What better reason to pick your next walking or cycling holiday in Europe than based on what local cheeses are on offer?
In this article, you'll find a list of cheeses to make any turophile (cheese lover) happy, and the complementary walking and cycling trips to discover them.
Arguably the most famous cheese from Switzerland. It’s a hard, Alpine-style cheese named after the town of Gruyères in the Swiss canton of Fribourg. These are best for melting.
A sub-category of Gruyère is Beaufort cheese, both of which can be tasted on a Tour du Mont Blanc hike.
Havarti hails from Denmark and is made from whole cow's milk. It has a fresh, creamy, milky flavour and can be paired with pretty much anything.
‘Racler’ means to scrape in French, and scrape is just what you do with this alpine cheese. It's best eaten after being scraped onto potatoes or bread. It’s crafted from raw cow’s milk cheese, meaning it hasn’t been pasteurised. Try this warm and hearty cheese while hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc.
It’s a semi-hard, waxed cheese from Spain, specifically the La Mancha region which is between Madrid and Valencia. Manchego is easy to spot as it has a distinct basket pattern on it. It’s made from pure sheep's milk. It has been labelled with a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status, meaning manchego cheese can only come from this part of Europe.
> View walking & cycling trips in Spain
No European cheese list would be complete without an offering from the Dutch. Gouda is made from sweet, creamy, yellow cow’s milk and is of a semi-hard to hard texture. It comes from the town of Gouda in Holland, which is pronounced How-da. Going to a cheese market in Gouda, in the Netherlands, is a must-do experience for all cheese lovers!
Brie, the ubiquitous disc of soft cheese, can be found around the world but it originally was produced in the region of Brie in France, which is north of Paris between the Seine and Marne valleys. We're not sure about this Scottish meal that features haggis and brie...
Similar to brie, Camembert is a soft cheese known for its gooey buttery texture with a pungent aroma. It hails from the Normandy region in France.
Have you ever smelt a word? We can with gorgonzola, the stinky blue cheese from Italy that is made from cow's milk. It is produced in the Lombardy region just northeast of Milan, so it's likely to be smelt while exploring Lake Como.
Possibly more pungent than gorgonzola is Roquefort, a blue-veined cheese from southern France. Unlike gorgonzola, Roquefort is made from sheep's milk. Authentic Roquefort cheese is also made on the French island of Corsica.
Mozzarella is the key ingredient in pizza, so it's no surprise it comes from Naples on the Amalfi Coast of Italy. Mozarella is made from a water buffalo, traditionally the Mediterranean water buffalo. If it’s made from cow's milk it’s called fior di latte.
The word ricotta derives from the Italian word 'ricotta', which means 'recooked'. It's actually not technically a cheese, more just the whey from sheep, buffalo, goats or cows milk. It was originally produced in the Italian island of Sicily. Delicious.
[EDIT: We heard from former dairy worker Ron, who explained the ricotta-making process in a more technically correct way. Thanks Ron!: You acid coagulate the protein in milk to make cheese from the curds. But 10-20% of the protein stays behind in the whey. This protein can be heat coagulated and when it separates off it is called Ricotta. Great article. Heading off to France very soon to cycle ....... and eat cheese!]
Double or triple creamed cheese from the Lombardy region in Italy. It's no surprise it's an invention from the Renaissance era given its luscious, creamy, silky and decadent taste. Mascarpone is a staple ingredient in Italian desserts such as tiramisu.
Feta is an icon of the Mediterranean, specifically Greece. It was originally made exclusively from goat or sheep's milk, but nowadays can be made with cow's milk. It's packed and aged in salt brine, allowing it to keep for a long time in warmer climates. Best served with olives, even better when cycling and sailing around the Greek Islands!
Halloumi, also known as the 'squeaky cheese' is a semi-firm fresh cheese made from goat and sheep cheese. Its country of origin is Cyprus. Delicious!
Croatia is home to the salty Paski Sir cheese, which is a regional cheese made on Pag island. Paski Sir gets its distinct flavour because on Pag, sheep graze on fields of wild sage which infuses the milk with a fragrant and fresh aroma. Buy it locally from roadside vendors.