Winter activity vacations


Northern Lights

Green is the most common colour of the Northern Lights, one of the most popular responsible tourism vacations right now. There are ways in which you can make Northern Lights vacations even greener: staying in small, rural communities; traveling the low carbon way while you are there, such as cross country skiing or snowshoeing; and taking part in indigenous activ ities en rout e – including reindeer sledding, husky mushing or visiting Sámi villages. Several c ountries which lie between the Northern Lights zone of latitudes of 65 to 72 degrees are now competin g for light lovers during the season from late November to March, as the Aurora Borealis goes viral. Norway, Swedish and Finnish Lapland, Iceland and Alaska are top places to see the light. See our Northern Lights travel guide.

Husky sledding

Once you get on board a sled being pulled by huskies, you will feel t hat you could go anywhere. And indeed, there are a growing number of places hosting dog sledding and husky safari vacations, where you can get that buzz of slicing through cold, fresh air, with o nly the sound of sled runners on snow, and the pant of eager huskies leaping through the wilderness. Precious packs await in equally precious landscapes, such as Swedish and Finnish Lapland or the Arctic arcadia o f Norway. For longer mushing expeditions, the Yukon Province in Canada and Alaska in the USA host races and challenges across their vast white wildernesses. Such as the 1,800km Iditarod Trai l Sled Dog Race from Anchorage to Nome. No matter where you go, however, mushing is mega. See our husky safari travel guide.

Cross country skiing

If you have always resisted snow vacations because, for whatever reason, downhill depresses you, cross country skiing vacations are bound to tickle your frozen fancy. Because cross country skiing is all about freedom. Using a different ski with a free-moving heel, you ski in wild places that are free of crowds, congestion and competitive chalet chic brigades. It is tough work, using both arms and legs to propel yourself through blanketed meadows, but also over hills and sometimes, with ski touring, a more advanced form of back country skiing, uphill. But it is worth it. And it is easier to learn as a skill, without having to undergo the humiliation of resort ‘baby slopes’. The French Pyrenees, Dolomites and Austrian Alps have superb trail networks, and of course the Nordic countries gave birth to the sport’s other name, Nordic skiing. As they did the sauna, a compulsory addition to any cross country skiing vacation. Except in Chile, where you can ski up volcanoes, and catch a geothermal hot spa when you come back down again. See our cross country skiing travel guide.


Snowshoeing vacations are all about plodding through powder rather than posing on pistes. They are about letting landscape lead the way and embracing wilderness in winter. No longer the tennis racket-style gadgets that you stuck on your boots in the past, snowshoes are now made from lightweight aluminium with crampons for extra grip. Attach them to waterproof walking boots, grab some poles for extra leverage and follow your mountain guide into the likes of the Dolomites, the Ecrins or Mercantour National Parks in France, the Carpathians of Romania, or Finland’s upper northern wilderness. Snowshoeing is the perfect way to ensure that your boots are made for walking all year round. See our snowshoeing travel guide.

Winter walking

You can still get your fix of the mountains in winter, even if you don’t want to cross country ski or snowshoe by seeking out a winter walking vacation. Snow or no snow. For no snow, hit those milder winter walking paradises, such as the mountains around Andalucia or Alicante, which are devoid of other hikers at this time of year. And, rather surprisingly, hiking vacations in some of USA’s desert national parks in December or January are also a great winter treat. Beauties like Zion, Bryce and the Grand Canyon national parks are empty, still exquisite, and catching the canyons all dusted with snow is a very special experience. Or, if it is snow you are after but not skis, head to Scotland where you can learn to use crampons and ice picks to take on the crispy white Cairngorms National Park. Now that’s a way to do Hogmanay. Especially with a hipflask of your finest malt whisky. See our winter walking vacations.

Winter wildlife watching

When there are so few humans about to invade habitats, many animals come out to play. And there is nothing quite so arresting as seeing a deer against the snow covered Cairngorms, or a chamois leaping over white Alpine wonders. Wolf and lynx tracking is easier in the snow in the likes of Slovakia’s Carpathians, or even Yellowstone National Park in winter. And for the wildlife watcher who has everything, there are winter wildlife watching vacations out there that will take you to places you have only ever dreamed of. Such as to see polar bears in the wild in Churchill, Canada. Or the elusive snow leopard in Ladakh. Now that is wild. See our winter wildlife vacations.
Photo credits: [Winter walking - single: Moritz Dittmar] [Winter wildlife watching - single: Yellowstone National Park]
Written by Catherine Mack
Finland Northern Lights vacation, Wilderness Auroras

Finland Northern Lights vacation, Wilderness Auroras

Winter activities & Aurora hunting in the Finnish wilderness

From £1395 5 Days inc UK flights
Husky safari in Finland

Husky safari in Finland

Sled with huskies through spectacular Finnish scenery

From £2155 8 Days inc UK flights
Cross country skiing vacation in the Dolomites, Italy

Cross country skiing vacation in the Dolomites, Italy

A famously beautiful range of jagged peaks

From US $1679 8 Days ex flights
Northern lights short break, Finland

Northern lights short break, Finland

Leisurely stay in Finnish Lapland & an Aurora alert system

From £1225 5 Days inc UK flights
Transylvania winter vacation accommodation

Transylvania winter vacation accommodation

B&B in Transylvania

From 49 per person per night
Lapland vacation, husky safari & log cottage

Lapland vacation, husky safari & log cottage

Luxurious log suite,northern lights & overnight husky safari

From 1923 5 Days ex flights
Photo credits: [Page banner: Dino Reichmuth]
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