It’s snow time: 10 new winter holidays in Europe for skiers and non-skiers

Fresh ideas from the Dolomites to the Arctic include rail tours, gourmet mountain huts, eco-friendly snowmobiling – and great skiing

Snowshoeing in the Dolomites, Italy

Promising magical hikes along snowy forest trails in the Fanes-Senes-Braies natural park, around Lago di Braies and beneath the craggy peaks of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, an Exodus group snowshoeing trip to the Dolomites explores some of the region’s prettiest scenery. Lovely Hotel Adler, which has a great restaurant and a wellness centre in the village of Villabassa, is the base for the week and, from this winter, the tour is offered with the option of rail travel instead of flights.
From £1,399pp, including full-board guide and activities, but excluding flights or rail tickets, exodus.co.uk

Electric snowmobiles in La Plagne, France

Like snowmobiling but hate the fumes and noise? There is an electric option. The Alps’ first fleet of Moonbikes, which are easier and lighter to ride, and have a top speed of 26mph, are available for hire from Oxygène ski school in La Plagne for guided tours in the early evening, after the lifts close. It’s a quiet yet exciting way to explore the slopes.
Minimum age 16, €90pp for an hour, oxygene.ski. Stay at the luxurious new White Pearl Lodge & Spa with pool from €1,064 a week for an apartment sleeping four, cgh-residences.co.uk

Snowy no-fly city break to Budapest

The journey’s part of the fun on a short break by rail to the Hungarian capital. Setting off from London St Pancras to Brussels, then a change of train at Cologne (and time for dinner in the old town) to hop on the sleeper to Vienna and arriving in Budapest the next day for lunch (goulash, surely). Three days here is enough to pack in the city’s thermal spa baths, Buda Castle, clubbing in the Jewish Quarter and the Christmas markets. On the return there’s a stopover in Munich, close to the Bavarian and Austrian Alps, so it’s possible to extend the trip for some snowsports.
From £749pp including hotel (B&B) and rail travel, tailormaderail.com

Scandinavian grand rail tour

The Polar Express is new and utterly epic rail tour to Scandinavia’s coolest cities and most exhilarating Arctic realms. Going by rail from London to Cologne then on to Copenhagen, Gothenburg and Oslo, the 21-night adventure takes in the scenic Dovre and Rauma railways and crosses the Arctic Circle on the Nordland Line. Chilly days will be spent exploring Norwegian mountains, on elk safaris, visiting fjords, forests and the Lofoten Islands (by ferry), looking out for the aurora borealis, and warming up with fika (coffee and cake stops). Some of the region’s top architectural hotels – the Icehotel, the Treehotel and Arctic Bath in Swedish Lapland – are included.
£3,459pp with accommodation, tours and all transport, discover-the-world.com

Wine on skis, Alta Badia, Italy

Delicious South Tirolean wines are one of the best things about a holiday to Italy’s Alta Badia region, where one of the most popular winter activities is the “sommelier on the slopes” event. Accompanied by a ski guide and a wine expert, skiers zip (or wobble) from hut to hut for fine wine tastings. New this year are dates that include a four-course tasting menu lunch at a gourmet hut. Try it on a Ski World self-drive package to the rebuilt Residence Villa Trieste in Corvara.
Event details at altabadia.org. Package from £816pp a week including return Eurotunnel tickets, skiworld.co.uk

Posh new hostel in Austria’s Zillertal

“Basic but wow” is how the rooms at Das Gerlos are described, and though the new pad calls itself a modern hostel, it looks pretty smart, and has a spa. In the quiet mountain village of Gerlos, at 1,246 metres, it’s a great base for cross-country skiing and winter hikes. Ski lifts a short walk away link to the wider Zillertal ski area, with 180 lifts and 542km of slopes, and unusual activities such as moonlight skiing.
Doubles from €116 a night B&B, dasgerlos.com. To travel by rail, take the Eurostar to Amsterdam, then the Nightjet sleeper to Jenbach, then the local train

New ski train packages to the French Alps

The end of the ticketed Eurostar Ski Train service, which used to whisk skiers from the UK to the Alps, was a blow, but Compagnie des Alpes, which runs lifts in many ski resorts, has launched a new chartered service. Unlike with the Eurostar, tickets must be bought as part of a package with lift pass and accommodation through Travelski Express. The overnight non-stop journey leaves London St Pancras on Friday evenings, arriving in Moûtiers and Bourg-Saint-Maurice the next morning, and returns the following Saturday. Transfers to Tignes, Les Arcs, La Plagne, Méribel, Les Menuires or Val d’Isère are included. Oh, and there are no sleepers, only reclining seats.
From £620pp a week for an apartment in Tignes, uk.travelski.com

Festive family skiing in France

Skiing at Christmas is a magical, twinkly Santa’s-grotto-come-to-life experience, but prohibitively expensive for most families. For a relative bargain, look at the budget-focused UCPA. Set up 56 years ago by the French government to encourage youngsters to take part in outdoor sports, it’s now a not-for-profit organisation. On its family weeks to French resorts, accommodation is typically in a big hotel with a bar and nightclub, with buffet meals and evening entertainment – everything’s included and there’s a fun atmosphere.
A week in Flaine from 19 December costs £856 adult, from £531 child full-board in a bunkroom for four, including lift pass, equipment hire and four days of lessons, but not travel, action-outdoors.co.uk

New French base for secluded winter walking

A few miles from glitzy Courchevel in the French Alps, but a world apart, the village of Pralognan-la-Vanoise has landed on the map with the opening of stylish four-star hotel, Edelweiss. This off-the-radar village has been a mountaineering centre for more than 150 years and is an excellent spot for cross-country skiing and winter hiking as well as the downhill stuff. Close to the village centre, at 1,500 metres, the hotel has 23 chic, pine-clad rooms and a spa.
Doubles from €980 a week B&B, hotel-edelweiss-pralognan.com

Cumbrian fondue by the slopes

For a taste of Alpine life closer to home, The Yan boutique hotel near Grasmere is a fun option for a wintry weekend, influenced by the owners’ years of managing ski chalets. A new winter menu features Cumbrian fondue and croziflette – pasta baked in cheese – and if the snow is plentiful, there’s actual skiing on Raise, a peak on the Helvellyn range, where the Lake District Ski Club’s tow lifts whirr into life to access nine ungroomed runs.
Doubles from £130 a night room-only, theyan.co.uk. Skiing £30 a day, ldscsnowski.co.uk

Contributor

Gemma Bowes

The GuardianTramp

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