What would be more magical than ice skating on the frozen canals of Amsterdam? Right: nothing! Unfortunately we are depended on mother nature for this to happen. Every year the tension – and excitement – is tangible when winter arrives: will we be able to ice skate on the canals or not… For those winters too mild (and too wet) to freeze over the canals, man takes over and creates his own skating tracks, independent of the weather. Are you not really into ice skating? Read Charles’ blog for other things to do in Amsterdam in winter.

Ice skating rinks from large to small

Ice skating is absolutely fun! Amsterdam has a few rinks, ranging in size. I would suggest that beginners start at the smaller rinks, as these offer you the opportunity to learn skating, without the risk of being blown off your skates by more experienced skaters. The largest ice skating rink is the Jaap Edenbaan in Amsterdam East, home of the professional Amsterdam ice hockey team. In Amsterdam West, Pacific Parc sets up a tent with an ice skating rink, while there are two other skating rinks in the city centre: one on Museumplein and one on Leidseplein.

Jaap Eden is the largest ice skating rink in Amsterdam

The Jaap Eden rink is open from October to March. The large rink with a track of 400 metres is ideal for more serious skaters who would like to do a longer runs or compete against one another. If you are not confident enough for competitions, you are still very welcome here. You will be allowed on the outer parts of the rink, where you can take it more easy. Jaap Eden also offers skating lessons. Did you get cold and wet? No problem, just have a warm shower or warm up in the restaurant. On Saturday evenings you can enjoy ice skating in a totally different way at the disco skating.

Period of operations: 10 October 2015 – 27 March 2016
Where: Radioweg 64, 1098 NJ Amsterdam
Website: Jaap Eden IJsbaan (NL)
Real ice: Yes

Ice*Amsterdam on Museumplein

The ice rink on Museumplein gets more and more professional every year. The rink is always the same size, as it is located in the pond in front of the Rijksmuseum and iamsterdam sign. But the brasserie and the ‘Christmas Village’ are getting bigger and bigger. Ice*Amsterdam is doing a great job, bringing a festive, wintry atmosphere onto the Museumplein. Together with the Rijksmuseum as backdrop, makes it a magical ice skating experience, especially after sunset.

Period of operations: 21 November 2015 – 28 February 2016 (Christmas Market from 18 – 27 December)
Where: Museumplein, 1071 Amsterdam
Website: Ice*Amsterdam
Real ice: Yes

Covered ice skating Pacific Parc in Westergasfabriek

Pacific Parc is a friendly bar-restaurant in Culture Park Westergasfabriek. For the last few years, they have set up a tent just outside the restaurant, thus providing a sheltered ice skating experience. No matter what the Dutch weather does, here you can skate from mornings to evenings. From my experience there are a lot of mothers and/or fathers with kids – especially in the weekends – during the day. So if that’s not your thing: go in the evenings and enjoy.

Period of operations: 18 December 2015 – 3 January 2016
Where: Cultuurpark Westergasfabriek, Polonceaukade 23, 1014 DA Amsterdam
Website: Pacific Parc (NL)
Real ice: Yes

Winterplaza – Ice skating on the Leidseplein

This is the smallest of them all, but definitely not the least fun one. Set in between the historic houses on Leidseplein, this is a perfect ice skating rink for those less confident on the skates. If you really suck – your words, not mine – you can skate behind one of the fun, animal skate-helpers. This cute ice skating rink has a nice Amsterdam feel to it, even though many stalls around the rink offer food that is not Dutch.

Period of operations: 13 November 2015 – 10 January 2016
Where: Leidseplein, 1017 PR Amsterdam
Website: Winterplaza on Leidseplein (NL)
Real ice: Yes

How conscious can an outdoor ice skating rink be?

Let me be clear: in character an outdoor skating rink is not very sustainable. But neither are many other activities (nor is tourism in general), so in that light we still give the Amsterdam ice skating rinks a 1 for environmentally consciousness. All four of them use energy saving techniques to freeze the ice, so the awareness is definitely there.

Type: TraditionSeason: Winter