The Dutch love their stroopwafels, tulips … and especially ice skating. Our professional athletes are always setting new records and collecting gold medals and the World Cups and Olympics. But you don’t have to be a professional to enjoy a day of ice skating in the Netherlands. Around the country you’ll find many ice skating rinks to try out your skills.
Do you prefer to twirl around a lake or canal on a freezing winter day? If you’re lucky, you might even be able to go ice skating on natural ice on the canals of Amsterdam.
This is our Top 8 list of the best places to go ice skating in the Netherlands, both indoors and outdoors.
Ice skating on the canals in Amsterdam
It doesn’t happen often, but when the canals in Amsterdam freeze over, it creates a bit of winter magic. When it’s cold enough for ice skating, like it was in the winter of 2021, it seems like the whole city makes their way to the canals. Skate right through the beautiful city center or get a cup of hot chocolate and watch others turn spins on the ice. The canals in other cities are just as beautiful on a snowy winter day.
Get out on the ice in Utrecht or Haarlem, where you will also find plenty of frozen canals.
Jaap Eden Ice Rink in Amsterdam
Is the weather not cold enough to go ice skating on the Amsterdam canals but do you still want get out on the ice? Just head over to the Jaap Eden ice skating rink, which is named after a famous Dutch skater and cyclist. The beautiful outdoor ice skating rink is 400-meters long and a great place to experience this part of Dutch culture.
The Jaap Eden IJsbaan is open until Sunday, 19 March.
Opening hours: daily from 9.20 a.m. until 11:10 p.m.
Tickets: 9 euros for a 1-hour time slot.
Ice skating in Friesland
The northern province of Friesland is known for its ice skating history and tradition. This is where the famous Elfstedentocht takes places when it’s really, really cold. This 200 kilometer long race on natural ice is a much-beloved tradition, and the biggest iceskating tour in the world. Even King Willem-Alexander once participated in the event, back in 1986.
Unfortunately, the Elfstedentocht doesn’t happen often. The last time it took place was in 1997. But you can still go ice skating in Friesland. The water in the Jan Durkspolder in Nationaal Park De Alde Feanen is quite shallow which allows it to freeze over quickly.
Ice skating next to windmills in Kinderdijk
It doesn’t get more Dutch than ice skating in Kinderdijk. Put on your skates and go for a ride next to the famous windmills, which are listed as a Unesco World Heritage site. In summer you can go for a bike ride along the 19 windmills, but ice skating in winter might be even more fun.
Kinderdijk is a small town located on the eastern edge of Rotterdam. It’s only about a 30-minute drive from the city.
Skate like a pro at Thialf in Heerenveen
Thialf in Heerenveen is the most famous ice skating venue in the Netherlands. It’s the host of many professional ice skating races and events which you can visit as a spectator.
Would you like to test your own skills on the same ice skating rinks as the Olympic champions? That’s possible …. Thialf has several ice skating rinks that are open for everyone. The opening times vary, so make sure to check their website to learn about the opening times and events.
Indoor ice skating at the Schaatsbaan Rotterdam
Don’t want to leave the city at all? No problem! Rotterdam also has one of the coolest indoor ice skating rinks of the Netherlands. Schaatsbaan Rotterdam has a 400-meter long ice skating tunnel with rainbow disco lights to make it even more fun. They turn on these colorful lights on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 4 p.m.
You can rent skates at the venue or bring your own. Get your tickets online here.
Opening hours: Open daily until 3 March from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sunday-thru-Thursday and from 9 a.m. – 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
Tickets: 7.50 euros on weekdays, 8.50 euros on weekends/holidays.
Ice skating on natural ice at the Ankeveense Plassen
Another good place for ice skating in the Netherlands are the Ankeveense Plassen. You can find these waters right in between Amsterdam and Utrecht so you don’t have to drive very far if you live in either of those cities.
Are you curious if the ice is safe enough for skating? Check out the website of the Ankeveense IJsclub. They will be the first to know when the weather is good enough for some fun on the ice.
Ice skating in Limburg at Eijsder Beemden
We don’t have any snow-capped mountains in the Netherlands, but you can go ice skating with some hills in the background in Limburg. This southern province is the only place in the country that isn’t super flat and has some cool spots to go ice skating on natural ice.
The waters in nature park Eijsder Beemden are quite shallow which makes for good skating conditions.
Read more from Willeke here in Dispatches’ archives.
Willeke van Doorn
Willeke van Doorn is a Dutch journalist and graduate of Fontys University of Applied Sciences in Tilburg, Netherlands. Her experience includes an internship at National Geographic Traveler in Amsterdam.
Willeke has lived in the U.S. and Australia and loves to travel the world. She was an early Dispatches contributor as a student.