Europe is well known for its love of cheese. Many of the most famous varieties in the world originate from the continent. From bustling cheese markets and fascinating museums to hands-on cheese-making workshops, here are nine of Europe’s top cheese destinations.
It’s no surprise that this list begins in France, and the town of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon in the south is where one of the world’s most famous blue cheeses is produced.
Made from sheep’s milk and characterised by its dark blue-green veins, you can tour the cellars where the huge wheels of this pungent cheese are matured and see exactly how it’s made before tasting the finished product.
This Medieval town is a picturesque mix of cobbled streets and lush meadows, but its main claim to fame is that it’s been the home of hard, nutty Gruyère cheese since at least the 12th century.
Visit the La Maison du Gruyère factory to learn about its history and see how it’s made, then get your fill of cheese-laden dishes at the on-site restaurant.
Located in the gastronomic powerhouse of Emilia-Romagna in northern Italy, one of Parma’s most well-known exports is Parmigiano Reggiano, better known as Parmesan cheese.
Factory tours will guide you through the process of making this hard, aged and flavour-rich cheese. Restaurant menus are bursting with it, and there’s even an entire museum dedicated to this ‘King of Cheeses’.
Famous for its eponymous cheese, Gouda is part of Holland’s Cheese Valley – a region packed with activities for cheese lovers.
There’s everything from museums where you can discover how the cheese is produced and ripened, to cheese-related monuments, cheese events and even a former cheese weighing house to explore.
Don’t miss the lively traditional cheese markets bustling with traders, where you can taste plenty of samples and choose your favourites to take home.
Switzerland’s idyllic Emmental valley is renowned for its rolling hillsides and Alpine views, as well as for being the home of Emmental cheese.
Known in many parts of the world simply as Swiss cheese, you can visit the Emmental Show Dairy to find out exactly how it’s made – and why it has so many holes! There’s also the chance to try making your own cheese under the guidance of a professional, plus indulge in a little tasting, too.
Croatia’s rugged Pag island is known for its lunar-looking landscape and distinctive local cheese. A must-visit for anyone who believes the moon is made of cheese.
Made exclusively on Pag is a cheese that uses milk from sheep fed on aromatic local vegetation such as sage, which is naturally covered in sea salt by the strong winds. This gives the cheese a distinctive sharp and salty flavour.
Tour Pag’s Gligora Cheese Factory to find out more about the cheese and how it’s made, as well as to taste some samples.
For a hands-on cheese experience, the Dutch town of Streefkerk outside Rotterdam should definitely be on your itinerary. Here you can visit Booij Kaasmakers, a family-run farm where they’ve been making artisan cheese for over 300 years.
Not only can you take a tour and taste a selection of their creations, you can also join a workshop and have a go at making some fresh cheese yourself. A chance to learn from the experts!
The Asturias region on the northern coast of Spain is known as the País de Quesos, or ‘land of cheeses’. It produces over 50 different varieties, including the smoky Gamonéu and strong and spicy blue Cabrales.
You can follow the Cabrales Cheese Route to visit dairy farmers, explore the aromatic limestone cheese caves in Asiego where the cheeses are stored and matured, and visit cheese factories for those all-important tastings.
Camembert in the Normandy region of northern France is another world-renowned destination for cheese lovers, thanks to the soft and creamy cheese to which it gives its name.
Here, you can explore the pretty countryside where the cows graze and tour the Maison du Camembert to see how this popular cheese is crafted – and enjoy a tasting of course. Alternatively, visit Durand Cheesemonger – the last dairy farm still making camembert using traditional methods.
Please note that there are currently travel restrictions in place due to COVID-19. Depending on which country you visit, hotels, restaurants and other tourist attractions may be closed. Always check government advice before making any bookings.