Winter activities make everyone’s holiday more memorable, from the powder hounds to the sworn non-skiers. Here are our favourites – and you can try them in loads of resorts.
Is there a better way to travel than in a sled pulled by adorable huskies? Dog sledding is a bucket list activity that dates back centuries and can be found in ski resorts all over the world, from Finland to Andorra. Visit a husky farm to meet these incredible canine athletes, before heading off with a team of your own. Take turns cosied up in the sled or riding on the back, learning how to guide the dogs. You’ll fall in love as you fly through snow-covered trees and untouched landscapes.
Slow things down by grabbing a pair of snowshoes to help you explore the scenery on foot. They’re easy to hire in most resorts and you won’t need any training – just strap them on over your normal walking boots, grab some poles and off you go. You can walk at your own pace, off the beaten track, and just enjoy the views. Not sure where to start? Join a guided tour to find the best trails. And in some resorts, like Méribel in France, you can stop halfway for a meal in a mountain hut.
Swap your downhill skis for a cross-country pair to skim across the landscape in a whole new way. And while it might look tame compared to the slopes, it’s a full-body workout that will challenge even confident skiers. The scenery is beautiful, you can go as fast or slow as you like, and there are no lift queues to worry about – bonus. Norway is the birthplace of cross-country, but you can also find trails in loads of other resorts. World champions often head to Seefeld in Austria to train on their immaculate 245km network.
Swimming pools & spas
What better way to unwind than a dip in the pool or a trip to the spa? Wellness has long been part of mountain culture and now you’d be hard-pressed to find a ski resort that doesn’t have at least a swimming pool or sauna. Some places go all-out with leisure centres for the whole family – like the Aquamotion in Courchevel, the biggest mountain water park in Europe. Or if you’re looking for an adults-only option, the Scandinave Spa in Whistler and Tremblant has hot pools, cold baths, saunas and steam rooms, tucked away in the woods. Ah, bliss.
Snowmobiling will definitely get your heart racing. Invented in the early 1900s, this high-speed sport lets you take control to zoom across ski slopes, over frozen lakes and through forests. Trips vary from taster sessions to full-day excursions. In Finland, you can even ride out to hunt for the Northern Lights. Just remember to check for age limits, and whether you need a driving license to take part.
Sure, you can ice skate in the UK – but no rink here can compare with one surrounded by snowy mountains. Pretty much all ski resorts have one somewhere, and they’re generally good value and stay open late – just the thing for a fun evening after the lifts close. Our favourite rinks are the natural ones. Resorts like Lake Louise and Kranjska Gora have lakes that freeze over in winter, so you can skate right on the surface.
Get planning and see beyond the slopes on your next winter holiday.