Colder temperatures invite a variety of unique ways to interact with nature. Dog sleighs and snowshoes facilitate movement across snowy plains for everyday icy life whilst ice motocross and figure skating provide a burst of adrenaline. Whether you are looking for a vacation spot where the sun shimmers off of a glittering frozen cliff or for an athletic alternative to the conventional ski slopes, there are some truly incredible winter destinations waiting to be discovered.
Taken from Below Zero, a coffee table book celebrating the search for cabins instead of offices and parkas instead of suit jackets, these are finest holiday spots that encourage adventure when the mercury drops.
Vatnajökull glacier is the largest glacier in Europe, covering 8% of Iceland’s landmass. It is the central feature of the Vatnajökull National park, found in the south west of Iceland, and a popular spot for activities including glacier hiking from Skaftafell, boat tours in the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, and ice caving tours between November and March.
Lofoten Islands, Norway
The Lofoten Islands are draped across the turbulent waters of the Norwegian Sea, far above the Arctic Circle. This rare wilderness outpost offers an untrammelled landscape of majestic mountains, deep fjords, squawking seabird colonies and long, surf-swept beaches.
If you are seeking unforgettable nature experiences, Lofoten will definitely not let you down. Due to the area’s diverse landscape, you can go hiking, skiing, fishing, ocean rafting or scuba diving. Lofoten is also one of the world’s northernmost sites for surfing and one of the best spots in Norway.
Baffin Island, Canada
Images of Baffin Island are guaranteed to send shivers down your spine. The fifth largest island in the world, just off the coast of Canada, Baffin is vast, deserted and a frozen paradise just waiting to be explored. A tempting tundra for any would-be adventurer.
Grab some skis and set out to follow the Inuksuk — Inuit stone markers that dot the landscape. You can ski amid the peaks of Auyuittuq National Park where Mount Thor’s sheer face is the world’s highest vertical cliff at 1250 metres. Or, join Polar Sea Adventures for a skiing expedition through Sirmilik National Park, the “Yosemite of the North,” spotting snowy owls, narwhal, and polar bears along the way.
The Rhön is one of Germany’s top hiking destinations, with over 6,000km of well-signposted trails including 25 certified circular trails as well as an 180km premium route. Cyclists will discover a wealth of biking trails that weave through the region’s lush mountains and valleys. The lakes and rivers here offer plentiful opportunities for canoeing and swimming; back on land, you can take your pick from golfing, climbing, horse riding and even llama trekking.
During the warmer months, head up to the region’s highest mountain, the Wasserkuppe, to take to the skies on a para- or hang glide or hurtle back down the slopes on a 700m summer toboggan run. Come winter, go to the same spot to indulge in winter sports such as snowkiting and downhill or cross-country skiing.
South Korean Coast
Or, if that trip doesn’t get your teeth chattering quite enough, then maybe cold water surfing off the coast of South Korea will do the trick? The host of the 2018 Winter Olympics is no stranger to cold weather sports — but heading out to catch some waves while snow falls around you is extreme even for the bravest of us. Alternatively, visit Seoul, where the first-class slopes you’ll find just outside the city are among the best in the world. Snowboard or ski down snow-packed trails, designed for rookies and pros alike, and give yourself a medal because seasoned Olympiads competed on the exact same mountains.
So, if testing your mettle in the icy limits of the world seems like something you’d love to do — or if you’re just in the market for some icicle-tipped wanderlust — look beyond your closest ski slope for your next adventure.
Now your travel plans are sorted, invest in the best-kept secrets in winter skincare…