Best outdoor sports to try in Amsterdam
Getting active is infinitely more fun if you get to do it in the fresh air. Thankfully, Amsterdam offers plenty of options for sporting in the great outdoors: from parkour by the Sloterplas through ultimate frisbee in one of the city’s beautiful parks to stand-up paddleboarding and ice-skating on the canals, sporty Amsterdammers are spoilt for choice.
SUP (stand-up paddleboarding)
Stand-up paddleboarding has taken the world by storm. It’s great for balance, core strength and having fun – and once you’ve mastered the basics you can even try doing yoga atop the board. In Amsterdam, you can combine paddling and sightseeing from a new perspective, as you propel yourself through the city’s famous waterways. Canal SUP provides board rentals for anywhere between 1 to 8 hours with a handy location in Oud-West which means you are just a few paddle strokes away from the city centre. Or, if you want to get closer to the sport’s maritime roots, check out M&M SUP.
Freerunning (aka parkour)
If you were a bit of a wild child back in the day, running around and climbing trees, freerunning might be right up your street. The sport can be done anywhere urban, as it involves finding the most creative way to run, climb and jump through the city. A popular spot in Amsterdam is underneath the Utrechtsebrug. That being said, it’s always good to have a safe space to practice, and Amsterdam has just the thing: the biggest parkour track in the Netherlands located on the banks of the Sloterplas. Along with bars, blocks, walls and a shock-absorbent surface, the track even incorporates an old set of our very own I amsterdam letters - upcycling at its best!
When the temperature drops, Amsterdammers will keep an eye on the forecast in the hope that the icy canals will freeze thick enough to skate on. It’s such a revered winter tradition in the Netherlands that it’s quite common for companies and schools to give everyone an IJsvrij (day off for skating). Lace up your skates and experience the city from a magical new perspective. Some of the most popular frosty spots include the historic waterways around the Jordaan or at the Bosbaan rowing track. People do fall through the ice when they're not careful so be sure to watch out for dark spots or thin patches. The Jaap Eden Ice Rink and Ice*Amsterdam at Museumplein are also great spots to practice your pirouettes.
Rowing, kayaking and canoeing
Amsterdam is, well, something of a watery town, and traditional watersports are big. One of the numerous rowing clubs in Amsterdam is Roeicentrum Berlagebrug, directly on the River Amstel which offers classes, private lessons and tours. And if you’ve become a pro, you might one day take part in one of the races on the famous Bosbaan at the Amsterdamse Bos.
Yoga comes into its own when practised under the open skies as you hear the birds sing, smell the freshly cut grass and feel the sunbeams warm your face. Many studios hold outdoor yoga sessions including intimate sessions and large group classes in some of the city’s most beautiful parks and rooftops. On Buiten-Yoga.nl, you will find a complete overview of outdoor yoga classes in Amsterdam. Alternatively, Amsterdam’s favourite beach bar, Pllek organises Sunday morning yoga sessions directly on the sand.
Ultimate frisbee is one of the fastest-growing team sports with large numbers of fanatic devotees in Oceania and North America. Points are scored by throwing the frisbee to a team member in the end zone. Amsterdam is getting in on the fun, with more and more ultimate frisbee fans in town. Amsterdam Ultimate Club in Oost is one of the main clubs in town. Of course, you can also read up on the rules online, grab a frisbee from a toy shop and head to the nearest park with a bunch of friends.
Jeu de boules
The traditional French game has recently been enjoying a revival. Amsterdam has many lovely spots for enjoying a game, such as JBC de Meteoor in Noord, Petanque Club Museumplein, Les Bohémiens de Pétanque in Osdorp (all websites in Dutch). And then there’s the secret boulodrome at one of the best-hidden garden terraces in Amsterdam Oost, Vergulden Eenhoorn. Accompanying glass of red wine or pastis is of course, optional.
As an Amsterdammer, you probably already do it every day. But why not extend your daily commute to a longer tour on a sunny weekend day? Amsterdam and its surroundings have plenty of lovely cycle routes on offer and their are spots to rent bikes across the city. Take your bike on the ferry to Noord then continue up to Waterland villages on a beautiful circuit through the polder scenery with more windmills and cows than you can shake a bicycle pump at. Or discover windswept dunes quaint historic villages and 13th-century ruins on an idyllic trek to Amsterdam Beach.
Whether it’s skateboarding, longboarding or inline skating that’s your thing, Amsterdam has a wealth of parks and routes to keep you busy. Amsterdamse Bos, Nesciobrug and Rembrandtpark are all great for skating, plus there are several skateparks dotted around town, including the Netherlands’ biggest skate park on Zeeburgereiland, Cons Project in Noord or Marnix Bowl in Amsterdam West. Inline skaters can also revel in team spirit at Friday Night Skate, a weekly group event (weather permitting) along changing routes through the city. Not to mention, Skatecafe in Noord, the ideal hotspot to meet fellow skaters.
Fitness and bootcamps
Almost every Amsterdam park has outdoor fitness equipment which is great to use in combination with a run or just for toning. A particularly nice trail can be found on the Van Heenvlietlaan in Buitenveldert. And for anyone serious about dusting off their beach body, an intensive bootcamp is a great way to go. Boostcamp Amsterdam (website in Dutch) is one of the many organisations in town offering bootcamp classes, with options for private groups and personal training mostly done in the open air.