Do you remember the time when you first stood on ice skates? Mine was when I was very young. Growing up on the countryside with a lot of space around the house we had our own small ice skating rink. I assume it was thanks to my brother and my dad; and yes, rink is too fancy a word. We (they?) just poured some water on an empty spot next to the house. Not big and far from perfect – it even had a small gap because of a mortar joint or something like that where we had to be really careful not to fall. Even ‘owning’ our own skating ground did not mean I was any good at it, but I enjoyed it at that time. Still, in my teens I hardly ever went on the ice, only when our gym teacher made us go. And only once during my student time in Vienna did I manage to go on the beautiful Eistraum in front of the city hall.
Moscow and its ice rinks
Having fond memories of skating, there was no way I could not go on the ice at least once during my study abroad. Remembering the last time that I went (oh those blisters because of the low-quality shoes) I was a bit hesitant at first. Surprisingly, they had rather ‘good’ shoes and it was a success. Together with my friends I was able to spend a few hours on the ice without even falling once. I was proud of myself!
Moscow is full of ice rinks, with an astonishing total of 1,445 rinks! One of the largest artificial, all-weather ice skating rinks in Moscow is the one in my favourite park, Gorky Park. The entrance ticket price varies dependent on the time and the day of the week. So if you go during the week before the evening it is very cheap. 200 rubles for the cheapest adult ticket and 550 rubles for the most expensive one on the weekends in the evening. Renting the skates is about 300 rubles. So in total it can be only 500 rubles = around 8 EUR.
Another huge park that I have been to a few times before was also transformed into a big rink – VDNKh. It is also one of the biggest rinks in Moscow and up to 4,500 skaters can fit on it at a time. According to the World Record Academy, the ice rink at VDNKh was named the world’s biggest rink in 2016 with an area of over 20,000m2. The tickets again vary, ranging between 200 and 400 rubles.
Even on the Red Square you could find a relatively small skating rink that belongs to the department store GUM. It is one of the most expensive rinks though but that’s not a surprise with such a prime location next to the kremlin, the GUM, the museums, and the churches.
The thing I really like about ice skating rinks in cities and especially in Moscow is that sometimes they just make them in a park, so you don’t just skate on a plane square but you can enjoy all the lanes and beautiful spots of the park as well. Another great thing about some rinks are the stalls right next to the ice – it was possible to enjoy a snack or a cup of tea, hot chocolate or mulled wine without really having to leave the ice. The rinks are always illuminated in amazing lighting, the scenery next to the parks is great – ranging from dark trees to pompous buildings.
Ice skating in Vienna
The Wiener Eistraum is one of the most famous and popular places to go ice skating in Vienna (or Austria?). No wonder, as it is in front of one of the most iconic buildings of Vienna – the Rathaus (city hall). With its Neo-Gothic style and the adjoining Rathauspark, facing the Ring street with other interesting buildings, it is just a nice place to go for when you want to enjoy a few hours on an area of 8,5000 m2 of ice.
The entrance ticket as well as the shoe rental fee are rather high – 7,50 and 7,00 EUR. Plus you kind of have to rent a locker unless you want to carry your street shoes with you, so you’ll need another 2,50 EUR. This sums up to 17 EUR that you’d have to spendsome time on the ice. However, it’s a day ticket so if you want to you could stay the whole day on the ice.
Despite the high costs that await you there it is still worth it in my opinion! As in Russia the paths in the park are covered in ice so it is not just a simple square in front of a building. There is even a slope in some of the terrain which makes skating even more fun! The light, the music, the food and the drinks – plus the amazing building(s) – make the place even better. My only recommendations would be to bring your own shoes as they don’t have the best ones available for renting, and don’t go too late in the evening or at the end of the season when it’s already getting too warm – I guess the machines can’t either handle that many people or the warm weather :D