If we had to choose just one word to describe our winter holiday to the Bavarian Alps, it would be ‘idyllic’. Firstly, there’s the hotel: a 4-star superior spa retreat with excellent dining and a privileged location in the midst of the Berchtesgaden National Park. And then there are the activities: gentle strolls through breathtaking mountain scenery; rides in chair lifts to panoramic viewpoints; boat trips across serene lakes – including exquisite Königssee; and horse-drawn sleigh rides through the forest. And not a pair of skis in sight!
There are few destinations that can match Ylläs in Lapland for the beauty of its landscapes or the sheer number of Arctic experiences on offer. Enjoy the thrill of dog-sledding as you whizz through a snow-clad forest with only the eager panting of the dogs to break the silence; soak in the utter stillness and tranquillity on a snowshoe hike; learn about the local way of life from a reindeer herder; take to the trails by snowmobile; or try out snow-cycling on a fatbike. To top it all, you may also get to experience one of nature’s great miracles, the unforgettable Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights).
Gathered around the River Kander, and surrounded by high mountains, the Swiss village of Kandersteg enjoys a postcard-worthy location. Perhaps the most rewarding way to explore the dramatic scenery is on foot: there is a good number of winter walking trails in the area, with the mountain transport making it easy to get up high and enjoy scenic hikes above Lake Oeschinen and along the Gemmi Pass. The many other winter activities on offer include snowshoeing, tobogganing, ice-skating and curling, or, for something a little different, you can take the train to visit the country’s medieval capital, Bern.
If you like the idea of a holiday in the snow, but are more interested in spending time in a beautiful location than in trying a host of different activities, then Fuschl is for you. Set in the heart of Austria’s Lake District, this tranquil village is the perfect place to escape the everyday and appreciate the quiet beauty of winter. Our chosen hotel offers plenty of spaces to unwind – including a panoramic indoor pool and a lakeside terrace – and the excellent local bus network makes it easy to visit the pretty villages nearby or to enjoy a day trip to imperial Bad Ischl or vibrant Salzburg.
Unusually for Norway, our holiday to Hindsæter is about much more than cross-country skiing. Instead, it offers a unique winter experience, combining the opportunity to learn how to ski (this is Norway, after all!) with a carefully chosen selection of different Nordic activities, including snowshoeing, torchlit sledge races and ice-canyoning. The latter is a highlight for many, and is much less intrepid than it sounds: you are taken on a guided walk through the canyon of the Sjoa river, on a route which leads behind frozen waterfalls, past impressively large icicles and into spectacular ice ‘caves’.