Winter is coming –and with it with it, the promise of crisp snow, rooftops blanketed in white powder and a jolly good time frolicking on snowy mountain slopes. If you’re a snow over sunshine person, it’s time to grab your winter gear and make your way to any of these 5 enchanting snow filled destinations where the majesty of winter in all its splendour will take your breath away!
Jukkasjarvi, Swedish Lapland, Sweden
Sleeping on an ice bed? Tick that off your bucket list when you check into the iconic Ice Hotel at Jukkasjarvi, a glittering confection of ice constructed entirely from the frozen waters of the Torne River. The hotel, situated 200km from the Arctic Circle houses 65 rooms, an ice bar (obviously) and an ice church where you can get hitched, Frozen style. When not basking in the frozen beauty of your room, you’ll want to check out the exciting activities organized by the hotel –ice sculpting, snowmobile tours and a three-course wilderness dinner in a rustic cabin. Other ice hotels have since popped up around the world but nothing beats a night in the original that started it all. Be sure to book your room in advance though as the ICEHOTEL is not the type of place you can randomly turn up at and expect a room.
Highlights: Northern Lights tours, ice sculpting, ice fishing, husky sleighing, reindeer safari
Across the border, the Norwegian town of Tromso has all the clutchings of a postcard perfect winter wonderland. Surrounded by mountains, fjords and islands, the capital of the Arctic is steadfastly captivating even in its greyest of days. This is the place to camp out at if you’re looking for more than a glimpse of the Northern Lights and when it comes to nature of the living kind, the Polar Park offers you the chance to get up close and personal with Arctic foxes, wolves and other animals native to the region. Top off the Tromso experience with a bona fide husky safari tour of the region and you’ll know why the city is called the Paris of the North.
Highlights: Northern Lights, Polar Museum, Polar Park, Northern Lights, Husky Safari
The city of Mozart is a popular draw during the Christmas season, so if you’re not a fan of crowds or peak season fares, January is the perfect time to visit Salzburg without missing the magical, wintry atmosphere. The city offers plenty of activities and cultural pursuits to immerse yourself in, from Mozart Week (Jan 22-31) to Hot Air Balloon Week (Jan 10-24). Those seeking adrenaline inducing adventures will find plenty of thrills and spills in the stunning snow covered Alpine peaks.
Highlights: Salzburger Adventsingen, Mozart Week, Hot Air Balloon Week
St Moritz, Switzerland
It’s hard to beat Switzerland when it comes to Alpine sports and Apres Ski activities, but our nominated Swiss winter wonderland has got to be St Moritz. The birthplace of Alpine winter tourism (way back in 1864) is not short of posh hotels, fine dining eateries and international events that attract the jet set crowd. Towards the end of January, (29-31) the town plays host to the Polo World Cup on Snow, where four teams battle it out for the Cartier Trophy. Another can’t-miss St. Moritz escapade is the thrilling bobsled ride (the world’s only natural and oldest operating bobsled run) which sends you plummeting 1722-metres, an experience no different to that of an Olympic bobsledder!
Highlights: St. Moritz-Celerina Bobsleigh Run, St. Moritz Design Gallery, Polo World Cup on Snow, Heidi Hutte
Moscow is great to visit all year round but the city definitely comes alive in January, not least because Russians celebrate Christmas on the 7th. Snowfall is so plentiful during this period that snowman parades are a common occurrence (look out for the one on Arbat Street). Elsewhere, ice sculptors are getting their game on sculpting masterpieces for the Winter Festival, but if you truly want to immerse yourself in the winter festivities, take the plunge (literally) and go ice swimming in the freezing waters of Moskva River. If you survive your icy baptism, congratulations! You’re now a morzh, aka walrus (a term for ice swimmers in Russia). Now treat yourself to some well-earned blinis at Mari Vanna.
Highlights: Ice swimming, snowman parade, Winter Festival