As the winter cold sets in, romantics seek out the world’s best ice skating rinks for the opportunity to glide across the ice in some of the most spectacular settings. Whether surrounded by twinkling city lights or dramatic mountain wilderness, ice skating adds a touch of romance and joy to any crisp winter day.
Some rinks, however, rise above the rest and offer some of the best views on the planet. These six unique ice skating rinks are sure to entice you to strap on some blades and embrace that magical winter spirit.
Rideau Canal Skateway – Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
In the Canadian capital of Ottawa, you’ll find the longest naturally frozen ice skating rink in the world. During the summer, boats fill the 4.8-mile-long Rideau Canal, but when the temperature dips below freezing, it ices over, providing locals with the perfect place to enjoy a fun workout or even commute to school or work. Tourists delight in the chance to hop on and spin in a winter wonderland. The entire frozen canal can be skated while checking out the outdoor art gallery along the way. There are snack stands dotted along the route too for grabbing a hot cocoa and one of Canada’s famous “beaver tails,” a delectable pastry topped with sugar and cinnamon.
Montparnasse Tower Ice Rink – Paris, France
From the highest ice skating rink in Paris, you can skate nearly 700 feet above ground with Paris, including the Eiffel Tower and Sacre Coeur, as your backdrop. The temporary human-made rink sits on the famous 59th-floor observation deck at Montparnasse Tower, providing a 360-degree view for skaters. If you can time your visit for the late afternoon, you’ll enjoy a spectacular sunset, too. It’s open daily from 2 pm to 8 pm, between early February and early March and has a small bar that’s set up just for the occasion selling hot chocolate, mulled wine, and sweet waffles.
Somerset House – London, England
A classic ice rink in the heart of London forms just steps from the bustling activity of the Strand at Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court. Centered around iconic fountains and surrounded by the 18th-century neoclassical architecture of Somerset House, it’s a winter oasis that allows locals and visitors to take part in one of the city’s favorite wintertime traditions. After dark the rink becomes even more stunning with flaming torches and sparkling lights illuminating the building’s classical facades. Late-night DJs spin tunes for a fun ice dancing soundtrack and it’s also possible to indulge in decadent chocolates or champagne while you skate.
Lake Louise, Banff National Park — Alberta, Canada
If you want to skate among one of the most breathtaking scenes on Earth, head to Lake Louise in Banff National Park, often named the world’s most beautiful place for ice skating. Imagine practicing your figure skating skills with the snow-blanketed Rocky Mountains and glistening Victoria glacier as your audience, breathing in the fresh mountain air. Chefs at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, which overlooks the frozen lake, create an ice castle that serves as the centerpiece. When it’s time to warm up, gather around the bonfire and enjoy the free hot chocolate. The rink is lit daily for night skating beneath the shadows of the surrounding peaks and the brilliant starry sky, bringing the chance to skate with few others around.
Vienna Ice Dream — Vienna, Austria
Right in front of beautiful Vienna’s neo-gothic Rathaus, the city town hall, is a 75,000-square-foot ice skating rink, opened just in time for Christmas. Not only is this city one of the best for experiencing Europe’s holiday markets, with its tradition dating back to the 13th century, but the annual skating event known as Viennese Ice Dream (Wiener Estraum) offers a uniquely surreal experience. Enjoy music from live DJs as you skate past incredible light displays, stopping to warm up occasionally at one of the mulled wine bars. Afterward, perhaps pick up a puppet, wooden house or holiday decor as a souvenir, sold at the outdoor Christkindlmarkts.
Rockefeller Center Ice Rink — New York City, New York
No list of the world’s top ice skating rinks would be complete without the one at Rockefeller Center. The famous rink is just 122 feet long, but the vision of the iconic Christmas tree and an enchanting backdrop of endless city lights is classic. The rink first opened to the public on Christmas Day in 1936 and has become an iconic symbol of New York City, with everyone from Robert F. Kennedy and Truman Capote to Olympian Kristi Yamaguchi taking a spin on the ice. It’s also served as a film site and backdrop in countless movies and host to thousands of marriage proposals.
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