Alkmaar is a charming city located in the Netherlands. As I’ve lived near Alkmaar for more than 20 years, I’ve visited the city lots of times.
This destination is overflowing with historical significance and picturesque canals, making it an ideal place for a wonderful stay. But what should you do during your time here?
In this guide, we’ll explore the best things to do in Alkmaar, ensuring you make the most of your time in this lesser known Dutch gem.
From exploring its rich history to walking along its scenic canals, there are lots of things to do here. Let’s discover the wonders of Alkmaar!
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The best things to do in Alkmaar
So, what should you do during your time in Alkmaar? Read on to find out!
1. Explore the historic city center
Discover the historic city center of Alkmaar and make sure not to miss the iconic Waagplein square. It’s known for its weekly cheese market, where you can witness the traditional cheese weighing ceremony and soak in the local market atmosphere. In the centre, you’ll also find the Cheese Museum.
Treat yourself to some local cheeses and maybe buy some to bring home with you as a souvenir.
Take a stroll through the charming narrow streets of the Old Town (Binnenstad) and admire the beautiful architecture, quaint shops, and cozy cafes.
For a truly authentic experience, visit the hidden courtyards that reveal the city’s rich history.
2. Visit Stedelijk Museum Alkmaar
Don’t miss the opportunity to visit Stedelijk Museum Alkmaar. Here you can immerse yourself in its impressive collection of Dutch Golden Age art. The museum is located in the city center on the Canadaplein.
The museum is dedicated to presenting the cultural history of Alkmaar and the surrounding region. It’s only fifteen minutes away by foot from the train station.
3. Visit de Grote Kerk
Make sure to visit de Grote Kerk (Great Church) during your stay here. This landmark, also known as Sint-Laurenskerk, features magnificent Gothic architecture. The stained glass windows are especially beautiful.
There’s an entrance fee to visit the church. Inside, you’ll also find a coffee bar and a souvenir shop.
4. Try some local food
When you’re in Alkmaar, you should definitely try some local food. Some of the best Dutch snacks include haring (herring) or kibbeling (fried fish bites). For an authentic dining experience, there are lots of great restaurants in Alkmaar.
Some of them include Abby’s Restaurant and ‘t Stokpaardje. Also check out Heeren van Sonoy restaurant, which is home to a beautiful courtyard called Hof van Sonoy.
5. Discover the National Beer Museum
Another (small) museum worth exploring is the National Beer Museum in Alkmaar. Especially if you’re a beer lover. Here you’ll learn more about the rich history and brewing traditions of this beloved beverage.
From old recipes to modern craft brews, this is the place where you’ll gain insights into its cultural significance. There’s a beautiful outdoor terrace located here as well, you’ll recognize it by the sign ”De Boom”.
6. Go on a boat tour in Alkmaar
Explore the beauty of Alkmaar from a different perspective by going on a boat tour. Discover the city’s charming canals and admire the blend of historical architecture and modern buildings from the water.
This is definitely one of the best things to do in Alkmaar. You’ll be surrounded by lovely views during your boat tour.
You can of course also choose to rent a boat here. Do keep in mind that the bridges in Alkmaar are quite low, so make sure to duck when passing underneath a bridge.
7. Admire de Molen van Piet
Molen van Piet is a majestic windmill that is a perfect example of Dutch engineering and heritage. This windmill was built in 1769. This is the exact location of this traditional windmill: Clarissenbuurt 4, 1811 GC Alkmaar. Here you’ll find more information about the Molen van Piet.
8. Visit Park Alkmaarderhout
One of the best things to do in Alkmaar for nature lovers is to visit Park Alkmaarderhout. This lovely green park is home to a playground, ideal for visits with children.
The park is also home to several benches, perfect to just sit back and observe nature. During the summer, several local events are organized in the park here.
9. Visit the Friday market
If you want to visit a local market in Alkmaar, then make sure to visit on Friday. The market is located next to the Grote Kerk and the Stedelijk Museum Alkmaar. It’s around a 10 to 15 minute walk from the train station.
If you want to escape the crowds, arrive a little early in the morning. Here you can for instance buy some souvenirs to bring back home.
10. Find hidden alleyways
One of my personal favorite things to do in Alkmaar is to discover hidden alleyways. It can get crowded in the popular spots in Alkmaar, such as the Waagplein. However, when you roam a little further, you’ll see that there are still quite some hidden spots left.
These are often overlooked, yet are the most beautiful spots in Alkmaar. One of these cute alleyways you’ll find near a street called ”Kooltuin”.
11. Wander around Foundation Hortus Alkmaar
Explore Foundation Hortus Alkmaar, a tranquil botanical garden home to diverse flora. This is the perfect place to go for a walk in Alkmaar. Discover the beauty and importance of various plants and flowers. This green oasis offers a peaceful sanctuary and is especially nice to visit for nature lovers.
12. Go shopping
If you like shopping, then you’ll have a great time in Alkmaar. There are a couple of main shopping streets here, such as the Langestraat and De Laat. You’ll also find some boutique shops in the side streets of Alkmaar.
13. Visit the Beatles Museum in Alkmaar
Discover the Beatles Museum in Alkmaar and learn more about this iconic band. Learn about the Beatles’ journey from their early days to global stardom and their impact on the music industry. The museum offers a unique opportunity, especially for Beatles’ fans.
From original instruments to personal items, each display adds a special touch to the experience. Whether you’re a devoted Beatles enthusiast or simply curious about their legacy, a visit to this museum is a must for a memorable musical adventure in Alkmaar.
14. Wander around Kennemerbolwerk
Previously known as the ”Stadswallen”, this area is now known as Kennemerbolwerk.
It’s one of my favorite parts of Alkmaar and I think it’s definitely one of the most peaceful and beautiful places here.
Walking here is without a doubt one of the best things to do in Alkmaar. You can wander along the canal and admire the lovely houses along the way.
15. Visit Sweets & Antiques
If you’re looking for a unique thing to do in Alkmaar AND you have a sweet tooth, then you should really visit Sweets & Antiques. This is a small museum and cafe in one.
It’s located in a historic building (one of the oldest buildings in Alkmaar) and is worth visiting. You can buy lots of different Dutch sweets here such as ”appeltaart” and ”poffertjes”.
Where to stay in Alkmaar?
So, where should you stay in Alkmaar? Here are some of the best places to stay in Alkmaar:
Boutique hotel RITCH Hotel Alkmaar
Located within the heart of Alkmaar’s city center, the RITCH Hotel Alkmaar offers travelers a unique stay. The hotel’s courtyard house design sets it apart from traditional accommodations. As a boutique hotel, RITCH Hotel Alkmaar offers a more personalized and attentive experience.
The central location allows you to easily explore the city’s cultural gems, including its historical sites, local markets and picturesque canals.
Being a boutique hotel, RITCH Hotel Alkmaar has fewer rooms available compared to larger hotel chains, so booking in advance is recommended. Click here to view their latest prices and more.
Unique Courtyard House with Sauna
If you’re looking for a relaxing stay, then staying at this unique courtyard house with sauna might sound appealing to you. As the name suggests, it’s located in the city centre, which is very convenient. If you don’t need to stay in a hotel, I would highly recommend staying here.
For the price, this is especially a good deal. You’ll get your own bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, sauna and even your own terrace inside the small garden. Here you’ll find more information about this stay.
Boutique Apartment Alkmaar by Urban Home Stay
This boutique apartment in Alkmaar promises a unique and personalized experience for travelers looking for a home away from home. Especially if you prefer to stay in an apartment during your stay here.
Staying in an apartment can give you a taste of local living in Alkmaar. Click here to view more information about this luxurious apartment.
Each of these hotels offers its own unique experience in Alkmaar’s city center. Depending on your preferences, you can find the perfect match for your travels.
Day trips from Alkmaar
Alkmaar is very conveniently located, so you can easily go on day trips from here. Here you’ll find the best day trips from Alkmaar:
Visit de Schoorlse Duinen
Especially for nature lovers, a visit to de Schoorlse Duinen from Alkmaar will be a great idea. If you want to spend more days here, I can highly recommend staying at Landal Berger Duinen in Schoorl. Here you’ll find more information about what staying here is truly like.
Go on a day trip to Amsterdam
You’ll also find lots of romantic things to do in Amsterdam, such as going for a picnic at Westlandgracht, one of my favorite local spots in the capital city.
Visit Egmond aan Zee
Egmond aan Zee is a charming seaside village, located around 20 minutes away from Alkmaar, either by bus or by car. Here you can visit the beach and walk through the cosy center of Egmond aan Zee. It’s the ideal place to eat some chips, try some fresh seafood or grab an ice cream.
If you want to visit the dunes and the sea, then you should definitely visit Castricum. This village is located near the sea and is beautiful, especially during spring and summer time.
Here you’ll find everything you need to know about Castricum and what to do here. Castricum is located only 10 minutes away by direct train from Alkmaar, which makes it a perfect day trip.
Haarlem is one of the most beautiful cities in the Netherlands. It’s smaller than Amsterdam, yet is home to lovely canals and narrow alleyways. There are lots of things to do in this hidden gem.
In Haarlem you’ll also find lots of great museums to visit, such as Dolhuys (Museum of the Mind) and Frans Hals Museum.
There are lots of amazing things to do in Alkmaar. You can for instance visit some interesting museums, try some local food, relax at Hortus Alkmaar or learn about cheese making at the traditional Cheese Market.
As Alkmaar is conveniently located, it’s also an ideal place to go on day trips to other places in the Netherlands. It’s just 30-40 minutes away from Amsterdam, 10 minutes away from Castricum and only 20 minutes from the beach at Egmond aan Zee.
All in all, it’s a great place to base yourself to explore more of the Netherlands.
Away with Danae