Winter is officially here, and that means Holland can get hit with a heavy punch of ice and snow that means slick city streets and challenging travel situations. Amsterdam was built for chilly weather, but it is not entirely foolproof. If you’re headed to Amsterdam for a Winter Wonderland, here are some tips to keep in mind:
Amsterdammers are glued to their bikes. Come rain or snow, the Dutch will push pedals through the worst of weather. It’s impressive, it’s admirable…BUT it’s not for first timers! Not all of the snowy bike paths in Amsterdam are shoveled, and at night they can turn into ice sheets with just a few inches of wiggle room for bikes. In winter conditions, walking might be the better way to get around for new visitors to the city.
Just like a car in harsh winter conditions, bike brakes freeze, bells break, locks bust, and chains snap. Unless you’re geared up like the locals and prepared for winter biking, the slightest turn can send you sailing down to the ground faster than your head can register the fall. By day you’ll deal with dirty slush up to your knees, while night time can bring a thick layer of ice suitable only for skaters. Gravity always wins, so instead of dropping like a wet snowball, you probably want to opt for walking.
Much of the downtown walkways are shoveled, but sidewalks can be at their slickest on the canal bridges. These bridges might be classic Amsterdam icons, but when winter comes, they present a challenge. You might even see a police officer stationed at a corner, ready to assist when someone takes a tumble. Make sure to take your time and walk heavy-footed over bridges. Still not sure? Stay close to the rails, and slowly scoot your feet across black ice patches. Those on two wheels should walk their bike (although you really shouldn’t be on one!).
Dutch rail services are notoriously known to freeze up when snow hits train tracks. Delays are a given, and they can range from ten minutes to ten hours. And although everyone agrees how frustrating this can be in the modern world, at least it’s also totally acceptable to complain about it to any fellow stranded strangers. If you’re lucky, the station you’re stuck at will be giving away free coffee and tea at the kiosks to make up for it. Time to make some new friends.
City trams aren’t much better with keeping to a schedule. In fact, forget any timetable posted at a tram stop when there’s snow. Do as the transportation does—show up when you can. And get ready for a tight squeeze when the tram arrives…you’ll be joining the moms with strollers and city seniors who are trying to avoid walking on ice.