In many parts of the world north of the equator, winter weather is finally here. In those areas in particular, winter weather generally means it’s time to hunker down. But it can also be a great time to leave town and go on an epic adventure, whether you live in a cold region or not.
From the unique events that only take place in wintertime to the epic outdoor activities that are made better by the cold temperatures, we highly suggest that you step away from the classic beach vacation this year, and opt for a winter adventure instead. Here are a few of our favorite activities:
From December 30th until January 1st, Dublin is the place to be these days, as it hosts its New Year’s Festival for tourists and locals alike. During the three-day festival, the city comes alive with art, music, and cultural celebrations that bring people together from all over the world to kick off the New Year in a particularly exciting fashion. These celebrations include 3-D light projections and massive outdoor concerts – and they’re all free. If you’re thinking about planning a trip to Ireland this winter, we highly recommend you build this festival into your itinerary.
Say what you want about winter weather – most of us can agree that, even if it’s not our favorite, the ice and snow are incredibly beautiful. And nowhere is that truer than in the icy region of Baikal, Russia, where travelers can enjoy some of the most unique and beautiful winter activities in the world. These include exploring spectacular caves made entirely of ice, rafting in the breathtaking mountains, and even ice hiking for the particularly adventurous at heart. One of the most unique excursions we’ve heard about is a five-day trek across Lake Baikal, in which you’ll hike, eat and sleep atop the lake’s black ice surface. We promise the cold will be well worth it for this trip.
When it comes to Christmas shopping, Germany really takes it to the next level with their annual Christmas markets. Held all over the country, these markets take place from late November through Christmas, and they are truly amazing, whether or not you’re celebrating the holiday. Though the scale of each market varies based on the city it’s held in – Berlin’s is relatively grand in scale and Rothenburg’s is quainter, for example – they all include many of the same traditional elements. These include delicious food like gingerbread, bratwurst and potato pancakes, as well as cider and Glühwein, which is mulled red wine, and booths where German artisans and crafters sell their wares. While these markets might be a little less adventurous than camping on frozen lakes, they are definitely epic and not to be missed.
For some, the beginning of winter means one thing and one thing only…that it’s time for skiing (or snowboarding) season to commence. And there is perhaps nowhere more epic for this group of people than the Alps, one of the greatest mountain ranges in Europe. Stretching from Austria to the East to France in the West, they are known for their unbeatable terrain – more varied and natural than most skiing in the United States. While skiing the Alps would be an epic experience no matter which country you choose as your destination, we’ve heard that the slopes in Switzerland, Austria and France are particularly stunning. If you’re into skiing, this is an adventure for your winter bucket list.
Among other things, Iceland is known for its breathtaking hot springs, which are perfect places to visit the cold winter months. Because Iceland is located on a “hot spot” on the earth’s surface, there is a great deal of geothermal activity throughout the country. Its many hot springs are a result of a combination of this geothermal activity and the ice and glaciers that cover the country’s surface. While some of the springs are boiling hot, others are the perfect temperature for swimming. Perhaps their most famous option is the Blue Lagoon, which is located on the Reykjanes peninsula, close to Reykjavík. The Blue Lagoon is more than just a classic natural hot spring – it’s a “Geothermal Spa” where many go to receive relaxing treatments in addition to bathing in the spring. If you’re looking for something more low-key, a simple search will show you that equally beautiful but less well known hot springs are open to the public all over the country. If you’re looking to warm up this winter, try hot springs instead of the beach this year!
As you can imagine, these are just a few of the many unique and epic travel destinations that are perfect for the winter months. Have you been to others? Share them with us on Facebook, Twitter, or tag us on Instagram (@insureyonder).