Beijing's best outdoor ice skating rinks

Head to these rinks around town before they all melt

Skating outside on one of the city's picturesque frozen lakes is one of the joys of Beijing.

Grab a pair of skates (or an ice bike...) at one of these great spots. 
Peking University

Peking University

Skate among China’s brightest young minds at Peking University’s (PKU) famous Not Yet Named Lake (Wèi míng hú 未名湖), a short walk from the campus’ east gate. The lake here isn’t huge, but it’s located under a charming little pagoda that’s seemingly ancient, yet was only built in the 1920s. Here you can feel the buzz of youthful energy: students, kids, young couples and quirky professors high on ice.

At one end, the regular semi-pros glide about with one leg pointed skywards (for far too long), with cart-skating at the opposite side. From 3-5pm daily, there’s a mass skating lesson (Mandarin only) for newbies that makes for a curious sight in itself. 

Rink open 10am-7pm Mon-Fri; 9am-7pm Sat-Sun. Skate hire 5RMB per hour (student price), 20RMB per hour (regular price), 100RMB deposit for skates.

Peking University 5 Yiheyuan Lu, Haidian district

Zizhuyuan Park

Zizhuyuan Park

There may be none of the purple bamboo after which the park is named, but this idyllic spot is nevertheless worth seeking out for its lake, (green) bamboo and skating – an especially tranquil activity on a weekday afternoon.

Drooping willow branches line the shores of the rink on the south-west side of the park. The rink has two skating areas: one for casual skating, the other for speed skating. There are also zones for ice-carts,ice-bicycles and ice bumper-cars. The atmosphere is relaxed and amateur-friendly – there’s even seating along the partitions for breaks between skates.

One-to-one skating lessons (Mandarin only; 100RMB for 45 minutes) are available throughout the day, and as a perk for families, kids can get an extra thrill from the big snow slide for 10RMB a go. Unfortunately, Beijing's winter seems to be too warm this year and this outdoor rink is still not open to the public.

Rink open 9am-4.30pm daily. Entrance 15RMB. Skate hire 15RMB per hour, Ice-cart hire 20RMB or 40RMB (double) per hour, Ice-bike 40RMB per hour, 100RMB deposit.

Zizhuyuan Park 35 Zhongguancun Nan Dajie, Haidian district. Call 8841 2830 to check opening times



Skating at Qianhai, with a view of the historic Drum Tower, is one of those quintessential Beijing experiences. Note that when people talk about skating at Houhai, it’s actually the southern part of the Shichahai lakes, Qianhai, you want to head for – the ‘front sea’. 

There’s a huge choice of skates, ice-bikes, carts, mini-rickshaws and bumper cars, but as Beijing’s most popular skating spot – given its location and picturesque surroundings – the crowds are hard to avoid, especially at peak times. The experience is certainly special at night, marred (or enhanced, if you prefer) by the bright neon lights of the surrounding bars and pumping EDM soundtrack. Expect to be upstaged by old men practising their pirouettes, and to run into ice that can get lumpy and bumpy. 

For a different experience, head to Qianhai on Saturday mornings for a drop-in session of ice hockey, where players from the Beijing Ice Hockey League lead a friendly introduction for anyone wanting to learn the sport.

Rink open 9am-10pm daily. Entrance 20RMB (weekdays), 30RMB (weekends and holidays). Skate hire 30RMB per hour (weekdays), 35RMB per hour (weekends and holidays).

Qianhai (前海) Shichahai, Xicheng district.

Summer Palace

Summer Palace

For winter revelry, no backdrop is more breathtaking than Beijing’s imperial gardens. So count your lucky mittens that the Summer Palace has opened its beautiful Kunming Lake for ice-based cavorting.

Skates are sadly forbidden; only sleigh-like ice-carts (basically chairs on skis) and ice-bicycles are permitted (‘icicles’, surely?). But don’t let that dampen your spirits, since ice-cycling is actually bucket-loads of fun. There’s a generous stretch of the lake to ride on, from near Longevity Hills to the Seventeen-Arch Bridge, and a welcome lack of excessive fencing,unlike at many other lakes. Plus, it’s nowhere near as crowded as Houhai, even at weekends. Like the Ziyuyuan Park, this rink is not open to public yet.

Rink open 8am-4.30pm daily. Skate hire 50RMB per hour, Ice-cart hire 50RMB or 100RMB (double) per hour, Ice-bike hire 50RMB per hour.

Summer Palace 19 XinjiangongmenLu, Haidian district, call 6288 1144 to check opening times

  • 4 out of 5 stars