Cheese, please! While I’ll openly say that I already have my dream job as an Editor and writer, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that my real dream job would be something food-related. Not in cooking or preparing it — I have very little talent in that whatsoever — but in eating it. Nay, devouring food. And when it comes to my love of food, nothing comes close to the love I have for cheese. It’s the souvenir I bring back from just about anywhere I travel to, the souvenir I hope to receive, and I’d happily work for cheese!

If you’re anything like me and appreciate (read: love) the creamy, chewy, smooth, salty, tasty, and bitey qualities of cheese, then this list is for you! But first, what are the ingredients for good cheese? Clean water, rich soil, quality pastures, and happy cows are what make premium milk and thus, the best cheeses. So a trip to the best cheese-making parts of the world will promise you the opportunity to visit vastly beautiful towns with clean air, water, stunning nature, and a laidback pace. What’s not to love? Now read on.

Otago, New Zealand

Any nature-loving traveller has to visit New Zealand at least once in their life. Taking a road trip around the South Island is an epic one that can be likened to visiting Kenya’s Masai Mara for the migration. But we’re here to talk cheese. From Oamaru in the North Otago region of South Island comes one of New Zealand’s most popular cheese companies — Whitestone Cheese Co.

While they do everything from a Lindis Pass Camembert to wheels of their original Farmhouse cheese (that boasts a fresh lemon-grass aroma), their blues reign supreme. Their award-winning artisan cheeses are sublime, and the Windsor Blue is a personal favourite. As they say themselves, real quality can’t be imitated.

Hokkaido, Japan

Anything that comes out of Japan is always going to be good. The Japanese take pride in their work, to the point of having everything down to an art and a science, and their dairy product is no different. Just think — Hokkaido is famed for its milk and fluffy loaves of bread, so naturally, its cheeses are mind-blowingly good.

But when it comes to making your selection, go soft. Brie and Camembert are the order of the day when shopping for Hokkaido cheese. The local soft cheeses are creamy and milky, a perfect companion with a glass of red wine or a drop of honey for extra sweetness. Other cheeses worth trying include mozzarella, and you can consider giving the raclette a go! You’ll find plenty of local artisanal brands, and I have yet to meet a Japanese cheese I didn’t like.

Amsterdam, Netherlands

The home of Gouda. Well, I guess all of the Netherlands is. But despite Amsterdam not being such a large city, you’ll find quite a number of artisanal cheese shops dotted all over the city centre, all offering a plethora of this semi-soft, milky cheese that comes in large wheels to smaller balls encased in wax.

Choose from a variety where the Gouda is imbued with spices, pepper, or my personal favourite — truffle. Even if you find that you don’t have enough time to go to a proper cheese store to take your pick, morning markets and convenience stores that line the streets usually carry heaps of them too. Needless to say, they’re in abundance, and we’re all for it!

Gouda also makes for great souvenirs to bring home as they’re encased and travel well. These cheeses were made to last! Although truth be told, they don’t when they’re in my hands. Not forgetting, the Dutch are also known for Edam, another delicious firm cheese that’s a must on your next cheese board.

Asturias, Spain

While Spain’s most famous cheese is easily Manchego — the bitey, crumbly, hard, and delectable cheese made from the Manchega sheep’s milk — you’ll find it primarily in the La Mancha region of Central Spain. I implore you to work your way northwest, up to the Asturias, known for its lush greenery and rugged coastline. If it’s any consolation, the Basque Country sits to the east of the Asturias, so you know you’ll surely be treated to scenic beauty and a pleasant maritime climate.

Asturias is also one of the country’s largest milk-producing regions boasting of the best quality too, so when it comes to cheese, this is the principal producing region in Spain. One of the Asturias’ nicknames is the ‘country of 40 cheeses’; however, over 50 varieties are known to come from the region.

Look out for Queso Casín from the Cantabrian Mountains, Ahumado de Pría that’s a milky and smoky mix of cow’s and sheep’s milk, and Gamoneu from Onís, a semi-hard cheese made from raw milk smoked for between 10 and 20 days that’ll give you a full-fat mouthfeel and buttery, mature taste.

Everywhere, France

Like their wines, France’s cheeses are sometimes named after the places they come from; Brie is located 130 miles east of Paris. But really, explore any part of the country, and you’ll be immersed in a rich and tasty culture of cheese appreciation.

Here are some of our favourites: Roquefort, from the beautiful South of France, is a renowned blue for its rich taste. However, France’s most popular cheese — Camembert — hails from the northwest region of Normandy, loved for its salty and full-bodied flavour. If you like something milkier, look for Reblochon from eastern France and the Saoie region — it’s made specifically from the second milking of cows, when milk is at its thickest and richest. When shopping for Emmental, be sure to spot the red casein label that displays the maker’s license number, ensuring that it’s made from the finest raw milk from various parts of the country.

Gruyere, Switzerland

A medieval town to the southwest of Switzerland, Gruyere is home to the finest cheese and chocolates in the country. Or so they say. I felt like I found good cheese (and chocolate) in just about every city I’ve been to in the country, but of course, how do you come close to the home of the eponymous Gruyere?

Head over to La Maison de Gruyere to learn about the history of this melty cheese, watch how it’s made, and, of course, get a tasting. If you need a little dessert, then hop over to La Maison Cailler in Broc — one of Switzerland’s oldest and most famous chocolate factories. That said, wherever you find yourself in Switzerland, it won’t be hard to find a cheese factory nearby.

What cheese devotees allude to Swiss cheeses being so good is its landscape — because there’s something in the water. Happy cows and sheep graze freely and drink crystalline alpine water! So, again, wherever in the world you decide to holiday in hopes of finding good cheese, you know it’ll be a beautiful location steeped in unspoilt nature. And who doesn’t love a holiday with yummy food and wonderful scenery?