The Singing Neighborhood of Amsterdam: the Scenic Jordaan

Many songs have been sung about this most famous in the Netherlands and finest in Amsterdam neighborhood called the Jordaan. Everything that you’re looking for in the city can be found here, accompanied by local charm, gezellig (you have to learn this word!) vibe and trendy residents.

What’s in a name?

When you discover the wonderful gardens of the Jordaan, you have no doubts that the neighborhood takes its name from the French word “jardin,” which means “garden.”  But the truth is that most of the streets there are called after flowers, such as Rozengracht, Anjeliersdwarsstraat and Goudsbloemstraat.


The history of the Jordaan starts at the 17th century, when it was a singing but quite poor neighborhood of immigrants and the working class living in small houses. If you think that it’s not really how the modern Jordaan looks like, you’re absolutely right! In sixties it has gone through major changes and a grand reconstruction, which came together with gentrification and therefore, new residents. Today the Jordaan is full of young entrepreneurs, artists and wealthier students, who fill in lots of new galleries, brown cafes and hip stores. What once was the district of the folksingers Johnny Jordaan and Andre Hazes, the painter Rembrandt van Rijn and the writer Theo Thijssen, is now a great combination of a narrow streets labyrinth and canals of the past and the contemporary chic of the present.


Secret courtyards

The beauty of the very special Jordaan is enhanced by the large amount of inner courtyards (the Dutch call them hofjes) with gorgeous gardens and old little houses. Lots of them date back to the 17th and 18th centuries, when they were offered for older women as a sign of protection and charity. You can find the Jordaan courtyards behind the buildings at the street side so all you need to do is to check whether the door is open. If it is, don’t hesitate to come in, but please be respectful and nice towards local community there. Although some of the inner gardens might be closed, they will be open for public on Open Monuments Days or for free hofjesconcerts on Sundays in summer. Some of the prettiest courtyards of the neighborhood are Looyershofje at Nieuwe Looiersstraat 20-40, Sint Andrieshofje at Egelantiersgracht 105-141 and monumental Venetiaehofje at Elandsstraat 104-142. Make sure to sneak in these hidden gems of the Jordaan.


Interesting finds at the market

When strolling the old streets of the Jordaan, make sure to stop by its scenic authentic markets. When you see a remarkable Noorderkerk (the main church of the neighborhood), you know that you are on the right spot. You will find an inspiring flea market on Mondays and an organic local farmer’s market on Saturdays, which is perfect for trying all good Dutch foods and delicacies. You should also discover a general market on the Westerstraat on Mondays and a very old neighborhood Lindenmarkt on Saturdays, where you can find all you can think of.

You are what you eat

Some of the best traditional Dutch cafes can be found in the Jordaan, where you can still often hear the sing-a-longs and try some nice local cuisine. The brown Café Nol is packed with locals at night, so you have a nice chance to mingle with them there. The choice of good restaurants of the Jordaan ranges from the most affordable Piqniq (great for a Dutch style lunch) to almost Michelin starred dining at Daalder with its unique 7-course surprise chef’s menu. And of course, you cannot leave Amsterdam without visiting cozy


The artsy Jordaan

There are numerous art galleries in the Jordaan for all tastes and preferences, where the local artists share their creations for admiration or sale. Many art studios are also located in the neighborhood, and the good news is that you can come inside and meet the artists. A special “Open Studio Event” is about to take place from 14 to 16 May, when the creative bourgeoisie will open their doors for public. It happens only once per 2 years, so make sure to use this opportunity! And if you leave your heart in the Jordaan, the must visit event is The Jordaan Festival this summer (from 26 to 28 August), when you will see the real singing district with lots of Dutch folk music and locals having a good time.

Say Cheese in Amsterdam

Say Cheese in Holland

When asked about the first thought hearing “Holland,” many people would say “cheese” without a doubt.  The Dutch are known for making cheese since prehistorical times (way before they started to grow and trade their tulips) and they’ve made their product world known. Nowadays the Netherlands is one of the largest cheese producers in the world, exporting their Gouda to 130 countries. So if you happen to be in Amsterdam, you shouldn’t leave without discovering the world of Dutch cheese and its palette of flavors.

Way more than Gouda

Although Gouda is the best-known cheese in the Netherlands (and usually is the first choice of locals when they’re making their super delicious sandwiches), it is not the only cheese type in Holland worth trying. Maasdammer will surprise lovers of typical Swiss cheese by its sweet taste with a nutty note, while Geitenkaas will melt in anybody’s mouth with a bit of fresh honey. Boerenkaas bought from a local farmer will disclose its unique creamy taste due to fresh unpasteurized milk with a glass of fresh unpasteurized beer. Delft’s Blauw will change your perception of blue cheese forever, while Old Amsterdam cheese might become your favorite and cause some overweight in the luggage on the way back from Holland. So many types and flavors (cumin, mustard seeds and cloves are only a few) to try, so open up your taste buds and be ready for delightful sampling in Amsterdam!

Shop and try in Amsterdam

It is hardly possible to imagine a cheese shop in Amsterdam where you won’t be able to try your cheese before making a final shopping decision. You will probably pass quite a few cheese stores in the heart of the city (Reypenaer Proeflokaal, Henry Willig Cheese, Cheese Museum, Old Amsterdam Cheese Store and more), but since lots of them are quite touristy, let’s look at the more local options.

De Kaaskamer

Located in the beautiful shopping district of 9 Streets, De Kaaskamer sells some of the best Dutch cheeses, various European cheeses, organic farmhouse types, very old matured pieces, interesting specialty cheeses and everything that can go with them (including wines & beers). The stock of 400 cheeses will amuse with its variety and exclusive types like Old Sheep Cheese with Sea Lavender, Organic Goat Cheese with Potato skins, Selected Gouda Cheese 3 Years and many more.

Runstraat 7

Kaashuis Tromp

The knowledgeable and helpful team of Kaashuis Tromp will be glad to offer you authentic, biological cheeses from Holland as well as diverse high quality cheeses from all over Europe. They have multiple locations around the Netherlands, but it doesn’t matter which one you choose, as their cheese will taste just as good. Try their Kruidenkaas (with different herbs), Pikante kaas if you like spicier and skinny or diet cheeses if you want the calories to be invisible.

Elandsgracht 27 or Utrechtsestraat 90

Fromagerie Abraham Kef

Abraham Kef cheese shops offer exclusive assortment of cheeses that changes with the seasons and with the best time for a particular cheese type. They focus on cheeses made by small producers from the Netherlands and France, especially the raw milk cheeses. Lots of storytelling and personal recommendations are involved when choosing the right cheese at this fromagerie.

Marnixstraat 192 or Czaar Peterstraat 137

Ten Katemarket

In case you are interested in buying good Dutch cheese, but want it to be affordable, then this local market in Amsterdam West will surprise you with its authenticity and great prices. Ten Katemarket has a couple of stalls with cheese where an older Dutch owner will tell you all about his product.

NeighbourFood Market

This is a very special market in Westergasfabriek, which doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, then all the local producers come together. Here you will have a great opportunity to combine cheese tasting with other locally produced delicious items.

Going out for cheese

True cheese fans won’t settle only for trying, buying and bringing home cheese, but they would want to have the whole dining experience with the good Dutch cheese. That would be perfectly possible and even recommended at Fondue & Fondue (Overtoom 415) and Café Bern (Nieuwmarkt 9). While most of the restaurants in Amsterdam will serve you a nice cheese plate or board, these two places will go further and indulge you into cheese fondue. Aside from this fancier options, don’t forget about local fast food spots where you should try kaassouffles- a very Dutch snack of deep fried cheese.

Biggest cheese markets in the Netherlands

If you want to extend your cheese experience in Holland and get the highest level of cheese knowledge, then hop on a train and explore the biggest Dutch cheese markets of Alkmaar, Edam and Gouda. Alkmaar hosts a very unique old cheese market with all the traditions of trade being followed from April to September. Visitors can enjoy a folkloric spectacle of cheese weighing, cheese carriers performing their duty and cheese sellers advertising their product. In addition to this spectacular show, Alkmaar opens its doors to The Dutch Cheese Museum, where you can learn everything about this delicious product and how it has been serving the country for centuries.

The  Edam cheese market features summer reenactments of the Middle Ages, when cheese was delivered to the main square by horse-drawn vehicle or boat and then weighing and sampling started. It is also quite an experience and leaves you with way more impressions than a regular market would.

If you are into Dutch cheese, you just cannot miss the Gouda cheese market, as the cheese type of the same name accounts for more than 60% of cheese production in the Netherlands. It is an authentic market, where local farmers sell their best cheeses and where the cheese weighing house offers some fun entertainment. They will even weigh you using cheese as a measure of weight.