When you’re a certified cheese-a-holic, just eating dishes made with local cheese isn’t enough. Sooner or later, you’ll develop the craving to sample a wide selection of cheeses, from smoked Spanish varieties to creamy French camembert to salty parmesan. And it won’t be enough to rely on imported versions of these famous cheeses—you’ll want to try them fresh out of the factory, and learn as much as you can about the process of cheese-making.
That’s all normal for a cheese addict. Luckily, there are several amazing locations around the world where you can sample and learn about the local cheese. Check them out below!
10 Somerset, England
If you’re a fan of cheddar cheese, then you have to visit England’s county of Somerset, which gifted cheddar to the world. Of course, while you’re in this region, you must visit the village of Cheddar, after which the cheese is named.
Cheese-making in the area dates back to the 12thcentury. While in the village, you can take a self-guided tour through the Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company, learn about the process of making the cheese, sample a few products, and then purchase as much cheese as you want afterward in the shop.
9 Setubal, Portugal
There are a variety of cheeses that come out of Portugal, but one of the most famous that is produced in the municipality of Setubal is Azeitão. This is manufactured in a town of the same name and is made using sheep’s milk.
Azeitão cheese is creamy and soft and has a strong flavor that any cheese lover will appreciate. Aside from tasting cheese in Azeitão, including wine-tasting at José Maria da Fonseca Wines, and visiting some of Europe’s prettiest beaches. While in the area, check out Galapos Beach Beach and Praia dos Coelhos.
8 Bern Canton, Switzerland
Switzerland is, of course, famous for blessing the world with Swiss cheese. The classic kind that comes with the holes, Emmentaler, comes from the region of Bern Canton, taking its name from the valley of the river Emme. The most exported of all the Swiss cheeses, Emmentaler is made with raw alpine milk, giving it a distinctive flavor.
You can take a tour along the Emmentaler Cheese Route, which will allow you to meet several local cheesemakers while taking in the breathtaking countryside along the way. Definitely a treat for every cheese-a-holic!
7 Alkmaar, The Netherlands
The most famous cheeses to come out of the Netherlands are Edam and Gouda, but there are plenty more Dutch cheeses to discover. And the best place to sample them all is in Alkmaar, which is home to the world-famous Alkmaar Cheese Market. Held weekly in the small town, the event showcases an endless array of local cheeses that you can sample.
To give the market an even more authentic vibe, the sellers wear traditional Dutch clothing. This is the perfect place to snap a few pictures and gorge on cheese.
6 Pag Island, Croatia
Croatia is well-known for its fresh and delicious cuisine, and part of that is the country’s fantastic cheeses. One of the most beloved among locals is Paski sir, or Pag cheese, which is manufactured on the rocky Croatian island of Pag. The hard and aged cheese has a spicy, salty flavor, and might be compared to Italian parmesan.
The cheese is manufactured using the milk of a small breed of sheep native to the island. While visiting Pag, be sure to combine the cheese with local wines and prosciutto for a truly authentic culinary experience.
5 Normandy, France
Some of the world’s most iconic and adored fromage comes from France, where there’s also a cheese museum that’s in the shape of cheese. The Normandy region, where the museum is located, is also the birthplace of camembert. While visiting the village of the same name, you’ll get to sample the cheese at the local rural fromageries.
The Cheese Museum in Vimoutier will teach you everything you’ve ever wanted to know about camembert, including the manufacturing process and the history behind it. Plus, you’ll get lots of samples. This is definitely not the place for the lactose-intolerant!
4 Oaxaca, Mexico
Mexico boasts a variety of delicious cheeses, and one of the most famous comes from the state of Oaxaca in the country’s southeast. Also called Oaxaca, the cheese resembles mozzarella, only it’s flavor and texture are more buttery. It also tends to melt more easily, making it perfect for various Mexican dishes.
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The cheese is also sold under the branding Quesillo and commonly features in quesadillas, as well as other local plates throughout the country. There are endless cheese shops in Oaxaca where you can sample and purchase Quesillo until your heart is content.
3 Asturias, Spain
Asturias is sometimes referred to as the Spanish land of cheese, so it’s a must for any cheese-a-holic visiting Spain. Every valley in Asturias produces its own type of cheese, so there’s definitely enough to keep you going. Whether you prefer blue cheese or smoked cheese, there are over 100 types to be found in the region. The most famous is Cabrales cheese, which is iconic thanks to its strong flavor.
While visiting, be sure to check out the mostly family-run cheese-making factories, where you will learn all about the process.
2 Wisconsin, USA
Who said you have to travel outside of the U.S. to satisfy all your cheese cravings? Wisconsin is known as America’s Cheese State and with good reason. There are more than 600 varieties of cheese from the state, so it’s no wonder it’s the Dairyland of the country.
Be sure to visit one of the oldest cheese shops in the state, called Fromagination. Located in Madison, the shop offers the perfect opportunity to devour an extensive selection of local cheeses, as well as hosting its own cheese-making classes.
1 Emilia-Romagna, Italy
Italy is known for its mozzarella, rich gorgonzola, spicy provolone, and creamy ricotta. The region of Emilia-Romagna is also home to the famous bitey Parmesan cheese, also known as the king of Italian cheeses. Venture into the local shops to sample some traditional Parmigiano-Reggiano and watch the process of manufacturing it with your own eyes.
This region, which is one of the wealthiest in Europe, is also the home of Bolognese sauce, Parma ham, and balsamic vinegar. So there’s plenty to do (or rather, plenty to eat) besides cheese while visiting Emilia-Romagna.