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World’s 10 Ultimate Winter Wonderlands – From Nature’s Frozen Gems to Legendary Skating Rinks

(Last Updated On: March 16, 2024)

Ice skating, a timeless winter activity, combines athletic skill with the simple pleasure of gliding on ice. Whether you’re drawn to the charm of natural frozen lakes or the excitement of iconic city rinks, this guide will lead you to some of the best ice-skating destinations around the world. From the scenic beauty of alpine lakes to the bustling energy of metropolitan rinks, each location offers a unique skating experience.

1. Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / Maridav

Lake Louise in Banff National Park, Alberta, transforms into a spectacular natural ice rink each winter. Surrounded by snow-dusted mountains and glaciers, the lake provides a stunning backdrop for ice skating. The clear, well-maintained ice surface is perfect for leisurely skating or playing a game of pick-up hockey.

The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise adds to the charm with its picturesque setting and warm hospitality. Skating on Lake Louise is not just a physical activity; it’s an immersion in the serene beauty of the Canadian Rockies. 

Insider’s Tip: Visit at dusk for a magical skating experience under the alpenglow. 

When to Travel: December to April, when the lake is typically frozen. 

How to Get There: Fly to Calgary International Airport and drive to Banff National Park.

2. Rockefeller Center, New York City, USA

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / Photo_Land

The Rockefeller Center Ice Rink in New York City is one of the most iconic skating rinks in the world. Nestled in the heart of Manhattan, this rink offers a quintessential New York experience, surrounded by the buzz of the city and the towering presence of the Rockefeller Center.

The rink is relatively small, but its atmosphere is unmatched, especially during the holiday season when the famous Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree adds to the festive ambiance. Skating here is a must-do for visitors and locals alike, offering a unique way to experience the city’s winter charm. 

Insider’s Tip: Book a VIP skating package to avoid long wait times. 

When to Travel: October to April for the best skating experience.

How to Get There: Rockefeller Center is accessible by various subway lines in New York City.

3. The Rideau Canal, Ottawa, Canada

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / Wandering views

The Rideau Canal in Ottawa, Canada, becomes the world’s largest naturally frozen ice rink each winter. Stretching over 7.8 kilometers, the skateway winds through the heart of Ottawa, passing by landmarks and picturesque scenery. The canal is a hub of activity, with skaters of all ages and skill levels enjoying the expansive ice surface.

Along the skateway, kiosks offer hot chocolate and the famous BeaverTails pastries, making the skating experience even more delightful. The Rideau Canal Skateway is not just a place for recreation; it’s a celebration of winter and community spirit in Canada’s capital. 

Insider’s Tip: Visit during Winterlude in February for special events and ice sculptures. 

When to Travel: January to March, depending on ice conditions. 

How to Get There: Fly to Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport.

4. Lake Baikal, Siberia, Russia

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / Katvic

Lake Baikal in Siberia, the world’s deepest and oldest freshwater lake, offers a unique ice-skating experience on its crystal-clear ice. During the winter, the lake freezes over, creating a vast, natural ice rink with unique patterns and cracks visible beneath the surface.

Skating on Lake Baikal is an adventure, offering physical activity and the chance to witness the stunning natural beauty of Siberia. The surrounding landscapes, with snow-covered mountains and pristine wilderness, add to the surreal experience of skating on this ancient lake. 

Insider’s Tip: Take a guided tour to explore the lake’s most scenic and safe areas. 

When to Travel: February to March for the best ice conditions. 

How to Get There: Fly to Irkutsk and travel to Lake Baikal.

5. Somerset House, London, United Kingdom

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / Cedric Weber

Somerset House, a neoclassical building in the heart of London, hosts one of the city’s most beautiful ice rinks each winter. The courtyard is transformed into a stunning skating venue with a large Christmas tree and festive decorations.

The rink offers skating sessions, ice skating lessons, and special events throughout the season. Skating at Somerset House is not just about the activity; it’s about experiencing the winter magic in one of London’s most iconic settings. 

Insider’s Tip: Attend one of the rink’s club nights for a skating experience with live music. 

When to Travel: November to January for the winter skating season. 

How to Get There: Somerset House is centrally located in London and easily accessible by public transport.

6. Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto, Canada

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / Spiroview Inc

Nathan Phillips Square, located in front of Toronto’s City Hall, is home to a popular outdoor ice rink in winter. The rink, set against the city’s modern architecture backdrop, offers a lively skating experience in the heart of Toronto.

The Square is a focal point for winter activities, including holiday fairs and New Year’s Eve celebrations. Skating here is a way to engage with the city’s vibrant urban life while enjoying a classic winter pastime. 

Insider’s Tip: Visit in the evening when colorful lights illuminate the rink. 

When to Travel: November to March for the skating season. 

How to Get There: Fly to Toronto Pearson International Airport and travel to downtown Toronto.

7. Grouse Mountain, Vancouver, Canada

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / lucasinacio.com

Beyond Vancouver, Grouse Mountain offers an enchanting ice-skating experience on its mountaintop rink. The rink provides stunning views of the city and the surrounding mountains, making it one of North America’s most scenic places to skate.

The mountain offers a range of winter activities. However, the ice rink is a highlight with its natural setting and panoramic views. Skating on Grouse Mountain is a physical activity and an opportunity to connect with the natural beauty of British Columbia. 

Insider’s Tip: Combine your visit with other mountain activities like snowshoeing or skiing. 

When to Travel: December to March for the best winter conditions. 

How to Get There: Fly to Vancouver International Airport and drive or take a shuttle to Grouse Mountain.

8. Wiener Eistraum, Vienna, Austria

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / creativemarc

The Wiener Eistraum (Vienna Ice Dream) transforms the area before Vienna’s City Hall into a magical ice-skating wonderland each winter. The rink, with its elaborate ice paths and majestic backdrop of the neo-Gothic Rathaus, offers a fairy-tale skating experience.

The venue also features cozy stalls serving traditional Austrian winter treats, adding to the festive atmosphere. Skating at the Wiener Eistraum is a chance to enjoy one of Vienna’s most beloved winter traditions in a historic and picturesque setting. 

Insider’s Tip: Visit after dark when the City Hall and rink are beautifully illuminated. 

When to Travel: January to March for the Wiener Eistraum event. 

How to Get There: Fly to Vienna International Airport and travel to the city center.

9. The Ice Ribbon at Maggie Daley Park, Chicago, USA

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / Hidalgo Visual

The Ice Ribbon at Maggie Daley Park in Chicago offers a unique skating experience with its winding path through the park’s landscape. Unlike traditional circular rinks, the Ice Ribbon provides a quarter-mile track, allowing skaters to glide along a scenic route with views of the Chicago skyline.

The park, located near Millennium Park and its famous Cloud Gate sculpture, is a hub of winter activity in the city. Skating on the Ice Ribbon is a fun and active way to experience Chicago’s winter beauty. 

Insider’s Tip: Rent a locker to store your belongings while skating safely. 

When to Travel: November to March for the skating season. 

How to Get There: Fly to Chicago O’Hare International Airport and travel to downtown Chicago.

10. Red Square Rink, Moscow, Russia

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / volkova natalia

The Red Square Rink in Moscow is set in one of Russia’s most historic and iconic locations. Situated beside the Kremlin and St. Basil’s Cathedral, the rink offers a chance to skate in the shadow of these famous landmarks.

The rink is part of the GUM department store’s winter market, which includes festive stalls and decorations. Skating at the Red Square Rink is an immersion in Russian history and culture set against the backdrop of Moscow’s winter landscape. 

Insider’s Tip: Visit the GUM market for traditional Russian winter snacks and souvenirs. 

When to Travel: November to February for the winter season. 

How to Get There: Fly to Moscow Sheremetyevo International Airport and travel to Red Square.

The Bottom Line

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Image Credit: Pexels / Thomas Laukat

Exploring the world’s best ice-skating destinations offers a unique blend of physical activity, natural beauty, and cultural immersion. Whether you’re gliding across a frozen alpine lake or spinning under the lights of a city skyline, each location provides a memorable skating experience.

As you lace up your skates and step onto the ice, you’re not just participating in a winter pastime but connecting with a timeless tradition that spans the globe. So embrace the chill, enjoy the glide, and discover the magic of ice skating in some of the world’s most beautiful and iconic locations.

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The post World’s 10 Ultimate Winter Wonderlands – From Nature’s Frozen Gems to Legendary Skating Rinks republished on Passing Thru with permission from The Green Voyage.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Pavel Danilyuk.

For transparency, this content was partly developed with AI assistance and carefully curated by an experienced editor to be informative and ensure accuracy.

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