Embrace cosy winter traditions in Amsterdam
Get some 'gezellig' in your life this winter, with cosy and quaint traditions in Amsterdam that will entice you out of your serviced apartment.
While there’s nothing better than being cosy in your serviced apartment when it’s chilly outside, Amsterdam has some enticing winter traditions that will tempt you out. From skating on frozen canals to warming up with local specialities, the Dutch capital has it all this winter.
Amsterdam is famous for its network of canals and during the coldest winters, these waterways freeze over, meaning every neighbourhood has its own ice rink. If you’re lucky enough to be in the city when this happens, take your lead from the locals and strap on some skates for a truly unique experience.
Don’t worry if the canals don’t freeze over this year, there are a number of public ice rinks you can visit. ICE*Amsterdam is located in the stunning Museumplein, with the world-famous Rijksmuseum as its backdrop. The mammoth Jaap Eden Ice Rink stretches for a whopping 400 metres, giving you plenty of space to build up speed.
Sinterklaas is the Dutch St Nicholas and the annual parade to celebrate this festive character is always a real treat. This year, it will take place on November 19th, with more than a kilometre of floats to keep 40,000 spectators entertained.
After sailing down the Amstel River to Scheepvartmuseum, Sinterklaas, or Sint as he’s known to his friends, continues on land through Amsterdam. His route passes Nieuwe Amstelbrug, Torontobrug, the Hoge Sluis by the Royal Theatre Carré and the Magere Brug.
Like many European cities, Amsterdam has a tradition of Christmas markets, but unlike the others, they are pop-ups that arrive and leave within a single weekend. This means that every week in the lead up to Christmas, there is a different market and each one has its own unique theme.
From the delicious beer and live music of Amsterdamsche Kerstmarkt, housed within a warehouse, to Haarlem Christmas Market, complete with some 300 stalls, there’s something for everyone. Not just about buying gifts and souvenirs, these markets are a wonderful experience.
Warming winter food
It’s hard to know where to start with the variety of winter warmers on the menus across Amsterdam. If you have a sweet tooth, then you won’t want to leave the city without trying oliebollen. Piping hot and dusted with icing sugar, these current and apple-filled round donuts are sold by street vendors in the wintertime.
For a more savoury way to warm up, order a bowl of snert. A pea and smoked sausage soup, packed full of wintery veggies and served with rye bread and smoked bacon, it will keep you going long after lunch. Another one to look out for on the menu is stamppot, which involves a large pile of creamy mashed potato mixed with sauerkraut and winter greens. Add a pork chop or smoked sausage for a filling main.
All of the above, and much more, can be described with the term ‘gezellig’. With no direct translation into English, this word can be applied to anything that gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling in winter. Explore Amsterdam, admiring the twinkling lights, popping into charming little pubs and tucking into some hearty cuisine to achieve the full gezellig effect.