Visit Holland - The Netherlands

Eleven cities tour - The Elfstedentocht

The Elfstedentocht (Eleven cities tour), at almost 200 kilometres (120 mi), is a speed skating match (with 300 contestants) and a leisure skating tour (with 16,000 skaters).

It is held in the province of Friesland in the north of the Netherlands, touching every city (by history) of the province. It is held, in practice in January or February and not more than once in a winter, when the natural ice along the entire course is at least 15 centimetres (6 inch) thick; sometimes on consecutive years, other times with gaps that may exceed 20 years. When the ice is suitable the tour is announced, and starts within 48 hours.

The Elfstedentocht (Eleven cities tour) by ice skating
The Elfstedentocht (Eleven cities tour) by bike

Course and rules
The tour, almost 200 km in length, follows a route along frozen canals, rivers and lakes visiting the eleven historic Frisian cities: Leeuwarden, Sneek, IJlst, Sloten, Stavoren, Hindeloopen, Workum, Bolsward, Harlingen, Franeker, Dokkum, then returning to Leeuwarden. The tour is only if the ice is, and remains, at least 15 centimetres thick along the entire course as about 15,000 amateur skaters may take part, putting high requirements on the quality of the ice. The last tours were held in 1985, 1986 and 1997. All skaters must be members of the Association of the Eleven Frisian Cities. A starting permit is required. Skaters must collect a stamp in each city, and at three secret check points, and must finish the course before midnight.

The finishing point of the Elfstedentocht is a canal near Leeuwarden, called the "Bonkevaart", close to the landmark windmill, De Bullemolen, Lekkum.

The eleven cities
The course of the 1997 Elfstedentocht

The course can vary slightly from race to race, depending on the quality of the ice. The cumulative distance at each checkpoint in 1997 was:

    0 km: Leeuwarden
    22 km: Sneek (municipality Súdwest-Fryslân)
    26 km: IJlst (mun. Súdwest-Fryslân)
    40 km: Sloten (mun. Gaasterlân-Sleat)
    66 km: Stavoren (mun. Súdwest-Fryslân)
    77 km: Hindeloopen (mun. Súdwest-Fryslân)
    86 km: Workum (mun. Súdwest-Fryslân)
    99 km: Bolsward (mun. Súdwest-Fryslân)
    116 km: Harlingen
    129 km: Franeker (mun. Franekeradeel)
    174 km: Dokkum (mun. Dongeradeel)
    199 km: Leeuwarden

One of the tours on Google Map

The Elfstedentocht (Eleven cities tour) by ice skating


The Elfstedentocht (Eleven cities tour) by Bike