Within the many vastly different parts of the world there is a small country. One-third of its territory is below sea level, there are more bikes than people, and a typical fast food option is raw herring. The Netherlands is known for many things, some of which are more controversial than others. Yet, it still is undoubtedly a country that attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists annually, each looking for very different experiences.
Netherlands, windmill. Нидерландия, вятърна мелница

    I want to talk about the vastly overlooked cultural side of the country. Its unfriendly climate, rough sceneries and winds, and its proximity to water gave birth to an adaptable and creative culture. The Netherlands is a vibrant modern-day renaissance area of Europe. 


    Museums, art exhibitions, history, and hip places are scattered all across its small territory. Its open-minded environment attracts many artists and creatives alike – a true artistic hotspot. But art is not only about museums, paintings, music, or galleries. It is also about food.In this article, I offer you a short guide to the unexplored Dutch Culinary Landscape. 


From the historic and more traditional foods of the Netherlands to the country’s modern globalist cuisine, this article offers a comprehensive overview of the food you ought to try when you visit the Dutch.


In the Netherlands, cheese isn’t just a food—it’s a cultural institution. The Dutch are known for their long-standing tradition in cheese production and pride themselves on their innovative approach to cheese-making. Dutch cheese comes in many different tastes and textures, but the ones you have probably heard of and the most popular ones are Gouda and Edam. Gouda and Edam cheeses are also the ones that constitute most of the Dutch cheese exports – around 650.000.000 kilos of cheese per year, making the Netherlands the biggest exporter of cheese in the world.
And yet, there are so many other cheeses! The lesser-known, but equally delightful cheeses include Beemster, Graskaas, Leerdammer, Leyden, Limburger, Maaslander, Maasdam, Mimolette, Nagelkaas, Parrano, Roomano, Prima Donna, and Vlaskaas. They differ in texture, flavor, firmness, and moisture level. What’s the secret behind their distinct personalities, you wonder? The differences derive from many different factors. For example, the type of milk used, the climate of the region where the cheese is produced, the type of bacteria used, the period of fermentation of the cheese, and many more. Be sure that every bite tells a story!
There are many unique places in the Netherlands where you can try local Dutch cheese and learn more about its history. One such place, and an easily accessible one, is the Albert Cuyp Markt. Located in the city center, it is the largest street market in Amsterdam. There, you will find many charming cheese stalls with a vast variety of cheeses. Don’t be worried about asking for a taste – welcoming sellers will gladly give you a bite of cheese to taste and tell you more about it.
Another cheesy must-visit is the city of Alkmaar. Specifically during spring, when the weekly Cheese Festival takes place. Every Friday of the week, from 10:00 to 13:00, a cheese parade takes place in the heart of the city! Numerous cheese wheels are proudly carried out by locals wearing traditional clothing and presented at the central square. After the end of the ceremony, feel free to stroll around the cheese market and have a taste of some Alkmaar cheese!
Now, to really understand cheese-making, you’ve got to visit a local cheese farm. Imagine this: you’re walking through the countryside, surrounded by green fields and cute little farms. That’s where the cheese magic happens. One spot you shouldn’t miss is De Simonehoeve in Volendam. Here, you’ll see how cheese is made while enjoying the beautiful Dutch countryside.
Another cool place to check out is the Catharina Hoeve Cheese Farm in Zaandam. It’s like stepping back in time as you wander around this old farm and learn about making cheese the traditional way. Plus, you can’t miss the iconic windmills nearby.
And if you’re serious about cheese, you’ve got to head to Gouda, the cheese capital. De Goudse Waag is known as a cheese museum, but it’s also a great place to taste some amazing cheeses and learn all about how Gouda cheese is made. It’s a fun and interesting experience that gives you a real taste of Dutch cheese culture.

Albert Cuyp Markt
Netherlands, cheese market, Нидерландия, пазар за сирене


In a country that’s part land, part water, it’s no wonder that fish takes center stage in Dutch cuisine. With the salty waves of the North Sea lapping at its shores, the Netherlands serves up a bounty of delicious seafood treasures!
One of the essential Dutch culinary experiences is trying raw herring. It’s a must-do for anyone visiting the Netherlands. While herring carts can be found throughout all Dutch cities, each city has its unique way of serving it.
If you’re in Amsterdam and want to try herring, look for a cart offering fresh herring served with onions and pickles or in a sandwich, which is the Amsterdam style. A popular spot to indulge in this iconic snack is at the Albert Cuyp Markt in Amsterdam, where you’ll find several local vendors selling herring.
If you’re exploring other cities in the Netherlands, keep in mind that herring is typically served with onions only, unlike in Amsterdam where pickles are also included. Regardless of where you choose to try it, tasting raw herring is an essential Dutch experience that shouldn’t be missed. So don’t be afraid to dive in and give it a taste!
But raw herring is just the tip of the iceberg— The Netherlands has a seafood scene that extends far beyond it. From wine-steamed mussels to delicate oysters, the coastal waters offer a variety of flavors waiting to be explored. Delving into this diverse seafood selection isn’t just about indulging in delicious dishes—it’s about immersing yourself in Dutch maritime culture and experiencing the essence of coastal living.
One must-try seafood dish is smoked eel, a Dutch specialty. When it comes to experiencing the rich, smoky flavor of smoked eel in the Netherlands, a top destination is Scheveningen Beach in The Hague. This bustling seaside locale boasts a selection of beachside restaurants, including Catch by Simonis and De Dagvisser, where visitors can indulge in freshly caught seafood delicacies, including smoked eel – for a reasonable price! De Dagvisser is particularly renowned for its excellent wine selection and has been recognized as one of the top 35 restaurants by The Guardian.
Continue your exploration of Dutch seafood by granting a visit to Volendam – a delightful fishing village near Amsterdam with a beautiful harbor. Here, you’ll find quaint seafood restaurants like Restaurant De Lunch and Visrestaurant De Lunch en Visserij, where you can savor local specialties such as kibbeling (battered and fried cod) and haring (herring) while soaking in picturesque views of the waterfront. Don’t miss the opportunity to explore the Volendam Museum, where you can learn about the village’s rich maritime history and traditional fishing heritage.
For those eager to indulge in the briny goodness of Dutch oysters, a journey to Yerseke in the province of Zeeland is an essential stop. Here, at Oesterij, both a family-owned oyster farm and a restaurant, visitors can savor freshly shucked oysters sourced from the surrounding waters of the Eastern Scheldt. The oysters are extremely fresh, as they are served just steps away from where they were harvested. To enhance the oyster experience, consider pairing them with a crisp and refreshing Dutch white wine, such as a Sauvignon Blanc or a Pinot Grigio.
For the adventurous spirits, exploring the wild beaches of Zeeland presents the opportunity to collect your own oysters straight from the source! With caution and respect for the environment, visitors can gather these treasures of the sea and enjoy them in a rustic beachside picnic or have them prepared at local eateries for a truly authentic Dutch experience.
But the Dutch culinary journey extends far beyond the shores of seafood and cheesemaking. Influences from Suriname, Indonesia, and beyond create a melting pot of flavors that offer flavors like no other. From the aromatic spices of Surinamese-style pom to the vibrant feast of Indonesian rijsttafel, the culinary possibilities in the Netherlands are boundless.
So, prepare to embark on a flavorful adventure through the heart of Dutch cuisine. With each mouthwatering bite, you’ll uncover the culinary treasures of this captivating country. Bon appétit!