I’m a big advocate for slow travel. I love taking the time to really get to know a place, to allow traces of it to linger in my soul long after I’ve left. If you ask me, travel is about letting a place affect you, letting it get inside you and fill up a part of you that you never knew was empty. I know not everyone has the luxury to travel for months, or even years at a time, but those who do give themselves the time to travel like this gain a better understanding of the world around them, and of themselves, that perhaps is harder to gain on a short break. But the best way to combat this, make sure you always travel at your own pace, don’t let a short break dictate how much you engage with and fall in love with a destination. By travelling exactly how you want to travel, you can turn short breaks like these into a fast-paced love affair with some beautiful new place.
My love of long-term travel and turning it into a lifestyle created a perfect opportunity to work in collaboration with Inntravel, a slow winter holidays company who have been making slow travel dreams a reality for travellers since the 1980’s. These self-guided trips offer the independence all travellers desire with the comfort of an organised walking holiday. Following detailed maps and route notes from one welcoming hotel to the next, while luggage is transported ahead. The trips are organised for individuals instead of groups, which means travellers can have the freedom to pick their own routes and walk at their own pace, tailoring the holiday to exactly their needs.
Now that the seasons are changing and we’re heading into that wintery time of year, I’m quite excited to announce that I’ve decided to spend my first Christmas at home in three years. As my visa in Australia winds down, it was perfectly timed to take one last trip before heading home for the festive period. After years of chasing the sun, I’m about to plunge myself from 35 degree heat and humidity to a chilly English winter but instead of being terrified of the weather, I’m quite looking forward to snuggly jumpers and hot chocolates by the fire. Spending my Christmas in Europe, it’s got me thinking of all the potential for winter activities right on my doorstep and how much I want to take advantage of that. So I thought, thinking ahead to the festive season, I would write this post about the top 4 winter breaks I would love to experience.
Top 4 winter breaks to experience:
1. Northern Lights
Of course, it’s number one on so many people’s bucket lists and is definitely high on mine. The Northern Lights are an incredible natural spectacle that I dream of seeing with my own eyes before they disappear. Lucky for us travellers, there are so many places to witness them – which is great considering how elusive and unpredictable they are. For the classic Northern Lights getaway, Inntravel offers breaks in the Icelandic capital Reykjavik, or why not check out the Norwegian island city of Tromsø, the island of Senja, and Sollia – just a stone’s throw away from Russia. Or, if you fancy checking out another part of Scandinavia, why not book a holiday to Finland or Norway to experience the lights and so much more.
2. Christmas Markets
One trip I’m really excited to take this festival period as my boyfriend is from Germany, and I think it could be a perfect opportunity to explore some of the nearby countries and to stock up on some treats and gifts for Christmas. It’s amazing how much you can cram into a short break in Europe with so much beauty and culture right on your doorstep. Why not enjoy the magical atmosphere of the Christmas markets in Salzburg, the Austrian lakes, Gothenburg, Copenhagen, Lucerne and Prague to welcome in the winter.
Sitting still not for you? There are countless activities you can take part in to live the full Arctic experience – why not try the Lapland Activity Week? From tobogganing down snow-clad slopes to trying your hand at dog-sledding through silent forest. Walk the untouched snow in snowshoes or take a sleigh ride and take in the magical landscape. Designed for people with no previous experience, activity weeks organised by Inntravel are a great opportunity for like-minded travellers to get together and try something new.
Skiing is a great way to make the most of the winter landscapes as you travel across Europe this winter. From cross-country skiing, to downhill skiing and beginner’s ski weeks – there really is something to suit all ages and abilities on the slopes. Take in that fresh mountain air in Austria, Switzerland, Norway and Finland this winter.
Where are you travelling to this winter? Can you recommend any locations for the best snowy holidays? What would be your dream trip to Europe in winter?
*First image by Andrés Nieto Porras