Spotlight on Alkmaar

August 3, 2017

This quaint Dutch town is almost a miniature Amsterdam, with beautiful canals, gabled Flemish architecture and a relaxed, easy atmosphere. No one is in a hurry here, unless it’s to the cheese market, of course. The town flourishes from tourism, allowing it to develop its cultural scene to maintain a sense of modernity, with independent boutiques and chic B&B’s.

 

Things to do

  • Cheese is an art here, crafted and perfect over countless hours, weeks, years. The Cheese Market takes place every Friday from March to September and is a ceremonial event that sees vibrant yellow wheels carted into the main square by locals in native attire.
  • Keep up the theme and venture to the Cheese Museum which contains a collection of paintings, artefacts and interactive exhibitions that narrate the history of Dutch cheese.
  • Take the short drive to the coast and visit the alabaster Lighthouse JCJ van Speyk. At the foot of the lighthouse is a magnificent iron lion. Built in 1833, it’s a testament to the historical heritage of the area.
  • Say a little prayer in Grote Kerk, a medieval establishment built in the 15th century and home to two of the most outstanding musical organs.
  • Don’t forget Matthias Laurentius Church, built in 1859-1861 and designed by Piere Cuypers who also designed Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum and Central Station. The pointed arches, vaulted ceilings and medieval-esque doors are a reminder of the Gothic revival of the 19th
  • Take a canal cruise. It will last around 45 minutes and, not only will you be able to enjoy Alkmaar’s sights by water, your guide will also give you an insight into the background of this town.

 

Where to eat

  • Sometimes you just can’t beat chips, and this family business take their fast food seriously. De Vlaminck is situated, almost as if fate decreed it, next to the National Beer Museum. Beer and chips. What could be better? Plus, there’s 18 sauces to choose from including Dutch, Belgian and speciality options.
  • Opened in 1913, Kaan’s Kaashandel is the place to go for cheese in Alkmaar. The charming, ‘hole-in-the-wall’ exterior only emphasises its longevity. There are cheese here as young as 3 months and as old as 10 years. Temperature and tranquillity are all taken into account during production, meaning the end result is spectacular.
  • Find delicious dining down by the canal at IJkgebouw, with views of the nearby park, too. Dine outdoors to take full advantage of the views. Raining? Take it to the conservatory, instead. This French restaurant offers 3 and 4 courses dinners, as well as all day breakfasts and sandwiches.
  • Bakery Café Bloem is a cute and quirky coffee shop, perfect if you’ve spend a few hours on your feet looking around Alkmaar’s retail area. Home-cooked with love, this café has sweet and savoury options, plus healthy alternatives and sugar-free desserts.

 

Where to drink

  • Of All Places, a delicatessen and winery, offers a wide selection of wines, available for tasting sessions as well to purchase, with liquers available, too.
  • Located near the Molen van Groot windmill, Café Bruintje is a brown café that specialises in Dutch gin, with local beers, too.
  • Head to the National Beer Museum, housed in a former brewery, and learn all about the history of Dutch Brewing before descending to the De Boom Tasting Cellar for a collection of Dutch speciality beers. If the weather’s nice, take your beer out onto the floating terrace.

 

How to get there

Just 25 minutes north of our Dutch port of IJmuiden, hop on a ferry to Holland from Newcastle and start discovering Alkmaar now.

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