One Viennese tradition in winter is to turn a few circles at the open-air ice rink run by the Wiener Eislaufverein (Viennese ice skating association).
- Outdoor rink with a long, prestigious history
- Located just outside the old town so easily reached
- The 2020 skating season runs provisionally from October 24th to March 7th
- See also: The Wiener Eistraum
City-centre ice skating
The Eislaufverein’s rink is remarkably close to the city centre, along Lothringerstraße. That road was named after Franz Stephan von Lothringen, the husband of Empress Maria Theresa, though it’s not known if the imperial feet ever graced a pair of skates.
The prime central location is why stories often pop up in the local media about the future of the site. But the association has a rental agremeent that runs until 2058 and the latest development plans include retaining the rink.
So ice skating won’t be disappearing anytime soon.
Despite its closeness to the centre, the rink’s setting is not as romantic as you might imagine. On one side is the majesty of the Konzerthaus (concert hall), but the opposite side is the concrete monolith that’s the Intercontinental Hotel.
The rink’s rear also looks fairly non-descript. However, the area is set to undergo significant development and the surrounds will no doubt be changing in the coming years.
All-in-all, then, ice skating here is more practical than
The Eislaufverein itself was first established in 1867 and has a prestigious history. For example, European, World and Olympic figure skating champions have emerged from its midst. It moved to its current home in 1901, which at one point was the largest artificial ice rink in the world.
The Viennese approach to figure skating (inspired by the American skater Jackson Haines) also played an influential role in moving the sport away from the rigid (British) approach and toward the more fluid, dynamic sport we know today. UNESCO even declared the Viennese tradition of dancing circles around the rink to music part of Austria’s official intangible cultural heritage.
2020/2021 dates and tickets
The 2020 skating season runs from October 24th to March 7th. Of course, the 2020 public health situation may affect traditional opening times and activities.
Entrance fees for skaters are between €8 and €9 for adults, depending on the day, with concessions for kids, families, etc.. It costs just €1 if you merely want to go inside. Check the official website for up-to-date details.
Don’t worry if you didn’t bring equipment with you, since the attached sports boutique offers skate hire.
Subway: U4 line to Stadtpark (take the southwest exit to the beautiful Wagner-designed station building)
Tram: D, 71 or 2 to Schwarzenbergplatz (and a short walk up past the Konzerthaus)
Bus: 4A to Akademietheater
Address: Lothringerstraße 22, 1030 Vienna