The Best Places in the World to Vacation If You Love Cheese
Is there anything better than cheese? After all, cheese pretty much goes with everything. It’s amazing on bread, with fruit and with vegetables, with pasta, with chocolate, with wine or beer, or even just on its own.
And the best thing about cheese, besides that it simply exists, is that there are so many varieties, made all over the world. You can get a mild Brie in France, a flavorful goat cheese in Tuscany, or a pungent (dare we say, stinky) blue cheese in Asturias that’ll knock your socks off (or at least smell like them). Many cheeses can be found in particular places around the world, where cheesemongers have been perfecting their craft for generations.
Who wouldn’t want the perfect excuse to roam around France, eating every morsel of Camembert, Brie and Beaufort in their sight? Or around Italy, where you can sample gorgonzola, pecorino romano, and classic parmesan. There are also the cheese markets of Amsterdam, cheesy excursions in Spain, and the actual town of Cheddar for some real-deal cheddary goodness. (And if you want to stay state-side, don’t worry. There are plenty of places to visit in the United States as well.)
Cheesy travelers might be reaching for their passports when they read about these amazing cheeses — and the destinations that created them.
Normandy is the home of the creamiest French cheese around: Camembert. You can visit the Cheese Museum, which is built in the shape of a Camembert cheese wheel and the President Farm, where you can eat plenty of fresh cheese and learn everything about Camembert, from its historical beginnings to the cheesemaking process.
The French Alps
Along the borders of France, Switzerland and Italy, you’re bound to discover some delicious cheeses, like Reblochon, Beaufort, Abondance, Bleu de Sassenage, and Tomme de Savoie. Plus you can enjoy them while admiring the gorgeous views.
This part of Spain is often called “El Pais de los Quesos” (Land of Cheese). The most popular cheese from this region is a strongly flavored cheese called Queso de Cabrales. Cheese lovers can even discover all there is about this famous cheese though a special foundation dedicated to the historical and cultural importance of Cabrales.
La Mancha, Spain
La Mancha isn’t only the home of Don Quixote, it’s also the home of the most famous Spanish cheese: Manchego. The buttery cheese from the milk of Manchega sheep that is herded in the provinces of Toledo, Cuenca, Ciudad Real, and Albacete.
You can find just about any type of Italian cheese in Sardinia from pecorino to blue cheese. But what makes Sardinian cheese special (and maybe a little risky) is an illegal cheese made with live maggots called casu marzu.
Lovers of pungent cheese should definitely go to Pagazzano, home of gorgonzola. One of the best companies producing the traditional Italian cheese, Arrigoni, is definitely worth a try.
Ever wondered where you got your favorite cheese that practically goes great with everything? We’re talking about parmesan, or Parmigiano-Reggiano. Turns out, it was created in the Middle Ages in the Italian province of Reggio Emilia, and it’s a must-go for cheese lovers.
Somerset, South West England
Cheddar doesn’t come in a Mac ‘n’ Cheese box or a Cheez-Whiz jar. It comes literally from the town of Cheddar in South West England, where the famous Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company are the only cheesemakers left in town producing the deliciously sharp snack.
Where else are you going to find good gruyere other than Gruyeres? The little medieval town has been making the cheese that’s perfect for pairing with your favorite fruits for centuries.
The best cheese in the world (no, really) is a strong blue cheese variety called Kraftkar and it was originally made in the Norwegian town of Torjulvagen only as far back as 2004. At the 2016 World Cheese Awards in San Sebastián, Kraftkar was selected "World Champion" (all categories).
If you want to hit up the best cheese markets Europe has to offer, you have to go to the Netherlands. At these medieval markets, you can find cheese of all varieties, including Edam and Gouda. Or you can stop at the Alkmaar Cheese Market in Waagplein Square.
California Artisan Cheese Festival
And you don’t have to go all the way to Europe for good cheese. You can find of delicious domestic varieties in the U.S. as well. California hosts an artisan cheese festival every Spring that draws all kind of cheesemongers across the country.
Naturally, you have to go to Wisconsin for the cheddar. And while you’re there, stop by Fromagination in Madison, where you can sample types of cheese, enjoy tastings (including melty cheese raclettes), learn about cheesemongery, take home cheese baskets, and more.
Cabot is home to quite possibly America’s most famous cheese maker: Cabot Creamery. The dairy farm is famous for its white, extra sharp cheddar that you can find while walking down the aisle at pretty much any grocery store, but you can also visit the creamery to get a tour.
New Orleans, Louisiana
This Southern city may not be the first one you think about when it comes to cheese, but it does have quite a few amazing markets with an impressive spread of artisanal foods, including cheese. Stop at the French Market outdoor bazaar or St. James Cheese Company while you’re in the Big Easy.
This isn’t about Philly Cheese Steaks. Philadelphia not only has a huge array of amazing restaurants (where you can find plenty of cheese) but you can also stop at the Reading Terminal Market, with it’s several cheese shops.
Maybe America’s neighbor to the North isn’t famous for its cheese, but it is famous for having lots of great places to eat and shop, including the . The impressive farmer’s market not only has plenty of organic foods, but also lots of quality cheeses.
Are you a fan of Oaxaca, the mild and salty cheese that makes pretty much all Mexican food go from tasty to all-out delicious? Just like mozzarella, Oaxaca is sold in little balls and can be found at lots of Mexican food stands and restaurants. Plus, you will be tempted to take some home.
Pag Island, Croatia
The hard and salty Paški Sir cheese comes from sheep cultivated on this little island near Croatia who graze all day near the salty shores and are milked every couple of days. The island is a paradise for cheese lovers.
While you’re Down Under, you absolutely need to try the best cheese Australia has to offer. Woodside Cheese Wrights offers a huge variety of cow and goat cheeses. Their cheeses also also crafted by hand and are available according to the season.