Winter is a chilly season to visit, but Germany knows how to put some sparkle on the darkest season. Along with its charming Christmas traditions, belly-warming winter drinks and Silvester's (New Years Eve) explosive fireworks displays, winter's freezing temperatures are the perfect excuse to step out on the ice.
Sitting at the foot of the castle, the city of Heidelberg's enormous outdoor ice rink has one of the best views in the country. Surrounded by the charming Heidelberg Christmas Market, there are food stands and cozy dining rooms just an ice-skate shuffle away.
Located in the center of Munich in the famous shopping district at Karlspatz Square, Münchner Eiszauber (Munich Ice Magic) is city's largest open-air ice rink. It offers the perfect ambiance for getting into the Christmas spirit with music blasting and families cheerily skating. When night falls, the party gets started with a light show.
The ice rink stays open as long as the air temperature remains below 10 degrees Celsius. If you need a moment to warm up and give your feet a break, the Bavarian chalet style stands serve steaming mugs of glühwein and wurst fresh off the grill.
- Admission: 5 - 8.50 euro for adults depending on entry time (discounted prices for children until 12, plus season, family, and senior discounts)
- Dates: November 23 - January 13th
- Hours: 10:30 - 22:00 (On Christmas Eve and New Years Eve the rink and stands close at 16:00)
- Address: Karlsplatz, 80335 München
- Metro: U4 / U5, all S-Bahn (Stop: Karlsplatz); Tram 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 27
- Weekly program: Events include Mondays tracht (traditional clothing) on ice, an appearance by Nikolaus, and more www.muenchnereiszauber.de/wochenprogramm
Between Berlin's Rotes Rathaus (town hall) and Marienkirche is one of the city's sprawling Christmas markets with an ice rink that encircles the impressive Neptune Fountain. The god of the sea looks down on giddy skaters as they go around and around his tiny kingdom, water temporarily turned to ice.
The light of the market turns the rink pink, blue and yellow with a 50-metre high Oktoberfest-themed riesenrad (the German festival essential of Ferris Wheel) towering overhead. Children practice their skating with penguin companions and soft sounds of the waltz and Christmas classics power through the speakers. Santa flies overhead not once a year, but three times every evening.
- Admission: Free; skate rental available for 4 euro
- Dates: November 26th - December 30th
- Hours: 12:00 - 21:30 (Closed Christmas eve; Open December 25th & 26th)
- Address: Platz vor dem Roten Rathaus, Rathausstr. 1510178 Berlin
- Metro: U-Bahn & S-Bahn Stop: Alexanderplatz
This is not just largest open-air ice rink in Hamburg, or even the largest in Germany - this is the largest open-air ice rink in Europe. Its expansive ice covers an area of 4,300m² (46,280 sq ft).
Every Friday and Saturday the arena changes from kid-friendly to party central with live DJs from 19:00. There are also special events like Thursday ladies night and training.
For the sporty set, try Eisstockschießen, or Bavarian curling. LED lights make the ice playable at night.
- Admission: 7 euro for 2.5 hours (5 euro for children under 18; discounts for family ticket, student, etc.)
- Dates: Open beginning of middle November to March depending on the weather
- Hours: 10:00 - 22:00
- Address: Holstenwall 30, 20355 Hamburg (The arena is located in the park Planten un Blomen. Entrances to the park are from Glacischaussee and Holstenwall. )
- Metro: U1 (Stop: Stephansplatz); S11, S21, S31 (Stop: Bahnhof Dammtor); Bus 35 (Stop: Hamburg Messe - Eingang Mitte und Ost) & Bus 112 (Stop: Stephansplatz)
Wiesbaden’s ice skating rink is located behind the picturesque Hessian State Theatre and consists of an 800m² (8,611 sq ft) ice skating rink and three curling areas just steps away from a twinkling Christmas market. Open to the public, you can also reserve it for private parties.
- Admission: 4 euro adult; 3.50 euro for children up to 12 (discounts for multiple entry pass); skate rental available for 4.50 euro
- Admission: 4.50 euro
- Dates: November 20th - January 12th
- Hours: 11:00 - 22:00
- Address: Berta-Cramer-Ring 40, 65205 Wiesbaden
This location joins the unique German obsessions of ice skating and sauna. The Prinzregentenstadion offers a typical ice rink with music, colorful lights and festival foods, but rather than limping away you can heal your bruises with a trip to the spa.
The spa includes two Finnish saunas (one on an open-air terrace so you don't lose feel for the cool air), sanarium, steam bath, zen garden, whirlpool, cold water pool plus scheduled massages.
If you visit on Sunday morning, there is a traditional Munich Eistanz (ice dance). From 9:30, songs like the waltz and tango are put on with free dance lessons beginning at 10.
- Ice Rink Admission: 5.60 euro adult; 4.10 euro discount; skate rental available for 4 euro (evening, family and student discount)
- Sauna Admission: 4.50 euro
- Dates: Open all winter
- Hours: Monday to Thursday 9.30 – 16:00, Friday to Sunday and holidays 9.30 – 21.30
- Address: Prinzregentenstraße 80, 81675 Munich
- Metro: U4, MetroBus 54 (Stop: Prinzregentenplatz),
StadtBus 100 (Stop: Prinzregentenplatz or Friedensengel/Villa Stuck), Tram 16 (Stop : Friedensengel/Villa Stuck)
On the outskirts of Berlin in Köpenick skaters can glide gracefully by the biggest lake in the city. While those interested in skating on the lake might be disappointed that the ice is in a nearby covered rink, this is a charming part of the Rübezahl holiday park and includes holiday houses, a restaurant, café and - of course - a beer garden.
And when it gets cold enough, visitors can take to the lake to soar around its massive expanse.
- Admission: 6 euro; 4.50 for kids up to 14 (discounts for students, weekday); skate rental 4 euro
- Dates: mid-November - March (Depending on the weather)
- Hours: 10:00 -12:30, 13:00-16:30, 17:00-19:30
- Address: Müggelheimer Damm 143, Berlin, Germany
- Metro: Bus N69, X69
Children skate with penguins, families try their hand at curling, and everyone enjoys views of Karlsruhe's Baroque castle. Skaters gracefully (and some not so gracefully) make their way around the grand Großherzog Karl Friedrich statue.
At night, the expanse of white ice takes on florescent colors with sophisticated Eiszeit-Stube providing warm beverages. On select Thursdays, DJs provide the soundtrack with an after-show at the Krokokeller.
Ice Rink of the Zollverein
This unusual ice rink is on a UNESCO World heritage site in Essen. The ice is actually among furnaces which once reached temperatures as high as 1,000°C of this historic mine. It is a spectacular site with a brilliant light display with regular disco nights, curling and skate lessons.
- Admission: 7 euro for adults; 5 euro for kids up to 14 (discounts for families, groups, evenings etc.)
- Dates: December 5th - January 5th
- Hours: Sundays to Thursdays from 11:00 to 20:00; til 21:00 Fridays and Saturdays
- Address: Areal C, Druckmaschinengleis [C74], Kokereiallee