Winter in Norway is most commonly associated with snow and skiing, yet more and more people are discovering the joys of ice skating. Want to give it a go? The Local's travel editor Marie Peyre has some advice.
Published: 22 November 2017 14:01 CET
Photo: Marie Peyre
Most towns and cities in Norway will have somewhere to go for a spin on the ice. This might be an indoor ice rink, an outdoor one, or even a frozen reservoir or lake. Ask locals for advice. You will have to bring your own skates many places, as rental is usually only available in the biggest ice rinks.
Going for a spin on the ice
Oslo: Located right on Oslo's main street, Karl Johans Gate, Spikersuppa Ice Rink is a popular place for an urban skating session, particularly around Christmas time, when the festive atmosphere and season's decorations add to the ambience. The ice rink is open from late November to March (11am until 9pm). Free entrance, skate rental available. Another alternative in Oslo is Frogner Ice Skating Rink, next to the Vigeland Park, which is open in winter only (December to February/March). Skate and helmet rental is available. Entrance fee.
The forests to the north and east of Oslo (Nordmarka and Østmarka), with their many lakes, offer many skating options in winter. Bogstadvannet and Maridalsvannet are two of the most easily accessible lakes, and therefore most popular, but there are many others, including Sognsvann, Nøklevann and Østensjøvannet. The Norwegian Ski Club (Skiforeningen) has a special skating groupin Oslo. They organise courses and tours in the greater Oslo area throughout the season, and often have ice-skating equipment to lend to beginners. So do Rollers.
Photo: Marie Peyre
Bergen: There are two indoor ice skating rinks in Bergen: Bergenshallen and Iskanten in Loddefjord. For a more scenic option, though, head for Skansendammen. Located 10 minutes from the centre by Skansen Fire Station, just above the funicular terminal, Skansendammen is an old water reservoir that often freezes over in winter. Great views over the city. You will have to bring your own skates, as there is no rental available.
Elsewhere in Norway: Prestvannet in Tromsø is popular for ice skating, as is Theisendammen in Trondheim's Bymarka, which is transformed every winter into a skating playground with trails, ice hockey area etc. Litle Stokkavatn, Hindalsdammen and Mosvatnet are all options in and around Stavanger.
Tour skating (Nordic skating/wild skating)
When it comes to ice-skating, nothing beats the freedom felt gliding over a frozen lake, away from the crowds, surrounded by beautiful nature. Although highly enjoyable, skating on natural ice does carry real risks, so safety is paramount. Never go skating alone, and if you are a beginner, join a group or go with a guide. And always carry the right safety equipment – spikes and a rope are minimum requirements, as well as a change of clothes should you fall through the ice (it happens, and not just to other people!). Remember to check the ice regularly, as its thickness can vary a lot from spot to spot on the same lake.
Photo: Marie Peyre
Generally speaking, when it comes to ice and ice-skating, lakes in the mountains inland are likely to be covered in snow much sooner than those in low-lying areas and/or areas by the coast and fjords. One of the best (and most accessible) places for seasoned skaters seeking to undertake longer tours on the ice is Vansjø, the largest lake in Østfold county, about an hour south of Oslo. Usually among the first to freeze, Vansjø can remain snowless for weeks on end, making for a long skating season. Conditions might change from year to year of course, so check before travelling. DNT Vansjø specialise in tour skating and organise tours throughout the season for skaters of all abilities.