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Travel Guide Europe Netherlands South Holland Gouda

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Introduction

Cheese city Gouda

Cheese city Gouda

© All Rights Reserved Utrecht

Named a city in 1272, Gouda has changed in its role many times in history. Known best for its association with cheese it has also been the producer and exporter of carpets, pottery, beer, smoking pipes, candles and stroopwafels (syrup waffles). With a population of more than 70,000 people and an average of 1,000,000 tourists a year this can be a very popular place to visit.

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Neighbourhoods

For visitors, the best place to enjoy the city is the historic inner city, which is very compact and only a five minutes walk south from Gouda's railway (and bus) station. Almost all of the sights are within this small area (just a few square kilometres), bordered by canals on the North, West and East side, and the Hollandse IJssel river on the south side. Like other old cities in South-Holland province, the charm of Gouda as a destination is that you can see very much just walking around on a day trip or in a weekend.

Outside of the inner city, the green surroundings to the south (a typical region of polders) and the east (a complex of lakes and wetland, originating from ancient times that peat was "harvested" as a fuel and building material), are very much worth a visit too by car, public transportation, and especially by bicycle or E-bike.

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Sights and Activities

Most of the attractions of Gouda are in the centre (centrum) of the city.

  • The market (De Markt) is the real heart of the old city. It is a triangular square, pedestrian area at most times, with many restaurants and terraces in the historic buildings around it. On Saturday (whole day) the market square itself hosts a big market with many stalls selling cheese, vegetables, bread and pastries, fresh fish and other articles. Sitting outside with a traditional beer or other drink at one of the terraces, watching people and activity and listening to the carillion every 15 minutes makes people imagine how it may have been in the Middle Ages.
  • Cheese Market - From April through August, on Thursday mornings, there is a traditional Cheese Market on the Market Square. The farmers and traders buy and sell cheeses in the traditional way, but there are also market stalls where visitors can buy cheese and other local delicacies.
  • The old City Hall (Het Stadhuis) has been built after the ancient town fell victim to devastating fire in 1438. The rulers of Gouda then decided that the new town hall should be a free standing building, in the middle of the market field. The result was a beautiful building that gives a unique character to what now still is the Market Square. It does not house the city government anymore these days, but is used for ceremonial purposes, and inside is a gorgeous wedding hall. The outside is picture perfect, but if the main door is open, one can walk inside and admire the interior of the wedding hall, the former mayor office and the council chamber.
  • Sint Jans Kerk is an impressive church, tucked in some small street just behind the Market Square, opposite of the Stadhuis. The original church, which was first mentioned in documents from the year 1280, was destroyed during the great fire. The church as it is there now, was completed in 1560. With 123 meters it is the longest church in the Netherlands. It is very famous for its stained windows. Every window has a story to it, and much glass work has been added over the centuries. Almost all stained glass windows are from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, and are a mix of biblical and historic themes. In the 20th and 21th century, two new stained glass windows were added: the Liberation Day window in 1947, and the Erasmus window in 2016, which was the Erasmus year. Philosopher and humanist Desiderius Erasmus was a "son of Gouda", be it born out of wedlock, which was a guarantee for some extra challenges in life in those days. His father was a priest in Gouda and his mother was a housekeeper. There is controversy if he was actually born here, or in Rotterdam. There is a statue of him that says in Latin that he was "conceived in Gouda and born in Rotterdam". In any event, he lived a good part of his life in Gouda. The church can be visited between 09:00 and 17:30 in summer season, and between 10:00 and 16:00 in the winter season.
  • The weighing building (De Waag) is on the other end of the Market Square. It is another historic building, with a small cheese museum inside as well as a shop. It is also the location of the Tourist Information office. It was built between 1668 and 1670 after the town had been granted the right to open an official weighing station. In the beginning it was used for weighing all sorts of goods, but over time, cheese became the most important product weighed here. The building is famous because of a number of relief stones in the facade. Also, the building became the standard for the maximum height of other buildings. For example, the (also historic) inn next to it, had to be six feet lower.

Some of the other important sights include:

  • Museum Gouda, a historic museum
  • The Agnieten Chapel
  • The canal banks Gouwe and Haven with the traditional covered terraces where the fish market used to be
  • Not less than 330 protected historic monuments
  • The neogothic Gouwekerk, with an eye-catching tower (with 80 metres the highest point in the old city)
  • Windmill the Roode Leeuw and the nearby Museum Harbour (Museumhaven)
  • Windmill 't Slot on the remains of the old city fortification, and the nearby Oude Tolhuis (former toll station for the ships)

Throughout the old city there are many small streets and alleys, inner courts etc. with many historic details.

A very detailed map with all the historic site as well as shops can be found here.

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Events and Festivals

Koningsdag (King's Day)

In 2013, the Dutch throne was passed on to King Willem-Alexander and what used to be Koninginnedag (Queen's Day) will from 2014 become Koningsdag (King's Day). The date will be changed to the 27th of April, which is the king's birthday. In 2014 however it will be on the 26th of April because the 27th falls on a Sunday. On this day the streets of almost every sizable town in the country come alive with activity.

  • Candle Night (Kaarsjes avond)

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Getting There

By Plane

Gouda doesn't have it's own airport though Rotterdam Airport 30.2 kilometres, Amsterdam airport (Schiphol) 64.9 kms, and Eindhoven airport 114 kilometres, are the closest.

By Train

The Dutch National Rail service or NS Nederlandse Spoorwegen has 2 stations. Gouda, and an outer suburb, Gouda-Gowerwelle. There are direct services to Gouda from Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht, and The Hague (Den Haag).

By Car

Close to the junction of the A12 & A20 motorways, the city centre is a short drive from the motorway exit.

  • The Hagueg - about 20 minutes, take the A12 towards Utrecht
  • Rotterdam - about 15 minutes, take the A20 towards Utrecht.
  • Amsterdam, Schiphol or Leiden - Take the A4 towards Leiden, then the N11 (via Alphen aan den Rijn). Or (slightly longer, but without leaving the motorway), take the A4 to Den Haag and then the A12 to Gouda.

By Bus

Connexxion buslines can take you to or from Gouda connecting you with all the local villages as well as Rotterdam, Utrecht, and The Hague (Den Haag)

By Boat

You can bring you own boat into the city via the system of locks and canals.

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Getting Around

By Car

You can drive around the outer part of the city, but the centre is pedestrians only so its best to park your car and look around on foot.

By Public Transport

The train station is a short walk from the city centre. You can take a No.3 bus but it is only a short walk.

By Foot

The best way to see the city. The centre of Gouda is easy to walk around. Most of the streets are pedestrianized. The main shopping street, Kleiweg, is pedestrianized and bike free. At the centre of Gouda and the end of Kleiweg is the central square of the city, called Markt. The Stadhuis and De Waag are here, and this is where the weekly cheese market takes place.

By Bike

Where better to ride a bike than a country that has a love affair with them. You wont need one to get around though. If you want to travel outside the centre of Gouda, biking is a good option. At the tourist office, staff can tell you the most interesting routes to cycle, both within the city as well as the immediate surroundings (Groene Hart). Most of the streets in the centre are bike friendly, the main exception being Kleiweg. You can walk along this street with your bike, just don't cycle. As you would expect in a Dutch city, there are lots of bicycle parking opportunities. Make sure you lock it. Bike theft is very common in the Netherlands.

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Eat

There is a wide choice of restaurants, ranging from fastfood/snackbars to very good restaurants, mainly Dutch/French kitchen, but also lots of Asian and Italian options.

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Drink

There is a wide range of bars in the centre of the city. During the summer it is common to sit outside and enjoy a beer in the sun on the terras.

  • De Zalm - A great bar in an even better location right in the centre close to De Kaas Waag.
  • De Beurs Klok - This is a great place to have a drink as well as serving some fantastic food.
  • De Gouwe Geit - This not your regular bar but it does have alot of character and alot of fun locals

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Sleep

  • Best Western City Hotel Gouda, Hoge Gouwe 201 (Western corner of the city centre, in the 'Bolwerk' area.), ☎ +31 182-860086, e-mail: info@bestwesterngouda.nl. Modern hotel with 101 rooms, part of the Best Western chain, but conveniently and nicely located in the historic centre.
  • Campanile Hotel Gouda, Kampenringweg 39-41 (2km from city centre, at the A12 motorway), ☎ +31 182-535555, fax: +31 182-571575, e-mail: gouda@campanile.com. 75 rooms with satellite TV and Wifi. Restaurant with buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner. Double/twin €80+.
  • Hotel De Keizerskroon, Keizerstraat 11-13, ☎ +31 182-528096, fax: +31 182-511777, e-mail: info@hotelkeizerskroon.nl. Budget hotel, right in the centre of town. Ensuite: Double €79.50, triple €95. Shared bathroom: Single €50, double €60, triple €69.50.
  • Hotel De Utrechtsche Dom, Geuzenstraat 6 (In the centre), ☎ +31 182 528833, e-mail: info@hotelgouda.nl. Characteristic family hotel in the centre of Gouda. Breakfast included. Ensuite: Suite €125, double €85. Shared bathroom: Double €65.

View our map of accommodation in Gouda or use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

Booking.com

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet cafés are not as widespread as you would expect, but you can easily find one in the popular cities. Most hostels, hotels and camp sites have several computers, so you can keep connected with folk at home. Here is a list of internet cafés that could come in handy for travellers. Otherwise, most libraries have lots of computers and prices are around the €2-3 per hour range, although sometimes it can be even more expensive.

Wireless internet access using wifi is becoming more popular and is usually available at most hotels and increasingly at train stations. Also in trains (at least in most first class wagons, but also more and more in second class) and some buses you can use wifi. Finally, places like McDonald's and Starbucks have free wifi, and smaller individual business like cafés and restaurants are on the rise too offering these services. More often than not, these service tend to be free of charge, though there might be a limited time you can use the internet.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

The country code for the Netherlands is 31. The outbound international prefix is 00. The general emergency number is 112, like many other countries.
0800 numbers are toll-free and for 09xx numbers are charged at premium rates. Mobile phones have numbers in the 06 range, and calls to cell phones are also priced at higher rates.

From internet cafés, it is also usually possible to make long distance international calls. Like in other countries, telephone booths have almost disappeared, though some are still found around public transport stations, where you can use a few coins to make calls. It is only recommended for local calls.

The cellular phone network in the Netherlands is GSM 900/1800. The main providers of cell phone networks are KPN (Dutch only), T-mobile and Vodafone, who cover the whole country. Other operators, like Hollandsnieuwe, Simyo or Tele2, use one of these 3 networks basically.

It is best to buy a SIM card when in the Netherlands for use in your cellphone, as this usually works out cheaper than using the one from home. If you are planning to study or work in the country and stay for several months, buying a cellphone is the best option. A simple one, sometimes with €10 worth on it, can be bought from around €25. The simplest smartphones are around €75.

Post

The rate for sending a postcard or letter up to 20 grams within the Netherlands is €0.64 (2014). Since 2010 there are stamps available for domestic post which no longer include the value in €. Instead, there are stamps available with either a '1' or a '2' as a substitute for value. The '1' can be used for letters and postcards up to 20 grams, while 20-50 grams require you to use the '2'-valued stamps (or two '1'-valued stamps of course).

Sending items to other EU countries and the rest of the world (there is one price since 2014) will cost €1.05. Stamps are sold at post offices, supermarkets and smaller shops/kiosks; often the place where you buy your postcards can also supply you with stamps.

Sending parcels abroad is more costly. A standard-sized parcel between up to 2 kilograms will cost you €9 for destinations within the EU and €18 (both without Track & Trace) to the rest of the world. Prices with Track & Trace start at €13 and €24.30 respectively. Parcel service is available from major post offices only; standard-size boxes are on sale there as well. For sending parcels, it might be just as competitive and fast to use a company like TNT, UPS or DHL.

If you need to receive mail while moving around, you can have it sent poste restante (to be called for) to a post office of your choice, where it will be kept for a month. If you come to claim it, bring a valid ID, and make sure to have told the sender that the name on the envelope must be an exact match with that in your passport. For addresses of post offices, as well as more information, consult the TNT website.

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Accommodation in Gouda

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Gouda searchable right here on Travellerspoint. You can use our map to quickly compare budget, mid-range or top of the range accommodation in Gouda and areas nearby.

Contributors

as well as fires (10%), Sam I Am (1%)

Gouda Travel Helpers

  • westwind57

    Living close to Gouda, and familiar with the interesting sites in town and in the "Green Heart" of Netherlands. Let me know if you need information or ideas.

    Ask westwind57 a question about Gouda

This is version 25. Last edited at 13:29 on Apr 6, 18 by Utrecht. 3 articles link to this page.

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