From the adrenaline-pumping rush of dog sledding through Finland’s snowy expanses to catching the ethereal dance of the Northern Lights in Iceland’s darkened skies, our winter holidays allow you to enjoy these snow-laden landscapes at their finest. On our trips, you can also immerse yourself in the tranquillity of snowshoeing along the pristine trails in the Italian Dolomites, feel the rhythm of cross-country skiing through Norway’s frosty forests, and embark on an incredible glacier trek to take in Iceland’s otherworldly landscapes. So, join us as we talk about our 5 top winter activities across Finland, Italy, Norway and Iceland that truly define the soul-stirring charm of winter getaways.
Dog sledding is a popular activity across the Nordic regions for good reason, but we have to say, there’s something special about experiencing dog sledding in Finland. On day four of our Finnish Wilderness Week, you’ll get to enjoy a dog sledding experience in Riisitunturi National Park. Meeting a dogsledding guide, they will show you how to ride the sled, and tell you more about how they and the local people take care of the huskies. Afterwards, you’ll head into the woods and venture out on a 6-mile (10km) mushing adventure.
Dog sledding in Finland actually traces back to the region’s indigenous Sámi people, who have relied on sled dogs for centuries as an essential means of transportation in the Arctic wilderness. The Sámi, with their deep connection to the land, learned to harness the strength and agility of huskies and other sled dog breeds in the region to traverse the snow-covered expanses efficiently. Over time, this traditional mode of travel evolved from a practical necessity into a deep-rooted cultural heritage. Today, dog sledding in Riisitunturi National Park has transitioned into a popular winter activity, drawing adventure enthusiasts and nature lovers from around the world. The park’s breathtaking landscapes and well-maintained trails offer an ideal setting for dog sledding excursions for those looking to embrace the pristine winter landscapes of this Nordic wonderland.
Centuries ago, snowshoeing served as an essential mode of transportation for many colder regions in Europe come winter. Traditional snowshoes were often crafted from wood and sinew to help people navigate challenging terrain with greater ease, as the shoe distributed their weight over the snow, preventing them from sinking. Today however, snowshoeing is now seen as a popular winter excursion for many, especially for beginners, as this low-impact activity requires minimal skill or experience, making it suitable for people of various fitness levels and ages. Moreover, snowshoeing also allows people to explore pristine, snow-covered landscapes off-the-beaten-track, that might be challenging to navigate through other modes of transport.
On our Snowshoeing in the Dolomites – Premium Adventure, you get to embark on a snowshoeing trip through the enchanting landscapes in and around Fanes-Sennes Natural Park. Following our expert local guides, you’ll snowshoe along pristine snow-covered trails that wind through ancient forests and along the shoreline of the iconic Lago di Braies. Walking along these trails in wintertime is a wonderful experience. Imagine taking in the crisp mountain air as you traverse the powdery terrain beneath the majestic jagged peaks of Tre Cime di Lavaredo, which loom overhead. After your days out exploring these winter scenes, you can come back to your base for the week, the 4-star Hotel Adler in Villabassa, where you can unwind in its wellness centre that comes complete with a sauna, steam room, solarium and pool. Or, curl up with a good book and some mulled wine in their fireplace room.
Cross-country skiing is another popular recreational and competitive winter sport. With some of the oldest historical artifacts and ancient drawings depicting early skis used by the Sami people in northern Scandinavia, it transformed from being a necessity for transportation into a much-loved winter sport today.
And in Italy, our Cross-country Skiing Dobbiaco trip offers some of the most picturesque views for cross-country skiing enthusiasts in the heart of the Dolomites. Renowned for its well-groomed trails, Dobbiaco, also known as Toblach, has become a sought-after destination for those seeking the thrill of gliding through pristine snow-covered expanses. The famous Nordic Center in Dobbiaco boasts state-of-the-art facilities and has served as a hub for cross-country skiing enthusiasts for many decades, hosting international competitions like the Tour de Ski. From here, you can explore their extensive network of cross-country ski trails that wind through enchanting forests, along frozen lakes, and beneath the towering peaks of the Dolomites. With a perfect blend of easier trails, challenging ascents and invigorating descents, Dobbiaco is great for both novices and seasoned skiers alike who are looking to hone their skills and take in the timeless beauty of this corner of the Italian Alps.
Another incredible cross-country skiing spot is Kvitavatn, in Norway. The country solidified its deep-rooted passion for the sport in countless international cross-country skiing competitions, where legendary athletes like Thorleif Haug and Bjørn Dæhlie became household names. Today, cross-country skiing remains ingrained in Norway’s cultural identity, with a vast network of well-maintained trails, enthusiastic participation, and a legacy that continues to inspire generations of Norwegians and like-minded travellers to embrace this enduring winter pursuit.
On our eight-day Cross-country Skiing: Kvitavatn trip, you can combine the thrill of Nordic skiing with the breathtaking panoramas of the towering peaks in Hardangervidda National Park. With 50 miles (80km) of varied tracks through snow-caked forests and open country, including a good selection of downhill runs, a cross-country skiing holiday in this region is perfect for all abilities. The Kvitavatn Fjellstue, a welcoming mountain lodge, is your cosy retreat for just over a week. It offers two open-fire lounges and separate male and female saunas, perfect after a day of outdoor adventures. The lodge also boasts incredible cabin views of the Gaustatoppen.
Northern light spotting
Situated just below the Arctic Circle, Iceland experiences long, dark nights with clear skies during the winter months, which provides an extended window to catch one of the world’s best celestial displays – the aurora borealis (Northern Lights). The island’s minimal light pollution also ensures optimal conditions for visibility. Although sightings of the Northern Lights are never guaranteed, locations that are far from the city lights, like Thingvellir National Park and the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon offer prime viewing opportunities in winter, and you get to visit both on our Iceland Northern Lights trip.
On this compact 5-day trip, you’ll complete the Golden Triangle of Gullfoss Waterfall, Geysir and Thingvellir National Park. En route, you and your group will pass other-worldly sights including the Reynisdrangar black lava sea stacks on a drive to the most southerly point in Iceland, the Dyrhólaey peninsula, and the spectacular Diamond Beach, where large ice blocks stud its volcanic black sand. The icing on top of a trip like this would be to catch the mesmerising display of vibrant green, pink, and purple auroras. And with our expert local guides leading the way, your chances of marvelling at one of the world’s best cosmic shows are greatly enhanced.
For the adventurous, another one of our favourite winter experiences is glacier walks, and some of the best excursions can be found in Iceland. On day three of our Iceland Northern Lights trip, your trekking guide will show you how to strap on crampons and how to use ice axes safely so you can traverse the frozen terrain, navigating through shimmering blue ice sculptures and the rugged glacial landscapes in Falljokull. As one of the tongues of the Vatnajokull Glacier, Falljokull offers trekkers a surreal landscape of crevasses, ice formations, and panoramic views of the surrounding mountains – the perfect shooting spot for keen photographers.
As you trek amongst this otherworldly landscape, you’ll feel the crisp air, and hear nothing but the crunch of crampons against the ice – it’s a surreal experience that will stay with you for years to come. Glacier trekking in Falljokull not only takes you on an adventure into the heart of Iceland’s glacial wonders but it also gives you the rare opportunity to witness the ever-changing beauty of one of Europe’s largest glaciers.
If these trips have inspired you to book a winter escape, take a look at our full collection of wonderful winter holidays here.