5 mins

7 of the world’s most stunning natural ice rinks

Whether you’re like Bambi on ice or Torvill and Dean, come winter you can skate across these incredible natural ice rinks

Lake Weissensee, Austria (Shutterstock)

1. Rideau Canal Skateway, Canada

Rideau Canal Skateway, Canada (Shutterstock)

Rideau Canal Skateway, Canada (Shutterstock)

Opened in 1971, this UNESCO World Heritage Site in Ottawa is the world’s largest naturally frozen ice rink which is maintained daily – at 7.8km long, it’s equivalent to 90 Olympic-sized hockey rinks.

The 24-hour free rink is illuminated at night and open every January to March.

As well as skating to music, you can also watch ice hockey, curling and speed skating competitions.

2. Lac de Joux, Switzerland

Lac de Joux (Richard Cavalleri/Shutterstock)

Lac de Joux (Richard Cavalleri/Shutterstock)

Stretching across 9.5 sq km, Lac de Joux is Europe’s largest free ice rink. 

It’s also one of the prettiest, as it sits 1,004m above sea level in the Jura mountains, close to the Switzerland-France border. 

The lake freezes over from late December to March and attracts up to 5,000 skaters on weekends, but its size means it never feels crowded.

As well as ice skating you can try sail carting – which is like windsurfing on ice – then warm up over mulled wine, hot chocolate or soup.

3. Evergreen Lake, USA

Evergreen Lake, USA (Shutterstock)

Evergreen Lake, USA (Shutterstock)

Surrounded by pine trees, this lake near Denver in Colorado is a picturesque spot which is open from mid-December to March.

While the lake sprawls over 16 hectares – making it the same size as London’s Green Park – only a fifth of that is maintained for public use.

As well as ice skating, the lake is open for ice hockey and broomball, a game which sees players wearing shoes instead of skates use ‘brooms’ to hit a ball into a net.

4. Lake Vänern, Sweden

Lake Vänern, Sweden (Shutterstock)

Lake Vänern, Sweden (Shutterstock)

This lake, in the south of Sweden, is the Nordic country’s largest lake and the third largest in Europe.

It attracts long distance skaters each year from January to March. Go early in the season to experience skating on black ice – newly frozen, clear ice – and you may spot fish, weeds and logs under the surface.

Come night fall, you can soothe your aching muscles in a sauna.

5. Lake Weissensee, Austria

Lake Weissensee, Austria (Shutterstock)

Lake Weissensee, Austria (Shutterstock)

At 6.5 sq km, this lake near the old town of Lienz in the south of Austria is another biggie and a beautiful one at that.

The skating season runs from mid-December to early March – but you’ll need to be among the first in the season if you want to see the mountains that surround it mirrored on its surface.

As well as skating on a 25km circular course, experienced skaters can whizz around a 400m speed skating track. Horse-drawn sleighs, Bavarian curling and ice hockey are also available.

6. Red River Mutual Trail, Canada

Skating in Winnipeg, Canada (Shutterstock)

Skating in Winnipeg, Canada (Shutterstock)

Depending on the season, the Red River Mutual Trail spans between 2km and 8.5km. 

The track begins in the centre of Winnipeg, where the Red and Assiniboine rivers meet. 

Temperatures can drop to -20°C so you’ll want to skate to keep warm, but if you prefer dry land there’s a toboggan run nearby and a walking trail adjacent to the rivers.

7. Lake Lyndon, New Zealand

Lake Lyndon, New Zealand (Shutterstock)

Lake Lyndon, New Zealand (Shutterstock)

What Lake Lyndon on New Zealand’s South Island lacks in size, it makes up for in beauty.

The glacier lake near Christchurch is bordered by the snow-capped Mount Lyndon, which is part of the Southern Alps.

While it doesn’t freeze over every winter, when it does, it makes skating under a full moon all the more special.

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