Seven of the best winter activity breaks

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Winter activity holidays

Get active this winter, at home or abroad, with reindeer trekking, snow safaris, wild skating on frozen lakes, husky sledding and more


1. Wild skating on frozen lakes

Skating on frozen lakes in Sweden

Stockholm, Sweden

Wild or trip skating on the frozen lakes and waters around Stockholm’s archipelago is a popular pastime in Sweden. The thrill of gliding over Lake Mälaren, one of the country’s largest lakes, or strapping on your skates and striking out across the Baltic Sea beats an ice rink any day.

After a morning flying over a glassy surface on steel blades, lunch is a picnic around an open fire. No previous experience is necessary for the exhilarating day trips or two- to four-day skating tours.

Need to know

TRAVEL: Fly to Stockholm’s Arlanda airport with airlines such as Ryanair, British Airways and SAS.

A 5 – 6 hour excursion costs SEK1590 (£150) per person including skate and boot hire, backpack and lunch.


2. Sleeping on ice

Ice Hotel Sweden Arctic Circle

ICEHOTEL, Jukkasjarvi, Sweden

Each winter the first fall of snow in Jukkasjarvi, 200km north of the Arctic Circle, sets a team of artists sculpting the next ice hotel out of ‘snice,’ huge snow and ice blocks harvested from the frozen Torne River.

Bedding down on a slab strewn with reindeer skins, tucked up in a thermal sleeping bag, cradled by pungent pine forest, is a magical experience. In the day, explore by snowmobile or husky sled.

Need to know

TRAVEL: The closest airport is Kiruna. There are daily flights (90 minutes) from Stockholm with SAS and Norwegian. From there, the 20-minute transfer costs SEK165 (£15.50) per person one-way.

A three-night package (two nights in a ‘warm’, one in a ‘cold’ room) costs from SEK 9460 (£890) with two sharing. Includes breakfast, sauna and warm gear! December and February are busiest; January, March and April less so.


3. Northern Lights cruise, Norway

Northern Lights cruise Norway

Cruise up the fjord-fringed northern coast of Norway to hunt for the Northern Lights, the unearthly celestial lightshows that dance and swirl across the night skies.

On Norwegian ferry company-turned-cruise line Hurtigruten’s astronomy-themed voyages, expert lecturers debunk the myths, legends and science surrounding the aurora borealis, one of the world’s most spellbinding natural phenomena. Cabins are even fitted with Northern Lights alarms so you can scrabble up on to deck in your pyjamas to witness the hypnotic spectacle.

Need to know

TRAVEL: You can fly to Bergen from around the UK with airlines such as wideroe.no, Norwegian  and flybe.com.

The 12-day round trip from Bergen voyage costs £1,455 per person full board. It comes with a Northern Lights Promise – if you don’t see the aurora borealis you get a free classic cruise the following year.


4. Wild reindeer trekking

Wild reindeer park Scotland

Glenmore, Cairngorms National Park, Scotland

Reindeer are not just for Christmas – and since Swedish herder Mikel Utsi reintroduced a small herd to the lichen-laced (reindeer’s favourite food) Scottish Highlands, you don’t need to schlep all the way to Lapland to see them.

Reindeer have roamed free on the heather-sprung mountains of the Cairngorms National Park since 1952. The Cairngorm Reindeer Centre, with its exhibition and small shop, has a rustic charm and a paddock for petting the velvety snouts. There are now around 150 wild reindeer grazing the rough moorland and daily guided hikes up on to the hill to hand-feed them.

Need to know

TRAVEL: The nearest train station is Aviemore on the East Coast mainline – just off the A9 and a 2.5-hour drive north of Edinburgh. From here, take the B970 south for eight miles. The daily 11am 1.5-hour hill visit costs £14 for adults, £8 for children and includes a 30-minute trek up along a rocky trail.


5. Snowmobiling in the land of sagas

Snowmobiling iceland

Akureyri, Iceland

There are epic Arctic adventures on tap in Iceland’s far-flung north. Dubbed the land of fire and ice, this eerily otherworldly landscape is punctuated with broiling mud pools and laced with caves of ice.

The vast wilderness is the perfect playground for adrenaline junkies. Bundle up for a snowmobile safari, suitable for all levels, speeding across the frozen landscape in the shadow of the mountains of the Troll Peninsula as the Northern Lights dance across the sky. It’s the ultimate rush.

Need to know

TRAVEL: Super Break is launching direct charter flights to Akureyri in the north of Iceland from a range of UK airports this winter. Flights from Exeter, Bournemouth, Humberside and Newcastle start in January; East Midlands, Liverpool, Leeds Bradford and Norwich from February. Three-night short breaks from £699 include flights, b&b hotel accommodation and two tours.

Two-hour snowmobile safaris cost ISK 23,500 (£170) per person for two people sharing one snowmobile, ISK 33,500 (£244) for a single snowmobile. icelandicadventures.is; visitakureyri.is 


6. Husky-sledding through Lapland

Husky dog sledding lapland

Rovaniemi, Finland

Prowled by bears, wolves and wolverines, with golden eagles soaring high above, north-eastern Finland’s remote Wild Taiga region lives up to its name. You can race across this icy wilderness driving a team of huskies, curling up in a cosy log cabin each night, or you can tumble out of Santa Claus village in Rovaniemi, Finnish Lapland’s winter activity hotspot, and make a beeline for the howling hounds next door.

The Husky Park is home to around 70 Siberian huskies, born to run and harnessed to sleds each day. Experience the thrill of running your own team, slicing through the snow, along frost-fringed forest tracks on a husky safari.

Need to know

TRAVEL: Fly to Rovaniemi in Finnish Lapland – plenty of airlines from London airports, Manchester, Bristol. There are a range of options from: 2km husky sled ride €40 adult, €25 child; 8km husky safari driving your own team through the wilderness €120 adult in a two-person sled, €180 per person in a one-person sled.


7. Hillwalking in the Lake District

Outdoor winter activities lake district

Wasdale, England

The Lakes are magnificent at any time of year, but in winter the snow-capped hills have a uniquely quiet grandeur. In summer, crowds flock to the western fells to ascend Scafell Pike, England’s highest mountain, and admire Wastwater, the deepest of the Lakes and arguably the most beautiful. But come winter you’ve a good chance of having a snow-dusted hillside to yourself.

From the hamlet of Wasdale, the peaks of Scafell, Great Gable and Pillar beckon, or you could simply explore the tiny church, gnarled woods and fire-warmed pubs of the valley floor.

Need to know

TRAVEL: Aim for Wasdale Head, a 30-minute drive off the A595 in the western Lakes. Stay at climbers’ haunt the Wasdale Head Inn (wasdale.com [http://wasdale.com/], from £59pp B&B), or cosy up in a heated camping pod at the National Trust’s Wasdale campsite from £35)

Winter hillwalking requires appropriate equipment and clothing – don’t head into the fells unprepared.


Do more with Boundless Northern Lights 5-night holiday with Barrhead Cosy up in a luxury lodge surrounded by snow-laden trees, go on a guided tour through the wilderness with your own sled-dog team and enjoy local cuisine and an evening admiring the Northern Lights. Visit Akureyri with Super Break

Fly to Akureyri in Iceland with Super Break for the best views of the aurora borealis and more. Prices start from £699pp* plus members save a further 5%. 

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