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There is no place like home, they say. And if we speak for ourselves, we can completely agree with this saying. In Jelmer’s case, the place he calls home is called Alkmaar: a small city just above Amsterdam, near the coast.
Alkmaar does not only have a rich history and beautiful buildings, but it also has a great location that connects to a lot of interesting places. Think of Bergen, an artistic city with amazing dunes nearby. Or Egmond: a coastal village with an old city center and a beautiful beach.
To make your trip to Alkmaar unforgettable, we’ve put together a walking route that covers the best parts of the city. Put on some comfortable shoes and prepare yourself for an amazing stroll through the city of Alkmaar. Click here to find the route on Google Maps.
Your first stop: Saint Laurens Church in Alkmaar
When entering the city center of Alkmaar, you almost immediately stumble upon the Saint-Laurens Church. Or as the locals like to call it: the Big Church. The church, almost 550 years old, is characteristic for the cityscape of Alkmaar and rises above all of the other buildings in the area. Its rich history and its pretty interior makes it a great place to start off your day in Alkmaar.
Get some fresh air in Alkmaar’s park
Next to the Big Church, you can find a park which surrounds the city center. A beautiful walk will take you all around and lets you see the center of Alkmaar and its surroundings. Adjacent to the park there is a canal: sit down on a bench or on the grass, stare at the boats sailing by and enjoy the fresh air.
Admire history at Alkmaar’s ‘Accijnstoren’
When following the park’s sidewalks, you’ll eventually come across the Accijnstoren or ‘Excise Tower’. The small tower was build in 1622 and was originally meant for controlling the imported goods and making sure taxes were paid. The tower is located next to the water, an old bridge and a lot of stationary boats makes it easy to go back in time. Nowadays, the tower functions as the harbour master’s office, but it still is a beautiful piece of history to see.
Visit the old part of Alkmaar
When you walk into the old part of Alkmaar, you immediately feel the extraordinary ambiance that comes with it. Customers used to come here by boat and buy their goods at merchant stores and warehouses. These merchant stores and warehouses still have their old and beautiful facades but are nowadays occupied by a lot of modern, creative and authentic stores and restaurants.
TIP: If you have some more time on your hands in The Netherlands, make sure to also visit Utrecht. In this article you’ll find a walking route that takes you to all Utrecht’s best places in one day. Or check out this funpacked 1-day itinerary of Amsterdam.
Get a picture at Alkmaar’s scenic canals
The city of Alkmaar has lots of canals. A bit like those in Amsterdam, but with fewer bikes and fewer people. It’s the perfect opportunity to take a photograph at one of the beautiful bridges. Not only to send to your family back home, but also as a great memory of your trip to Alkmaar.
Check out ‘The House with the Bullet’
Near the end of the old city, you will find the ‘house with the bullet’. During the eighty years’ war, this house was hit with a 40-pound cannonball. The ball got stuck in the foundation of the house and stayed there since then. Since 1969, the wooden building is part of the Dutch national monuments list. Its colorful wooden structure and its beautiful location make it an interesting building to take a look at.
Visit the Cheese Market at Alkmaar’s Waagplein
One of the most touristic, but fun things to do in Alkmaar, is visiting the Waagplein and its cheese market. The cheese market started in the eighteenth century and took place four days a week. Since 1939, Alkmaar is the only city that still trades cheese in the way they used to do. Every Friday between April and September, the Waagplein goes back in time with traditional cheese carriers and businessmen from all over the Netherlands to buy and sell large amounts of cheese. The church, where the big scale for weighing the cheese is located, sits right next to the Waagplein.
Next to the cheese market you can find the National Beermuseum at the Waagplein. Here you can learn how the people used to make beer and you can try some yourself. The museum offers multiple tours and exhibitions but if you’re only in for a beer, that’s also an option. It is a great place to have a drink.
Head over to Alkmaar’s shoppingstreet and find the town hall
On the way back to where you started the walk, you’ll pass the shopping street of Alkmaar. Wander around the shopping center and see what the stores have to offer. Halfway down the street, you will find the town hall of Alkmaar. The town hall, built around 1509, is still a popular place for weddings. So if it’s your lucky day, you might be able to witness one!
If you’re curious to see what Alkmaar looks like in motion, check out our travel video below. This video covers (almost) the entire stroll we’ve discussed in this blog, so you’ll get a clear idea of what you’re up for. We hope you enjoy it!
TIP: We also made a travel video about our hike in Dutch National Park Maasduinen. You can find it in our blog about the National Park, including information on how to get there and what to do.https://youtu.be/evLhQKeE5Zg
If you have any questions about visiting Alkmaar, drop them in the comments below and we’ll get back to you!