Top Winter vacation destinations

The wonderful thing about winter vacation destinations that are not all about downhill skiing is that you immediately tie in with local traditions and culture. Getting back to nature in winter is what people in Norway, Sweden and Finland, for example, have been doing for generations. Enjoying winter is not about adrenaline kicks for most people, it’s about seeking wellness in a winter wilderness. Breathing in the beauty of stillness. Seeing wildlife in their winter habitats. And shedding our digital distractions for snowy paradises and ancient cultural traditions, from the Cairngorms to the Carpathians, Finland to the French Alps, Lapland to Iceland.

1. Austria

Ideal for those who like their winter vacations relaxed but active, the East Tirol region offers snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and stunning views of the Grossglockner, Austria’s highest mountain. Start your day with a bout of yoga looking out across Austrian Alps, then head out for a guided jaunt, returning to share a healthy, hearty and plant-based meal with your friendly group.

2. Canada

Sled dogging has a long history, from fur trappers to Gold Rushers, polar expeditions to wartime ambulances in remote locations. And while many people try ‘mushing’ a pack of dogs on their winter vacations, in Canada’s Yukon you can embark on much longer trips, even up to two weeks. These are vacations for true adventurers and, need we say it, dog lovers.

3. Dolomites

Small group snowshoeing and cross-country skiing vacations explore sections of the Dolomites mountain range that regular hikers cannot reach. And what landscapes. The Dolomites are reckoned by many to be the most dramatically beautiful mountain range in the world, their rugged peaks taking on lovely pinkish shades at sunset, with the Tre Cime di Lavaredo the crowning glory.
French Alps

4. French Alps

The French Alps, of course, are one of the world’s great downhill skiing destinations, but don’t think that’s all there is to do in winter. Ecrins National Park is an idyllic spot for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, high mountain guides escorting you to pristine and remote areas. Adventurous types can also throw some ice climbing, and alpine wolf tracking, into the mix.
Finnish Lapland

5. Finnish Lapland

Finnish Lapland is the quintessential destination for winter activity vacations, especially for families. Skip the commercialised Santa stuff around Rovaniemi, and instead head into the wilderness around remote locations such as Inari or Pallas-Yllas National Park. Dog sledding, ice fishing, snowshoeing, and authentic cultural encounters with the indigenous Sami people are all on the menu.

6. Romania

Find solitude, and pristine winter landscapes, in an undeveloped corner of Romania where you can enjoy the hospitality of a local family in the shadow of the Carpathian Mountains. Treats here include horse and cart rides through fairytale forests, Gothic castles, visiting a bear sanctuary, snowshoeing and warming up with a nip of plum brandy by the fire.

7. Scotland

Expert guides lead you up into the Cairngorms National Park where you’ll trek with crampons and ice axes, perhaps even spending a night in a snow hole that you’ve dug yourselves. Winter wildlife abounds too, and you can swap stories of sightings around the dinner table, or over drinks in the pub, with the rest of your group every evening.
Swedish Lapland

8. Swedish Lapland

Not quite so developed for tourism as Finnish Lapland, but its equal in landscapes and activities, Swedish Lapland boasts the beautiful Luleå archipelago, where you can stay in a wilderness camp and watch the skies for the Northern Lights. And for an even greater sense of wilderness, take the Arctic train from Kiruna in the far north to explore Abisko National Park.
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Winter or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.
Written by Catherine Mack
Photo credits: [Page banner: Dino Reichmuth] [Austria: Robert J Heath] [Canada: The TerraMar Project] [Dolomites: Angelo Perrone] [French Alps: Nuno Alves] [Finnish Lapland: Craig Matthews] [Romania: Stefan Wisselink] [Scotland: Laurence Kennedy] [Swedish Lapland: Dylan Shaw]