Are you searching for the magic of winter? Some place covered in a fresh dusting of snow with ski slopes, husky dog sleds and perhaps even a chance to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights? Here are five winter wonderland destinations that are almost guaranteed to be coated in snow during the winter months.
Image: Paul McDermott
If you want to combine your winter wonderland trip with a city break, Oslo is a perfect choice. There’s plenty of cultural hotspots, independent shops and exciting eateries in the city itself, but if you head up the hill that nestles behind the city you will find yourself transported to snow-covered landscapes. Nordmarka forest is a vast wilderness area that surrounds Oslo, boasting miles of ski and walking trails through the snow-covered trees that are illuminated by night. There’s also downhill skiing at the Winter Park, the chance to watch ski jumpers at Holmenkollen and an exhilarating downhill toboggan run that starts from the last stop on the train line.
Kakslauttanen, Finnish Lapland
Image: Greenland Travel
Anyone who dreams of watching the Northern Lights from the comfort of their own bed should splash out on an once-in-a-lifetime trip to this spectacular Arctic resort. Guests can choose to stay in glass igloos in the woods or in log cabins with their own glass pods, both offering incredibly opportunities to watch the skies come to life. During the day, spend your time snow-shoeing in the wilderness or opt for a trip on a husky sled, a snow mobile or perhaps a reindeer safari. If you’re a ski junkie, choose from cross-country routes or downhill runs, or try out snowboarding as an alternative.
Image: Norm Copeland
Head to Quebec during their annual Winter Carnival for an action-packed programme that includes everything from cultural to sporting events. Held in Quebec City, as well as many events taking place in the vast wilderness surrounding the city itself, the carnival offers the opportunity to partake in activities including husky dog sleds, ice canoe racing, snow shoeing and visiting ice caverns. There are also public banquets, masked balls, art installations and concerts to enjoy during your stay.
Image: Brian Beggerly
Nagano is perhaps best known for hosting the 1998 Winter Olympic Games, cementing it as one of the best areas for winter sports in the entire world. There are many resorts in the area, of which Hakuba Valley and Nozawa Onsen are the most popular, offering spectacular mountains to ski and snowboard down. Alongside exhilarating winter sports, the main draw of the region is to pay a visit to the snow monkeys that soak in the outdoor hot springs in Yamanouchi or to relax and soak yourself in a traditional Japanese onsen. There are also many interesting temples and shrines to visit in the area, to add a little culture to your winter escape.
Ax-les-Thermes, French Pyrenees
Avoid the much busier Alps and head to the Pyrenees for a spectacular winter getaway without the crowds. The ancient thermal village of Ax-les-Thermes boasts an impressive ski resort in the mountains above the town with dramatic downhill runs snaking through the pine forest. When you need a break from skiing, sooth your tired limbs in the impressive Bains du Couloubret spa with its healing thermal waters. There’s also dog sledding and snowshoe walking opportunities nearby.
Banner Image: Marco Barzasi
Emma Lavelle is a UK based writer and photographer and has her own blog Field and Nest.