This isn’t a visit to your traditional ice-skating rink, and hockey and figure skates need not apply. Nordic skating (also called: trip skating, tour skating, long skating or wild skating) is a sport all its own, perhaps only comparable to cross country skiing. Gliding long distance over natural ice is a celebrated pastime in Sweden. It is a fantastic way to soak up the views of the serene Scandinavian terrain while getting in a great, low-impact workout.
The skates typically used for this sport have longer, more heavy duty blades than a pair of hockey or figure skates. They also have click-in bindings that secure hiking or cross country ski boots to the skate; some have been designed so that the heel can lift freely as your legs push off and you skim across the ice. Poles similar to ski poles are another common accessory. Safety gear is an absolute necessity, and each skater should have a set of ice claws (should you fall through the ice, you would use these to grip onto a slippery, wet surface to pull yourself back up) and a rucksack (a backpack that doubles as a floatation device) on them.
Nordic skating is fun and exhilarating, but it can also be dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. The number one rule when planning a day out on the ice is to never skate alone. In fact, the best way to set off on a skating excursion of this kind is by booking one with a professional guide.
Guided skating tours offer equipment rental and are lead by a local who is knowledgeable about the terrain and ice thickness. Stockholm and √ñstersund are the most popular Nordic skating locations in Sweden and have many guided tours available (click on the city names to open links to each destinations tourism and skating site). There are even four-day skating excursions like this one (click to open page), by a UK company called Nature Travels.
Skating season in Sweden generally runs from January to April. Book your flights to Stockholm now, and you will be sure to experience a one of a kind winter getaway adventure.