Canada is the hockey capital of the world, so it's no surprise that there are so many ice skating rinks around. Montreal, specifically, has a slew of them—some budget-friendly, some massive, and some that are devastatingly charming.
Montreal also has some notoriously unpredictable weather, so it's important to check skating rink conditions online beforehand. If all else fails, consider Atrium Le 1000, Montreal's indoor skating rink, as an alternative.
Parc La Fontaine
In the winter, the little lake that sits at the center of Parc La Fontaine freezes over, creating a spacious subzero platform for people to skate on. The park has long, tree-lined ice paths, a welcome alternative to going round and round in a standard oblong-shaped arena. It's great for nature lovers who prefer a more authentic, outdoorsy experience in the heart of the city.
Parc La Fontaine features unboarded ice paths as well as two standard boarded rinks. It's a great skating destination for just about everyone, from hockey players who can play a game in the standard rinks to families who require equipment rentals and locker rooms. The rinks are ideal for those on tight budgets looking for a free way to get active, too.
Right on the Old Port, just below Old Montreal's Marché Bonsecours, the Bonsecours Basin outdoor skating rink ranks high in visual value—this is the place to bring your date. The rink can get crowded on weekends, but there's always room on the ice.
Bonsecours Basin's refrigerated rink allows for a longer and more stable skating season. It takes more than a sudden winter thaw to break it down. Afterward, you can grab dinner or a drink at one of Old Montreal's hotspots, such as Kyo, Flyjin, or Velvet, all within walking distance.
Montreal Olympic Park
The rink at Montreal's Olympic Park might be the most desirable for families. It's in a convenient location, has equipment rentals, and offers an abundance of activities (including a 24-foot-long snow tubing slide) for kids both big and small.
The downside to this rink is the price: It costs up to $20 just for parking in the Village. The restaurant isn't exactly budget-friendly either. Once you're in, though, you can visit the Biodome or the Montreal Planetarium. Keep walking and you'll end up at the Montreal Botanical Garden and Insectarium.
Here it is, speed demons: This is your skating rink. The skating surface is big enough to provide comfortable spacing between skaters even on the busiest of days. Just remember to bring your own skates. No equipment rentals are offered at Parc Maisonneuve.
Parc Jean-Drapeau has some great ice paths, but they're only maintained for a few short weeks in January and February. Consisting of a long, 1.5-kilometer skating stretch situated near the St. Lawrence River, Parc Jean-Drapeau's outdoor ice paths offer a refreshing experience in the forest with bonus views of the city. Overall, it's a great option for families and nature lovers who need a break from the city without actually leaving the city.
Beaver Lake (Lac aux Castors)
Beaver Lake ("Lac aux Castors") is an outdoor skating destination atop Montreal's sort-of mountain, Mount Royal. It's popular among both locals and visitors, which means that it can get very crowded. Mount Royal Park is iconic, and the winter activities it offers are unbeatable (snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, snow tubing, and the like).
Beaver Lake is a fantastic spot to bring kids. If you don't want to drive, you can hop on the 11 Bus and head up the mountain (year-round!). However, unless you time your return ride perfectly, you might find yourself waiting for 20 minutes at the bus stop (and standing out in the wind is certainly not fun). There are no corner stores or fast-food joints nearby in which to warm up.
Located at the foot of Mount Royal Park, Jeanne Mance Park's skating rink is more easily accessible by public transit than Beaver Lake's refrigerated rink. And unlike its picturesque counterpart, Jeanne Mance Park offers not just a recreational rink, but a hockey-friendly one, too. Again, you must bring your own skates. There aren't any equipment rentals, but there are bathrooms and a lodge in which to change into your skates.
Verdun's Bleu Blanc Rouge
Bleu Blanc Rouge ("Blue White Red") in Verdun is one of a handful of outdoor rinks in Montreal that are equipped with a refrigerated surface, allowing for a longer skating season.
The rink stays true to the National Hockey League's official rink size requirements—200 feet by 85 feet (61 meters by 26 meters)—identical dimensions to those of the Bell Centre, home of the Montreal Canadiens hockey team. Verdun's Bleu Blanc Rouge is open year-round.
Atrium Le 1000
Atrium Le 1000 is an indoor rink that has provided many an ice skater with respite from whatever winter weather is wreaking havoc outside; however, it gets brutally busy. So busy, in fact, that most of your time on the ice could very well be spent merely dodging collisions.
If you have no tolerance for crowds, then go on a weekday early in the evening. There is equipment rental on location and plenty of food court eats.