10 Natural Ice Rinks You Can Actually Skate On
As these locations prove, it’s time you ditched your local ice rink in favour of a more adventurous skating adventure this winter.
Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada
Skate along Lake Louise at the right time of year (January) and you can marvel at not just the vast expanse of the Rocky Mountains, but also at the ice-sculpted masterpieces on the lake. Artists from around the world gather in Banff to see who can build the best frosted creations in just 34 hours.
Image credit: Wilson Hui
Natural Ice Skating Tour
For a chilly taste of Swedish adventure why not take a natural ice skating tour? Expert guides ensure you’re skating on the best ice and lead you on a 4 day trip through the labyrinth of frozen lakes in the Östergötland and Södermanland regions. Weather permitting, there’s also the option to see the ice shimmer under the moonlight as you skate under the stars at night.
Image credit: oskar karlin
Lac de Joux
Jura Mountains, Switzerland
Frustrated at the cramped conditions at your local city rink? How does 9.5 square kilometres of sparkly, natural ice sound? Winter turns Switzerland’s Lac de Joux into Europe’s largest natural ice rink and sees winter sports fans flock to enjoy the bliss of skating in the great outdoors. Even when 5,000 people travel to the lake there’s plenty of run to cut some shapes while you marvel at the surrounding mountainscape.
Image credit: visual07
Lake Placid, New York
Ice skating and New York means just one thing – the iconic, glitzy, Rockefeller Center rink. But while it has its charms, the small venue lacks space. For a more authentic experience, sharpen your blades and head to Mirror Lake. When frozen, the lake’s beach becomes a winter wonderland for hockey players, skaters and tobogganists who take on the nearby 30ft high chute.
Image credit: Jim Kelly
Karzoo Ice Hockey Rink
Brave the -20C temperatures and climb up to the highest skating rink in the world. The crisp sheets of ice, 3484 metres high in the Himalayas, are home to not just natural skating enthusiasts but adrenalin-seeking ice hockey fans. Crowds of up to 5,000 people gather to watch local teams as India’s thirst for ice hockey grows and grows. Thermal gloves might be a better option than a massive foam finger for cheering on the teams!
South Holland, The Netherlands
Kinderdijk’s 19 iconic windmills are on many people’s travel wish list but you may not know that it’s possible to skate past all of them in winter. Adjacent canals freeze over and offer tourists and locals the opportunity to whizz past the row of mills dusted in glittering snow and frost. Instagram was made for moments like this.
Image credit: Geschiedenis van Zuid
Skaters of all abilities are catered for at Lake Weissensee. Although the lake is a natural rink there are instructors from the Ice Skating Academy on hand to teach everyone from beginners to experienced skaters who want to try speed skating. If balancing on blades isn’t for you, there are also parts of the lake set aside for curling. Sweep, sweep, sweep your way to some frosty fun!
Image credit: Jos Dielis
The Shichahai area of China is home to three stunning lakes: Houhai, Qianhai and Xihai. All covered by natural ice in winter and home to Beijing’s ice admirers for one month of the year. For a more sedate (yet fun) tour of the lakes why not hire an ice bike and pedal your way across the frozen lakes or book an ice sled to slide around on?
Image credit: shi zhao
Baltic Sea Coast
From late December to early March the Baltic Sea’s coast freezes over. As well as forming a spectacular ice plain, the crystal glaze over the sea draws thrill seekers to its shores. Kite skiing and ice sailing are the go-to options for anyone who wants something more daring than skating over a frozen expanse of would-be water. Definitely one for adrenaline junkies.
Image credit: Helmuts R
Rideau Canal Skateway
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Join thousands of skaters and glide your way through the heart of Ottawa in style during a Canadian winter. 4.8 miles of pristine ice are formed when the temperatures drop low enough to freeze the canal network running through the city. Perfect skating conditions are checked and maintained daily, while on-ice shops serve up tasty snacks and drinks. Hot chocolate and marshmallows anyone?
Image credit: Tristan Smith