The Elfstedentocht (Eleven Cities Tour) is the biggest ice-skating tour in the world. Over fifteen thousand ice skaters defy the ice encouraged by hundreds of thousands of enthusiastic fans. The waterways between eleven Frisian cities form the 200 kilometer track of the Eleven Cities Tour. That’s why this sensational ice-skating event can only take place during severe winters.
- Experience this unique event when the ice is sufficiently thick.
- Enjoy the typically Dutch weather and the pleasant atmosphere.
- Will it happen this year?
History of the Eleven Cities Tour
In 1890, a group of hundred man and women dared to take on the challenge ice-skating along all the Frisian cities in one day. The journey was a success and a new ice-skating event was born. The Eleven Cities Tour has taken place fifteen times since then.
The event traditionally starts and finishes in Leeuwarden, the capital of Friesland province. The other ten towns the event passes through are Sneek, IJlst, Sloten, Stavoren, Hindeloopen, Workum, Bolsward, Harlingen, Franeker and Dokkum before returning to Leeuwarden. The finishing line of the race is a windmill called the Bullemolen. The most recent versions of the Elfstedentocht took place in 1985, 1986 and 1997. One of the competitors in the 1986 event was the King of the Netherlands, skating under the name of W.A. van Buren. The fastest-ever time was recorded by Dutch professional skater Evert van Benthem in 1985. He completed the 200 kilometres in 6 hours and 47 minutes.
The last tour in 1997 was a great event and spectacle that attracted an estimated two million people to the province of Friesland and approximately 2,000 reporters from all over the world.
A true Friesian drinks Beerenburg, made by adding herbs to jenever. There are those who say that Friesland is Beerenburg. There is no pub in the province that does not serve the drink. Various distilleries offer guided tours to see how the herbal drink containing 30% alcohol is made, but the exact ingredients remain a secret.
Friesland offers a wide choice of overnight accommodation. In addition to hotels, apartments and bungalow parks there are many farms that offer Bêd & Brochje (Bed & Breakfast). A novel way of spending the night in Friesland is to sleep in a lighthouse, lifeboat, quayside crane or wine barrel.
Join the Ice Sensation
Join Holland on Facebook and make sure you get the latest ice-updates and be the first to know when the action and festivities of this tour of tours take place. You don’t want to miss a second of this unique sporting event.
Looking to venture on your own Eleven Cities Tour?
Good news is you don't have to wait for the freezing cold! Spring and summer are excellent seasons to visit the Eleven Cities by means of an alternative tour. Discover the pearls of Friesland by boat, bicycle or motorbike!