Between Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and The Hague, many tourists lose out on smaller Dutch cities for example Gouda believing that there’s little to determine or do apart from sample some of local kaas. However, look past the obvious, and there are a few excellent good reasons to visit Gouda (other than the cheese!).
But before we delve into the great finds hiding in the hofjes from the city, meander along the postcard-perfect canals or peek indoors which is is a hidden church, there’s one crucial thing you should know before visiting Gouda: you’re probably pronouncing Gouda wrong! Contrary to public opinion, the city’s name is not pronounced ‘GOW-da.’ Instead, the correct pronunciation is ‘HOW-da’.
All of Gouda’s history
The history of Gouda dates completely back to the 12th-century when the place in which the city now stands would be a peat forest. At the moment, small rivers crisscrossed the plains, including the River Gouwe, the waterway that Gouda is known as today.
Along the forest banks, a little community started to form which served to reap the peat and ‘Gouda’ was originally attested like a name in 1139. Through the 13th-century, Gouda began developing rapidly, together with a castle, walls, and a wider community.
Here’s why you need to visit Gouda, the cheese town of Holland, the Netherlands on your next Dutch adventure. How you can visit the city of Gouda and what to do then; admire the canals, benefit from the cheese culture, visit the town museum, and much more!
Unfortunately, tragedy ended up being to strike and fires ravaged through the city within the 14th and 15th-centuries, destroying many of the medieval buildings. Gouda suffered from the Plague throughout the 15th and 16th-centuries. At this time, it’s thought that as much as 20% of the population died from the Plague.
The 19th-century marked a submit the economic tide for Gouda. With the demolition of the city walls and new companies relocating, the town became more prosperous and was well coming to becoming the town the thing is today. Now, when you visit Gouda, you can expect to look for a beautiful mixture of ancient walkways, historic streets, and plenty of pretty canals.
The cobbled lanes and picture-perfect canals
Straight from a storybook (or, at the minimum, a brief history book from the 18th-century), Gouda still retains the historic charm of the small town, rather than a city of over 70,000. Some of the best secret spots and hidden gems of Gouda include the Hofje Van Letmaet and visiting the Oud-Katholieke Kerk Gouda, a Catholic Church that’s hidden behind an unsuspecting Dutch house front.
Of course, no guide on the best good reasons to visit Gouda would be complete with no nod towards the city’s namesake cheese, Gouda. Found through the city, Gouda accounts for well over half of Dutch cheese exportation every year, making it a must-taste for any foodie lovers visiting the Netherlands.
Some from the top cheese experiences available in Gouda include paying a visit to the cheese market each Thursday during the summer months. This world-famous affair is known as Kaas en Ambachtenmarkt. Another must-see cheese-focused attraction within the city is the ‘t Kaaswinkeltje store, which sells Gouda cheese blended with just about everything you could possibly think of. From pesto to truffle, to chilli, this shop truly stocks all of the cheeses (with free samples for you to taste test, obviously!)
Gouda Siroopwafels (Syrup Waffles)
If you thought that the only real culinary delight to be found in Gouda is its famous cheese, you would then be wrong! Instead, another from the city’s most famous exports is the type of stroopwafels (also known as Siroopwafels). Sold in markets and stores across the city, this sweet treat is made from two cookies having a sweet syrup filling.
Gouda Town Hall (Goudse Stadhuis)
Pretty and dating completely back to the 15th-century, it’s difficult to miss the Stadhuis (or town hall as it is so-called in English) freestanding in the very heart of historic Gouda. In 1438, a fireplace ravaged through Gouda, destroying much of the city and leaving the rest in near ashes.
As an effect, the choice was come to construct the town hall in a freestanding manner, away from the remaining buildings in the city. It makes sense the gorgeous Gothic structure that you can see today. When there are no events happening and also the doors of the Stadhuis are open, you can wander inside and revel in delights like the beautiful Mayor’s Office.
Even if the town hall is closed, among the best great finds from the Stadhuis are available around the right-hand side from the building, when facing the structure head-on. For there, perched up high on your wall, a Carillon clock not just announces the hour, but displays a mechanical puppet show two minutes after each 30 minutes.
The Red Lion Windmill (Molen De Roode Leeuw)
For those in search of Holland of old, you need to take a look at the still functioning Red Lion Windmill on the fringes of Gouda’s historic old town. Dating all the way back to 1727, head there and you can witness history for action. A flour shop nearby sells flour ground directly by the mill itself.
The Erasmus Connection
While many maintain that Erasmus Desiderius was created in Rotterdam throughout the late 15th-century, others speculate the great Dutch scholar was actually born in Gouda! Even though there is, of course, an Erasmus statue in Rotterdam, there are also plenty of Erasmus connections in and around Gouda. Popular features of the scholar within the city incorporate a wall bust by Hildo Krop.
The Christmas Market
Each year, one of the best Christmas markets within the Netherlands is locked in the very heart from the city. Other Gouda Christmas highlights incorporate a massive ice skating rink illuminated by a thousand twinkling lights decorating the Stadhuis.
Nearby, stalls sell mulled wine, soup, and hot chocolate. Nearby, a huge Norwegian Christmas tree offers the backdrop for festive events, including free concerts within the world-famous Sint-Janskerk (St. Jan's church).
How to go to Gouda
Easy to achieve like a excursion from the Hague or a excursion from Rotterdam, it’s also worth visiting Gouda in its own right and exploring over the course of a few days. Full of hidden gems, little bars, and pretty alleyways, apart from food, the city is well-known for its shopping scene and insightful museums. To get to know Gouda on the more local level, read this two-hour Gouda monument walking tour.
If you’re planning on spending a little longer within the Dutch city, then you’ll want to book your accommodation ahead of time, especially if you’re thinking about visiting during Christmastime or perhaps in summer time when a cheese market is happening. In the end, space is limited and the best places fill up fast! this two-hour Gouda monument walking tour.
Frequently asked questions regarding Gouda (Gouda FAQs)
Is Gouda cheese from Gouda?
Much like Brie de Meaux originates from Meaux and Comté cheese originates from Franche-Comté region of France, Gouda cheese truly does originate from Gouda. A mild, yellow cheese, the most popular dairy variety is produced in the Dutch manner, though doesn't necessarily have to be produced in Gouda to be called ‘Gouda’.
How far is Gouda from Amsterdam?
Gouda is around 50km from Amsterdam. If you’re seeking to enjoy the city of Gouda as a day trip from Amsterdam, then you’re fortunate! After all, a one way ticket is cheaper than EUR15 and the city to city train takes just under an hour or so (around fifty minutes). While you can drive forwards and backwards cities, using the train is much more time efficient, not to mention more environmentally friendly!
How far is Gouda from Rotterdam?
The second largest city within the Netherlands is Rotterdam and it’s an architectural wonder that’s ever so different from all of those other country. Because of Gouda’s proximity to Rotterdam (just under 20 km), an excursion from Rotterdam to Gouda couldn’t be easier. Trains forwards and backwards cities take under twenty minutes and price under EUR10 each way!