Gouda

Gouda is a city in the province South-Holland in The Netherlands. It is a typical Dutch city with many old buildings, canals and pretty sights, and is a popular destination for a day trip. It is also a good base for exploring the rest of the Netherlands, thanks to its great rail- and highway connections. The city is famous for its cheese, its 15th century town hall and the amazing glass windows in St. Janskerk, but there is a lot more to see and do.

Understand

Gouda's Stadhuis
View over one of the city's canals
Aerial view

Gouda has a population of about 71,000. As well as its cheese, Gouda is also famous for its stroopwafels (syrup waffles), candles and its clay pipes. Most of the city is below sea level. The lowest point of the Netherlands can be found a few kilometers outside the city and is marked by a monument.

Gouda is pronounced khow-da, with the 'g' pronounced similarly to the 'ch' in 'loch', not with a hard 'g' like how native English speakers pronounce the name of the cheese. Saying the name correctly will win you points with the locals!

History

Gouda is named after the river Gouwe and the Van der Goude family, who built a castle on the Gouwe River in the 11th century. At that time, the area was swampland. Over the next two hundred years peat was collected and the land was developed. In 1225, a canal was built connecting the Gouwe River with the Oude Rijn (part of the Rhine delta). This was used to help ship goods to France and further afield. This provided a safer route than traveling by sea. This resulted in a surge of economic activity around Gouda and the town gained importance. In 1272, it was declared a city by count Floris V. Most of the canals were built around this time.

Over the years, there have been fires (1361, 1438), occupations (1572) and plagues (1574, 1625, 1636, 1673). In 1577, the castle was destroyed. Despite these disasters, Gouda is still a beautiful place to visit.

In 1667 a tax was introduced on the locally produced cheese. This raised a lot of money for the town. In 1668, the Waag (cheese weighing house) was built, to weigh the cheese and collect this tax.

Get in

By train

There are two train stations in Gouda - Gouda (the main station, a 5 minute walk to the Markt) and Gouda Goverwelle (in suburbia). For the timetable check NS (in English).

Trains have been running between Gouda and Utrecht since 1855; in 1944 the old train station was damaged by Allied bombing.

There are five ways to travel to Gouda by train.

When you arrive at the train station, take the exit called "Centrumzijde" or just "Centrum". There should be a sign pointing you to the city centre. If you can't find it, just go the way most people go and you will be in the city centre very soon.

If you want to take a taxi, there will most likely be drivers waiting for customers. They will pick up you up on the street outside the station. If there aren't any taxis around, you can call them.

By bus

Buses stop at the train station. Most of them are operated by Arriva, some of them by Connexxion.

There are buses connecting Gouda with Rotterdam, Utrecht, Zoetermeer, Leiden, Waddinxveen, Bodegraven, Schoonhoven, Reeuwijk-Brug and some more towns.

Buses are slower and more expensive than trains. If you have the option, choose the train.

By car

Gouda is directly located on the A12 and A20.

Parking is cheapest in one of the large parking lots just outside the city center (about €1,40-1,80 per hour, max €8-10 per day). They are called Klein Amerika, Schouwburgplein and Vossenburchkade and are well indicated. There are two public garages in the city center, called Bolwerk and Nieuwe Markt. These are located closer to the interesting part of the city, but are also a bit more expensive (about €12 a day). It is not advised to park on the streets because that's really expensive.

By plane

The nearest airports are in Amsterdam (Schiphol Airport) and Rotterdam (Rotterdam The Hague Airport).

By boat

There are no ferry or waterbus services to Gouda, but when you own a boat, there are facilities to stay in Gouda. More information can be found at Welkom in Gouda.

Get around

The city centre of Gouda, like many other historic Dutch cities, is surrounded by a circular canal. The city only started to expand beyond this circle in the late 19th century, so most historic sights can be found within it. It is also the main shopping district of the city.

By foot

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

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.

Bikes can be rented from:

By taxi

See

De Waag houses the tourist office and a cheese museum
The stained glass windows of the St. Janskerk depict scenes from the bible and Dutch history
The traditional cheese market takes place every thursday during spring and summer
The area surrounding the St. Janskerk is worth a visit

Gouda is a typical and beautiful Dutch town. It's a great place to walk, checking out the old buildings and canals.

  •   Gouwe. This canal is actually an old river, the one that gave Gouda its name. The canal is dominated by the 80-metre tower of the Gouwekerk (Gouwe church)
  •   Haven. One side of the canal is called Oosthaven, the other is called Westhaven. The buildings along this canal were built by the patriarchy of the city in the 17th and 18th century.
  •   Turfmarkt. The quays of this canal are extremely low. It is lined by interesting historic buildings.
  •   Peperstraat. Charming little canal lined by old warehouses that were converted to houses.

  Old cemetery, Prins Hendrikstraat 3. In the 1970's, this graveyard was abandoned, but the graves are still there, covered in tall grass. It's a little bit eerie, but also a very beautiful place to visit. free.

Do

Festivals

Buy

Inside a Gouda cheese shop
The Kleiweg

Most shops are open M-Sa 9AM-5PM, and until later on Thursday evenings. On Sundays, many stores are closed, except stores that sell fresh products. Most restaurants and bars are open on Sundays.

The busiest shopping street is Kleiweg. Here you can find the regular brands you can find in many Dutch cities, such as Hema, V&D, H&M, The Sting, Blokker, et cetera. In streets such as Tiendeweg, Zeugstraat and Lange Groenendaal, you can find small independent shops with more unique products.

  •   Het Siroopwafel Winketje, Agnietenstraat, Kiosk 2 (On the outside of a hideous building with red tiles). For a warm, fresh waffle, try 'Het Stroopwafelwinkeltje', hidden next to the Hema entrance at the Agnietenstraat, just north of the Markt and the Waag.
  •   De Vlaam, Markt 69. The De Vlaam bakery bought the original stroopwafel recipe when the descendants of the inventor retired.
  •   Siroopwafelbakkerij Van Vliet, Lange Groenendaal 32.
  •   Maranto, Lange Groenendaal 59. Bakery specialized in stroopwafels

Besides the usual shops in Gouda, you will also find many independent shops. Without the intention to be complete, some of them are listed below:

Eat

There are lots of small cafes and bars at the north side of the Markt.

Asian cuisine

Dutch/European cuisine

Italian

Tapas

Mexican

Fast food

Drink

Most bars and restaurants can be found at the Markt

Clubs

Bars

Sleep

Gouda is a very popular day trip destination. Accommodation options used to be limited, but this has been changing recently.

Near By

Stay Safe

Gouda is, in general, a safe city, even at night time. There used to be a lot of car crime, but CCTV cameras have reduced this to normal levels. Just don't leave your valuables in the car.

Go next

Due to its central location, Gouda makes for a good base to explore the region and easily connects to other sights in the Netherlands.

Cycle route in the Gouda area (in English):

Routes through Gouda

The Hague Zoetermeer  W  E  Woerden Arnhem


This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Wednesday, December 09, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.