Holland’s wonderful winter getaways

With its crisp skies, outdoor ice rinks, beautiful light displays and unusual ice festivals, Holland is a veritable winter wonderland. Plan a magical seasonal break that celebrates some of the best sights, smells and sounds Holland has to offer and chase those winter chills away.

Frozen canal of Amsterdam Photo: Carolina Georgatou of Flickr

Frozen canal of Amsterdam

Skating under the stars

When the temperature drops, the population of Holland tends to dust of its ice skates. From the picturesque beauty of The Hague’s De Uithof skating track to the amazing city canals in Amsterdam, which have been known to freeze over on occasion, there are some breath-taking spots to enjoy when the weather is right. But don’t worry if it’s not quite cold enough for ice to form naturally, Holland’s major cities all offer amazing artificial rinks too.

Show off your skills on outdoor rinks offering you beautiful city views when the sun goes down, such as the simple yet gorgeous Museumplein in Amsterdam. Stretching out alongside Rijks museum, it’s the largest temporary ice rink in the city and is wonderfully atmospheric. Another top rink to visit is Ice on Zuid in Rottterdam, which pops up during the December Winter Festival and features special treats for children and hot drinks for adults.

Hotel Lumen, Ice Hotel, Zwolle Photo: Hotel Lumen

Hotel Lumen, Ice Hotel, Zwolle

Winter wonderlands

For a glimpse into a real winter wonderland, pack some woollies and pay a visit to the amazing Ice Festival in Zwolle. Every year, ice sculptors from around the world gather to create a magical collection of figures and tableaux, all crafted from solid ice. The festival follows a new theme every year and guests can choose to immerse themselves completely in the experience, by staying at the temporary, yet lovely, ice hotel created for the event.

Another winter extravaganza well worth a visit is the city’s Christmas Canal Parade. Dozens of beautifully decorated boats take to the canals in a themed procession. The parade is accompanied by lovely light displays projected on to the building banking the canals and as the sound of lesser-known Christmas songs, sung by carollers stationed on the city’s bridges.

The Hague Mauritshuis and Hofvijver at night Photo: orcanus of Flickr

The Hague Mauritshuis and Hofvijver at night

Cosy cultural trips

Take advantage of the cheaper air fares to Amsterdam and smaller crowds to visit some of Holland’s greatest cultural attractions during the winter season. Stay cosy as you tour the work of the Dutch Masters at the Amsterdam Museum and Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Mauritshuis in The Hague or the Vermeer Centre in Delft and you’ll leave with a new appreciation for these amazing artists of yester year.

For a family friendly fairy tale adventure, you could also book a stay at The Efteling, a charming theme park between Rotterdam and Utrecht that’s only becomes more beautiful when the weather is chilly. Winter is also a great time to soak up Rotterdam’s culture, thanks to the city’s Film and Art festivals, which take place in January and February respectively. Be sure to book your hotels in Rotterdam well in advance though, as these events have a huge national and international draw.

Holiday hints

If you’re booking a holiday in Holland this winter, be sure to pick up a Holland Pass. Offering free and discounted entrance to popular museums, attractions and public transport throughout Holland, it’s a great card to have in your pocket while you’re discovering this winter wonderland.

This article was brought to you by Skyscanner, the flight and hotel comparison site helping you to find the cheapest flights to anywhere!

More things to see in Northern Europe

Five Hidden Hot-Spots in Amsterdam
Enjoy the sights of Europe on a Rhine River Cruise
Bike + Train = adventure in Copenhagen

Photo credits: Frozen canal by Carolina Georgatou, Hague Mauritshuis and Hofvijver by orcanus and Hotel Lumen by Hotel Lumen.

This article by Heather Cowper is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read more travel articles at Travel Blog Home

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  • Reply
    Jeff Titelius
    November 19, 2012 at 9:39 pm

    I loved Amsterdam when I visited back in March and I bet the wintertime and Christmastime are wondrous! Your pictures are quite stunning as well! While I’ve been to most of the places you highlight above, I did not see the Hotel Lumin. How exciting! Thanks for the wonderful article!
    Jeff Titelius´s last blog post ..London and Paris on Your First Holiday in Europe

    • Reply
      Heather Cowper
      November 19, 2012 at 10:48 pm

      @Jeff So please you enjoyed the article, I think the Hotel Lumin is a normal hotel, but they just run the ice hotel as part of the winter festival

  • Reply
    November 20, 2012 at 10:18 am

    The Christmas Canal Parade sounds amazing. Unfortunately I’ll be in Jakarta and don’t think I’ll be seeing any type of parade on that cities canals.
    Nico´s last blog post ..Exploring Lisbon in a Daze

    • Reply
      Heather Cowper
      November 20, 2012 at 11:00 pm

      @Nico, never mind, I think I’d rather have some sunshine anyway

  • Reply
    November 27, 2012 at 8:22 pm

    Amsterdam is great. My husband recently told me that it is his favorite city!

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