One Viennese tradition in winter is to sit around a marble coffee house tabletop with a warming coffee. Another 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 season normally runs late October to early March
- Often hosts special events in and out of the skating season
- See also:
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. I don’t know if his feet ever took a turn on the ice, or if a court official once bore the title, Keeper of the Imperial Skates.
Despite its closeness to the centre, the rink’s setting is not quite as romantic as you might imagine. On one side is the majesty of the famous Konzerthaus concert hall, but the opposite side is 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 change 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.
2022/2023 dates and tickets
The last season just ended so I don’t have new dates just yet. Check the website (see below). The ice normally opens toward the end of October and stays open until early March. Any opening at the end of the season may depend on the right temperatures for the ice, though.
Entrance fees at the counter include concessions for kids, families, etc.. Check the official website for up-to-date details.
You might drop in to the Eislaufverein with no intention of putting on skates or watching others pirouette their way across the ice. Recent times have seen the location host, for example, an ATP tennis tournament, an art fair, and the European Beach Volleyball championships.
Beach volleyball returns in 2022 with the CEV BeachVolley Nations Cup set for early August.
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
The neighbouring Konzerthaus reflects the musical flavour of the wider area. A stony Beethoven, for example, stares across at the skaters from the other side of the road. (His thoughts on the choice of music played on the rink remain unknown.)
Address: Lothringerstraße 22, 1030 Vienna