9 winter wonders around the world
Snow-capped mountains, evergreen forests, and crackling fires beckon us to escape into a world full of postcard-worthy scenery, invigorating activities, and cozy allure. From train trips in Switzerland to hot springs in Iceland, there are plenty of unique ways to embrace the season’s beauty around the globe.
Inspired by Expedia’s first annual Snow Boots Report, the definitive guide to snow sports and après ski around the world, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite winter activities. Read on for interesting ideas to inspire your next cold-weather getaway.
Glacier Hike in Anchorage, Alaska
Spend an unforgettable ice-filled day on an adventurous trek outside Anchorage. With 907 Tours, bundle up for a ride to the 10,000-year-old Matanuska Glacier, the largest roadside glacier in Alaska. Upon arrival, slip on your metal crampons and begin your ascent up the wonder’s sheer blue ice walls. With a guide to help navigate the way, explore the glacier’s crevasses and seracs. Listen to the creaking sounds of the moving behemoth and the water that cascades into its vertical shafts called moulins. After a day of chilly-yet-energizing exploration, refuel with a hearty meal at a nearby lodge.
Snowkiting in Feldberg, Germany
Experience the picturesque scenery of Feldberg, a family-friendly ski resort in southwestern Germany. Book a room at one of the city’s rustic hotels or cute cabins for a long weekend of snow-filled fun. From December to April, the alpine area’s 30 miles (48 km) of terrain offers something for everyone, from skiing to snowboarding to snowshoeing. But for a truly unique experience, try your hand at the popular local sport called snowkiting. Feel the frosty air on your face as you glide up and down the wintry slopes propelled by a wind-blown parachute. After a hard day of play, enjoy the resort’s apres-ski scene with dinner and drinks by the fire.
Helicopter Flight in Mount Cook, New Zealand
Explore the spectacular Ben Ohau mountain range that curves through New Zealand’s Southern Alps. In Mount Cook, board Helicopter Line’s state-of-the-art aircraft for a soaring flight over the rugged peaks that dominate the South Island. From the wide-viewing windows, you can bask in the breathtaking beauty as you lift into the sky and the landscape spreads beneath your feet. Your ride culminates with a landing on a snowy field high in the mountains. Make sure to get plenty of photographs of the peaks, valleys, and glaciers that surround you before climbing back into the helicopter.
Horse-Drawn Carriage Ride in Prague, Czech Republic
Travel back in the time as you venture through Prague’s Old Town on a nostalgic horse-drawn carriage. The pleasant journey begins in Old Town Square, home to grand palaces, imposing churches, and the famous Astronomical Clock. With the wintry air around you, cozy up in the carriage as you ride through medieval streets lined with 14th-century buildings and colorful houses dusted with snow. Drink in the romantic atmosphere and listen to the rhythm of the hooves echoing through the cobblestone streets.
Admission to the Blue Lagoon in Reykjavik, Iceland
While glaciers may be the first thing to come to mind when you think of Iceland, it’s not all chilly in the Nordic country. From the capital of Reykjavik, set off on a drive along the craggy landscape on your way to the Blue Lagoon, a hot spring boasting an otherworldly shade of turquoise. In the brisk breeze, slip into the geothermal waters and feel your tension melt away. Stay as long as you like in the misty outdoor pool, soaking in sights of Iceland’s rugged black-rock landscape. If you choose, treat yourself to another restorative spa treatment like a silica mud mask or in-water massage.
2-Day Yosemite Tour from San Francisco, California
Immerse yourself in the wintry wonderland and crisp mountain air of Yosemite National Park. From San Francisco, join Incredible Adventures for a 2-day excursion that gives you plenty of time to take advantage of all the activities that the park has to offer. On day 1, learn the history of Yosemite as you tour through valleys filled with frozen waterfalls and snow-laced trees, stopping at lookouts for views of rock formations like El Capitan. On your own, you can opt for outdoor activities such as hiking and ice skating, or browsing the visitor center and art gallery. After a night at a local lodge, enjoy another half-day in the park before setting off on the return drive to San Francisco.
Tambara Snowland and Harada Farm from Tokyo, Japan
Dive into some of the best cold weather fun that Japan has to offer from December through March. On this winter-focused tour with Yokoso, board a bus for a ride to the Tambara ski resort roughly 2 hours outside Tokyo. Upon arrival, you’re dropped off at the base of the slopes for some powdery fun at Tambara Snowland. Enjoy an hour of family-friendly activities at the park, including tubing, sledding, and snowman-building. Warm back up with a seafood lunch at a nearby restaurant, and then continue on to Harada Farm. Here, roam the fields harvesting your own dessert, filling up on ripe red strawberries before heading back to Tokyo.
Capilano Suspension Bridge Park in Vancouver, Canada
Take a walk on Vancouver’s wild side with a winter visit to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. This 27-acre (11-ha) site has become famous for its namesake bridge, a 450-foot-long (137-m) suspension bridge hanging over the temperate thicket. Breathe in the wintry forest air as you embark on a vertigo-defying walk over towering pines and the bubbling river. Next, test your mettle on the Cliffwalk, a cantilevered walkway hugging a granite cliff face. Stare down at the canyon beneath your feet as you walk over nothing but a transparent sheet of glass. Cap off your visit with a bird’s-eye view of the forest at Treetops Adventure, a series of 7 suspension bridges nestled among trees at heights up to 110 feet (34 m).
Jungfraujoch Train Ride in Zurich, Switzerland
Embark on an extraordinary alpine adventure that takes you to the top of Europe to Jungfraujoch, the highest railway station on the continent. From Zurich, a Gray Line coach brings you to Lauterbrunnen, where you board a cogwheel train for a ride through the snow-capped peaks of the Bernese Alps. Finally reaching Jungfraujoch is an experience unlike any other. At the observation deck, you’re met with icy air, untouched snow, and views that stretch all the way across Switzerland to Italy and France. Once you’ve taken in the pristine expanse, you’re free to take advantage of the station’s other attractions, including the surreal Ice Palace and the mouthwatering Lindt Swiss Chocolate Heaven.
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