There’s a lot more to winter than Netflix and blankets.
When we think of outdoors adventures our minds usually picture a hot summer’s day filled with hiking and picnics and beaches and rooftop pools. But winter adventures can be just as exciting as their summer counterparts.
You’ll still get to see breathtaking scenery—only this time covered in snow! Picture jagged glaciers that glint in the sunshine, snow-capped mountains looming over icy lakes and quaint Scandinavian towns dusted with snowflakes.
Sure, it might be a little chilly outside but that doesn’t mean there aren’t boundless adventures to be had—you just need to know where to go.
1. Husky Sled Rides in Tromsø, Norway
Tromsø looks like something out of a fairytale, with cute buildings flanking its streets covered with a virtually omnipresent dusting of snow. At night, the lights of the city pierce the arctic darkness and illuminate the mountains that border the town.
I defy anyone to find a more adorable winter adventure than riding in a sled pulled by a bunch of fluffy huskies. Those who opt for dog sledding can get up close and personal with their four-legged tour guides as they whizz across the sparkling white plains of northern Norway.
After the journey, indulge in some well-deserved cuddles with your canine friends.
As one of the most northern towns on earth, Tromsø has great views of the Aurora Borealis, a.k.a the Northern Lights. In fact, you have a better chance of spotting the lights here than anywhere else in the world.
2. Polar Bear Safaris in Churchill, Canada
Churchill sits on the shores of the Hudson Bay, in the most northern part of Manitoba. A far cry from the bustling cities of Vancouver and Toronto, Churchill is a rugged town with temperatures that drop as low as -20°F. Yeah, it’s cold.
But, it needs to be this cold to keep the locals happy. And by locals I mean the hordes of polar bears that roam freely around the place. They are the number one lure of Churchill and the foundation of the tiny tourism economy.
If you want to make the most of your time in Churchill, book yourself onto a polar bear safari. This tour combines the stark, dramatic scenery of Churchill with plenty of polar bear sightings.
You will also be given loads of cool information about polar bears and the steps that are being taken to conserve them as global warming melts the polar ice caps and destroys their natural habitat.
Churchill is not for the faint-hearted. The landscape is desolate, the temperatures are unfathomably low, and the chances of being trapped by a blizzard are high. But, if you are looking for a hardcore winter adventure you will remember forever, there’s no better place.
3. Sail to Antarctica
Not exactly your typical vacation destination, a trip to Antarctica requires some serious planning. You can’t just hop on a plane and check into a resort—this is Antarctica not Ibiza.
You will need a tour group, a special permit, deep pockets, and a good chunk of time (ideally three weeks). But, if you can get it right, it’s totally worth it.
Antarctica is the home of untouched natural beauty and unlike anything you’ve seen before. As far as the eye can see are glaciers covered in perfectly undisturbed snow, ending in sheer cliffs that plummet into icy water.
With not a single other human in sight, the landscape and atmosphere literally feel like something that’s out of this world.
As you might imagine, Antarctica isn’t replete with hotels and restaurants. In order to have a winter adventure in this part of the world, the best thing to do is hop on board a boat and get cruising.
There are also flights which take you to the interior of the South Pole—to areas that are inaccessible by boat. However, there are no regular flights. All the planes are chartered and only fly between December and February. They also cost upwards of $10,000.
Most boat tours to Antarctica will set off from Ushuaia, the most southern city on earth, and head to the frosty shores of this mysterious and unexplored continent.
While you navigate through icebergs, keep your eyes peeled for penguins, seals and orcas. Finally, putting your feet on terra firma is the highlight of the trip as you cross Antarctica off your bucket list.
4. Hit the Slopes in Wanaka, New Zealand
Deep in the southern hemisphere is the island (okay, two islands) of New Zealand, of Lord of the Rings fame. While things start to heat up at home, they cool off in New Zealand, and that’s when everyone hits the slopes.
If you're a snow sports enthusiast, then Wanaka is the place to be from May through September.
Wanaka is home to the staggeringly gorgeous Treble Cone ski area, but Treble Cone is more than just a beauty queen. These snowy peaks offer some of the best skiing on the island, including the longest vertical rise in the Queenstown District.
With skiing, snowboarding and heli-skiing all on the menu at Treble Cone, this is where you come to get the adrenaline pumping.
Once you’ve finished at Treble Cone, check out some of New Zealand’s other great ski resorts. A snow safari tour will take you to a number of the best ski spots along with a few other hotspots, including bubbling hot springs and some of Wanaka’s best bars.
5. Glacier Trekking in Patagonia, Argentina
Patagonia is one of the most awe-inspiring places on the planet. Sitting right at the bottom of South America, the region is starkly picturesque with dramatic landscapes comprised of jagged mountain peaks, impressive glaciers and turquoise glacial lakes.
How about going for the most hardcore winter adventure ever and trekking across the surface of a glacier? It doesn’t get much more badass than that.
Patagonia is home to some of the world’s most incredible glaciers, including Perito Moreno, Viedma and the Upsala Glacier. Trekking across the iconic Perito Moreno glacier offers you the chance to explore icy caves and take outstanding panoramic snapshots. Cue all your Insta followers turning green with envy.
Glaciers not enough for you? Check out Mount Fitz Roy. Only a handful of people have ever reached the summit of this formidable peak. Are you up for the challenge?
6. Climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania
Tanzania might not be the first place you would think to go for a winter adventure. But, once you reach the snow-capped peak of Mount Kilimanjaro, you will see why it’s on this list.
Despite it being one of the highest peaks on earth, climbing to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro is far from impossible.
Kili has even been dubbed “the mountain anyone can climb.” You don’t need any special equipment, nor do you need years of mountaineering experience. A good level of fitness and a positive attitude should cut it. But, don't let that lure you into thinking it’s easy. It’s not.
You’ll need a tour guide or group if you want to take on this formidable peak—it's not something to be done solo unless you're an experienced climber. A tour up Mount Kili will lead you from the base of the mountain, through a diverse range of landscapes—from rainforest to the high and low alpine sections, and then to the glacial zone.
Once you reach the top of the mountain, needless to say, the views of the African plains that spread out to the horizon are sublime. Be sure to get there for sunrise for those world-class snapshots.
If you need warming up after your climb, there are plenty of safari trips available in the surrounding area. Top safari locations include Serengeti National Park, Lake Manyara, and the Ngorongoro Crater. What better way to round off your summer/winter adventure in Tanzania than rolling around in a jeep in search of lions and elephants?
7. Cruise through the Chilean Fjords
Towards the South of Chile are the Fjords—narrow waterways, fringed by towering cliffs, sparsely covered with vegetation. Equal parts serene and stunning, it is easy to see why Darwin fell in love with the place when he sailed the HMS Beagle through Patagonia in the 19th century.
Chile’s labyrinth of Fjords constitutes a winter adventure for those who want to bear witness to the true power of Mother Nature. This is where those who want to be awestruck can come to get their fix.
The simplest way to experience the Fjords is to hop on a boat and cruise through them. If you have the time, this South America and Chilean Fjords tour is well worth doing. You will spend 18 days traveling through four different countries, taking in the Chilean Fjords as you go.
For those looking for a more concentrated fjord experience, this Chile tour takes you on fjord excursions as your cruise along the coast of Chile.
As you cruise through the Fjords, make sure you can jump out every now and then to walk through the region’s national parks. Or just stay on board and ogle at the volcanoes and glaciers—the choice is yours.
8. Fjord Trekking in The Norwegian Fjords
We can’t possibly talk about the Chilean Fjords without also mentioning their famous Norwegian counterpart.
One of Europe’s most exhilarating patches of natural beauty, the Norwegian fjords are beyond description… but I’ll try anyway. Here, a narrow, turquoise strip of water carves through sheer cliff faces, covered with grass.
As you sit in a boat and sail along this majestic river, the silence is all you can hear—and it is blissful.
If you ever needed an escape from the daily grind, you will find it as you marvel at the Norwegian Fjords. But, seeing the Fjords is just half of the adventure. The other half is getting up close and personal with these natural phenomena.
A Fjord trekking trip in Norway will take you through the Fjords, just like the Vikings did back in the day. You’ll hike through some of the most gorgeous scenery on the planet— lush vegetation, spring flowers, waterfalls, and glaciers. You get the idea.
While you’re in the area, be sure to spend some time in Bergen. With multi-colored houses lining the harbor and lush mountains all around, Bergen is thoroughly enchanting.
Given Norway’s location, traveling here in the summer means you are treated to virtually 24-hour daylight. Midnight hiking anyone?
9. Go Skiing Indoors in Dubai
No, I haven’t run out of ideas yet and, yes, you can have a winter adventure in Dubai!
Dubai is home to the largest indoor ski complexes in the world: Ski Dubai. Measuring a colossal 22,500 square meters, you could easily spend a few days carving up the slopes here without getting bored. This place is seriously huge.
As an avid snowboarder, I’m dubious when it comes to indoor resorts. But Dubai’s resort is delightful—it might even make you forget you aren’t in the Alps.
Getting a pass for Ski Dubai means full access to the slopes as well as the various rides, bobsleds and giant snowballs.
And, of course, you won’t be cold for long! Just step outside when you’re done.
How’s that for après ski?
A word of advice before you run off and book your winter adventure: Get yourself insured (I always use and recommend World Nomads). Adventure trips are the best things in the world—until you get hurt. It is vital you are insured; otherwise, you might run up some serious medical bills. Don’t take the risk—you never know what might happen while bobsledding or snowboarding!
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