When true winter knocks on the door, ice skating and skiing/snowboarding are among the sports most of us associate with the season. While the latter requires some travel and equipment, ice skating is an easily accessible, inexpensive, relatively easy, and fun sport to endeavor in.
As the Czech Republic represents an internationally-renowned hockey stronghold, there are plenty of places where one can ice skate. These places can be divided into three types: ice skating rinks which are located at public places within cities, ice skating rinks within hockey arenas, or (when the weather allows it) ice skating on ponds, lakes, rivers and water-reservoirs. Prague has numerous options covering all three types.
Ice skating, as hinted above is a relatively cheap sport. Entry costs usually revolve around 50 CZK (usually 1/2 for children) and skate rental is inexpensive as well, sometimes requiring returnable deposits. Alternatively, you can purchase your own ice skates at Hervis Sports, Sportissimo, Giga Sports and almost any other larger sports store. If you want to take it a step further and purchase Czech ice skates, you can consider Botas as a classical Czech brand. Anyhow, if one has a certain level of experience with rollerblading, ice skating is not overly difficult. It is always recommended to wear gloves to protect your hands in case of falls, which are something one can hardly anticipate. Let’s see what the options are.
ICE SKATING INSIDE
Ice skating inside has one primary advantage: you can skate in bad weather or when it is too cold outside. Ice in ice arenas tends to be maintained well, i.e. you do not have to worry about tripping over imperfections common in natural ice. Also, you are shielded from wind, snow, and other elements. One disadvantage of most ice arena rinks is the fact that they are not open at all times since most of them serve as hockey training grounds. Further, they come equipped with rental facilities and sharpening facilities, which will ensure that you can get the most out of each visit.
Below are some of the most popular enclosed rinks in Prague:
Ice Arena Nikolajka
Location: U Nikolajky 28, Prague 5
Price: 40 CZK
22.10.2011 – 30.4.2012 / Sat-Sun, 14:00 – 16:00
Nikolajka is one of the most popular ice skating locations over the weekend. Located not too far from Anděl, it offers a Štvanice-like experience. Since Štvanice, one of the oldest ice arenas in Prague, was leveled in 2011, this is for those looking for quality ice skating in an old hockey arena.
Ice Arena Hvězda
Location: Na Rozdílu 725/1, Prague 6
Price: 50 CZK
3.12.2011 – 30.4.2012 / Sat-Sun, 17:15 – 19:15
This Prague 6 ice arena offers an opportunity to skate in an expat-friendly area with many other interesting destinations to consider following your visit.
Ice Arena Letňany
Location: Tupolevova ul. 669, Prague 9
Price: 80 CZK / FREE on Mon-Fri, from 10:00 – 12:00
All Year / Mon-Fri, 12:00 – 20:00, Sat-Sun, 09:00 – 12:00, 13:00 – 20:00
The Ice Arena in Letňany is a modern, fully equipped ice arena available to the public all year-round and every day of the week. Located in the vicinity of the Letňany shopping center and the Lagoon Letňany waterpark, a visit combined with these would make for a great day out.
Ice Arena Incheba Arena
Location: Holešovice Exhibition Grounds (Small Arena) – Areál Výstaviště 67, Prague 7
Price: 50 CZK
1.12.2011 – 30.4.2012 / Sat, 10:00 – 13:00 / Sun 10:00 – 12:00
The ice skating rink at Incheba is not too far from the center of Prague and located at the Holešovice Exhibition grounds next to beautiful Stromovka Park, which one can visit prior or after ice skating. Perhaps another option to consider would be to walk to the not too remote Prague Zoo at Troja, just across the Vltava River.
Ice Arena Novodvorská – HC Kobra
Location: Mikuleckého 1584, Prague 4
Price: 60 CZK
1.8.2011 – 31.5.2012 / Sat, 13:15 – 15:15 / Sun 12:30 – 14:30.
Kobra, freshly renovated in 2011, offers a nice and revamped ice skating rink for the public over the weekends. Located close to Novodvorská and Braník, it will also offer a nice alternative to the other, more central, destinations.
ICE SKATING RINKS OUTSIDE
As an alternative to ice skating in ice arenas, one can consider the option of ice skating on dedicated rinks outside. Unlike the arenas, they provide what most people consider a more enjoyable experience and atmosphere. However, they are often smaller and not always ideally maintained. The very fact that they are outside, however, offsets some of the disadvantages. If you happen to be an ice skating star, then you will further welcome the looks of awe from the public and bystanders.
Prague has several outside ice skating rinks available for people to go to. They are highly seasonal and mostly open only during the winter. Usually, they are at places which have other functions throughout the rest of the year.
Location: Ovocný trh, Prague 1
6.12.2011 – 31.1.2012 / Open Daily, 10:00 – 22:00
The Ovocný trh ice skating rink is operated and maintained by the Prague 1 district. It is for free and definitely offers a unique atmosphere surrounded by numerous historical buildings. It is situated not far from Old Town Square and Václavské náměstí. All proceeds from the rental of ice skates go to charities. Where else can you ice skate and also help those in need?
Location: Kozí, Prague 1
Price: 50 CZK
20.11.2011 – 31.3.2012 / Mon, Wed, 08:00 – 17:30 / Tue 08:00 – 18:30 hod. / Fri 08:00 – 19:00 / Sat 12:00 – 21:00 / Sun 10:00 – 18:30
Ice skating on Na Františku is another frequented rink. Situated in Prague 1, near the Na Františku hospital grounds, it offers a nice opportunity to skate while also being close to the center. Rental is possible on the spot. You can therefore ice skate, take off the skates, and head out to the city soon after.
Gutovka Sport Center
Location: Gutova 39, Prague 10 (Hamr Sport Gutovka)
Price: 60 CZK
Season/Opening times: See Webpage (varies daily)
The Gutovka Sport Center is also a great choice. With a very large ice skating rink, you will sure have enough space to get around and improve your skills or impress. Aside from this, you can try out other sport opportunities the center offers such as a unique ice wall for climbing.
Galerie Harfa Rooftop
Location: Českomoravská 2420/15a, Prague 9
23.11.2011 – 28.2.2012 / Mon-Fri, 15:00 – 18:30 / Sat, 13:00 – 18:30 / Evening ice skating Fri + Sat, 19:30 – 22:00
For many of those with families, or those wishing to somehow add spice to their shopping routines, Galerie Harfa has a wonderful opportunity to offer. It is for free and you are accompanied by a qualified instructor to help you if you are not yet a professional figure skater.
ICE SKATING IN NATURE
Some of the most memorable moments ice skating are those in nature. Prague and the Czech Republic have numerous forests and numerous ponds, lakes and rivers, many of which freeze over in winter.
There is naturally a higher danger here, but when considerable care is taken, it offers a different experience altogether. We recommend you consult someone knowledgeable about the required ice thickness and suitability for ice skating. When safety is ensured and the weather is cold enough, ice skating in nature is an experience very few will regret, and it's free!
The Hostivařská přehrada (Hostivařská Water Reservoir) in Prague 10 is an excellent choice. Unfortunately, for the winter of 2011/2012, it does not have as much water as it usually does. When frozen over, it offers a very large area and hundreds of meters of free-range ice skating. The water reservoir Džbán in Šárecké údolí (Šárka Valley) in Prague 6 is another larger mass of water you can consider. Essentially, you can go to any open pond/lake/river that has frozen over and skate on it. As mentioned before, remain cautious and always consult with those that have the experience.
Regardless of what location for ice skating you choose, you will be guaranteed to have fun. Ice skating gives winter a new meaning. As some would say, winter without ice skating and other winter sports is like a flower without water. What more can you say? Rent or purchase some ice skates, ask some of your friends or close ones, grab some gloves and head out to discover Prague’s unique ice skating locations.