The first activity that springs to mind when you think of sport in Amsterdam is undoubtedly going to be cycling. Whether in or out of the city, Amsterdam is a tribute to the humble two-wheeler. That’s not all there is, though – water-based activities are popular, as is skating in the winter. Meanwhile, when it comes to spectator sports, it’s all about the Beautiful Game.
Football is an incredibly popular sport in the Netherlands, and Ajax, the Amsterdam team, is legendary as one of the most successful in Europe for decades. Ajax play at the Johan Cruijff ArenA (formerly Amsterdam ArenA, renamed after the passing of the famous Dutch football player), a fine modern stadium used for numerous events. It’s possible to take one-hour guided tours of the stadium, the perfect activity for fans of European football.
Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to get tickets while in Amsterdam, but you can have a go at buying tickets online in advance of your trip.
With so much water around, it’s not surprising that water-based sports are so popular. Even on citycentre canals you will find pedaloes to hire, operated by Canal Bike. Fancy being a skipper? You can also captain your own boat: Canal Motorboats has a dock at the Zandhoek marina on Realen Island, west of Centraal Station.
On the wider waterways you will find rowing and sailing clubs that operate in good weather all year round. Out on the freshwater IJsselmeer lake you may see hundreds of white and brown sails on any sunny weekend. Boats can be hired from Monnickendam and other harbour towns.
58% of Amsterdammers cycle daily and fun fact – there are more bikes in Amsterdam than permanent residents. Cycling is about as quintessentially Dutch as it gets and doing it for fun, as well as for commuting, is a major activity. It's a great way to experience the city, as well as practical if you want to go a bit further afield than the centre, to the up-andcoming areas out in the old docklands, for instance.
Cycle routes run parallel to most roadways, making longer journeys out of the city relatively easy, and sporty groups or families head out to villages such as Monnickendam or Marken.
Closer to the centre, a ride through the Vondelpark gives you a feeling of being out of the city. If you feel like you’d prefer the comfort and comradery of touring with a group, contact Yellow Bike. They organise daily tours with English guides from April to October.
Okay, so it’s highly seasonal, but it’s one for you if you’re enjoying a winter break. Winter sports have traditionally played a big part in the lives of Amsterdammers. When the rivers and canals freeze, everyone is out on the ice – with long-distance skating through the countryside from town to town on cold, bright Sundays.
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