Alkmaar is a city of approximately 100,000 inhabitants in the province of North Holland, north of Amsterdam. It is best known for its famous cheese market. However, Alkmaar has much more to offer than just cheese. If you’re looking for a weekend trip, Alkmaar is a wonderful place to go.

Alkmaar Sightseeing

We first visited Alkmaar back in 2016 and loved the historic city with its lovely canals and sights! A few years later, we’ve spent another weekend in Alkmaar, this time in combination with the nearby Bergen aan Zee and Egmond aan Zee. But first things first, here are our 7 recommendations for Alkmaar.

#1 Historic City Center

Over the years, Alkmaar has lost none of its historical charm. Idyllic canals, colorful boat houses and narrow streets characterize the city – far away from the noise, skyscrapers and activity typical of big cities. The most famous building in Alkmaar is the Waag, an ancient chapel from the 14th century. In front of the Waag is the Waagplein, the square on which the famous cheese market takes place.

If you want to explore the city center, it’s best to park your car outside the city center and explore the winding alleys on foot or by bike.

Canals in Alkmaar near the Waag
Canals in Alkmaar near the Waag

#2 Canals

Canals surround the historic city center. There are narrow and large canals, long and short. Our favorite canal is the Singelgracht, located at the Kennemersingel. It’s surrounded by green areas with multiple walking paths surrounded by trees, bridges and even a small art gallery (Het Kruithuisje). If you are out with family or friends, rent a boat and explore Alkmaar from a different perspective! There are a number of boat rentals to choose from (with and without a guide).

Singelgracht Alkmaar
The Singelgracht at the outskirts of the centre of Alkmaar

#3 Shopping

Whether you’re traveling solo, with your partner or family, Alkmaar is a lovely city to stroll around. In addition to large chain stores, you’ll mainly shop at small boutiques, specialty stores and of course, the typical Dutch cheese stores. In the cold season, Alkmaar attracts winter shoppers with many festivals, shows and live music. And of course, you can’t forget the Kerstmarkt (Christmas market) just before the holidays.

#4 Cheese Market

From April to September, the famous Alkmaar cheese market takes place every Friday. Alkmaar is the oldest cheese city and is known far beyond the borders of the country. Since 1939 it’s the only city in the Netherlands where cheese trading is still done in the traditional way. So if you want to experience a traditional cheese market, Alkmaar is your best bet!

Cheese Market Alkmaar
The Cheese Market in Alkmaar takes place every Friday

#5 Museums

Alkmaar is home to a few museums. Most famous is the cheese museum, which you’ll find in the famous Weigh house (Waag). There is also an art museum which shows some local art pieces, and a beer museum. For Beatles fans, a visit to the Beatles museum is an absolute must.

De Waag Alkmaar
The Waag: One of the symbols of Alkmaar

#6 Nightlife and Eating Out

Alkmaar also has plenty of places to round off a successful day. Whether you’re looking for a small corner bistro, a cosy restaurant or a chic bar, you won’t be disappointed!

#7 Egmonderhout

In the southwest of Alkmaar is the park Egmonderhout. If you’re looking for a green area to go for a walk, cycle or just to relax – the Egmonderhout is a quiet and beautiful place to be.

In addition to Egmonderhout, which is the largest park in the city, the parks Westerhout and Alkmaarder Hout are also worth exploring. During our last visit, we stayed near Alkmaarder Hout, from where we went on a nice walk towards the city center in the morning (takes about 15-20 minutes).

Hotels in Alkmaar

Alkmaar offers a large number of accommodations, ranging from hotels to bed & breakfast. Many of them are in walking distance to the city center. Below is a list of the most popular accommodations.

B&B Alkmaars Toppunt

Alkmaars Toppunt is a cozy bed & breakfast located in the heart of Alkmaar. It features a beautifully decorated sitting area with a television, a fully equipped kitchinette and a small bedroom with a double bed. You’ll enjoy a nice view on the Waag from the accommodation. The host is very friendly and welcoming, the breakfast is excellent. Unfortunately, pets are not allowed here.

The Fallon Hotel

The most unusual hotel we’ve stayed in when in Alkmaar was the Fallon Hotel. This luxurious hotel is located in an ancient prison, where rooms are former cells. While the rooms feature a modern decor, the hallways and doors have maintained their original jail-look. This hotel is ideal for those looking for a quiet place on the outskirts of Alkmaar. The hotel is in a quiet environment, close to the Egmonderhout. The city center is in walking distance, about 20 minutes from the hotel. Free parking is available at the hotel. Pets are allowed.

Golden Tulip Hotel

Looking for some wellness when in Alkmaar? Then the Golden Tulip Hotel is the right choice for you! This hotel has their own Finnish sauna and gym which are free of charge for their guests. The city center of Alkmaar is in walking distance (about 2km from the property). The rooms are very spacious and comfortable. There are both single, double and family rooms, which makes the Golden Tulip Hotel a great choice for solo-travelers, couples and families alike. Free parking is available. Pets are not allowed. The adjacent restaurant is popular for sushi and Asian grill delicacies.

In the Area

A quick 20 minute drive from Alkmaar is the North Sea, iconic for seaside towns such as Bergen aan Zee and Egmond aan Zee. Beaches here are very clean, made up of fine sand and surrounded by large dunes. Walking and cycling is recommended just as much as a lazy beach vacation in this enchanting area. Perhaps this could be your next holiday destination?

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