Skates On: The Most Scenic Ice Skating in Europe

Skates On: The Most Scenic Ice Skating in Europe

We’ve glided our way around Europe to find seven beautiful ice-skating locations with cinematic backdrops – from festively lit city squares to snowy lakeside pine forests

Stumble. Thwack.

That’s us on an ice rink. As it turns out, floating across
glistening frozen lakes isn’t quite as easy as we’d like to
imagine. But our severe lack of grace doesn’t stop us heading out
each year, skates in hand, in search of scenic ice-skating

In Europe, ice rinks are plentiful, with artificial surfaces
outside historic palaces and in city squares ramping up the festive
feelings. There are also a fair few natural rinks – including
sparkling frozen lakes in mountain valleys – that provide cinematic
backdrops as skaters glide across the ice.

Ready to practise your pirouettes? Here’s our pick of the most
scenic outdoor skating opportunities in Europe this winter.

Scenic skate: where to ice skate across Europe

Warsaw's Old Town Ice Rink at night

Old Town Ice Rink

Warsaw, Poland

Walled in by the city’s narrow, symmetrical townhouses, you’ll
feel like you’re skating into a Wes Anderson movie as you glide
around the beautiful ice rink encircling Warsaw’s Old Town Square’s
mermaid statue. Expect strings of lights hung like a tent above the
ice, food stalls set up beyond the rink and families in matching
fur-bobble hats skating past, hand in hand. Admission is free of
charge, and you can rent skates beside the rink.


Rynek Starego Miasta 1, Warsaw 00-272, Poland

Skaters on the frozen Lac de Jouz Switzerland
Photo credit: Richard Cavalleri /

Lac de Joux

Vallée de Joux, Switzerland

At winter’s coldest, the 9.5sq km Lac de Joux transforms into an
immense natural ice-skating rink, with skaters of all ages taking
to its glossy surface, backdropped by snow-dusted fir forests and
the chocolate-box peaks of the Jura mountains. Make your way to
some of the villages on the lake’s edges – like Le Pont and
L’Abbaye – to warm up with refreshments (and wear your long johns,
too – temperatures can drop to -11ºC in mid-winter). L’Abbaye’s Hôtel de Ville La Baie du Lac’s
lake-facing restaurant is our call for traditional Swiss plates and
mugs of hot chocolate.


Rue du Centre Sportif 1, Le Sentier 1347, Switzerland

Ice skating in front of Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace

Surrey, UK

We can think of few more atmospheric skating locations in the UK
than a red-brick Tudor palace right beside the Thames. The Hampton
Court Palace ice rink has all the ingredients for a festive skating
session to remember: skates to rent, fairy lights aplenty, a fair
few food vendors to choose from and – most importantly – it’s
pretty big, meaning fewer potential collisions if your Torvill and
Dean impression isn’t quite up to scratch. Tickets cost from


Molesey, East Molesey KT8 9AU, London, UK

Women in front of mountains in South Tyrol

Fiè Pond

South Tyrol, Italy

Situated 12km above the city of Bolzano, surrounded by
snow-laden fir trees and backed by impressive peaks, this frozen
lake isn’t just for skaters: Italians of the South Tyrol also use it for curling and ice hockey.
You’ll need to bring your own skates – and also sun cream. On clear
days, the mountain rays are as powerful as summer sunshine. The
pond is one of the only ones in the area that is regularly cleared
of fresh snowfall, too.


Fiè allo Sciliar/Völs am Schlern 39050, Italy

Ice rink in Vienna, Austria

Rathausplatz Rink

Vienna, Austria

Need a little Dutch courage before you hit the ice (possibly
quite literally)? The 3,000sq m ice rink outside Vienna’s
dramatically lit city hall sits amid festively dressed huts selling
everything from bratwurst to knoblauchbrot (cheesy garlic bread).
The winter warmers kissing the air with seasonal spices are the
mugs of gluhwein and creamy eggnog that most residents will happily
swig from before taking to the rink. Glide along a meandering
pathway, or practise your axels and twizzles on the two vast rinks
at either end of the route. Tickets cost from £6.60pp, and skate
rental is available.


Rathausplatz, Vienna 1010, Austria

Skaters on Lake Bogstadvannet, Oslo

Lake Bogstadvannet

Oslo, Norway

Despite the city’s numerous artificial options, nothing beats a
bit of Nordic wild skating (which we’re calling a thing this year).
Thanks to its location, just a 30-minute drive from the Norwegian
capital, you’ll find plenty of urbanites on skates at the 2km-long
Lake Bogstadvannet. The ice has to be at least 10cm thick for
skating to get the green light here, but when conditions are right,
puffer-jacketed skaters arrive early to clear fresh snowfall and
skate freely past the forested hills that surround the lake.


Sorkedalen, Oslo 102, Norway

Ice rink on top of a building, Paris
Photo credit: Tour Montparnasse

Montparnasse Tower

Paris, France

We’re tapping our skates waiting for the rink at Paris’ Le Grand
Palais to return – the beautiful glass-domed, neoclassical building
is currently being renovated and won’t be open until 2024. In the
meantime, the city’s next-best rink is way up high. France’s
“highest skating rink” perches on the 59th floor of the
Montparnasse Tower, and won’t be open until after Christmas (the
skating season 200m up normally starts in February). It’s dinky,
but dramatic, with the 230sq m rink offering views of the Eiffel
Tower, Sacré Coeur and La Défense below. We’d put a reminder in
your calendar for the new year – tickets sell fast.


33 Av du Maine, Paris 75015, France

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