14 June 2023
Gouda is known for its cheese, stroopwafels and Gouda plateel. But is this picturesque town in South Holland worth visiting for a day or two? Especially if you love design and hotspots? Let’s find out!
Gouda has an entrepreneurial spirit where solidarity speaks volumes and sustainability plays an important role. This is apparently in the DNA of the people of Gouda, because as early as the sixteenth century, when the Sint-Janskerk burned down, the local population put their shoulders to it, both physically and financially, and ensured that the church was rebuilt. And if a pandemic closes the doors of a new hotel today, those same Gouwenaars support them to ensure they get through that time.
The enthusiastic guide at De Goudse Waag, where you can do a cheese and beer tasting, says that the Gouda resident always invents something new and achieves success with it. We all know the popular cheese, but also stroopwafels, Gouds plateel (a form of pottery), candles and beer are famous. This city also has the first Fairtrade shopping street in the Netherlands, large billboards to encourage you to go on a plastic diet and we even saw a green computer store.
The city center, with the stately town hall, is packed on this sunny day in June with people visiting the cheese market or having lunch on one of the many terraces. However, if you meander out to the side streets, the fun begins: here you will find unique shops and cafes and of course the photogenic canals with its canal houses. Striking are the tiny little bridge keepers houses, a windmill here and there and large warehouses where they either still work or where new creative companies came in.
Gouda has a number of unique shops. For example, on the Lange Groenendaal, the previous mentioned Fairtrade shopping street, you will find Karakter where they only sell sustainable brands such as Armed Angels and Nathalie Vleeschouwer, plus a rack of second-hand clothing. At Hebikvia across the street, we’ve spotted vintage Yajiro Kokeshi dolls and at Louloúdi, the designer works in the back of the store and makes children’s clothing made from natural materials that leave room to grow. Brattain is a fashion store for men and women selling brands such as Monique van Heist, Ame Antwerp and By Malene Birger, while another store called Flossy focuses entirely on (artificial) plants, accessories and coffee.
Museum Gouda is a small museum where they currently show the exhibition High Skies, a collection of the Rijksmuseum that depicts the Dutch skies. The museum once had a female director who collected work by female artists, including work by Charley Toorop (which can be seen in the museum’s Schatkamer). Museum Cafe Gouda is located in front of the museum and has a nice terrace and small garden with some art installations. Popular is their Healthy Tea, a high tea, but then with some healthy options such as a salad and a fruit yoghurt, but also scones and macarons. Next door you’ll find Firma van Drie, a small gallery where they show the work of local artists.
You can visit a city by walking from restaurant to shop, but if you undertake an activity that will teach you something you’ll learn more of the city and the crafts typically for a city or region. In Gouda, that’s Gouds plateel, or better said: pottery. At Seb’s Ceramics you can’t only buy the designer’s ceramics, you can also follow a pottery workshop, although the space called Club Klei is also open for people who like to work on their own.
Restaurant De Kleischuur is located where the clay for the many pottery factories in the cities was once delivered by ships. An industrial building with a large glass wall and a terrace on the water. Striking in the interior are the many jars filled with fermented food. You’ve probably already guessed it: this restaurant works with local and seasonal products and processes them in a four or five course menu. From crayfish to asparagus with strawberries. Also worth recommending, and organic, cafes in town are the vegetarian lunch cafe Curcuma and the Caribbean-inspired plant-based and gluten-free Miss Nice Banana.
Hotel WSHS is a hotel in a former orphanage with a sunny patio where you can have a drink even if you are not staying at the hotel. In terms of colors, the hotel’s interior is inspired by a plate made of Gouds Plateel, which is reflected in both the restaurants and the rooms. Interior designer Judith van Mourik, also known from her work at Parc Broekhuizen, did the interior. Because the orphanage was run by a number of strong women, the owner, Sharon van Gastel, chose the names Coco and Lizz for the restaurants. Inspired by her favorite powerful women: Coco Chanel and Elizabeth Taylor. Lizz recently received his first Michelin star.
For more information: www.welkomingouda.nl
This is a paid collaboration with Welkom in Gouda