Winter ice-skating right in the town centre? Yes!
You may be surprised to hear it, but it really is possible to go skating right in the centre of cities such as Prague and Brno. You don’t even need your own equipment, as outdoor and indoor rinks often let you borrow skates – so there’s nothing stopping you practising your pirouettes and spins.
Prague: skate in the city centre or on an island
Unlike skiing, skating is not so dependent on the whims of the weather. Urban ice-rinks don’t have to wait for the snow to fall; all you need for a good-quality rink are normal winter temperatures, then wait a few days before you go skating.
For ice-skating in a fairytale setting, try out the rink on the Fruit Market (Ovocný trh) in the Prague Old Town, next to the pretty Estates Theatre, right in the centre of the city. You can skate here for free until late evening. The rink hosts many cultural events and skates can be hired.
Another rink in the historical city centre can be found at Na Františku, where you can both hire skates and have your own ones polished.
Prague: go skating on the roof and under it
For an unusual skating experience, try out the ice-rink on the roof of the Galerie Harfa shopping centre in Prague-Vysočany. Like on Ovocný trh, skating here is free, too, and skates can be hired there. The ice-rink is open every afternoon, and on Fridays and Saturdays floodlights let you skate till late evening.
Other Prague ice-rinks and stadiums worth a mention are the Gutovka sports complex in Strašnice, the Ice Arena in Letňany and the Incheba sports hall at the Holešovice Vystaviště.
Brno: go skating in the town and indoors
Several stadiums and ice-rinks adapted for lovers of speed, ice-hockey and pretty pirouettes can also be found in Brno. You can go skating right in the centre of town at, for example, Nové Sady, with a wonderful view of the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul. For more fun on ice, visit the ice-rink at the Za Lužánkami Stadium. A large ice-rink is also open every winter at the sports complex in Vodova street in the district of Královo Pole. A smaller ice-rink, suitable mainly for beginners and small children, can be found next to the Kraví hora indoor and outdoor swimming-pools. Another popular ice-rink is the Ice Arena, an open-air facility next to the Olympia shopping-centre where, unlike the other rinks, skates can also be rented.
If the range of Brno rinks isn’t enough (and, mainly, if it’s ‘proper’ winter), forget about normal ice-rinks and stadiums: the very best conditions for skating can be found at the Brno Water Reservoir, where you can skate for several kilometres at a time.