roode Leeuw (Red Lion Windmill)

Standing proudly on the edge of one of Gouda’s canals is the Red Lion Windmill, a fine example of a working mill dating from 1727. 

The Red Lion windmill has been lovingly restored in recent decades. Although no longer producing flour, the windmill still works and you can see the sails turn and the mechanical parts of the mill are on display. You really get a sense of how these marvellous structures operate.

De Waag

To learn how the production of Gouda cheese put the city on the map, visit the De Waag (the weigh house). Farmers used to come here to have their cheese weighed and inspected before being sold. It is now the Goudse Waag, a museum about Gouda and its cheesy past.

The museum doesn't just focus on Gouda's cheese history, but the history of Dutch cheese too. Cheese and wine and cheese and beer tastings are also available most days at the museum between March and November, but should be pre-booked.

Square detached civic building on two stories, red and blue shutters on lower halves of windows, coat of arms in the pediment

Gouwekerk church

The second of the major churches in Gouda is the neo-gothic Gouwekerk, pleasantly located on a bend in the canal on the Hoge Gouwe. It is a later addition to the city and was constructed in 1904. Utilizing a traditional cruciform style, the church has a large central tower that looms above the surrounding buildings.

Discover Gouda with LeShuttle

So as you can see, there is certainly more to Gouda than cheese. If you’re planning a trip to the Netherlands, put Gouda on your itinerary.  It’s only 40 minutes drive from another of the most beautiful of Dutch cities, Delft, and less than four hours from LeShuttle's Calais Terminal. Remember, we can get you to France from Folkestone in just 35 minutes.

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Cheese wheel in basket of a bicycle, outside a café or shop, with a tub of red tulips behind the bike

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