Alkmaar is one of the historic towns near Amsterdam. It takes pride in the fact that in 1572 it won the first battle against the Spanish (then the occupiers of Holland): In Alkmaar the Victory starts!
Alkmaar celebrates this fact every year on October 8.
The most well-known attraction is the cheese market on Friday mornings during the summer season, set up especially for tourists.
Alkmaar has many shops in the historic center. The main shopping street is Langestraat, and you'll find many very picturesque streets around Waagplein.
Alkmaar is easily reachable by train from Amsterdam (40 minutes train ride). Trains go 365 days a year, between 6am and approximately midnight, 2 to 4 times per hour. Always check ns.nl for exact departure times, disturbances etc.
From Alkmaar train station you can walk into town in 10-15 minutes.
After leaving the station, turn right to follow Stationsstraat, then left onto Scharlo, follow Geesterweg, cross the bridge, straight on into Gasthuisstraat.
You're then at the Grote Kerk, at the other side of which starts Langestraat (the main shopping street). At the end of Langestraat you can turn left to find the Waag Tower and Cheese market at Waagplein.
At the train station there's a bike rental.
Cheese Market @ Alkmaar
Waag Tower in Alkmaar