Good ice skating rinks are plentiful on Balkan territory. Many of them are open all year round, unlike the seasonal outdoor rinks, which can be enjoyed only during wintertime. Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced skater, here are some of the best ice skating rinks you’ll ever find on the Balkans – roomy, affordable and with immaculately clean ice.
Bosnia and Herzegovina – the Zetra Ice Rink in Sarajevo
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Formerly known as the Zetra Olympic Hall, the Juan Antonio Samaranch Olympic Hall’s outdoor grounds house the vast ice rink, which hosted the Winter Olympic Games back in 1984. Nowadays the renovated rink is open to the public, whereas the hall itself offers a playground for additional activities, such as bowling, pistol shooting, pool (billiard) and so forth.
Bulgaria – the Bansko Ice Rink in Bansko
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Spacious and well-maintained throughout the entire winter season the outdoor ice skating rink in this mountain resort is among the best ones in Bulgaria. The fact that it’s nestled in the resort’s town center makes it the perfect destination for fans of winter sports who happen to be visiting Bansko for skiing or other activities.
Macedonia – the Boris Trajkovski Sports Center in Skopje
The “lizgaliste”, as Macedonians call it, was once a plastic rink (yeap, made out of those cheap, uneven plastic blocks that are called synthetic ice rinks), but fortunately got upgraded to a real ice rink a few years ago. Nowadays you can even sign up your kids or yourself for ice skating lessons there.
Serbia – the Pionir Ice Hall in the Tašmajdan Recreational Center in Belgrade
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The vast indoor ice rink at the Pionir Ice Hall is used not only by hobbyist skaters, but also by professionals practicing ice hockey and figure skating, as well as by third parties organizing various competitions. In other words, the rink is well-maintained and offers plenty of floor space, unlike overcrowded smaller ice rinks which are often hazardous for inexperienced skaters.
Croatia – the open rink on King Tomislav Square in Zagreb
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While many may argue that ice skating in Split is the best option for hobbyists and professionals, the open ice rink on the King Tomislav Square in Zagreb is actually better. As long as you avoid rush hours, you’ll have a blast there. What’s more, you can easily fuel up with mulled wine and some snacks afterwards at the nearby Christmas market.
Slovenia – the Ice Hall in Maribor
Up until a while ago the Ledena Fantazija Ice Park in Ljubljana was the best ice skating rink on the Balkans. With its fun slopes, paths, alleys and light shows now gone, beginners and advanced skaters in Slovenia should opt for the Ice Hall in Maribor. Albeit not as creative as the ice park once was, this indoor rink can still provide a couple of hours of fun on affordable prices.
Romania – the Patinoar Cisnădie in Cisnădie
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Set up in a small town in the Transylvanian area of Romania, this is the best ice skating rink you’ll find in this Slavic country. Even though it’s often overcrowded by skaters of all ages, the Patinoar Cisnădie indoor rink is open all week long, so you might manage to get in line during some of their less-popular working hours.
Kosovo and Montenegro
Seasonal ice skating rinks pop up here and there in Kosovo and Montenegro around the Christmas holidays, but they never seem to last. They’re usually made out of plastic blocks and while skating on such things is not only challenging, but significantly less safer than on real ice, these occasional rinks do provide a good opportunity for locals to experience something new. But if you have the chance to get out of Kosovo and Montenegro, you should definitely opt for the ice rinks in other Slavic countries on the Balkan Peninsula.
Trust me, not even the best synthetic blocks can reproduce that otherworldly feeling of skating over the super smooth surface of a real ice rink just after the Zamboni machine has left the premises. Just watch out for facility staff members who are trying to offer you brand-new skates! Wearing the same ones as countless other people sounds disgusting, but breaking into a pair of new skates is one of the most painful (and bloody) experiences even for professional skaters.