Ice-skating in Amsterdam’s canals

By Sergio González | 11:07

Once again it’s that time of the year when the temperature inside the freezer is higher than outside and excitement covers the streets in the Netherlands. Kids and grown-ups get their winter gear ready for another fun cold season by ice-skating on Amsterdam’s canals.

Finland may be heating up its saunas, and North America may go on sleeping until the groundhog says otherwise, and worldwide bears and bearded hipsters hibernate until Spring arrives, but in the Netherlands they are hoping for it to be even colder.

Ice-skating for the Dutch is huge and so are the opportunities for tourists and travelers to join them in their national winter sport by renting a pair of skates, which run around 5€. Besides, let’s all remember that Dutch teams and athletes aren’t alien to the podium at Winter Olympics, so you should be ready for some serious competition and the not-so-amateur performances on ice.

The downside is that you never know how long freezing temperatures will last so you cannot plan a trip to Amsterdam just to ice-skate on its canals.  Increase your chances by visiting the Netherlands in late January and February. And if you must scratch ice-skating in Amsterdam from your bucket list, some canals and lakes always get frozen enough and, just in case, they place some outdoors ice rinks all around the city.

However, if you are lucky enough you could see speed-skating competitions, marathons and all kind of festivals happening on not-so-thin ice. It might be a good idea to book a last minute trip to the Netherlands because maybe this winter the Elfstedentocht will take place. Cross your fingers.

The Elfstedentocht (the Eleven Cities Tour) is the coolest and longest ice-skating race in the world but it only happens under strict winter conditions that make sure ice is thick enough all along its 200 km course. It’s such a precious gem and the last Elfstedentocht took place in 1997.

Anyway, the bright side is whether it happens or not, you are still in Amsterdam, one of the most interesting cities in the world where you can enjoy the finest paintings, cheese, architecture, flower markets and a long list which is crowned by the locals as hospitable and open minded.

The freezing temperatures will have you entering every bar on every corner asking for some coffee and begging for heat to warm yourself up. 

Remember that after all day touring around a beautiful but frozen city you deserve a meal full of protein, carbs and all the things that your doctor warns you about. Ask for a meat fondue. Yes, like the Swiss dish but with delicious pork, chicken or beef chunks to dip into different kinds of amazing Dutch cheese. Don’t miss the chance to taste local pastries. Get yourself a big stroopwafel loaded with tons of caramel inside and learn the most important word in Dutch: poffertjes.

Skating on a frozen canal or lake is not a joke and there are a lot a precautions to watch before jumping in. Learn all about ice-skating safety from National Parks of Canada, and as a rule of thumb, skate only where and when locals do it too. 


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