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.

Frozen lake in Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada

Lake Louise
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

Two people ice skating across natural lakes in Sweden

Natural Ice Skating Tour
Sweden

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

Jura Mountains in Switzerland frozen over

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 in New York frozen with people sledging across

Mirror Lake
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
Leh, India

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!

An old windmill building above a frozen lake in the Netherlands

Kinderdijk
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

Professional skaters take on Lake Weissensee in Austria

Lake Weissensee
Austria

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

Shichahai, Beijing has groups of people sledging over the frozen lake

Shichahai
Beijing, China

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

The sun setting over the Baltic Sea Coast in Estonia, a figure stands on the frozen lake looking to the horizon

Baltic Sea Coast
Haapsalu, Estonia

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

In Ontario Canada, the Rideau Canal Skateway attracts many skaters to travel across the frozen lake

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