Just because you don’t feel like diving down a mountainside with a couple of boards attached to your feet doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a snowy getaway. Here’s our guide to non-skiing activities in cold climates.
Take a spin on ice driving
The ice driving circuit in Val Thorens is the highest in Europe, with an impressive and challenging track half a mile long.
High octane fun – drive a rally buggy on the Val Thorens ice rink in the Alps – the course is the highest in Europe
If you don’t feel like taking the wheel, a professional ice driver will take you on a high-speed lap or two, although we recommend signing up for a lesson, during which an instructor will show you the basics. Then take control of a rally buggy or a car equipped with studded tires.
Do not miss: Test drive the BMW 3 Series ice driving cars with their high-tech electronic stability controls.
Details: From £ 86 pp (icedrivingvalthorens.com).
Riding a ‘snow tank’
How about something different from the usual horse-drawn carriages and husky sleds? Head to northern Finland and explore the landscape in a cozy enclosed sled towed by a snow tank, a machine generally used to remove snow from roads.
A guide will give you information about Northeast Finland. Regain energy levels with cups of warm cranberry juice.
Do not miss: The Northern Lights – Northern Finland is one of the best places to see them.
Details: From £ 122 pp (kakslauttanen.fi).
Sleds at 80 mph
Do you need speed? Fly through the St Moritz-Celerina Olympia race, which has had a starring role in two Olympics, in a professional-led four-person sled. Deep in the Swiss Alps, it takes 75 seconds for the bob to accelerate down the 1.1-mile track, which opened in 1904.
Do not miss: A walk around the beautiful frozen lake of St Moritz.
Details: From £ 210 pp (olympia-bobrun.ch).
Go ice fishing
Melchsee-Frutt, in the photo, in Switzerland is a popular place for ice fishing. It is surrounded by ‘beautiful snowy peaks’
Melchsee-Frutt is a beautiful Swiss ski resort easily accessible from Lucerne. It is also a popular spot for fans of ice fishing, who come here to dispute trout and trout from Melchsee, an ice-covered mountain lake.
Sign up for an ice fishing lesson and your guide will drill through about 7 feet of ice before handing you a fishing line. So it’s a waiting game, surrounded by beautiful snowy peaks.
Do not miss: Warming up in the Jacuzzis and steam rooms at the Hotel Frutt Lodge & Spa.
Details: From £ 44 pp (melchsee-frutt.ch).
Snowshoeing in Slovenia
If you’ve been going to the same ski resort for years but feel like a change, consider Slovenia’s Bohinj Valley in the Julian Alps. A great way to explore this region is on a snowshoe hike around Lake Bohinj, the largest lake in Slovenia. Guides lead four-hour hikes on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
Do not miss: Alpine choughs – beautiful birds with shiny black plumage.
Details: From £ 33 pp (bohinj.si).
Give curling a twist
Curling is like bowls but more exciting. For starters, it’s on ice, although grippy shoes minimize the chance of hip dislocations. Sessions twice a week at the French ski resort of Les Contamines-Montjoie are free. And you will learn from the masters: the club plays in 20 major tournaments a year.
Do not miss: The beautiful Alpine village of Les Contamines, with old wooden farms in typical Savoyard style.
Details: Lessons (lescontamines.com).
The picture above shows the Liechtenstein valley, where you can go on a two-day llama hike, with one night in a cozy mountain hut.
Who doesn’t love a llama? They are softer than reindeer (although it is true that they are more likely to spit), less frivolous and Santa does not have them on speed dial. This explains why there is no shortage available to guide you on a two-day winter hike through Liechtenstein.
Start in pretty Triesenberg, with its backdrop of jagged peaks and snow-covered forests, and spend the night in a cozy mountain cabin.
Do not miss: Tasting the delicious cheese of an alpine dairy.
Details: From £ 255 pp (lama-alpaka.li).
Camp in Sami Norway
Get back to basics with an overnight stay at a Sami lavvu, a traditional tent used by indigenous Sami people. Before going to bed for the night, a Sami guide will take you on a reindeer sled tour and to a place to see the Northern Lights dance.
After dinner, you will crawl into an insulated sleeping bag on a reindeer skin.
Do not miss: The Sami storytelling session before bed.
Details: From £ 237 pp (tromsolapland.no).
Join the pack
Skating across ice-covered lakes, dodging branches, winding through forests and gazing at snowy landscapes – there’s nothing like dog sledding in Lapland. This is the best way to get to know the largest and most northern region of Finland.
Dogs are bred for this environment and will be eager to go once the command is given. This break is three or four days, including flights and full board accommodation.
Do not miss: Learning about the history of the husky: They played a crucial role in WWI.
Details: From £ 839 pp (transun.co.uk)
By Tamara Hinson