The largest Lake District in Europe: In a scarcely populated country there’s enough scenery and shoreline for all, allowing you to easily lose yourself in thought or be inspired by the vast clear lakes, intricately splintered by islands, isthmuses and green spits.
Outdoor skating rinks in Helsinki
You can start your Finnish ice-skating adventure right outside the Helsinki Central Railway station at Ice Park – an outdoor ice rink that’s open for much of the winter.
Ice Park (pictured above) is popular among Helsinki residents and visitors alike, with people drawn to both the well-maintained ice and the cinnamon buns! Skates can be rented, and you can borrow helmets for free – so come along and enjoy skating to music in the centre of our capital city.
Other popular outdoor skating spots in Helsinki include a rink next to St. John’s Church in Punavuori, and a large rink in the neighbourhood of Kallio called Brahenkenttä, where you can also rent skates.
Image by Helsinki Marketing.
Tour skating around Helsinki
Tour skating – also known as Nordic skating – is about getting out onto the frozen sea and lakes with skates that have longer blades and are designed to take you further.
The best time for tour skating is early spring, when the top layer of ice melts just enough to create a mirror-like surface for skaters to skim across. But during the deep winter months – when snow falls regularly – popular tracks need to be professionally maintained. Water is often poured onto the trails, spread out and allowed to freeze. This process is repeated a few times until a smooth surface develops.
The best tour skating tracks in Helsinki are in the neighbourhood of Vuosaari (the final stop at the eastern end of the city’s metro line), and around the museum island of Seurasaari (not far from the city centre). When skating on natural sea ice, it is important to stay on marked tracks or go with a professional guide to avoid places where the ice is thinner due to possible currents.
Read more about ice skating in Helsinki at www.myhelsinki.com.
Family fun on the ice in Lahti
Just an hour north of Helsinki by train, the city of Lahti is inland enough to enjoy a longer skating season than on the coast. The best winter months are January to March, when people get out onto the frozen surface of Lake Vesijärvi on skates and fatbikes.
You can rent equipment in the harbour, and there are plenty of places to get coffee and food. Restaurant Lokki is the place to check out.
Read more about outdoors activities in the Lahti region at visitlahti.fi.
Ice skating in Tampere
Tampere is the largest inland city in the Nordic region – and it’s big on skating too.
The lake of Tohloppijärvi in the Tohloppi district is popular for tour skating, with a café and rental shop that’s open on weekends through the winter season. There’s a lit skating track too for those short days and long nights.
You can also rent tour skates at Näsijärvi lake – less than a kilometre from Tampere’s main railway station. Another good place for skating is Saarikylät, a village not far from Tampere with a 3-km tour-skating track.
Read more about Tampere region nature activities at www.visittampere.fi.
The Finland Ice Marathon
Marathon running has grown to be very popular all over the world, but ice skating marathons are still a niche activity! If this is something you want to try, then the Finland Ice Marathon is the race to register for.
In 2019, some 600 people from 15 different countries took part in the marathon – one of Finland’s oldest skating events on natural ice. The race takes place annually in January or February in the heart of Finnish Lakeland on Lake Kallavesi, with competitors skating on an 8-kilometre track that starts and ends in the harbour city of Kuopio.
Read more about the Finland Ice Marathon.
Tour skating in Linnansaari National Park
Some say the most beautiful tour skating track in Finland is the Linnansaari Winter Trail, between the towns of Oravi and Rantasalmi. Depending on weather conditions, the trail is maintained to a length of either 20 or 40 kilometres, with fireplaces along the way for cooking your own food. There is also a cafeteria on Linnansaari island.
All necessary skating equipment can be rented, and there are plenty of tour groups available with experienced guides who always put safety first.
Get to know the Linnansaari National Park at www.nationalparks.fi.
Lake Saimaa on skates
There are plenty of opportunities for skating both on and around Lake Saimaa – the largest lake district in Finland.
The ice stadium in the lakeside city of Lappeenranta is a popular attraction in winter, while outdoor skaters enjoy the frozen surface of the lake in the bay the city is built on.
Tour skaters often start their trips from the towns of Mikkeli and Savonlinna, both of which serve as gateways to many kilometres of well-maintained skating trails on Lake Saimaa. The routes offer plenty of cosy places selling warm drinks, as well as lean-to shelters where you can stay out of the wind while grilling your own food over a campfire.
Skating around Jyväskylä
The university town of Jyväskylä is also big on skating. Lake Jyväsjärvi has a well-maintained track, with skates, poles and helmets available for rent from a café in the city’s harbour. You can also set off on good lake-skating trails from the Spa Hotel Peurunka near Laukaa (about 30 kilometres north of Jyväskylä), and the Himos Holiday Center (some 50 kilometres south of Jyväskylä).
See Jyväskylä’s winter activities at www.visitjyvaskyla.fi.