Gouda is a medium-sized city, in the province of South Holland, known for its unique city hall and Sint-Janskerk. Het Stadhuis, or City Hall, is a frequently photographed, stone, Gothic building, with stunning red shutters, that sits on the edge of the main market square, in the historic center of the city. Sint-Janskerk is a 16th-century church, which houses the largest collection of 16th-century stained glass windows in the Netherlands–works of art that really are something to see.
And then there is, of course, the cheese. But, spend a little bit more time in Gouda and it soon becomes apparent that there is much more to this city than cheese. Gouda has a lively central market, surrounded by historic buildings and inviting cafes, canals, and art. Here are some suggestions of the best things to do in Gouda, even though some of them do involve cheese!
1. Enjoy Gouda's 15th-century city hall
Het Stadhuis van Gouda, otherwise known as City Hall, is a stunning building, with unmistakable red shutters. Het Stadhuis sits on a plaza, surrounded by cafes and shops, in the historic center of downtown Gouda. The building, constructed between 1448 and 1459, opened for official business in 1450. It is one of the oldest Gothic city halls in the Netherlands.
Het Stadhuis van Gouda
Address: Markt 1, 2801 JG Gouda
Website: Gouda’s City Hall
2. Wander through the galleries of Museum Gouda
Museum Gouda, located in the “Catharina Gasthuis,” is home to a large collection of paintings from the Barbizon and Hague schools of the 19th century. The museum also has galleries displaying the city’s famous clay pipes and ceramics, medieval torture instruments, and 17th-century altarpieces. An outdoor sculpture garden and a fully preserved pharmacy, from the period when the Gasthuis served as a refuge for the homeless, sick, and aged, are just a few of the museum’s other attractions.
Address: Achter de Kerk 14, 2801 JX Gouda
Website: Museum Gouda
3. Lose track of time looking at the stained glass windows of Sint-Janskerk
Sint-Janskerk, a 16th-century church dedicated to St. John the Baptist, Gouda’s patron saint, is best known for its 71 stained glass windows. Of the church’s stained glass masterpieces, 61 were created between 1540 and 1603. Originally a Catholic church, Sint-Janskerk became a Protestant place of worship in 1573, as a result of the Dutch Revolt. The altars and other objects associated with Catholicism were removed, but the windows remained untouched.
Address: Achter de Kerk 16, 2801JX Gouda
4. Learn how cheese is made at the Goudse Waag
The Goudse Waag, built in 1669, was originally used for weighing various products, including cheese. It now houses the Cheese and Crafts Museum. The museum offers cheese tasting, tours of the building, and demonstrations of various crafts.
De Goudse Waag
Address: Markt 35, 2801 JK Gouda
Website: De Goudse Waag
5. Take a self-guided walking tour of Gouda's historic city center
Spend an hour or two walking through Gouda’s historic city center and learning about some of the city’s most interesting buildings. The VVV Tourist Office has several different self-guided walking tour options available. During your walk, make sure to take the time to sit at a cafe somewhere along the way, have a cup of coffee, and watch the world go by.
VVV Tourist Office
Address: Markt 35, 2801, 2801 JK Gouda
Website: VVV Tourist Office
6. Walk through Gouda's traditional cheese market
On Thursday mornings, during the summer, Gouda hosts a traditional cheese market. Watch as cheese is bought and sold, the old-fashioned way. The market also has other specialty products available.
Gouda Cheese Market
Address: Markt, 2801 JG Gouda
Website: Gouda Cheese Market
7. Relax during a boat tour along Gouda's canals
Take a break from all of the walking and relax during a boat tour of Gouda’s canals. See the city from a different perspective. There are a number of different tours available and prices vary according to their length and details. There is also an onboard mini bar and snacks available on the boats or you can arrange a lunch, high tea or buffet dinner for your special event. Canal tours operate on a seasonal basis, so make sure to call ahead before going.
Canal tour of Gouda
Address: Oosthaven 9, 2801 PB Gouda
Website: Reederij de IJsel
8. Spend an hour at the Verzetsmuseum Zuid-Holland
The Verzetsmuseum Zuid-Holland is a small museum with exhibits dedicated to life in Gouda and the province of South Holland, during the Second World War. The museum’s exhibits emphasize issues related to the International Declaration of Human Rights. Documents, photos, weapons, dossiers, and uniforms are just a few of the things on display.
Address: Turfmarkt 30, 2801 HA Gouda
Website: Verzetsmuseum Zuid-Holland
9. Get up close and personal with a windmill
De Roode Leeuw, built in 1727, is a working windmill. The windmill is approximately a 10-minute walk from the Markt. De Roode Leeuw currently produces a variety of craft flours. If you want to tour the area, make sure you arrange that in advance.
De Roode Leeuw
Address: Vest 65, 2801 VE Gouda
Website: De Roode Leeuw
Good times in Gouda!
This wonderful city offers a variety of activities. Gouda has dynamic museums, canals to explore, opportunities to learn about how cheese is made, and beautiful historic buildings, all around. The historic center is the perfect size for walking and Gouda’s central train station is a mere 10-minute walk from the Markt.
It takes just under an hour to get to Gouda from Amsterdam on the train and the city is just the right size for a day trip. So why not treat yourself to some good cheese, some even more amazing sights, and spend an afternoon in Gouda.
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