Natural ice skating rinks in the Netherlands

Snow is here and so is ice skating: Grab your skates and hit those natural ice rinks! Here’s all you need to know about Natural Ice Skating Rinks in the Netherlands.

It is no surprise that the Dutch are big fans of their ice skating and the good news is, from the recent icy weather and snow we can all go for some natural ice skating just like a true Dutchie!

Natural Ice Skating Rinks in the Netherlands
Frozen lakes are a common sight in the Dutch winter

The Elfstedentoch or the Eleven-Cities ice skating tour

If you sit with the Dutch crowd, you will hear all sort of stories of the Elfstedentocht. It is more of a historical ice skating event for them, perhaps because it rarely occurs. Journalists from all over the world traveled to Friesland to catch a glimpse of this race.

So, what is The Elfstedentoch exactly? The Elfstedentocht is a long-distance skating event, almost 200 kilometers long, which is held both as a speed skating competition and a leisure tour. All this happens on natural ice! It takes place in the province of Friesland in the north of the Netherlands. The tour is held at most once a year, only when the natural ice along the entire course is at least 15 centimeters. Unfortunately, this race is a rare one. It has just been done 15 times since its official start year of 1909. The last one to occur was in the year 1997. Efforts were also made for a race in 2012, but due to safety issues, the event was canceled.

Natural Ice Skating Rinks in the Netherlands
Elfstedentocht finish (1985) (source: The best of the natural ice skating rinks in the Netherlands 😉

Where are the Natural Ice Skating rinks in the Netherlands?

Natural ice skating occurs most years in shallow water, lakes and some years (like last year), the canals freeze up too and you can basically ice skate anywhere. Some farmers flood their fields in order to allow people to ice skate on them. However, it’s not always safe to skate on your local lakes and this is why you need to keep tabs on where is safe to ice skate naturally in the Netherlands.

Schaatradar is the app where you can see exactly where you can skate on natural ice. This app is made possible by the KNSB: the authority in the field of natural ice in the Netherlands. On this app, there are only natural ice skating rinks and tours that have been approved by the ice skaters of the KNSB. With Schaatradar, you can see the natural ice skating rinks in your area and whether they are okay to go to (well at least not yet 😉 ).

There are also several websites to guide you with natural ice skating news, weather, and information from around the country. This way you’ll know where the natural ice skating rinks in the Netherlands are.


There is also the option of ice skating on the canals. Not something that happens yearly, but extremely cold weather does help with the freezing of the canals. Especially the ones in Amsterdam are a worth a try. The canals can freeze if temperatures stay -4 Celsius for four consecutive nights. The municipality will then give the green light if it is safe to ice skate on the canals. *fingers crossed*



Where can you buy ice skates in the Netherlands?

If you want to ice skate on natural ice, you need your pair of skates. It is easy to find sports stores around, or Decathlon provides a range of them at reasonable prices. If not, you can always go to your local indoor ice rink arena and rent a pair for a couple of hours.

What to bring with you before going ice skating in the Netherlands

Natural ice skating has its perks but being prepared before hitting those rinks is always a plus. Here are some things you should not forget before your ice skating moves.

Warm clothes
A no brainer, but those warm clothes and extra layers can help. A thermal shirt will undoubtedly keep you warm, but also thick socks (or extra socks), gloves, a scarf, and a beanie will assure you won’t catch a cold. In case of extreme freezing cases, use windproof clothing, a ski mask, ski goggles and petroleum jelly for your face.

All that ice skating will get you hungry and thirsty, so make sure you pack plenty of food and drinks. Think sandwiches, a thermos for hot beverages such as coffee or hot cocoa. It is also smart to bring a towel or a blanket to have your hot cocoa on.

First aid kit and protection
If you are a clumsy one, like me, make sure to bring some patches of bandage for you and perhaps for others in the ice skating rink. Better watch out for those not so smooth ice rinks! Plus, knee protectors, wrist guards and most importantly a helmet can go a long way. True, it is not so Dutch to have a helmet on, but safety first if you are new to the natural ice skating rinks.



5 of the best man-made ice skating rinks

If you are not a big fan of ice skating on the raw natural ice of the Dutch lakes or canals, you can also visit the indoor or outdoor man-made ice skating rinks to have added some fun in your time.

1. Jaap Eden: Jaap Eden was a famous Dutch athlete, and he was admired for his speed skating skills. The rink is named after him. It covers 400 meters of ice making it the biggest arena in Amsterdam. If you are keen on learning skating, Jaap Eden offers ice skating lessons as well.

2. Ice* Amsterdam: Open till February 3rd, this ice skating rink in the Museumplein is a great place to meet up with friends and family and enjoy an excellent ice experience.

3. Schaatshaal Leiden: an ice skating rink in the cozy city of Leiden. There is an inner track and an outer track of about 220 meters. This rink also provides ice skating lessons and hot cocoas! :D.

4. Ijsbaan Haarlem: The ice rink in Haarlem is excellent for the new skater also for the diehards out there (respect). Open till late March.

5. Schaatsbaan Rotterdam: The ice rink in Rotterdam is one to put on your priority list! Many ice skating activities are possible for both youngsters and adults.

Natural Ice Skating Rinks in the Netherlands
An outdoor ice skating rink

Dutch food to eat after Ice Skating

After a good ice skating session, the Dutchies traditionally like to enjoy a cup of hot beverages (mainly cocoa or coffee), poffertjes (those mini pancakes with melting butter and sugar on top). Some even grab a typical Dutch pea soup. These types of snacks are thankfully usually served around the many ice rinks.

Hope this article will help you get your ice skating into practice and if you happen to have pictures, tag us on our Instagram page! Enjoy and stay warm. Have any favorite natural ice skating rinks in the Netherlands? Let us know in the comments!


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