A Short History of Ice Skating

Ice skating dates back as early as the 13th century, when Scandinavian cultures adopted the practice of skating on ice and snow-coated surfaces as a means of easier travel and recreation. Over time, ice skating transformed from a mode of transportation and recreation into a competitive and artistic sport, and is now featured in the Olympics. Modern-day ice skating comes in the form of figure skating, hockey, speed skating, and many other competitive sports.

But what sets competitive ice sports aside from adventure ice skating? Adventure ice skating involves strapping on a pair of ice skates and discovering the beautiful and scenic trails, rinks, and passes that serve as natural playgrounds, with or without the added thrill of a competitive or artistic element. From frozen lakes and alpine terrain to beachside rinks, here are some must-try destinations for your next ice-skating adventure.

The World’s Most Scenic Rinks and Trails

  1. Olympic Park, Munich, Germany

The ice rink at Munich’s Olympic Park can be found just outside the Munich Winter Olympic Stadium, and provides either an indoor or an outdoor ice-skating experience. The indoor track offers an open session and practice areas for competitive skaters, while the large outdoor rink is 15,000 square meters, making it one of the most impressive in Europe. During clear nights, the rink is illuminated by the Olympic flame, and even provides a snack shack and campsite complete with open firepits.

  1. Red Arrow Skateway, Ottawa, Canada

What’s more impressive than a 5km long pathway cut into a frozen river? Nestled in Ottawa, Canada, is the Red Arrow Skateway, which is (as you can probably guess) a 5 km long pathway of solid ice running along the Rideau Canal between Ottawa and Dow’s Lake. The Rideau Canal and Ottawa’s Rideau Centre hosts events and hot chocolate stands to keep skaters warm, and the site is a popular spot for photographers and filmmakers alike.

  1. Skating Trail of Wollman Rink, New York City, United States

Outdoor ice-skating doesn’t get much more magical than Wollman Rink, located within Central Park, New York City. With views of the NYC skyline in the background, Wollman Rink is one of the most iconic outdoor rinks in the US, due to its extended opening times, 50-foot artificial fountain, and old-fashioned charm. Skaters of all capabilities looking for a less crowded skating experience can take advantage of the rink’s new skating trail, which circles the surface of the lake and provides some of the most beautiful views imaginable while skating.

  1. Jinghu Park, Harbin, China

Harbin’s Jinghu Park Ice-Skating Rink is the largest ice-skating rink in Asia and one of the oldest in the world. Located in the bustling city of Harbin, the rink is also home to one of the world’s most picturesque ice festivals, with arts and sports.

  1. Santa Monica Pier, Los Angeles, United States

One of the most underrated ice skating rinks you need to explore to check off your list is the Santa Monica Pier. Found just off the picturesque beach in Santa Monica, California, the pier is home to one of the largest rinks in the area and provides some of the most awe-inspiring views you’ll find, as well as a variety of food stops.

  1. Wiener Eistraum, Vienna, Austria

The Wiener Eistraum, or “Vienna Ice Dream” offers skaters an opportunity to ice skate amongst some of the most breathtaking views Vienna has to offer. Set beside a lake in the centre of Vienna, the park provides a 500m long skate track, an ice hockey pitch, and an ice-dancing and curling area.

  1. L’Espace Igloo, Paris, France

L’Espace Igloo is a basketball court-sized ice skating rink located in the Parc des Buttes Chaumont, and offering stunning views of Paris’ famous landmarks. Its huge frozen surface provides over 200m of skating track and often hosts a variety of winter sports events and live music performances.

  1. The White Ring, Innsbruck, Austria

Another Austrian rink, The White Ring skating trail is a picture-perfect skating track located between the foothills of Austria’s Nordkette and the ski slopes of Axamer Lizum. Originally an Alpine ski area, the White Ring transforms into a ring-shaped ice-skating trail in winter, while providing spectacular views of the Nordkette mountain range. The two-kilometre ice-skating trail features a children’s area, as well as a floodlit figure skating area.

  1. Maremma Ice Skating, Tuscany, Italy

Tuscany’s Maremma Ice Skating is an open-air ice-skating venue situated amidst the rolling hills of the Val di Cornia, just a stone’s throw away from the Mediterranean. This 200m ice rink offers a truly unique experience, as it is both an outdoor rink, and also open to the unknown winds and weather of the Maremma landscape.

  1. The Garden of the Gods Ice Rink, Colorado, United States

The Garden of the Gods Ice Rink, one of Colorado’s hidden gems, is situated amidst some of the most stunning natural landscapes in the US. Set in the midst of the 100m-high sandstone pillars of the Garden of the Gods, the ice rink provides plenty of opportunity to explore the natural beauty of the area while enjoying some cold-weather fun.

  1. Beach Rink, Lienz, Austria

Head to the beach city of Lienz, nestled in the Austrian Alps, for an unforgettable beachside ice skating experience. Located between the Lienz Thurmbrug and Brücke der Freiheit bridge is the beach rink, which allows visitors to skate on the water’s edge for a unique and picturesque experience.

Ice skating is a unique, peaceful, and often breathtaking adventure. Those looking to explore the world’s most beautiful and natural ice skating rinks and trails should look no further than these 11 suggestions. From the Munich Olympic Park to the vistas of Colorado and the beachside rink of Lienz, there’s no shortage of magical adventures waiting to be experienced on the ice.