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Nordic Skating: Top Destinations
Nordic Skating: Top Destinations
Skaters on Lake Weissensee in the
Austrian Alps (Jamie Hess)
As the home of Nordic skating, Europe is an epic realm for wild, long-distance ice cruising. The Netherlands has hosted the Elfstedentocht, a 125-mile race that passes 11 cities, for over a century, while the glacial landscapes of Austria and Finland are hard to beat. Lake Weissensee in the Austrian Alps features a gonzo 12-mile maintained loop in amidst some breathtaking mountain scenery. Each January, thousands of skaters from all over the world converge on the lake for a 12-day festival of races and tours that culimates in an epic 75-mile ultramarathon race.

However, for Euro wild skating at its best, head to the Old World equivalent of Minnesota: Sweden and its tens of thousands of lakes.

The myriad of lakes surrounding Stockholm make for a bone-chilling winter, but they also mean your options for taking a long skating tour are many. You can take the subway from downtown Stockholm west to Malaren Lake and listen to the hiss of your skates slicing across the ice for 100 miles before even thinking of turning for home. Or a better option would be to spend a day skating about 25 miles to the small town of Sigtuna.

Public transportation in Sweden is superior, making it easy to hop off the lake and onto a train heading back to the capital. In 45 minutes you can be off the ice and drinking a warm cup of wine in a swanky lounge. Of course if you are going to head to Sweden, it helps to know that there are plenty of other areas—these maintained—to skate should Malaren not be in shape. And the ultimate, albeit rare, excursion out into the frozen Baltic Sea to scope out the ice-ringed islands is always a possibility.


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Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Budget: $$
Season: December to March

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