Winter is one of the best times of year to enjoy vacations in London. When there’s a chill in the air, the city really seems to come alive. There is a fun festive spirt, and people become more social as they gather inside to get a reprieve from the cold temperatures outside.

As soon as the weather turns cold and people start furtively whispering about Christmas, London’s many temporary ice-skating rinks begin to pop up the entire city. These are one of the highlights of winter in the city. Thinking about showing off your skills on the ice during your time in London? Or simply want to enjoy something a little different as you travel around the city exploring the sights?

Here are our picks of the best places to go ice-skating in London:

Somerset House:

The ice-skating rink built into the courtyard of Somerset House is considered to be one of the most beautiful in the city, and is sponsored by high end department store Fortnum and Masons. What makes this rink so popular, besides its beauty, is that as well as opening in the day it also opens well into the evening. After dark, the rink really comes alive with thousands of twinkling white Christmas lights and the scenic walls of historic Somerset House as the backdrop. Somerset House is a huge neoclassical building that serves as an impressive space for an ice-skating experience.

If you’re looking for a fun experience with your friends then why not try on of the late night skating sessions? These ‘Skate Late’ events are hosted by top DJs, meaning that you can dance the night away on ice. Travelling with kids? Why not take them along to the Polar Cub Club where they can learn to skate and take to the ice for the very first time.

Hampton Court Palace:

Hampton Court Palace is one of London’s most impressive Royal buildings. It is a magnificent Tudor building that was once the home of Henry VIII (and some of his many wives) and the ice skating rink is set just outside the entrance to the palace so that you can enjoy magnificent views as you skate.

At 1,040-square-metres, this is one of the largest ice-skating rinks in London. A trip to the skating rink here is best combined with a visit into the palace so that you can soak in some of the city’s traditional history and learn more about the beautiful building you are visiting. As an added bonus, the on-site catering within the palace is provided by the Pie Man of Chelsea, which means that you can enjoy a plate of traditional British pie and mash to end your adventure.

The Natural History Museum:

The ice-skating rink at the Natural History Museum is perhaps one of the most famous seasonal ice skating rinks in London. This rink feels wonderfully festive, because it features a 30 foot tall Christmas tree right in its very centre. This is a great place to enjoy a skate if you’re travelling with kids, because they can explore the famous dinosaur exhibits inside the museum either before or after their skate, combining all the educational fun of a trip to a museum with all the physical fun of whizzing around on ice skates.

This rink is sponsored by Hotel Chocolat, so expect decadent hot chocolates and luxury chocolate gifts and snacks in the rink-side café.

The Tower of London:

Another wonderful historical London site has embraced all things festive and winter by adding an ice-skating rink to their forecourt is the Tower of London. The surroundings of the 1,000 year old Tower of London couldn’t be more dramatic: in fact, you may find that you have to stop skating every now and then just to enjoy the views!

This is a relatively small ice skating rink but it is lit in such a dramatic way that the Tower walls around you take centre stage and makes this skating experience feel incredibly important and significant. To really make the most of your visit, explore the Tower of London first then enjoy your skating session at dusk or in the dark. As an added bonus, the Tower of London skating rink features a rink side bar so that you can enjoy a glass of mulled wine or hot chocolate to keep you warm after your adventures. It will be a fun experience that you’ll never forget.