Most people try to escape winter and go on holidays somewhere warm, in the sun and preferably on a beach and in a resort.
Seeing that we are finally living in a region where there are distinct four seasons and have proper winters, I am going to take the opportunity to actually enjoy winter!
Of course, there are plenty of ‘winter’ activities in Europe – snow sports on the Apls mostly, but we are also not really the type to travel somewhere just for one activity (that you can pretty much do in most places with snow)….
So, what’s been on the winter travels list?
German Christmas Markets
Long term readers will know my fascination with Germany since having studied there in 2003. So, since we moved to the UK last year we have gone to Germany regularly on short breaks, including in winter to enjoy the Christmas Markets.
Why do I love the Christmas Markets? Firstly, the atmosphere is just absolutely wonderful. It is the image of what Christmas should be like having grown up in a Christian majority country, all wood fires and carol singing, and being cold.
Yes, being cold to celebrate Christmas is so much better than celebrating in the heat! Santa can actually come in his proper thick coat.
Secondly, there is nothing better than browsing through the market with a hot cup of Glüwein (Mulled Wine) in hand, and snacking on the various German street snacks along the way (wurst, potato cakes and fire smoked salmon etc).
Moscow / St Petersburg – Russia
I’ve had the opportunity to visit Moscow repeatedly for work last winter, as well as having travelled to Russia during summer, and I’ve very much enjoyed my visits, especially during winter, when Moscow pretty much sparkled!
While most people would avoid this region in winter but I really think visiting Moscow and St Petersburg in winter have a certain charm, and will make you see things with a different light.
Many assume that the cold make people stay indoors and nothing ever happens, but when we were in Moscow in winter, we were surprised how many people stay out to enjoy the festivities, the street lights, the ice sculptures along the pedestrian paths and simply just being out and about all the way through to mid-night!
Sure, you may not be able to visit the more rural sides to Russia (although, the idea of spending a few days in the -50C Siberia intrigues me) but do consider a winter visit to the two major cities.
Christmas tradition is also quite different in Russia, so it’s always fascinating to learn how other people celebrates this Christian festival.
What can sound more winter-y than Iceland. It’s ‘Ice’Land! The ultimate winter travel.
We spent Christmas in Iceland, and it was fantastic.
London doesn’t get much snow, we had one day of proper snow last year, so to have a proper ‘white Christmas’ you’d have to go somewhere cold, really cold. So, Iceland was a bit of a dream.
We experienced extremely short days – day light existed between 11:30am and 3:30pm (yes, it’s a novelty for us), snow, and being cold. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see aurora borealis (the northern lights), but we did get to see some amazing Icelandic scenery, including waterfalls, volcanoes and glaciers!
Ok this is on my bucket list, and eventually I will get to it.
It’s not even about the dog sledding, the endless darkness, the snow white forest and the northern lights (because I’ll get to see that in Iceland) – It’s what makes the ultimate Christmas – Santa – apparently the Finns believe this is where Santa actually live.
According to Finnish Tourism Santa lives in a town called Joulukka in Lapland! Not to mention – this region of Europe is guaranteed snow during December, something that you’ll notice, is a bit of a theme to my winter travel list.
Joulukka is all about Christmas – I mean they have a program called ‘Christmas sauna under the Auroras‘…. that just sounds bliss doesn’t it?
And with all that whiteness in winter, I could even pretend, that I am visiting the kingdom of ‘Frozen’! Ha!
Do you also love winter travel? Where do you go for winter? Do you escape it, or are you like me and try to embrace it instead?