Open-air skating: a fantastic journey through the winter landscape!
You’ll have to wait a while, until there’s a proper freeze on and the ice is thick enough to bear the weight of cross-country skiers and skaters, for this particular kind of winter fun. But, once the conditions are right, the waiting’s over and you can go and enjoy yourself!
The longest natural skating track in the world: Lipno
Skaters are at their happiest when it doesn’t snow during a big freeze, as they can then skate almost everywhere and the ice is as smooth as a mirror. Nevertheless, in some places, great conditions are always guaranteed. One of these places is the Lipno Water Reservoir in the Český Krumlov region, which freezes over between December and March every year, becoming the longest skating track in the world. When it’s sunny, the adapted circuits, so to eight metres wide and leading from Lipno nad Vltavou to Frymburk and passing by Horní Planá, attract up to five thousand skaters daily at weekends. While there are, obviously, other places to skate, under ideal conditions you can skate on the world-record 38 km route from Lipno nad Vltavou to Pernek, the route surrounded by the pretty landscape of the Šumava!
Skating is free of charge, and in Lipno nad Vltavou you can hire skates, with the route even including several improvised ice bars!
The most beautiful track in the world: the Orlík Reservoir
Excellent skating conditions can also be enjoyed at the Orlík Water Reservoir. The very best conditions can be found at the confluence of the Vltava and Otava rivers beneath the Gothic Zvíkov Castle. If there’s a really big freeze on and the whole of the reservoir is frozen over, you can take yourself off on a nearly 200 km long track. You will be rewarded with exquisite scenery, an unusual view of the imposing castles of Zvíkov and Orlík, as well as five bridges, each of them a grand work of architecture.
Unlike Lipno, however, the skating routes on the Orlík Water Reservoir are managed by Nature itself, and these marvellous experiences are only for those seeking something truly exceptional.
Other interesting locations
If you’re looking for something other than ice-rinks and stadiums, then in Prague you can go skating in the port by the boatyard beneath Vyšehrad, on the Hostivař Water Reservoir, or on Šeberák pond. Another popular location is Podhradská tůň (Podhradí Pond) in the Kokořín region and the quarries along the Labe river, for example the three interconnected lakes, known as Malvíny, near Čelákovice and Proboštské jezero (Probošt Lake) near Stará Boleslav. Skaters also enjoy Máchovo Lake, popular with lovers of ice yachting, the Matylda Reservoir by the autodrome in Most and the Nové Mlýny reservoir below Pálava in South Moravia.
What should you watch out for?
When you set out to skate in unknown areas – and, hand on heart, this applies doubly when skating on large, natural surfaces – you should be careful and observe the rules for maximum safety. Don’t skate alone, know the situation in advance and take account of changing conditions and thin ice. Ice tends to be at its thinnest at places where there are incoming flows of water and, following a thaw or in the spring, it can break, even if it seems thick enough. By the way, while there is no set safe limit, Lipno, for example, is safe for skating once the ice reaches a thickness of 18 centimetres.