The Dutch have a phrase about a person who doesn’t know anything about a given topic: they are said to have eaten no cheese of that something. While Amsterdam is well known for many things, its canals, its dubiously named coffeehouses, its culture and for its self-righteous cyclists, there’s another common sight peppered around the capital of the Netherlands: cheese shops. They’re filled with giant yellow wheels of the delicious stuff and while catering mostly to tourists, it’s difficult to imagine just who is buying them to take home with them, cheese not being particularly known for travelling well. But tastings are a different matter entirely. Hopefully, with a little help from our list below, by the time you leave Amsterdam, you will have eaten your cheese of the Dutch cheese world, in both senses.
One of the great things about cheese tastings in Amsterdam from an adult’s perspective, is that the Dutch understand the rule that no good cheese tasting should exist without wine. Thus, the following selection of tours and tastings all add a mildly bacchanalian component to the proceedings. We selected these best cheese tasting experiences based on multiple factors such as value for money, duration and the amount of cheese and wine that one is allowed to quaff in that time, which naturally affects the ratings left by previous participants.
FROM: €17.50/per person
Henri Willig is one of the foremost Dutch cheese makers, well known for its baby gouda and various other varieties of that delicious dairy product. On this cheese tasting, right in the centre of Amsterdam, you can sample five different cheeses, along with a dip or mustard, then wash it all down with red wine or a locally brewed beer. And if anything tickles your taste buds, then there’s also a discount at the shop for participants afterwards. This tasting also includes a little history on the company’s and the Dutch cheese making process.
From €20/ per person
If you ever wondered what it takes to get the much-vaunted job of cheese taster, this session along the centrally-located Damrak street will put you on course to becoming a master. Try five different varieties of gouda cheese made by the family-run cheese makers Westland Kaasspecialiteiten (try pronouncing that after a few too many vinos!). These are served with carefully-curated wine pairings and a little fig bread to help cleanse the palate between each. By the end you’ll hopefully have a better grasp of the major cheese-makers of the Netherlands and a new-found appreciation for the intricacies of a gouda.
From €23/ per person
Although Reypenaer is one of the smaller cheese brands in the Netherlands, their Amsterdam tasting room is rated as one of the very best by the country’s tourism agency. And that’s not just because they offer a little extra to guests with six tastings and a little cheese gift to take home with you either. As you taste the artisanal cheeses, you’ll be given notes on how to evaluate each one’s qualities, such as the subtler flavours and aromas, not unlike (but nowhere near as refined) a fine wine, of which there are special pairings to go with the goudas. You can choose between white, red or port wine. Non-alcoholic drinks are also available.
From €29/ per person
When cheese on its own is not enough (it should always be enough), you can always throw another of Amsterdam’s main attractions into the mix and head out on a canal cruise. The vessel is a cosy wooden saloon barge. There’s plenty of space on board for guests and a nice long table at which cheese tastings and drinks are served as you watch the historic city pass by from the water. During the 75-minute trip you’ll pass by landmarks like Anne Frank House and the Jordaan while sampling gouda and other snacks along with a selection of wines and soft drinks. There are often four departures a day, although if the evening trip coincides with sunset during your visit, this would be the finest way to experience Amsterdam.
From €43/ per person
Cheese, glorious cheese. It always tastes better when you’ve worked up an appetite first. This walking tour is a perfect way to combine an introduction to the city with an immersion into the world of Dutch cheese. See popular sights like Anne Frank House, the Red Light District, Jordaan Street, the Royal Palace and the Chinese neighbourhood. Hear tales from the city’s storied past, including that of the Nazi occupation and of how marijuana came to be decriminalized, before winding up at Reypenaer (the very same as listed above) for a six-cheese tasting session and a little wine with which to wash it all down.