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Walking in the snow couldn’t be simpler – wearing your regular hiking boots, you follow trails that have been specially prepared and which are clearly signed. The snow on the trails is flattened and compacted by machines to facilitate walking; while the waymarks used have been designed in such a fashion as not to be obscured by fresh snowfall.
What do you need to hike in the snow?
One of the joys of hiking in the snow is that there is very little you need to purchase in advance or carry with you. It’s advisable to take a copy of the local trail map when out walking, as well as a small amount of money – most routes offer the chance to stop at a mountain inn for refreshments.
What should I wear for winter walking?
No special equipment is required, but it is important to dress for the conditions:
- Waterproof walking boots
- Waterproof & windproof jacket
- Waterproof trousers (or gaiters), plus walking trousers
- A breathable base layer and additional warmer layer
- Wool or fleece hat
- Thermal gloves
- Good-quality woollen or synthetic socks
The most important piece of equipment in any winter walker’s arsenal is a good pair of waterproof hiking boots. If you wish, you could also take some grippers or shoe chains to attach to these – they can be useful if conditions are icy. Although you’ll be walking on flattened snow, it’s best to wear waterproof trousers over your regular walking trousers, and a waterproof and windproof jacket will be invaluable. As well as making provision for chilly conditions – by packing a warm hat, thermal gloves and good-quality socks – be sure to also take sunglasses and sun-cream.
Where can I go winter walking in Europe?
So extensive are the winter walking possibilities in Alpine nations such as Switzerland, Italy and Austria that you could happily fill a week in many of our destinations by doing little else! The designated trails are well signposted, and the local tourist office can offer advice appropriate to the snow conditions.
Top 5 destinations for winter walking with Inntravel
Hotel Meisser, Guarda
With paths leading direct from the door, the historic Hotel Meisser in beautiful Guarda makes a perfect base for a week of walking in the snow, so much so that we offer several guided winter walking holidays here. Set off on foot from Guarda and enjoy sweeping views over the Engadine Valley as you make your way to one of the pretty neighbouring villages; or use the efficient local transport system to explore farther afield – we particularly recommend a high-level walk which offers superb vistas over the striking Tarasp Castle.
Naturhotel Moosmair, Ahornach
A haven for hikers in the summer months, Italy’s unspoiled Ahrn Valley also has an impressive network of winter walking routes. Set high on the sunny, southern side of the valley, the Naturhotel Moosmair offers easy access to these trails – which range from short strolls along the valley floor to longer hikes through tranquil woodland and deep into the mountains. Whichever path you follow, you can look forward to spectacular views – the valley is framed by multiple 3,000-metre-high peaks – and to sampling delicious local fare at the many mountain inns featured on the routes.
Romantik Hotel Wiesenhof, Pertisau
With a lake, mountains and two picturesque valleys on its doorstep, the Austrian village of Pertisau is a winter walker’s paradise. A good number of trails depart from the village itself – including one path that offers panoramic views over the lake and another relaxing route which winds up to an Alpine nature reserve – while further options can be accessed by regular local bus. Although the region has more winter walking trails that you could possibly attempt in one week, Pertisau is an excellent all-round snow destination with a wide range of other activities to try – such as cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and tobogganing.
Belle Epoque Hotel Victoria, Kandersteg
Over the border in Switzerland, the pretty village of Kandersteg also has an impressively wide appeal. Of all the ways to embrace the snow here, winter walking is perhaps the most popular, thanks to the scope and variety of the region’s prepared paths. We recommend getting up high for the best and most beautiful options: one of our favourite routes begins with a gondola ride into the surrounding mountains, from where a trail leads to the exquisite glacial lake of Oeschinen. More spectacular still is the trail that winds up the Gemmi Pass and offers far-reaching views over the Valaisianne Alps.
Hotel Drei Zinnen, Moso
What makes Moso such a great location for a winter walking holiday – besides the fabulous hospitality of the Hotel Drei Zinnen – is the magnificent backdrop of the Dolomite peaks. Moso is located in the middle of an extensive network of maintained paths, many of which meander alongside the river or explore the area’s tranquil, snow-laden woodland. It’s also possible to take advantage of the mountain transport to head to higher ground and enjoy views of the famous Three Peaks. Wherever you walk, there will always be the option to pause for refreshments – whether just a warming drink or a hearty meal of Tyrolean cuisine.
When we say this is one of our favourite activities, we really mean it – many of the Inntravel team have enjoyed their own winter walking breaks, including Alison García Hall, who said of her experience: “It was a revelation. The trails were marked and the surface, while well compacted, was not at all slippery. Kitted out in my trusty walking boots, favourite fleece, walking trousers and walking poles, I set off. I strolled through snowy mountains with incredible vistas; I nodded, greeted and smiled at the other walkers; and I lunched in mountain huts, soaking up the indescribable atmosphere.”