The city center of my town, Amsterdam, Netherlands, has several very nice ice rinks, and open water where ice skating is made possible in Winter. They are temporary and are removed when the season is finished. They are inexpensive — always under five euros — and situated at walking distance from museums, tourist attractions, and shops. There is skate rental and they are, all in, easily accessible for the locals and for tourists. All these are places I often visit, all the year round, because there’s always something going on. Actually, one of the reasons I came to live in this town, is this neighborhood. The small ice rinks in the city center came two decades after my arrival, and I have personally used the Museumplein IJsbaan and the Dam IJsbaan. They definitely add atmospheric flavor to the city.
It’s so very pretty: The oblong shaped Museumplein Pond in the museum quarter of Amsterdam, transformed into the Museumplein IJsbaan in Winter, ICE*Amsterdam. The Museumplein IJsbaan existed in the nineteenth century already, which I didn’t know. It was closed for several decades since World War Two and reopened twelve years ago. Institutions with reputed art are almost its next door neighbors: The national Rijksmuseum (which has recently been reopened after renovations), the Van Gogh Museum, and the Concert hall. It’s an open air ice rink, but part of it will be covered by a tent. There is skate rental too, costing about five euros per person. It’s season is likely to start at the end of November and ends early February. The entrance fee is three euros for adults, and children under twelve have free entrance. There are events and demonstrations. Opening hours: 10:00 am — 20:00 pm daily. Trams 2, 5, 6, 7, and 10 stop near the ice rink and the museums. More information, such as their event calendar, will come at their web page soon.
The Jaap Edenbaan is the only big ice skating park for more ambitious athletic use. It isn’t far from the city center. Tram 9 and bus 15 pass, and the car park costs ten euro cents per hour with a maximum of four hours. There is an outdoor marathon skating rink, and an indoor ice hockey and figure skating rink. The season starts coming 9 November. The entrance fee is 6,50 euros for adults, 3,90 euros for children from 3 to 15 years of age. There are several subscription facilities, such as a ticket for 10 entrances. There are lockers, which cost about a euro. There even is a ballet room with a mirrored wall (which I didn’t know). There’s an event- and club calendar with tabs for each day of the week. ‘Recreatie’ refers to individual skaters without club membership. Furthermore, the names of clubs and their hours of presence are listed each day. Each Saturday night, 20:40 pm — 23:30 pm, is for the youth — there’s dance music; hand gloves are prescribed, and marathon skates aren’t allowed. I have used the Jaap Edenbaan fairly often, it’s a pleasant ice rink. However, those with a more in-depth interest in marathon ice skating might prefer the marathon ice rinks in these cities outside Amsterdam: Haarlem and Alkmaar. Those ice rinks are bigger than the one in Amsterdam, so you can really stretch out there. Professional skaters use the Haarlem and Alkmaar ice parks too. Personally, I grew up in Haarlem near the ice rink and was a frequent user. Since I left, it has grown into a big attraction with a hotel, media facilities, and much more.
Free Canal Skating
The Amsterdam canal ring is listed as Unesco world heritage, thanks to its architecture and its water layout. Waterways are part of Dutch cities in the flat northwestern half of the country, the area situated below sea level. An ideal situation for tour skating from city to city it is, which is traditionally extremely popular here. Sixteenth century painters Hendrick Avercamp and Pieter Brueghel immortalized Winter fun for us. In the city center of Amsterdam several canals are closed for shipping and drainage to enable skating, when the weather forecast promises prolonged frost. It’s a fascinating situation to skate between ships, use their terrain, and have the ability to reach them on feet. It’s a great experience to enjoy the city and its architecture from ice. Also tourists have discovered it, like they discovered cycling. One must be careful under bridges, because the ice tends to be thinner there. It’s free of cost and an excellent opportunity for photography, but don’t expect too much luxury. Nor guaranteed ice, because frost may not happen. It is wisdom to follow the ice weather report on television or on the national ice skating site Schaatsen.nl.
Leidseplein IJsbaan and Dam IJsbaan
At some fifteen minutes walking distance from the Museumplein IJsbaan, you will find the Leidseplein IJsbaan, later this month. Amsterdam’s Leidseplein is the heart of the city’s night life and shopping. Its ice skating season is expected to start halfway November, until 13 January. This is a small, temporary ice rink, built every year on the cafe terraces, which are very busy in the Summer months. It opens at 10:00 am and closes late in the evening: Saturdays and Sundays at midnight, and the other days of the week at 23:00 pm. Trams 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, and 10 stop here. It doesn’t use real ice, made from frozen water. Instead it uses a an artificial, soap bar resembling material. It’s safe, and it doesn’t feel too fake. In the holiday season, there will be an open air Christmas market next to the Leidseplein IJsbaan, every year. It mainly offers hot Winter snacks, sweets, and beverages. All in it’s a very nice area for recreational skating in the city center, with all its other attractions.
If you walk some twenty-five minutes further, you arrive at Dam Square, Amsterdam’s real heart and main square. It is situated next to the royal palace and the national war monument, and it is at short walking distance from the main railway station. I’ve skated several times here with my sons. It’s very similar to the Leidseplein IJsbaan: Same quality, the same artificial ice, however, it’s is a little bigger in size. There is skate rental, and it isn’t expensive. I haven’t seen information on prices and opening hours yet. The season is expected to start halfway November. It’s atmospheric at Christmas. If you have the opportunity to go there, you really should.