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Alkmaar is mainly known for its cheese. Every Friday the traditional cheese market is held with men dressed in white costumes and straw hats who carry the big cheeses on stretchers to the scales. But Alkmaar also has a beautiful historical center with canals, courtyards, churches and other monuments.
Alkmaar has almost 95,000 inhabitants.
Alkmaar is located in the north of the province of Noord-Holland, in the northwest of the Netherlands. The city is situated directly behind the dunes with only a few kilometers west of the city the beaches of Egmond aan Zee and Bergen aan Zee. In a straight line, the Dutch capital Amsterdam lies 30 kilometers south of Alkmaar (over 40 kilometers by road).
Provision of services is the main economic activity in Alkmaar. It's also an important shopping city. Cheese plays a minor part, except for the tourists who are drawn in by the weekly cheese market. For that matter, many inhabitants of Alkmaar work outside the city, in for example Haarlem or Amsterdam. Alkmaar is a typical commuter city.
The city has good public bus transport. All buses leave from the main train station in Alkmaar. In addition to destinations within the city several buses run to towns in the vicinity.
Street parking is relatively expensive in Alkmaar and it's also difficult to find a free parking place. Fortunately there are many parking garages in and around the center where you can safely leave your rental car and which are also cheaper than street parking. There are also three P+R areas on the verge of the city where you can park your rental car and then travel to the center by public transport.
There's a limited choice of accommodations in the city itself. There are some smaller hotels and two large ones: Golden Tulip and Hotel de Palatijn. Guesthouses, hotels and holiday resorts can be found mainly in the seaside resorts Egmond and Bergen, a few kilometers west of the city.
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