Winter has certainly come to Europe recently with the heaviest snow and lowest temperatures for many a year. In honour of the white stuff, here are a few suggestions for places to find a real winter wonderland – although this year many of us won’t have had to travel quite so far!!
Bohinj: Set in the heart of Triglav National Park, Slovenia’s Lake Bohinj offers a wintertime oasis if you are looking for somewhere away from the loud music and commercial outlook of other European ski resorts. Boutique hotels, tiny chalets, independent shops and galleries and a pretty old town combine with stunning lake views and a superb ski area for intermediates.
The French Alps: there’s a huge variety of ways to enjoy the pristine winter glory of the Alps beyond just skiing or snowboarding… snowshoe through the winter wilderness, explore frozen waterfalls with an ice axe and crampons, discover the underwater world of a frozen lake, hurtle down a huge zip wire, spend a romantic night in an igloo, or do a bit of mountaineering. Responsibletravel.com offer an 8 day trip to the Ecrins National Park, a protected area for wildlife and avoid promoting any motorized sports in favour of those with a minimum impact on the environment.
Lapland: The snow is deep throughout winter in Europe’s northernmost parts where you can experience the daily life of the Saami of today, such as reindeer husbandry and ice fishing. Try your hand at mushing your own team of huskies, of relax on a reindeer sleigh ride in Swedish or Finnish Lapland.
Sapporo: The Sapporo Snow Festival is one of Japan’s largest winter events, when people flock to Sapporo to see the hundreds of beautiful snow statues and sparkling ice sculptures which line Odori Park. For seven days in February, these statues and sculptures turn Sapporo into a winter dreamland of crystal-like ice and white snow. This year the festival takes place from 5th to 11th February and of course, Japan offers some first class skiing and snowboarding too.
Lake Baikal: Enjoy a magical winter train journey on board the Trans-Siberian to Russia’s beautiful Lake Baikal. The frozen lake with snow-capped peaks along the far shore forms a picture-perfect backdrop and the perfect location to experience a dog-sled ride, under-ice fishing or cross country skiing.